The Language of Belief in Religious Conversion in Eighteenth-Century Iroquoia

This talk looks at the complex cultural and religious interactions that occurred in eighteenth-century Stockbridge between settler missionaries, such as Jonathan Edwards, and Indigenous peoples for whom the town was established. Like the earlier ‘praying towns’ founded by John Eliot and Native American Christian coverts in the mid-seventeenth century, Stockbridge was meant to be a new Christian ‘Indian Town’.  It brought together members of the various New England tribes who had been forced off their traditional territories and combined them with members of the local Mohican Nation.  Edwards hoped Stockbridge would be a beacon to other Indigenous peoples and he invited the Haudenosaunee (aka Iroquois) people to visit and hear the Christian message, but his dreams of evangelization among them would largely fail due to key cultural differences he little understood. This virtual event took place on February 3, 2022. 


Scott Manning Stevens is a citizen of the Akwesasne Mohawk nation and an associate professor and the director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program at Syracuse University. His primary research lies in the critical analysis of ethnographic collecting and the significance of material culture collections within a US settler context. Stevens earned an AB in English from Dartmouth College and his AM and PhD from Harvard University. He has been awarded various fellowships, including from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Newberry Library. Most recently, he completed a Fulbright Scholar Program fellowship for museum studies in Hungary.