Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

History

Date of Defense

7-9-2013

Graduate Advisor

J. Frederick Fausz, Ph.D.

Committee

Peter Acsay

Patti Wright

Abstract

Luparell, Joshua N. “At Cross Purposes: Protestant Missionaries Among the Osage Indians, 1820-1837. M.A. Thesis, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 2013. At Cross Purposes sets out to establish a nuanced interpretation of the complicated relationships forged between Osage Indians and Protestant missionaries. These interactions occurred between 1820 (when New England Protestant missionary societies first attempted to “civilize” and Christianize Osage Indians) and 1837, when the missionaries left the Osages without significantly impacting Osage beliefs or culture. This thesis challenges the relatively recent assertion that the Osages resisted the Christians and their messages. Instead, this thesis argues that the traditional diversity of individuals and groups in the loosely-structured Osage nation made passive indifference, not “active resistance,” the overwhelming response to conversion efforts, while scholastic and agricultural activities were surprisingly successful due to that same native adaptability. My research, derived from primary documents, places the Protestant arrival within the context of Osage culture and history, and analyzes the wide range of Osage responses to all of the Protestants’ efforts. The research reveals that although the Osages did not convert to Christianity, they rarely intentionally sabotaged Christian objectives. On the contrary, a small number of Osages looked to incorporate various elements of Anglo-American culture, so long as those adaptations did not fundamentally disrupt their individual sense of Osage identity or compromise the Osages’ ability to survive and prosper.

Additional Files

Acknowledgements.pdf (82 kB)

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