The Jesus Road: Kiowas, Christianity, and Indian Hymns / Edition 1

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Overview


In this highly original and moving volume, an anthropologist, a historian, and a Native singer come together to reveal the personal and cultural power of Christian faith among the Kiowas of southwestern Oklahoma and to show how Christian members of the Kiowa community have creatively embraced hymns and made them their own.

Kiowas practice a unique expression of Christianity, a blending that began with the arrival of missionaries on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation in the 1870s. In these pages, historian Clyde Ellis offers a compelling look at the way in which many Kiowas became Christian over the past century and have woven that faith into their identity. The personal and cultural significance of traditional songs and their close connection to the power of hymns is then illuminated by anthropologist Luke Eric Lassiter. Like traditional Kiowa songs, Christian hymns help restore and minister to the community; they also can be highly individualistic since many are composed and shared by church members themselves at different times in their lives. In the final section of the book Kiowa singer Ralph Kotay tells of the personal meaning and value of the hymns and of the Christian faith in general.

This remarkable, sensitive book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the complexity of Native lives today and offers a subtle yet penetrating look at the legacy of Christianity among Native peoples.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
After the Kiowas were forced onto government reservations in southwestern Oklahoma in the late 19th century, many of these nomadic Native American hunters adopted Christianity. Missionaries fostered native leadership, translated Scriptures into local languages, and encouraged the composition of indigenous hymns. Now few fluent speakers of Kiowa are left, and church services are conducted in English. Elders believe that when the hymns are no longer sung in Kiowa, a vital part of the language and spirituality will be lost. To prevent this cultural expression from disappearing, Kiowa elders, such as singer and hymnologist Ralph Kotay, are now making recordings and teaching classes in Kiowa hymn singing. In this collaborative work, anthropologist Lassiter (Ball State Univ.; Power of Kiowa Song), historian Clyde Ellis (Elon Univ.; To Change Them Forever), and Kotay examine the personal and cultural dimensions of the Kiowa Christian experience exemplified by these hymns. Ellis gives a historical overview of Kiowa Christianity on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache reservation, while Lassiter describes Kiowa churches and the role hymns play in tribal culture. In the final section, Kotay comments on the history and meaning of 26 hymns recorded on an accompanying CD (not heard). This important and well-researched study is recommended for collections in Native American religion and ethnomusicology. Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
The Jesus Road is an admirable exercise in collaborative scholarship. As a short book accompanied by a compact disk, it is especially suitable for classroom use in courses on Native American religion or American Christianity.”James Treat, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
The Chronicle of Oklahoma

“This extraordinary book will be enjoyed by historians and general readers alike and is a notable contribution to studies in Native American history, anthropology, and ethnomusicology. As Ralph Kotay so often remarks, ‘The words are so precious.’ Indeed, the insight given the reader into the deeper meanings of the hymns and the role of Native American churches throughout Indian country today is also a precious gift.”Deborah A Kolch, The Chronicle of Oklahoma

— Deborah A. Kolch

International Bulletin of Missionary Research

"A welcome look at the faith and experience of the Kiowas of southwestern Oklahoma."Bonnie Sue Lewis, International Bulletin of Missionary Research

— Bonnie Sue Lewis

The Chronicle of Oklahoma - Deborah A. Kolch
“This extraordinary book will be enjoyed by historians and general readers alike and is a notable contribution to studies in Native American history, anthropology, and ethnomusicology. As Ralph Kotay so often remarks, ‘The words are so precious.’ Indeed, the insight given the reader into the deeper meanings of the hymns and the role of Native American churches throughout Indian country today is also a precious gift.”Deborah A Kolch, The Chronicle of Oklahoma
International Bulletin of Missionary Research - Bonnie Sue Lewis
"A welcome look at the faith and experience of the Kiowas of southwestern Oklahoma."Bonnie Sue Lewis, International Bulletin of Missionary Research
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803280052
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2002
  • Edition description: BOOK & CD
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 152
  • Product dimensions: 0.36 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Luke Eric Lassiter is an associate professor of anthropology at Ball State University. He is the author of The Power of Kiowa Song: A Collaborative Ethnography. Clyde Ellis is an associate professor of history at Elon University. He is the author of To Change Them Forever: Indian Education at the Rainy Mountain Boarding School, 1893–1920. Ralph Kotay is a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and a noted singer whose work has been featured in a number of publications and recordings, including "Songs of Indian Territory" and "Remaining Ourselves: Music and Tribal Memory."
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 The Kiowas and Christianity
The Jesus Road at the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation 17
Pt. 2 Kiowa Hymns
Indian Churches and Indian Hymns in Southwestern Oklahoma 71
Kiowa Hymns and Their Deeper Meanings: Commentary on the Field Recordings (Compact Disc) 85
Afterword: On the Study of American Indian Christianity 111
Notes 121
Selected Bibliography 139
Index 149
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