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Russian Orthodox Brotherhoods among the Tlingit: Missionary Goals and Native Response

Sergei Kan
Ethnohistory
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Summer, 1985), pp. 196-222
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/481921
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/481921
Page Count: 27
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Russian Orthodox Brotherhoods among the Tlingit: Missionary Goals and Native Response
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Abstract

In the 1890s-1900s, Russian Orthodox missionaries established religious brotherhoods among the Tlingit Indians of southeastern Alaska to fight indigenous customs incompatible with Christianity, and to promote abstinence and mutual aid. On the basis of archival and ethnographic research, the study demonstrates the Tlingit success in utilizing these organizations to strengthen their position within the church and, thereby establish a more balanced relationship with the Russian clergy and parishioners, to maintain the power and prestige of the aristocracy, and to indigenize Orthodoxy in general. The analysis also suggests that, by joining the brotherhoods, the Tlingit managed to present themselves to the Americans and the Russians as "civilized Indians," and thus were able to improve their standing within the larger sociopolitical system they did not control.

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