Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Spring Meeting of the American Society of Church History


Portland, OR

Publication Date

Spring 2013


Religion and Philosophy


The arrival in Native Alaskan communities of Russians in the mid-18th century and Americans in the mid-19th century brought lasting change. What that change constituted is a matter of debate. This paper will attempt to look at multiple sides of the story, considering the perspectives of Russians and Americans, and, most importantly, that of the indigenous Alaskans themselves, as well as that of ethno-historians. By disentangling the layers of polemic and hagiography left by Presbyterian and Moravian missionaries, I will demonstrate their corrosive impact at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century on the cultures and communities of Native Alaskan converts to Russian Orthodoxy. I will further demonstrate that this destruction countered the significant if not normative precedents in Presbyterian and Moravian missions for honoring Native cultures as one of the marks of a successful mission.

~Presentation excerpt~