Harris Secondary Source

Publication Year: 1994

Harris, Paul. "David Brainerd and the Indians: Cultural Interaction and Protestant Missionary Ideology." American Presbyterians Vol. 72, No. 1 (1994): 1-9. 

Source thumbnail image: "Brainerd Preaching to the Indians," from David Brainerd, the Apostle to the North American Indians. London: 1891 (Wikimedia Commons)
Source note

Paul Harris is an emeritus professor of history at Minnesota State University, Moorhead. With a focus on religious history, Harris has written papers on subjects such as whites and African Americans in the Methodist Church after the Civil War, and Christian missionaries in North and South America. This article appeared in American Presbyterians, a journal that is the predecessor publication of The Journal of Presbyterian History.  

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Reading questions
  1. Who wrote this source? What publication was it published in? Does the publication affect the source’s reliability?  
  2. How do current views of David Brainerd differ from the views of Brainerd’s contemporaries (page 1)?  
  3. In what ways was Brainerd’s attitude toward the Indians he worked with complex and impossible to categorize as either fully racist or fully accepting/tolerant (page  4)? 
  4. Harris writes that Brainerd steered clear of “hell-fire preaching” in his work with the Indians, unlike many of his revivalist contemporaries (page 4). Is this observation supported or refuted by Brainerd’s writings in Documents 1 and 2?  
  5. Who was Moses Tinda Tattamy (page 6)? How does Harris’s description of Tattamy, and of his fellow Forks Delawares, add to or change what you read about Tattamy in Brainerd’s writings? Why might Brainerd have downplayed Tattamy’s influence among the Forks Delawares?  
  6. How did Brainerd fail at building an Indian settlement in Cranbury (page 7)? 
  7. In what ways did Brainerd set a precedent for colonialist, culturally insensitive Christian mission work (page 8)? 
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Source type
Scholarly article
History Topics
American Religious History
Mission History
Native American History
Time Period
Colonial Settlement (1600s-1763)