"I Will Fear No Evil": Ojibwa-Missionary Encounters Along the Berens River, 1875–1940

Description

214 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
$29.95
ISBN 1-55238-198-6
DDC 266.0089'733371272

Year

2006

Contributor

Reviewed by John Steckley

John Steckley teaches in the Human Studies Program at Humber College in
Toronto. He is the author of Beyond Their Years: Five Native Women’s
Stories.

Review

“I Will Fear No Evil” examines the syncretism of traditional and
Christian religion in the Berens River community between 1875 and 1940.
It is based on material drawn from the written record and from a series
of interviews the author conducted with Elders who still experience that
syncretism.

The book includes fascinating stories of members of the Berens family,
who made decisions that affected the religious history of their people.
Also intriguing are the petty practices of the bickering Catholic and
Methodist missionaries; as one Elder puts it, “They fought just like a
cat and a dog.” Fortunately, Gray does not restrict herself to the
easy stereotype of dogmatic missionary infighting. Luther Schuetze was
one missionary who eventually rejected his original close-mindedness in
favour of a more accommodating attitude to Saulteaux customs.

That said, one of the book’s main weaknesses is the author’s
tendency to overstate the opposition of Christian missionaries to
Aboriginal culture. She would have benefited from reading the literature
about the Jesuits in their comparatively cultural relativistic work in
North America, India, and China.

Citation

Gray, Susan Elaine., “"I Will Fear No Evil": Ojibwa-Missionary Encounters Along the Berens River, 1875–1940,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16693.