Articulating Religious Change: Bini the Prophet, the Seer

Jason Redden

Abstract


The transmission of Christianity among Indigenous people without the involvement of European or Euro-North American missionaries has been well documented in the North American ethnographic and historical records. In the North American West, the convergence of Christianity and Indigenous religious practices is manifest in the Indigenous prophet traditions in the early nineteenth century. Although these prophet traditions predate direct contact with Euro-North Americans, much scholarship has maintained that their growth and development is explained not by Indigenous or Christian religiosity but by more fundamental material or psychological phenomena, most oft en connecting the prophet tradition to the indirect eff ects of colonial invasion. Following the oral narratives on Bini, the Witsuwit’en prophet, collected by Marius Barbeau in the 1920s, I suggest that the prophet tradition is not only a response to colonial pressures but also serves as a powerful idiom for articulating religious change and thus is a fundamentally local means of religious transformation.

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ISSN (Print): 1705-2947
ISSN (Online): 1712-5634