Religion in contemporary Native America: Traditional practices, modern identities
This dissertation interrogates the role that culturally-oriented practices among Native American Indians contribute to the revival and maintenance of American Indian religious identity. Using the revival of traditional canoe practices among the Chumash Indians of California and the Makah Indians of Washington State, with which I develop a concept I term "reprise" in the resurgence of dormant spiritual identity among colonized indigenous communities, I use this material to frame a critique of the emphasis on "belief" extant in Religious Studies discourses, arguing for an elevation of practice issues in the analysis of religious self identification. I also extend the analysis to other areas of contemporary American Indian culture, namely, the urban Indian experience and the development of Native-oriented alcohol and drug abuse prevention and recovery processes, to further argue for the utility of practice-centered approaches to religious analysis in general, beyond Native American or other indigenous contexts.
The approach is ethnographic analysis, with participant-observation data at the center, derived from five years with the Chumash Maritime Association, as well as a research trip to Neah Bay, Washinton. Both of these communities have drawn upon aspects of material culture and practice with regard to their canoes to engender a reprise of traditional spirituality, and it is this process that provides the theoretical paradigm for it analysis, and, I argue, for fruitful analyses of various religious studies contexts.
0740: Native Americans
0740: Native studies