Shamanism and Christianity: Native Encounters with Russian Orthodox Missions in Siberia and Alaska, 1820-1917
The interaction of 19th-century Russian missionaries with three indigenous groups, the Chukchi and Altaians in Siberia and the Dena'ina Indians in Alaska, resulted in widely different outcomes. The Chukchi disregarded the missionary message, the Dena'ina embraced Christianity, and the Altaians responded by selectively borrowing from Orthodox religion. Znamenski--in the first work of its kind in English--argues that the relationships between indigenous shamanism and Orthodox missionaries in Siberia and Alaska were essentially a dialogue about spiritual, political, and ideological power, and challenges both the widespread conviction that Christian missionaries always acted as agents of colonial oppression among tribal peoples and the notion that native peoples maintained their "pristine" traditional cultures despite years of interaction with Western society.
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