Imprints on Native Lands: The Miskito-Moravian Settlement Landscape in Honduras

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University of Arizona Press, Aug 1, 2011 - Social Science - 186 pages
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More than one hundred fifty years ago, Moravian missionaries first landed along a so-called isolated stretch of HondurasŐs Mosquito Coast bordering the western Caribbean Sea. The missionaries were sent, with the strong encouragement of German political leaders and in the context of German attempts at colonization, to Ňspread the wordÓ of Protestantism in Central America. Upon their arrival, the missionaries employed a three-pronged approach consisting of proselytizing, medical treatment, and education to convert the majority of the indigenous population.

Much like the Spanish and English attempts before them, German colonizing efforts in the region never complete-ly took hold. Still, as Benjamin Tillman shows, for the regionŐs indigenous inhabitants, the Miskito people, the arrival of the Moravian missionaries marked the beginning of an important cultural interface.

Imprints on Native Lands documents Moravian contributions to the Miskito settlement landscape in sixty four villages of eastern Honduras through field observations of material culture, interviews with village residents, and research in primary sources in the Moravian Church archives. Tillman employs the resulting data to map a hierarchy of Moravian centers, illustrating spatially varying degrees of Moravian influence on the Miskito settlement landscape.

Tillman reinforces Miskito claims to ancestral lands by identifying and mapping their created ethnic landscape, as well as supporting earlier efforts at land-use mapping in the region. This book has broad implications, providing a methodology that will be of help to those with an interest in geography, anthropology, or Latin American studies, and to anyone interested in documenting and strengthening indigenous land claims.
 

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Contents

1 Introduction
1
Mosquito Coast Geography and the Moravian Missionary Impetus
10
Change and Continuity
36
Churches and Compounds
65
Moravian Modification of Miskito Housing
86
6 Missionaries for Christ or Early Prophets of Sustainability? Moravian Influence on Miskito Agriculture
104
The Material Culture of Miskito Cemeteries
117
Conclusion
145
2001 Census Population of Selected Settlements in the Department of Gracias a Dios Honduras
151
Scientific Names of Selected Vegetation
153
Settlements with Catholic Baptist and Church of God Congregations
155
Settlement Names
159
Names of Selected Miskito House Parts and Construction Materials
165
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About the author (2011)

Benjamin F. Tillman is an associate professor of geography at Texas Christian University.

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