The Evacuation of Shekomeko and the Early Moravian Missions to Native North Americans

Article excerpt

By Karl-Wilhelm Westmeier. Lewiston,N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1994. Pp. ix444. $109.95; paperback $89.95.

In 1740 Moravian missionaries began a work among Native Americans in southwestern colonial New York at Shekomeko. This effort was beset by a host of difficulties from its inception until it was finally given up in 1746. Westmeier has written the most comprehensive study of this work ever to appear and has done so from a unique perspective.

The difficulties the Moravians encountered were in relationship to various local civil authorities. Westmeier has isolated eight specific incidents of this type and uses them to form the framework of the book. He approaches his task with a method he labels "missiological. . . that is, research from the perspective of the intercultural communication of the Christian faith" (p. iv). Thus while telling the history, he also utilizes extensive material of an anthropological and sociological nature to provide helpful contextualization for the events he is describing. So, for example, the description of the conflict provoked over British recruiting efforts for King George's War includes discussion of the nature of warfare according to European and Native American understandings, the methods of warfare of both peoples, and Moravian pacifist attitudes. …