From the book Contact & Conflict, pg.140, by Robin Fisher, 1977

The decade of the 1860's, a tension between two cultures & the Indian prophet movement.

Unconverted Indians sometimes made efforts to reassert traditional culture against the inroads of the missionaries. Duncan wrote home of attempts among the Tsimshian to revive "heathenism." Within that group and others the effect of the missionary presence was to divide the Indians into pro- and anti-missionary factions. The consequent hostilities between the two groups produced further fragmentation in Indian society.

As well as attempts to reassert traditional Indian culture, there were also some syncretistic movements among the Indians. Good recalled one such phenomenon that had occurred during the time that he was stationed at Lytton.

An Indian prophet on the lower mainland had acquired, through a vision from heaven, a secret medicine that rendered the use invulnerable from bullets or any other weapon. He also taught his adherents a kind of military drill which he claimed would make them triumphant over any foe. This prophet traveled up the Fraser River gathering followers as he went. According to Good, he was animated by a ferocious hatred of the white man and urged his followers to combine to throw the Europeans from the country. Evidently this movement fizzled out when the prophet was killed by poisoning, but the appearance of such mystical religious sects is a common reaction of indigenous people to the intrusion of Europeans.

A mixture of Christianity and autochthonous elements, these millenarian movements looked forward to the time when Europeans would be driven from the land and the things that they had usurped would be returned to their rightful owners. Many of these movements had in common the belief that their faith and ritual would preserve them from the bullets of the Europeans Typically these sects arose at a time of cultural dislocation. They were the product of a limited acquaintance with missionary teaching, and often they indicated that the Europeans had become so dominant that more rational means of resistance were seen to be ineffectual.


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