The emergence of evangelical revivalist organizations in the late nineteenth century, such as the Church of England's Church Army—and the more widely known Salvation Army—is typically understood by historians to be intertwined with the development of the working class in an industrializing capitalist society. Yet the rapid growth of Church Army branches among aboriginal peoples of British Columbia's north coast under different conditions in these same years challenges the often-assumed universality of categories of analysis such as class. This article explores the movement from a perspective that draws upon contemporary Nisg̲a'a memories of their Church Army and places these memories within the context of the challenges the Nisg̲a'a faced as a result of Euro-Canadian efforts to colonize them. It reveals the limits of such categories and the value of rethinking the history of aboriginal participation in larger, globalizing movements from indigenous perspectives. For the Nisg̲a'a, the attraction of the Church Army and its novel forms lay in the possibilities it offered for continuity during a difficult period of their history marked by cultural repression.
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Research Article| October 01 2015
Nicholas May; Marching to the Beat of a Newer Drum: Cultural Continuity and Revival in Nisg̲a'a Church Armies, 1894–1970. Ethnohistory 1 October 2015; 62 (4): 781–801. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-3135354
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