Manitou and God: North-American Indian Religions and Christian Culture


In Algonquin Indian lore, Manitou is a supernatural power that permeates the world, a power that can assume the form of a deity referred to as The Great Manitou or The Great Spirit, creator of all things and giver of life. In that sense, Manitou can be considered the counterpart of the Christian God. From early times, the belief in Manitou extended from the Algonquins in Eastern Canada to other tribal nations--the Odawa, Ojibwa, Oglala, and even the Cheyenne in the Western plains. As European settlers made their way across the land, the confrontation between Christianity and Native American religions revealed itself in various ways. That confrontation continues to this day.

In Manitou and God, Thomas describes American Indian religions as they compare with principal features of Christian doctrine and practice. He traces the development of sociopolitical and religious relations between American Indians and the European immigrants who, over the centuries, spread across the continent, captured Indian lands and decimated Indian culture in general and religion in particular. He identifies the modern-day status of American Indians and their religions, including the progress Indians have made toward improving their political power, socioeconomic condition, and cultural/religious recovery and the difficulties they continue to face in their attempts to better their lot. Readers will gain a better sense of the give and take between these two cultures and the influence each has had on the other.

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