Early Indian Conversion to Christianity

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Early Indian Conversion to Christianity


Karen Kupperman (professor of history at New York University) discusses settlers' knowledge of Indian religion and instances of Indian conversion to Christianity. This audio clip is an excerpt from an interview originally aired during week of September 30, 2006 on the radio program With Good Reason, hosted by Sarah McConnell and produced by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.


VFH Radio, a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


VFH Radio


September 30, 2006


Courtesy of VFH Radio



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Sarah McConnell: So what did the colonists discover in terms of religion and spirituality and belief sets on the part of the Indians when they arrived in Virginia? What had they known before they arrived, about what these people believed, given that they intended to convert them to Christianity?

Karen Kupperman: Thomas Harriot who was in Roanoke, which was 20 years before Jamestown, had learned the coastal Carolina Algonquian language before he went and he said, ‘the Indians have the footprints of religion and it will make it that much easier for them to accept Christianity.’

McConnell: Some of them like Pocahontas were famously converted, but did the Indians in general ever really buy into the religion of the English?

Kupperman: I would say not, and I think even Pocahontas’ conversion…there’s some indications that that was a work in progress rather than something that they saw as a final, accomplished fact. There were converts, but I think on the whole the Indians resisted English efforts to convert them, in Virginia.





VFH Radio, a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Early Indian Conversion to Christianity,” Virginia Indian Archive, accessed June 2, 2023, https://virginiaindianarchive.org/items/show/46.

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