Prophets of the Great Spirit


Prophets of the Great Spirit

Native American Revitalization Movements in Eastern North America

Albert A. Cave

328 pages


June 2006


$32.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

August 2014


$32.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

June 2006


$32.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Prophets of the Great Spirit offers an in-depth look at the work of a diverse group of Native American visionaries who forged new, syncretic religious movements that provided their peoples with the ideological means to resist white domination. By blending ideas borrowed from Christianity with traditional beliefs, they transformed “high” gods or a distant and aloof creator into a powerful, activist deity that came to be called the Great Spirit. These revitalization leaders sought to regain the favor of the Great Spirit through reforms within their societies and the inauguration of new ritual practices.

Among the prophets included in this study are the Delaware Neolin, the Shawnee Tenkswatawa, the Creek “Red Stick” prophets, the Seneca Handsome Lake, and the Kickapoo Kenekuk. Covering more than a century, from the early 1700s through the Kickapoo Indian removal of the Jacksonian Era, the prophets of the Great Spirit sometimes preached armed resistance but more often used nonviolent strategies to resist white cultural domination. Some prophets rejected virtually all aspects of Euro-American culture. Others sought to assure the survival of their culture through selective adaptation.

Alfred A. Cave explains the conditions giving rise to the millenarian movements in detail and skillfully illuminates the key histories, personalities, and legacies of the movement. Weaving an array of sources into a compelling narrative, he captures the diversity of these prophets and their commitment to the common goal of Native American survival.

Author Bio

Alfred A. Cave is a professor of history at the University of Toledo. He is the author of The Pequot War.


“In this excellent, enjoyable work, Cave explores how a series of connected religious movements led by dynamic prophets swept through Indian groups in eastern North America between 1744 and 1835. . . . Cave’s book will be useful to students of religion as well as Native American history.”—Choice

“At multiple points in Prophets, Cave demonstrates his historiographical acumen. . . . Cave’s treatments, though, of Tenskwatawa and Tecumseh’s efforts is perhaps the book’s most informative historiographical contribution. . . . Cave’s is an admirable text. It is well researched and finely written. To be sure, then, Prophets of the Great Spirit is a highly serviceable and commendable introduction for any student of Native American revitalization movements, Native American history and regions, and early American history.”—Brendan Q. Swagerty, Journal of Religion

Also of Interest