Native American Freemasonry


Native American Freemasonry

Associationalism and Performance in America

Joy Porter

368 pages
14 illustrations


November 2011


$60.00 Add to Cart

November 2019


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2019


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2011


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Freemasonry has played a significant role in the history of Native Americans since the colonial era—a role whose extent and meaning are fully explored for the first time in this book. The overarching concern of Native American Freemasonry is with how Masonry met specific social and personal needs of Native Americans, a theme developed across three periods: the revolutionary era, the last third of the nineteenth century, and the years following the First World War. Joy Porter positions Freemasonry within its historical context, examining its social and political impact as a transatlantic phenomenon at the heart of the colonizing process. She then explores its meaning for many key Native leaders, for ethnic groups that sought to make connections through it, and for the bulk of its American membership—the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant middle class.

Through research gleaned from archives in New York, Philadelphia, Oklahoma, California, and London, Porter shows how Freemasonry’s performance of ritual provided an accessible point of entry to Native Americans and how over time, Freemasonry became a significant avenue for the exchange and co-creation of cultural forms by Indians and non-Indians.

Author Bio

Joy Porter is a professor of Indigenous history at the University of Hull, UK. She is the author of Native American Environmentalism (Nebraska, 2014) and To Be Indian: Indian Identity and the Life of Arthur Caswell Parker, the coeditor of The Cambridge Companion to Native American Literature, and the editor of Competing Voices from Native America and Place and Native American Indian History and Culture.


"This elegantly written book has much to recommend it. It is meticulously documented and is based on archival and secondary sources housed in major Masonic libraries in cities on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The book serves as a metric for studies of Native Americans and of other minority groups who have participated in Freemasonry. . . . [Native American Freemasonry] breaks new ground and should be read by both historians and general readers."—R. William Weisberger, Journal of American History

“Thoughtful and sophisticated.”—Alan Garrison, Pacific Historical Review

"Joy Porter's book on freemasonry among American Indians deepens our understanding of how an institution once seen solely as elitist and secret could be used to give meaning to native American spiritual beliefs and social activism. It joins a growing scholarly literature that is changing the way we view freemasonry as well as our understanding of Indian Americans. A triumph of scholarship!"—Margaret C. Jacob, distinguished professor of history, UCLA


“Offers many clarifications and revelations about a previously unexplored aspect of Native American history and Freemasonry. It belongs in all university and public libraries.”—Emily E. Auger, Canadian Journal of Native Studies

"Native American Freemasonry provides an important insight into how Native and European Americans made use of Masonic space for mutual recognition, acceptance, and cultural exchange and how popular notions of "Nativeness" were exploited within the context of American fraternalism."—Bro. Robert Blackburn, Rising Point

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



A Note on Terms

1. Approaching Native American Freemasonry, Part One

2. Approaching Native American Freemasonry, Part Two

3. A History of Freemasonry: From Europe to the United States

4. Freemasonry as Ornamentalism: Class, Race, and Social Hierarchy

5. The Attractions of Freemasonry to Indians and Others, Part One

6. The Attractions of Freemasonry to Indians and Others, Part Two

7. Native American Freemasons: The Revolutionary Era

8. Native American Freemasons: The "Settlement" of the West and the Civil War Era

9. Native American Freemasons: The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

10. On Television's Deathblow to Fraternalism: Understanding Associationalism and the Declining Role of Fraternalism in American Life




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