This book examines how the Wamapanoag Indians' adoption of Christianity and other selective borrowing from English culture contributed to Indian/English coexistence and the long-term survival of Wamapanoag communities on the island of Martha's Vineyard, even as the racial barrier between peoples grew more rigid. On an island marked by centralized English authority, missionary commitment, and an Indian majority, the Wampanoags' adaptation to English culture, especially Christianity, checked violence while safeguarding their land, community, and ironically, even customs. Yet the colonists' exploitation of Indian land and labor exposed the limits of Christian fellowship and thus hardened racial division.
Introduction: Epenow's lessons; 1. 'Here comes the Englishman'; 2. To become all things to all men; 3. The Lord tests the righteous; 4. Deposing the Sachem to defend the Sachemship; 5. Leading values; 6. The costs of debt; 7. 'Newcomers and strangers'; Conclusion: fencing in, fencing out.
"Faith and Boundaries is one of the best books on New England's Indian history and a vital contribution to the literature of contact and community survival in early America."
- William and Mary Quarterly
"Faith and Boundaries is one of the finest books to appear in some time about Southern New England Indians."
- American Indian Culture and Research Journal
"This elegantly written, exhaustively researched book deserves a wide readership and is sure to have a lasting impact on our understanding of the role of Christianity in early American Indian history."
- Journal of Ecclesiastical History
"Faith and Boundaries is a fine addition to the growing number of New England 'town studies' that focus on Indian communities. Silverman...shows how Indian managed to survive on the margins of New England society, and his book in an important and well-researched contribution to the literature."
- The New England Quarterly
"David J. Silverman has written a compelling and original history of the Wampanoag Indians of Martha's Vineyard using extensive archival research, personal interviews with contemporary Wampanoag residents of Martha's Vineyard, and a firm grasp of the secondary scholarship available on the Algonquian peoples of New England...[He] uses his sources expertly, reconstructing individual lives and experiences to paint a far more complex picture of Indian life on the island than has hitherto been available."
-The Journal of American History
"This book provides a comprehensive and well-written analysis of the American Indian communities of southern New England and their critical engagement with the British colonial world... The book has an epic quality.... As a student of both James Axtell and John Murrin, Silverman is uniquely positioned to treat both sides of the colonial encounter well, and he succeeds in fully integrating American Indian history into the broad sweep of the Atlantic world."
- American Historical Review
"Silverman's breadth of research, his clear and consistent line of analysis, and his skillful balance of engaging story-telling and detailed documentation, make the work a fascinating and valuable resource."
- The Catholic Historical Review