When the Puritan missionary John Eliot first preached to Indians (1646), ‘they paid no heed…were weary, and despised what I said’. But Eliot was a man of persistence, as well as conviction, and not a little imagination. He took the trouble to master the native American languages, creating written versions for the reproduction of religious texts, most notably an Algonquin Bible. Believing that Christian faith would grow through a Christian lifestyle, he commissioned the building of planned settlements for his ‘praying Indians’; by 1674, there were 14 such settlements. Eliot was protective of his Indians, defending them in property disputes with the English colonists. However, the project was devastated by colonial/Indian war (1675–78), although the praying Indians fought for the colonists. The missionary Samuel Occom (of Mohican descent) revived the concept in the 18th century; praying Indians fought on the American side in the War of Independence.
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