Tribal Alliances: The State of Israel & Native American Christianity (Excerpt)

By Mark Clatterbuck

“Tribal Alliances: The State of Israel and Native American Christianity” was originally published in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 49:3, Summer 2014 and is excerpted here with their permission. 

Introduction: Indians, Jews, and Jesus

But I having curiously examined whatever has hitherto been written upon this subject do find no opinion more probable, nor agreeable to reason, than that of our Montezinos, who says, that the first inhabitants of America were the Ten Tribes of the Israelites . . .     . . . I prove that the Ten Tribes never returned to the Second Temple, that they yet kept the Law of Moses, and our sacred rites; and at last shall return to their Land, with the two Tribes, Judah and Benjamin; and shall be governed by one Prince, who is Messiah the Son of David; and without doubt that time is near, which I make appear by divers things . . .[1]                                                      —Menasseh Ben Israel (1650)


So, now, when you touch me

my skin, will you think

of Sand Creek, Wounded Knee?

And what will I remember 


when your skin is next to mine

Auschwitz, Buchenwald?

No, we will only think of the pastas one second before

where we are now, the futurejust one second ahead

but every once in a while

we can remind each other 


that we are both survivors and children

and grandchildren of survivors.[2]

—Sherman Alexie (1993)


As the end of the world draws near, per the theological calculations of many American churchgoers, more and more indigenous Christians across the United States are turning their hopes toward Israel. They do so with an eye to fulfilling the requisite Last Days prophecies, buoyed by a sense of solidarity with the tiny nation born of a shared survivorship through centuries of oppression. Theories uniting Jews and American Indians in ancestral alchemy have flourished since Europeans landed on New World shores, beginning with Christopher Columbus.[3] Through most of that history, fascination with the presumed Jewish roots of indigenous Americans was located primarily—if not exclusively—among non-Native commentators on American Indians, captivating the religious and historical imaginations of European Christians and, occasionally, of European Jews.

More recently, however, the religious imaginations of a growing number of Native Americans have likewise been captured by the possibilities of a Hebrew origin. And, even among a swelling number of Native Americans for whom the Jewish-origins narrative seems unlikely, the allure of embracing a more symbolic expression of Jewish kinship is proving irresistible. In fact, indigenous expressions of solidarity with Israel have grown so common—and Israeli expressions of reciprocation so overt—that a number of prominent Native scholars, alarmed by U.S. tribal support of an occupying Israeli government linked to systematic Palestinian oppression, have signed onto the controversial “Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.” When the well-known Mvskoke (Muscogee Creek) poet, author, and musician Joy Harjo accepted an invitation to perform at Tel Aviv University in 2012, some of her Native peers in the academy begged her “to not cross the picket line called by Palestinian civil society.”[4] Harjo refused to change course, publically expressing her disapproval of the boycott. This prompted considerable outrage from certain of her peers.[5]

Even more recently, the tribal governments of the Apsáalooke (Crow) and Navajo Nations have each formally established political alliances with the State of Israel, fueled by the promise of economic prosperity and staked to expressions of kinship between sibling tribes with long histories of collective suffering. While a rising chorus of voices is drawing attention to the cultural, political, postcolonial, and development implications of this burgeoning pro-Israel movement among U.S. indigenous peoples, less attention has been paid to the underlying religious convictions that are driving these developments. Barely obscured beneath the rhetoric of political alliances and economic partnerships, lurking in the corners of press releases and tribal policy speeches, a Native Christian theology—rife with Messianic Jewish influence, prophetic visions, and eschatological urgency—is the real impetus behind this surprising surge in Indian-Jewish cooperation.

An exploration of the remarkable pro-Israel efforts flourishing today among the Crow and Navajo Tribes offers a glimpse into the ways that Lost Tribes mythology, Pentecostal eschatology, biblical literalism, and a savvy coalition of Messianic Jewish organizations are making a new flower of Zionism bloom in the indigenous plains and desert soils of contemporary Native America.


“Jesus Christ Is Lord” on the Crow Indian Reservation 

On April 8, 2013, the Crow Tribal Legislature joined the tribe’s Executive Branch in passing a resolution carrying the following title: “A Crow Tribal Joint Action Resolution to Establish Crow Tribal Policy Officially Supporting the State of Israel on a Nation-to-Nation Basis.” Tribal Chairperson Darrin Old Coyote served as the bill’s sponsor. Perhaps due to the unusual nature of this bill, the legislation’s preambulatory clauses offer a wide-ranging justification for such an alliance, using political, historical, and even biblical appeals.

First, the resolution establishes the tribe’s right to enter into such agreements with any nation it chooses, insofar as the Apsáalooke Nation is a “federally-recognized sovereign tribal nation” with a history of entering into treaties with the U.S. “on a nation-to-nation basis.” As for why Israel should receive special recognition by the tribe, the bill’s framers begin with the claim that Crow Indians and the State of Israel enjoy a kinship by virtue of their respective histories of persecution. After highlighting threats posed to the Crows’ “sacred homeland” over the years—first by neighboring tribes (including “attempts to eradicate the Crow Tribe from its very existence”) and later by non-Natives seeking access to the reservation’s considerable mineral wealth—the bill’s authors conclude that “the State of Israel has faced similar historic challenges as the Crow Tribe to its territorial integrity and survival, many of which are still ongoing today.”

After noting Israel’s support,[6] in 2007, of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples—a declaration that was immediately supported by Crow legislative action[7]—the resolution takes a decidedly biblical turn:

Whereas, according to the King James Version of the Holy Bible, Book of Genesis, Chapter 12 . . . the words of the Creator (“Akbaatatdia”) to the nation of Israel provide that: “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all families of the Earth be blessed.”

Having expressed such bold confidence that divinely appointed blessings would visit not only friends of the ancient Hebrew patriarch but also friends of the modern State of Israel, the bill’s authors declare, “The official policy of the Crow Tribe of Indians shall be to support the State of Israel, especially in its efforts to maintain economic, territorial and political integrity.” Toward this end, provisions are made to ensure that copies of the resolution are delivered to the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and the United Nations. It also stipulates that “an official flag of the State of Israel is flown at the Veteran’s Park in Crow Agency” as a “monument” to this declaration. The resolution passed with unanimous support.[8] In March, 2014, during a private ceremony in Washington, DC, Crow tribal leaders formally presented the resolution to Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.

This conspicuous mingling of religious conviction with political action might have generated more surprise than it did among observers of Crow tribal politics, except that an even more stridently religious bill had passed in the Crow Legislature just one month earlier. On March 6, 2013, a special legislative session approved LR 13-02, titled “A Resolution of the Crow Tribal Legislature to Honor God for his Great Blessings upon the Crow Tribe and to Proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord of the Crow Indian Reservation.” In its preambulatory material, the bill claims that “today a large majority of Crow tribal members are Christians,” highlights two Crow-language names for Jesus, and draws attention to an informal policy of offering prayers before legislative sessions, “all of which are typically done in the name of Jesus.” The resolution then gives “recognition to the fact that God has guided the Crow Tribe throughout its history” in hopes that “future generations have extraordinary opportunities with continued guidance from God to significantly improve the social, economic, and political conditions of the Crow Tribe and Crow Reservation,” adding, “and, more importantly, that everlasting life in Heaven (the ‘Other Side Camp’) is available to those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and personal savior.”

The legislation resolves to give “thanks and appreciation . . . to God for all of the blessings which have been bestowed upon the Crow Tribe” and “honors the powerful works of God in protecting the Crow Tribe.” Therefore, it resolves that “Jesus Christ is hereby proclaimed as ‘Lord of the Crow Indian Reservation’ by the Crow Tribal Legislature.” Toward a public demonstration of this decree, the Secretary of the Legislature is entrusted with the task of displaying a monument to this proclamation in the Legislative Chamber, and the Legislature itself pledges support to the local pastors in erecting signage along Interstate 90 in Crow Agency, Montana (“and in other areas of the Crow Reservation”), declaring, “Jesus Christ is Lord of the Crow Indian Reservation.”[9] The resolution passed without a single vote in opposition.[10]

LR 13–02 was sponsored by Senator Conrad J. Stewart of the reservation’s Black Lodge District. The thirty-nine-year-old senator had run a hard-fought, social-media-savvy campaign to be the Tribal Chairperson the previous fall, though his bid ultimately fell short. Stewart is an outspoken Pentecostal Christian, being the proud great-grandson of Nellie Pretty Eagle Stewart, who was both daughter to Chief Pretty Eagle and founding pioneer of Crow Pentecostalism in the 1920’s.[11] On the Facebook page dedicated to his senatorial reelection campaign, Stewart describes himself as “a Christian with Crow Traditional Values.” The Bible headlines his list of favorite books, and he paraphrases Rom. 8:31 as his favorite quotation: “If God be for you! Who could be against you??” He describes his religious views in one word: “Christianity!!”[12]

In addition to sponsoring the “Jesus Is Lord” resolution, Stewart was also a key backer of the bill supporting Israel. In an interview I had with Stewart in July, 2013, he expressed great enthusiasm about passage of these resolutions, which he regarded as sister bills. He repeatedly explained that, taken together, these votes were “planting a seed of faith” that will usher in a wave of spiritual and economic blessings for the tribe. In a press release immediately following passage of the “Jesus Is Lord” resolution, Stewart announced: “This is a step forward for progress for the Crow people. Today the Crow Legislative branch supported me in planting a seed of faith to propel the Crow Nation into Greater Prosperity.”[13] The subsequent resolution declaring support for Israel was seen as a logical—even necessary—next step toward realizing this “greater prosperity.” Indeed, just before the vote was cast on the Stewart bill, legislators agreed that the next action to be taken up should be a formal tribal declaration of support for the state of Israel.[14]


Protest and “Redwashing”

Not surprisingly, the escalating support for Israel among Native American communities has attracted its share of critics. In addition to the many grassroots protests that have sprung up among the Navajo, Crow, and other tribes over a range of concerns related to these partnerships, a strong voice of disapproval has also been registered by a group of deeply concerned indigenous scholars who contend that Native partnerships with Israel represent a betrayal of indigenous values, history, and identity. One of the most prominent voices among them is Robert Warrior (Osage), a professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the founding president (in 2010) of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA). He studied under the Palestinian intellectual Edward Said and authored the highly influential essay, “Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians” (1989), in which he critiqued the biblical Exodus narrative for its enmeshment with the conquest narrative of “the indigenous inhabitants of Canaan” that immediately follows it—a narrative that has too often been used to justify subsequent conquests of indigenous populations, including in the U.S. He argues that “[t]he obvious characters in the story for Native Americans to identify with are the Canaanites, the people who already lived in the promised land.”[15]

In a letter sent to Shelly in April, 2013, Warrior, on behalf of nine other prominent indigenous scholars whose names appear on the letter, expressed “grave disappointment” over Shelly’s ongoing public support for Israel. He wrote, “As indigenous educators, we find your support for the state of Israel to be in complete contradiction to our values and sense of justice.” Challenging the tendency among Native supporters of Israel to feel more solidarity with Israelis than Palestinians, Warrior argues: “Like the Diné people, our various peoples (Osage, Choctaw, Dakota, Lenape, Kanaka Maoli, and Pohnpeian) have suffered the process of settlement, colonization, or militarization of our homelands. Thanks to the wisdom of our ancestors, we have persisted”—pointedly adding:

A similar process has unfolded for Palestinian people over the past half century. Indeed, Israeli demolition of the homes of Palestinian families is not all that different than the Long Walk your people endured in 1864. Your collusion with the Israeli government is a betrayal of that shared history and of the wisdom that has helped all Indigenous peoples survive for centuries.

The letter concludes, “We ask that you rethink your partnership with this corrupt and contested state and seek out international relationships that better reflect on all of us as Indigenous peoples.”[16] Warrior has yet to receive a formal response from Shelly.

Another prominent voice expressing sharp opposition to Native-Israeli alliances is that of J. Kehaulani Kauanui (Kanaka Maoli), a Native Hawaiian activist and associate professor of American studies and anthropology at Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT. As reported in Indian Country Today, Kauanui expressed her opinion of Shelly’s posture toward Israel in this way: “The contested State of Israel perpetuates the violent domination and removal of the Palestinian people from their homeland, much like the US settler colonial state’s treatment of Native nations. Why any tribal leader would want to partner with Netanyahu is beyond curious; it is morally repugnant.”[17] She has popularized the term “redwashing” to describe the process by which Israeli institutions are using alliances with U.S. tribes to their own political advantage. Specifically, she defines redwashing as the promotion of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas as a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of the Palestinian people. In these cases, Israelis typically appeal to indigenous peoples by drawing parallels between their respective claims to indigeneity, legacies of genocide (evoking the Jewish holocaust), and ongoing adversity regarding threats to “cultural extinction.” In turn, many indigenous groups and individuals have responded.[18]

In January, 2014, Kauanui led a panel discussion dedicated to exploring the topic at an international conference hosted by the American University of Beirut. Additionally, she has served on the advisory board to the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel since 2009, an effort that calls for a comprehensive boycott of all Israeli institutions that fail openly to oppose Israeli policies toward Palestinians. In December, 2013, clearly with an eye on the rising tide of Native-Israeli partnerships, the Council of the NAISA issued a formal statement of support for the Boycott, declaring: “The NAISA Council protests the infringement of the academic freedom of Indigenous Palestinian academics and intellectuals in the Occupied Territories and Israel who are denied fundamental freedoms of movement, expression, and assembly, which we uphold.”[19]


Conclusion: Spiritual Warriors and the New Indigeneity

With nods to the U.N., appeals to past oppression, and dreams of economic prosperity, the official rhetoric surrounding Crow and Navajo partnerships with Israel appears to suggest, at first blush, that political concerns and business interests are the driving forces behind them. However, a closer look reveals that religious convictions are every bit as much responsible for these emerging alliances—if not more so. While such outspoken critics as Warrior and Kauanui have tended to focus on the troubling political, cultural, and colonialist dimensions of these alliances, too little attention has yet been paid to the foundational influence of an emerging Native theology that blends a spiritualized vision of tribal kinship, a prophetic zeal born of biblical literalism, apocalyptic fervor, and a strong current of Messianic Judaism. Not only is this wave of blended religious currents giving rise to a new breed of tribal alliances, but it is also ushering in a new generation of Native Christian warriors charging headlong into battle, trampling popular notions of Native authenticity under the banner of a radically revisioned indigeneity for the twenty-first century.

Liberally interspersed in the religious rhetoric of Native Christian support for Israel is the imagery of spiritual warfare associated with a religious movement that is sometimes referred to as “dominion theology.”[20] It is a movement preoccupied with spiritual conquest, with “spiritual mapping” to identify regional “demonic strongholds” and “territorial spirits,” with waging “intercessory warfare,” and with retaking land stolen by the devil. Through this lens, catastrophic unemployment rates, rampant alcoholism, and a variety of public health concerns among Native communities are primarily regarded not as consequences of failed economic policies or systemic racism or centuries of colonial oppression; rather, these are the work of “territorial spirits” and “generational curses” to be discerned and overcome through the strategic intercessory prayer of spiritual warriors. For Native believers allied with this theology, a long-overdue reclamation of lost ground is taking place right before their eyes. Although the literal soil of Native lands may be lost for good, Native Christian supporters of a pro-Israel eschatological vision are taking back the spiritual inheritance they believe was previously lost through the greed of settlers, the work of demons, and the pagan practices of their own ancestors.

Understood this way, Native adherents of this theology experience it as greatly empowering, as a means of reclaiming their cultural inheritance as warriors, and as an assertion of their birthright as the original spiritual caretakers of this territory. In a 247-page handbook, Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will Be Done, Native pastors Jim and Faith Chosa from the Crow Reservation devoted considerable time to questions of indigenous identity in the context of global and national spiritual warfare, teaching that, just as God “set forth relational principals, which would apply to all nations, through His relationship with the First Nation of the globe, Israel,” so the indigenous peoples of North America likewise carry a heavy spiritual responsibility with respect to “the true ownership of the spiritual landscape of the continent.” This “true ownership” persists despite the fact that “the land they were given by God was stolen from them by broken treaties.” Therefore, “Native Americans are still the earthly host authority for the land of America, and the Native believers as new creatures of Christ restored to Heavenly authority in the Name of Jesus are the only ones who can righteously and permanently deal with any and all ancient issues of iniquity affecting the spiritual and natural landscape.”[21]

In the unfolding dialogue between Native critics of the pro-Israel movement and the movement’s Native supporters, I find it particularly significant that many of the voices being raised in defense of Israel do so by appealing precisely to this issue of indigenous identity. This comes even as Native critics of Israeli policies often imply that U.S. tribal support is detrimental to indigenous interests, an affront to the struggles endured by Native people everywhere. In short, they see it as a betrayal of Native identity. Against such accusations, many Native Christians are not merely defending their support for the Israeli state; they are also actively redefining the terms of the debate over what constitutes Native authenticity, who has the right to speak on behalf of Native people, and how to define and defend indigenous interests. To that end, they are simultaneously asserting their credentials to speak as Indians on behalf of Native interests, even while calling into question the legitimacy of their critics to do the same.

I first noticed this development in conversation with a Crow tribal legislator about his support for the “Jesus Is Lord” and “pro-Israel” resolutions. When I asked him to discuss opposition he has faced from the tribe over these bills, he pointed to a handful of online attacks posted by Crow tribal members who, he noted, “live miles and miles away from Crow Reservation but they’re Crow—maybe just a portion Crow.” He went on to say: “And I didn’t understand that, you know? We live right in the heart of everything and I’m almost full-blood Crow—and yet there’s some out there that might not even be one-quarter Crow and yet they wanted to say something bad against that. So it’s kinda funny how that worked out that way.”[22] His message was clear: The loudest critics of this legislation do not speak as real Indians. Rather, the full-blooded (or nearly so) Crow tribal members who are living on the reservation and who were voted into elected office by the people of the reservation are the true carriers of that distinction. And, according to the voting records, the majority of those voices proclaim “Jesus as Lord” and support the State of Israel. Even while sparring with critics across a variety of online forums, Native supporters of Israel consistently question the indigenous authenticity of pro-Palestinian Native voices.[23]

Therefore, as baffled and furious opponents persist in regarding these Native-Israeli alliances as blatantly antithetical to indigenous interests, a sell-out to the conquerors, and a betrayal of oppressed people everywhere, participants on the inside are experiencing a radically different reality. Through the forging of alliances with Jehovah’s Chosen People, these spiritual warriors are advancing the Reign of God on earth, ushering in the King of Kings, inviting spiritual and economic blessings on their chronically impoverished people, and reclaiming enemy territory they lost to colonial oppression while living under the spell of pagan darkness.

So, the wave of Native Christians across the country who are blowing shofar horns, performing Davidic dance rhythms, signing declarations in support of Israel, and booking pilgrimages to a Zion all too eager to welcome them home will likely continue to swell as this remarkable confluence of spiritual streams convinces many that they are engaged in a victory celebration for the resurrection of the once-mighty First Nations, freshly blessed for daring—in the face of critics, boycotts, and even the devil—to befriend Israel, the friend of God.


[1]Menasseh ben Israel, The Hope of Israel, ed. Henry Méchoulan and Gérard Nahon, Littman Library of Jewish Civilization (Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 101–102. Originally published 1650; E.T., Moses Wall, 1652.

[2]Sherman Alexie, “The Game Between the Jews and the Indians is Tied Going Into the Bottom of the Ninth Inning,” in Sherman Alexie, First Indian on the Moon (Brooklyn, NY: Hanging Loose Press, 1993), p. 80.

[3]In a remarkable compilation and exegesis of biblical texts titled The Book of Prophecies (1501/02) prepared for the King and Queen of Spain, Christopher Columbus claimed that he had discovered remnants of the Lost Tribes of Israel among the Caribbean Islands, inhabitants who would now—by God’s grace and his own ingenuity—have the gospel preached to them. He declared this would precipitate a mass conversion of New World Jews to reinforce the Christian army that would retake Jerusalem for the Catholic Crown, rebuild the temple, and usher in “the end of the world,” an event Columbus predicted to be a mere 150 years away. In 1650, roughly one year before the date identified by Columbus as the culmination of history, Dutch-Jewish philosopher Menasseh ben Israel penned his own arguments asserting “that the first inhabitants of America were the Ten Tribes of the Israelites.” And, like Columbus, Menasseh ben Israel wed the Indians’ Jewish origins to the consummation of history, at which time these children of the Lost Tribes “shall return to their Land” of Israel and “be governed by one Prince, who is Messiah the Son of David.” À la Columbus, he added: “no doubt that time is near.” See Delno C. West and August Kling, tr., The Libro de las profecías of Christopher Columbus: An en face edition (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 1991), pp. 105–111; and Menasseh Ben Israel, The Hope of Israel, pp. 101–102.

[4]The appeal not to cross the picket line was made by J. Kehaulani Kauanui, a Native Hawaiian scholar and activist, as quoted in Ali Abunimah, “Acclaimed feminist author, musician Joy Harjo lands in Tel Aviv to find boycott calls from Native American peers,” The Electronic Intifada, December 7, 2012; available at -lands-tel-aviv-find-boycott-calls.

[5]Writing from Tel Aviv, in a lengthy posting on her blog, Harjo responded to the pressure from colleagues to boycott the event by defending her decision to perform, even while acknowledging the right of her critics to disagree: “I admire and respect the scholars and artists who have backed the boycott. I stand with their principles, but they will not see it that way.” She concluded: “I will perform at the university as I promised, to an audience that will include Palestinian students. The students have written in support of me being here” (Joy Harjo, Joy Harjo’s Poetic Adventures in the Last World Blog [December 10, 2012]; available at

[6]Despite the resolution’s claim that Israel voted in support of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September, 2007, Israel was actually among thirty-four U.N. member-nations that were absent for the vote.

[7]Joint Action Resolution 07-07, “Resolution to Urge Support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” July 18, 2007. Approval of JAR 07-07 preceded, by almost two months, the United Nations General Assembly vote on the Declaration, with the authors of the resolution urging the U.S. “to fully support the adoption of the Declaration.” However, the U.S. joined with Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as the only four U.N. member nations to oppose the Declaration. In December, 2010, President Barack Obama, who was adopted by the Black Eagle family of the Crow Tribe in 2008, announced that the U.S. was giving its belated endorsement to the Declaration, the last of the original opposing nations to reverse course.

[8]The official tally was: 13 Yes, 0 No, 0 Abstentions; five senators were absent for the vote.

[9]LR 13-02, “A Resolution of the Crow Tribal Legislature to Honor God for his Great Blessings upon the Crow Tribe and to Proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord of the Crow Indian Reservation,” March 6, 2013; sponsored by Senator Conrad J. Stewart, Black Lodge District, Crow Reservation, Montana.

[10]The official tally was: 14 Yes, 0 No, 1 Abstention; three senators were absent for the vote.

[11]For a detailed study of Crow Pentecostalism, see Mark Clatterbuck, “Healing Hills and Sacred Songs: Crow Pentecostalism, Anti-Traditionalism, and Native Religious Identity,” Spiritus 12 (Fall, 2012): 248–277; available at.

[12]Available at sentative/273528969328494?sk=info.

[13]Conrad J. Stewart, “Jesus Christ Is Lord on the Crow Reservation!!!” (Crow Tribal Press Release, March 7, 2013).

[14]Conrad J. Stewart, interview with author, June 17, 2013 (Crow Legislative Branch Office, Crow Agency, MT).

[15]Robert Allen Warrior, “Canaanites, Cowboys, and Indians: Deliverance, Conquest, and Liberation Theology Today,” in James Treat, ed. Native and Christian: Indigenous Voices on Religious Identity in the United States and Canada (New York and London: Routledge, 1996), p. 95; originally published in Christianity and Crisis 49 (September 11, 1989): 262.

[16]Robert Warrior and others, letter to the Honorable Ben Shelly, April 3, 2013; made available to the author by Robert Warrior.

[17]Gale Courey Toensing, “Indigenous Scholars Oppose Navajo President ‘Becoming Partners’ with Israel,” Indian Country Today Media Network (April 6, 2013); available at http://indiancountrytodaymed 45.

[18]Excerpted from the abstract of Kauanui’s paper “Redwashing: Israeli Claims to Indigeneity and the Political Role of Native Americans,” prepared for presentation as part of a special panel dedicated to exploring the concept of “redwashing” at a conference hosted by the Center for American Studies and Research at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, in January, 2014.

[19]The full statement is available on the NAISA website: WwiO2k6MTtzOjc6ImJve WNvdHQiO30%3D.

[20]C. Peter Wagner is a founding voice in this movement, to which he has assigned the name “New Apostolic Reformation.” The titles of published works by him and a network of self-described prophets and apostles associated with this movement—religious leaders whose influence, as detailed above, have made significant inroads among Native Christians—illustrate the movement’s underlying narrative of spiritual conquest. See, e.g., three by C. Peter Wagner: Prayer Shield: How to Intercede for Pastors, Christian Leaders, and Others on the Spiritual Frontlines (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1992), Warfare Prayer (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1997), and Territorial Spirits: Practical Strategies for How to Crush the Enemy through Spiritual Warfare (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2012); two by Chuck Pierce: Worship Warrior: Ascending in Worship, Descending in War (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2002), and Time to Defeat the Devil: Strategies to Win the Spiritual War (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2011); Cindy Jacobs, Possessing the Gates of the Enemy: A Training Manual for Militant Intercession, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 2009); and Jim and Faith Chosa, Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will Be Done: A First Nation Perspective on Strategic Keys for Territorial Deliverance and Transformation—A Resource, Equipping Manual for Repossessing the Earth One Acre at a Time (Yellowtail, MT: Day Chief Ministries, 2004).

[21]Chosa, Thy Kingdom Come, pp. 98 and 137. The conclusion of their Day Chief Ministries Vision statement highlights this hope for a reclamation of the “ancient Indian warrior” waging spiritual battle for the Great Warrior Yeshua: “Think of it! Countless thousands of young Native Americans brought to a newness of Spirit-life, and given the vision of becoming ‘Mighty Warriors’ with the Lord Jesus Christ as their indwelling, Great Warrior Chief and partnering together with all ethnic peoples of the world to advance the Kingdom of God.” See the full “Outline of Vision and Mission” statement of Day Chief Ministries at

[22]Anonymous, interview with author, June, 2013 (Crow Agency, MT).

[23]E.g., see Jay Corwin (Tlingit, Alaska), “Native American academics do not endorse the boycott of Israeli academics,” The Times of Israel (December 25, 2013); available at native-american-academics-do-not-endorse-the-boycott-of-israeli-academics/; and Ryan Bellerose (Métis, Alberta), “Don’t Mix Indigenous Fight with Palestinian Rights,” Indian Country Today Media Network (January 11, 2014); available at http://indiancountrytodaymedia For a robust rebuttal to Bellerose, see Robert Warrior, “Palestine Without Smears: Why Israel and Natives Aren’t Natural Allies,” Indian Country Today Media Network (January 29, 2014); available at


Grant support for this research came from the Louisville (KY) Institute and Montclair (NJ) State University. My thanks go to Tim McCleary (Little Big Horn College, Crow Agency, MT) and Michael Kogan (Montclair State University) for offering helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this essay, and to Suzannah Leydenfrost and Kathryn Goldner for their excellent work as research assistants for this project.


Mark Clatterbuck has been an Assistant Professor of Religion at Montclair (NJ) State University since 2010, and will lecture at Lancaster (PA) Theological Seminary during the summer of 2015. His previous teaching positions have been at Lancaster (PA) Country Day School (including directing the Hague International Model U.N. program), 2008–10; York College of Pennsylvania, 2007–08; Moravian Academy, Bethlehem, PA (where he was also the interreligious chaplain), 2003–06; The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 2000–03; Trinity Academy, Wichita, KS, 1998–2000; and Stone Child Tribal College, Rocky Boy’s Reservation, Chippewa/Cree, MT, 1997. He co-directed and coordinated the program for a Native American Youth Camp in Montana, during the summers of 1992–98. He holds a B.A. from Messiah College, Grantham, PA; an M.A. from Wheaton (IL) Graduate School; and a Ph.D. in religion and culture (2008) from The Catholic University of America. An Oblate of the Order of St. Benedict since 1995, his specialty is Native American Christianity. He has published Demons, Saints, and Patriots: Catholic Visions of Native America (1902–1962) (Marquette, 2009), and his peer-reviewed articles have appeared in Spiritus, U.S. Catholic Historian, Horizons, Missiology, and Latin American Indian Literatures Journal. He has presented at several national and regional academic conferences of the American Academy of Religion and the American Anthropological Association, as well as at numerous other academic and ecclesiastical gatherings in Montana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. He has received several research grants, especially for his work with the Crow tribe.

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