Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

4-2010

Abstract

Given that Western models of mission have failed among Native Americans and that colonial practices have devastated native communities, this research sought a better way of pursuing Christian mission among Native Americans by asking two questions: (1) Do Native Americans have a generally shared set of values that could guide the construction of new models for mission in North American Native communities, and, if so, to what degree are these values shared among Native American communities? and, (2). What resources (particularly values) are available within the Native American communities themselves for developing appropriate models of mission and could such resources be developed into authentic, integral mission models?

I began the project with a three-pronged framework from a biblical/theological construction of shalom, a contextually based anthropologically-informed missiology and an indigenous construction of decolonization and indigenization. A framework for studying values emerged based on literature from the fields of counseling, sociology, anthropology, education, missiology, history, and religion. The values themselves emerged from conversations with seven elders/spiritual leaders who participated in extensive interviews, and one hundred self-selected Native Americans who answered a ten-question survey. Responses were analyzed using grounded theory as a way to discover and organize a system of values.

I linked responses with literature regarding Native American value studies, discourse, and experiences as the value categories emerged. I was able to establish among Native Americans, a widely spread construct I call the "Harmony Way." I was then able to isolate and examine ten commonly held core values that exist within the framework of the Native American Harmony Way.

The research raised questions about current approaches to Native American mission and about the dangers of formulating mission models that are not based on Native American values and not within the framework of a Native American concept of "wellbeing" or what I will refer to as the "Native American Harmony Way." The research contributes to the practice of disrupting systems of oppression, even in the mission movement, and encourages the formation of alliances to promote Native American mission models that are empowering and liberating.