This richly detailed, well-documented history describes the life of the Squaxin spiritual leader John Slocum and the growth in the Pacific Northwest of his Indian Shaker Church (not to be confused with eastern Shakerism. Students of Native American religion and Christianity will find this a moving story both of assimilation and of the curing that is the Shaker Church’s reason for being.
The Indian Shaker movement began in 1882 when the charismatic but dissolute Slocum had a vision after a near-death experience. Later his church was led by his wide, Mary Thompson, and early-day leaders such as Mud Bay Louis and Mud Bay Sam. Today church members continue to combine Native American styles of singing, body movement, and verbal declarations with bell ringing, songs, burning candles, and shaking in a unique curing tradition that is honored outside the church particularly for its success in teaching against the use of alcohol. Intense community support, for both leader and patient, is a focal point in the lives of Shaker Church members. Their tradition has endured despite the important differences in members’ tribal backgrounds and religious viewpoints chronicled in this up-to-date account by veteran scholars Robert H. Ruby and John A. Brown, the first outsiders to have access to church records.