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Native American Freemasonry

Associationalism and Performance in America

Joy Porter

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 11/2019
Pages: 368
Subject: Social Science
eBook ISBN: 9781496219053


Freemasonry has played a significant role in the history of Native Americans since the colonial era—a role whose extent and meaning are fully explored for the first time in this book. The overarching concern of Native American Freemasonry is with how Masonry met specific social and personal needs of Native Americans, a theme developed across three periods: the revolutionary era, the last third of the nineteenth century, and the years following the First World War. Joy Porter positions Freemasonry within its historical context, examining its social and political impact as a transatlantic phenomenon at the heart of the colonizing process. She then explores its meaning for many key Native leaders, for ethnic groups that sought to make connections through it, and for the bulk of its American membership—the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant middle class. Through research gleaned from archives in New York, Philadelphia, Oklahoma, California, and London, Porter shows how Freemasonry's performance of ritual provided an accessible point of entry to Native Americans and how over time, Freemasonry became a significant avenue for the exchange and co-creation of cultural forms by Indians and non-Indians.



Joy Porter is a professor of Indigenous history at the University of Hull, UK. She is the author of Native American Environmentalism (Nebraska, 2014) and To Be Indian: Indian Identity and the Life of Arthur Caswell Parker, the coeditor of The Cambridge Companion to Native American Literature, and the editor of Competing Voices from Native America and Place and Native American Indian History and Culture.


"This elegantly written book has much to recommend it. It is meticulously documented and is based on archival and secondary sources housed in major Masonic libraries in cities on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The book serves as a metric for studies of Native Americans and of other minority groups who have participated in Freemasonry. . . . [Native American Freemasonry] breaks new ground and should be read by both historians and general readers."—R. William Weisberger, Journal of American History  

"Offers many clarifications and revelations about a previously unexplored aspect of Native American history and Freemasonry. It belongs in all university and public libraries."—Emily E. Auger, Canadian Journal of Native Studies  

"Thoughtful and sophisticated."—Alan Garrison, Pacific Historical Review