Jimi Hendrix Clara McCarty Captain Robert Gray Anna Louise StrongAnna Louise Strong Bailey Gatzert Home WWII Women Pilots
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7099 HistoryLink.org essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Native Americans organize the Indian Shaker Church in 1892.

HistoryLink.org Essay 2640 : Printer-Friendly Format

In 1892, Native Americans organize the Indian Shaker Church. Unrelated to the American Shakers (the United Society of Believers), the movement emerges at a time when tribal members are turning away from traditional practices and beliefs, but are still excluded from Euro-American society and culture off the reservations. In early years, believers were harassed by some missionary groups and Indian agents.

The movement that became the Indian Shaker Church began in 1882 when Sahewamish (Squaxin) Tribe member and Mason County logger John Slocum (d. 1882) experienced a revelation from God who informed him that Native Americans could achieve salvation by turning away from drinking, gambling, smoking, and the shamans or traditional doctors who still exerted influence. According to Slocum, God would give followers a medicine stronger than the shamans. Slocum's wife Mary is said to have experienced the "Shake" when she received the promised medicine from God. This came at a time of great disillusionment among Puget Sound tribes, which in the course of one generation had been dispossessed of the region and relegated to tiny reservations, poverty, and discrimination. "The Shakers draw from traditional Indian belief to say that everything is enveloped by God, is influenced by God, and influences God" (Giovannetti).

Although believers follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, some do not believe in the Bible. They believe that the experience of the Gospel is written in the subconscious. Shaker ritual includes the creation of sacred space and provides communication from this to the spirit world. Ritual also protects believers from ego inflation, or being overcome by evil. "When Shakers enter a church, they symbolically turn away from the world of the profane, or unconscious, to the world of the Holy" (Giovannetti).

The first Shaker Church was built at Shaker Point opposite the Squaxin Island Indian Reservation in South Puget Sound. From 1883 to 1932, the movement spread throughout the Northwest. In 1910, the members incorporated under the laws of the state of Washington. In 1927, a schism over the use of the Bible in services resulted in two separate churches, the Indian Shaker Church and the Indian Full Gospel Church. By 1996, the movement encompassed approximately 21 congregations and 3,000 members in Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and British Columbia.

Joseph M. Giovannetti, "Indian Shaker Church," Native America in the Twentieth Century: An Encyclopedia, (New York: Garland Publishing, 1994), 266-267; Alexandra Harmon, Indians in the Making: Ethnic Relations and Indian Identities Around Puget Sound, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 125-130; Michael Fredson, "Michael Fredson's Short History of Mason County" (2004), paper published by the Mason County Historical Society, copy in possession of HistoryLink.org, Seattle, Washington.
Note: This essay was updated on April 18, 2006.

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: American Indians | Northwest Indians | Religion |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

Indian Shaker Church leaders John Slocum (left) and Louis Yowaluck, ca. 1882
Courtesy Smithsonian Institution, National Archives 3021

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search

HistoryLink.org is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM)
HistoryLink.org is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email admin@historylink.org