The article deals with the phenomenon of religious fever among the indigenous people of central British Columbia in the second quarter of the 19th century. In a short time, the traditional belief system of the Carrier Indians adopted some of the Christian doctrines and symbolism. This took place in the period before the first missionaries came to the region. Paradoxically, at the initial stage, the enculturation of Christianity started without participation of Christians themselves. The transformation of the Indians’ religious views wasn’t accompanied by European cultural expansion. In the late 1860s, when the missionaries started their active agency, the Indians were ready to accept the new religion without resistance. This article is based on the analysis of folk tales, historical dates and researches devoted to this subject. The channels of cultural diffusion and the integration of elements of Christianity into traditional beliefs are revealed. The psychological reasons of acceptance of the new religion by the Indians are also in the focus of attention. The author determines the date of the beginning of the Prophet's movement among the Carrier. The key source of this dating was John McLean's journal, which has not previously been used in researches of the subjects. The author proposes accounting this cultural phenomenon as a spontaneous movement, not a cult of a religious leader.

Keywords: Carrier Athapascan, Dakelh, religious syncretism, religious fever, Bini the Prophet, acculturation, cultural synthesis, cultural diffusion

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2018.1.71-83

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About the author

Nikita S. Shishelov – independent researcher; Moscow; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.