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Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon$
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Elizabeth Fenton and Jared Hickman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190221928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190221928.001.0001

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“We’re Going to Take Our Land Back Over”

“We’re Going to Take Our Land Back Over”

Indigenous Positionality, the Ethnography of Reading, and The Book of Mormon

(p.321) 13 “We’re Going to Take Our Land Back Over”
Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon

Stanley J. Thayne

Oxford University Press

Reading is a cultural activity, meaning that we read from a particular space and cultural positionality. An ethnography of reading, then, takes into account how one’s positionality affects one’s reading, and, concomitantly, how that reading reflects (and affects) one’s position in the world. As I argue and hope to subsequently demonstrate, Indigenous peoples read The Book of Mormon from a particular space that places them in a special, and potentially fraught, relationship to the text. Since The Book of Mormon claims to be a history of the peopling of the Americas, the stakes of interpretation are particularly high for Indigenous Americans, because, for those who accept the historicity and sacred status of The Book of Mormon as scripture, it has significant bearing on articulations of ancestry, identity, and Indigeneity. In this chapter I provide an ethnographic reading of an Indigenous woman’s reading of The Book of Mormon from the Catawba Indian Nation.

Keywords:   anthropology, The Book of Mormon, Catawba Indian Nation, Cherokee Trail of Tears, Mormonism, settler colonialism, indigenous/indigeneity, Indian Removal Act, Andrew Jackson, Lamanite

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