Native conversion, native identity: an oral history of the Bahá'í faith among First Nations people in the southern central Yukon Territory, Canada
Sawin, Carolyn Patterson
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines the factors influencing religious conversion and retention among Yukon First Nations people in the Baha'i Faith. Research based on personal interviews, archival sources, and personal observations suggest that social factors, in addition to cognitive or "doctrinal" factors, play a significant role both in influencing conversion and in retaining new converts in their chosen faith. Specifically, where converts have a network of close social relationships with others in their faith, and feel they receive adequate social support from their religious community, they will tend to remain committed to their new religion, and to participate actively in the religious community.This dissertation also looks at the correlation between First Nations commitment and participation in the Baha'i community, and the degree to which Baha'is are able to express their cultural identity within their faith. My research suggests that where First Nations Baha'is are encouraged to express and embrace their cultural identity by other, non-Native Baha'is, they tend to be active participants in the Baha'i community. By contrast, where they perceive a conflict between their Native and Baha'i identities, they will tend to draw away from active Baha'i participation. In the Yukon, it appears that the [after situation has predominated in the Baha'i community since the 1970s, resulting in the gradual decline in the number of First Nations Baha'is, and in First Nations participation in the Baha'i community. Those Yukon First Nations Baha'is who have remained the most committed to their faith over time are those who have been able to integrate their Native and Baha'i identities. They have done so by deliberately linking aspects of their indigenous culture-most often, oral narratives-to legitimize their identity as Baha'is, and to validate, in the eyes of non-Native Baha'is their identity as First Nations people.
- Anthropology