Gideon's People is the story of an American Indian community in the Housatonic Valley of rthwestern Connecticut. It is based on some three decades of nearly uninterrupted German-language diaries and allied records kept by the Moravian missionaries who had joined the Indians at a place called Pachgatgoch, later Schaghticoke. It is supplemented by colonial records and regional political, social, and religious histories and ethgraphies. As such, it represents the only comprehensive, thoroughly contextualized description of a Native people in southern New England and adjacent eastern New York for the mid-eighteenth century. The Moravians' diaries report on the day-to-day activities in the community, including house-building, the production of material goods, hunting, fishing, and farming. We are told of marriages, births, deaths, disease, and the calamity of alcohol abuse. The unavoidable interactions with surrounding Indians and close-by colonial farmers and townspeople are offered in detail, along with the sometimes contentious relations with local and colonial authorities. And there is the omnipresence of the missionaries' religious message to the Indians, frequently accepted and then tested by the inevitable temptations and, more than once, spurned. But we also learn of the struggles of the Moravians to feed and clothe themselves at a distance from their congregation in Bethlehem and their endeavors, often marked by conflict and deep personal pain, to lead their Native flock to the Lamb.
Corinna Dally-Starna is the translator of Lakotas, Black Robes, and Holy Women: German Reports from the Indian Missions in South Dakota, 1886-1900 (Nebraska 2007). William A. Starna is a professor emeritus of anthropology at State University of New York College at Oneonta. He is the coeditor of Iroquois Journey: An Anthropologist Remembers (Nebraska 2007) and of Adriaen van der Donck's A Description of New Netherland (Nebraska 2008).