Two Indigenous Evangelists: Moses Tjalkabota and Arthur Wellington Clah
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Arthur Wellington Clah was a Tsimshian man on the Pacific north-west coast of Canada, who encountered the missionary, William Duncan, as a young adult at the Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Simpson in the 1850s. Moses Tjalkabota was an Arrernte man in central Australia. He was a young boy when he first came into contact with Lutheran missionaries at Hermannsburg mission in the 1880s, and was baptized in 1890. Both these men became Christian evangelists, both preached to their own people, and further afield among neighbouring groups. But here the similarities between them seem to stop. Clah was never part of a mission settlement, maintaining his independence from any established church; while Moses, who became blind as a young man, spent most of his life at Hermannsburg. This article examines these two evangelists’ understandings of Christianity and how they communicated these understandings to their own and neighbouring peoples. Clah encouraged good behaviour, which conformed with his understanding of Christian precepts; Moses tried to communicate a more abstract form of belief through which happiness and eternal life could be attained.