This book represents the culmination of a project that has been both a professional interest and a personal journey; it began as a concern over where I am going, it developed as a study of where I came from, and it is slowly resolving into a vision of who I am in this particular place and time.  The research for this book began seven years ago, during my first year of graduate school, as a class presentation in a course on Latin American Liberation Theology.  This initial effort evolved into a master’s thesis, “Native Americans, Theology, and Liberation:  Christianity and Traditionalism in the Struggle for Survival,” in which I examined the relationship between native Christians and the global liberation theology movement.  In the words of my original thesis proposal, it was a search for “a Christian theology of liberation originating within the Native American community, in light of and in response to various aspects of the North American experience.”  I was fortunate to have Professors C. S. Song, George Cummings, Eldon Ernst, and Jorge Lara-Braud serving on my committee, and they each taught me important lessons in the process.  I am also grateful for the many ways in which I have benefited from knowing Paul Schultz, Judy Wellington, and other friends at the Bay Area Native American Ministry, as well as the faculty, staff, and students of the Native American Studies program at the University of California, Berkeley.

I graduated from the Pacific School of Religion in 1989 and matriculated at the Graduate Theological Union that fall; my plans for developing this anthology were delayed while I completed my doctorate and began teaching at the University of California at Santa Cruz.  I was able to update my research periodically thanks to Newhall Fellowship funds granted by the Graduate Theological Union and faculty research funds granted by University of California at Santa Cruz.  Several colleagues have encouraged me in my work, especially Rudy Busto, Ann Braude, and Nancy Ammerman, and in 1994 I received a Summer Stipend grant from the Louisville Institute for the Study of Protestantism and American Culture to complete the manuscript.  I am indebted to Joanne Barker, Ann Braude, Sandra Bunn, Rudy Busto, Michael McNally, Jean Molesky, Laura Murray, Barry O’Connell, Forrest Robinson, John Sanbonmatsu, C. S. Song, Judy Wellington, and Judy Yung, each of whom read parts of the manuscript and made critical and constructive comments.  I have also enjoyed working with the writers who contributed to this collection and appreciate their cooperation and encouragement.  I have used many of these essays in my seminar “Native Americans and Christianity” and have learned a great deal from students at the University of California at Santa Cruz and at the Pacific School of Religion, especially Christine Albany, Steven Danver, Joanne Doi, Vickie Glazier, Michael Heart, Pat St. Onge, Margaret Thomas, and Karen Winkel.  Finally, I am grateful to family and friends who have provided the foundation that made this project both possible and meaningful, especially my grandmother Betty Jewel Oklahoma Evans Jones, my aunt Bertha Pickard, and my parents Jimmie and Marcia Treat, who defied the logic of human determinism by giving me life.