Mariah Humphries is a Mvskoke Nation citizen, writer and educator. Her experience navigating the tension between Native and non-Native cultures allows her to bring Native awareness to non-Native spaces. She has over 20 years of vocational ministry service, focusing on theology, racial literacy and reconciliation within the American Church. Humphries is the director of parachurch partnerships and alumni relations at Baylor University. Prior to this role, she was assistant director of campaign and development communications. She also serves as director of marketing and innovation at Be the Bridge. Humphries attended The University of New Mexico and received a master’s of theology from Baylor’s Truett Seminary.
Many people assume that Native culture is non-Christian. Mariah Humphries, a citizen of the Mvskoke Nation, shares her own faith journey and how she embraces both her Christianity and identity as a Native American. She discusses what is going on in Native Christianity and what assumptions about Native Americans need to be challenged.
In this conversation between Mariah and NAE President Walter Kim, you’ll also learn:
- Why narratives about Native Americans have changed over the years;
- How acknowledging the past builds trust and paves the way for the gospel;
- What kind of language and approach helps communicate the good news with indigenous people; and
- How Natives understand their responsibility to care for creation.
Read a Portion of the Transcript
Walter: How do you navigate the various cultures and histories that you’re apart of — your Native American culture and your non-native American culture?
Mariah: I think one of the beauties, with respect to my parents, is that I was raised to be fully Mariah rather than part this, part that. I’ve even labeled myself biracial or multi-ethnic — different labels I’ve placed on myself and that society places on me as well. But I grew up just knowing I was wholly who I am.
My European ancestry was talked about in my home. My Native ancestry was talked about in my home. And it was very natural for me to be all of those, rather than I’m half this, quarter this, an eight this. Because in reality it doesn’t matter what my bloodstream shows; I’ve been brought up to respect all of those cultures, to be part of those. I navigate the in-between, but I definitely identify and navigate in this space, this life as a Mvskoke woman, because I visually represent what a Native American would typically look like — even though Native Americans are white and Brown and Black. We are the scale of skin tones.
I primarily respect and identify as a Mvskoke woman, because that is more of a marginalized group of what I represent. I tend to make sure I am educating in that space and talking about that space. We often talk about the checkmark of what we identify as and I want to make sure that is always represented. So I tend to focus more on my Native side because that is something that is less known. People just don’t really understand a lot of times, and there is the complexity of being Christian and Native and the layered-ness that comes with that identify as well.
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- Read Mariah Humphries’ contribution in the Voices of Lament book.
- Discover NAE resources on Creation Care and Racial Justice & Reconciliation.
- Listen to our podcast with Sandra Richter on What Scripture Says About the Environment.
Today’s Conversation is brought to you by Youth Theology Network.