George Henry Loskiel: "unnatural practices," 1742-1750


The reports of two missionaries of the Moravian Church (a German Protestant denomination) who arrived in the American colonies in 1742 and 1750 are the basis of Loskiel's comment on the Delawares, Iroquois, and nations leagued with them.

Loskiel writes that although "nothing lascivious or indecent" is observed among native males and females, "in secret they are . . . guilty of fornication, and even unnatural crime."*

This brief comment is one of the earliest known Protestant references to "unnatural crime" among Native Americans, and one of the earliest by a German, not a Spanish or French observer. 

George Henry Loskiel

George Henry Loskiel (November 7, 1740 – February 23, 1814) was presiding bishop of the northern district of the American province of the Moravian Church (1802–1811). He was known as an eloquent preacher and writer. His work Geschichte der Mission der Evanglischen Bruder unter den Indianern in Nordamerika (Leipzig, 1789) translated into English by Christian Ignatius Latrobe (1758–1836) as History of the Moravian Mission among the North American Indians (London, 1794) is important for the history of Native Americans.


*George Heinrich Loskiel, History of the Mission of the United the United Brethren Among the Indians of North America, translated by Christian I. La Trobe (London: Brethren's Socciety for the Furtherance of the Gospel, 1794), three parts in one vol, Prt. I, p. 14. Loskiel's book was first published in Germany in 1789. The book is based on reports by Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg and David Zeisberger. Jonathan Ned Katz thanks James D. Steakley for help with this research.