George Tinker

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George E. "Tink" Tinker (Osage Nation) is an American Indian scholar who is known for his work on Native American liberation theology.

Early life and education[edit]

George E. Tinker is the son of a Lutheran mother and an Osage father. Tinker identifies more with his father’s culture and spirituality than his mother’s Lutheran background. Tinker’s identification with his American Indian cultural and spiritual heritage parallels his academic career, which can be broadly described as a critique of Western intellectualism and economic, political, religious, and social systems.

Tinker received his B.A. from New Mexico Highlands University, and a M.Div. from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. He earned his doctorate in Biblical studies at the Graduate Theological Union in 1983.[1]


Tinker is the Clifford Baldridge Professor of American Indian Cultures and Religious Traditions at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, where he has taught since 1985.[1] He is an ordained Lutheran pastor of Living Waters Episcopal/Lutheran Indian Ministry in Denver. Tinker is a member of the Osage Nation, and is also on the leadership council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado and director of the Four Winds American Survival Project. He has also presented in forums such as the 2014 National Workshop on Christian Unity, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In his best known work, American Indian Liberation, Tinker argues that, "The intellectual and religious realms have been crucial to colonial political and economic domination of indigenous peoples."[2] He believes that Native American Christians need to separate themselves from the colonial thinking of European settlers but draw from Native American spirituality and its emphases on space, nature, and community. He would develop this further in the co-authored book Native American Theology.[3]

Tinker's recent work examines the historical and institutional controversy and surrounding an atrocity where a book of Christian history that was bound in the skin of an Indigenous Man and gifted to Iliff School of Theology. Although the human skin was removed and given to American Indian Movement representatives in the 1970s, a non-disclosure agreement silenced the institutional role played by the school where the book was displayed for eighty years. With the support of Thomas Wolfe, the current president of the Iliff School, Tinker has worked to build awareness about the book and the lingering ways that institutions benefit from their participation in colonialism.[4]


  • Missionary Conquest: The Gospel and Native American Cultural Genocide (1993)
  • Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation (2004)
  • American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty (2008)
  • co-author of "A Native American Theology" (2001)
  • co-editor of Native Voices: American Indian Identity and Resistance (2003)
  • "Red Skin, Tanned Hide: A Book of Christian History Bound in the Flayed Skin of a Native American" (2014)


  1. ^ a b "Tink Tinker". Iliff School of Theology. 2017-08-10. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  2. ^ Tinker, George E., American Indian Liberation: A Theology of Sovereignty, p.18, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York ISBN 978-1-57075-805-8
  3. ^ Kidwell, Clara Sue; Noley, Homer; Tinker, George E. (2001). A Native American Theology. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. ISBN 978-1-57075-361-9.
  4. ^ Tinker, George E. (October 2014). "Redskin, Tanned Hide: A Book of Christian History Bound in the Flayed Skin of an American Indian: The Colonial Romance, Christian Denial and the Cleansing of a Christian School of Theology" (PDF). Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion. 5 (9): 1–43.

Further reading[edit]

  • Tinker, George E. "Spirituality Justice Reprint: Dreaming a New Dream Cowboys, Indians, Global Violence and the Gospel." Plenary address at CTA National Conference, Milwaukee, Wis., Nov. 5, 2000.[1]
  • Treat, James. "Spirituality, Native American Personhood, Sovereignty, and Solidarity." Native and Christian: Indigenous Voices on Religious Identity in the United States and Canada. New York and London: Routledge, 1996.
  • A Visionary Theology: 2004 GTU Alum of the Year: George E. 'Tink' Tinker