Blackwell North Amer The exotic cultural terrain of New Orleans is enriched by the Spiritual churches. Combining elements from Roman Catholicism, Afro-Caribbean rituals, and down-home black religion, some one hundred of these houses of worship, most of them small, are scattered throughout the Crescent City. Their founder, Mother Leafy Anderson, was a faith healer and medium of African and Native American ancestry, who summoned spirits of the dead to commune with the living. In 1920 she came from Chicago to establish her denomination led by women and gladdened by jazz bands. Despite segregation laws, her congregations were integrated. At the center of her church Mother Anderson enshrined the spirit of Black Hawk, the rebellious Indian leader who in the 1830s waged a valiant rear-guard war against white pioneers and federal troops during the settling of the Midwest. Passionate present-day followers of Mother Anderson sing praises to him, "He'll fight your battles. He's on the wall." Why Black Hawk? Why is a Midwestern Indian at the heart of an African-American faith in the Deep South? Jason Berry, one of America's finest investigative nonfiction writers, explores the intriguing mystery of Black Hawk's place in the canon of Spiritual saints. In doing so he recounts the fascinating story of the church and the latterday followers of Mother Anderson in contemporary New Orleans. His haunting narrative is a historical detective story that encompasses the biography of Black Hawk, Leafy Anderson, and the remarkable circle of disciples around her, such as the benevolent Mother Catherine Seals, whose haven for illegitimate children and unwed mothers was called the Temple of the Innocent Blood.