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The Nepowewin Station.

Church Missionary Intelligencer, April, 1854, pp. 92-96.

Preliminary Observations.

The journal of our Native Missionary, the Rev. Henry Budd, from whence we extract largely, describes the commencement of the Nepowewin Station on the Kisiskahchewun river. In the difficulties of such an undertaking he was not without experience. Thirteen years before, he had gone forward from the Red River to clear a spot in the far-off wilderness, and commence, at Cumberland, the work of evangelization. With great interest the experiment was observed--the sending forth of a Christian Indian, without European aid, on such a work as this; and we have all vividly before our recollection the first visit of a European Missionary to this remote place, as it was then considered--twenty-six day's voyaging from the Red River--and the interest excited by his description of the infantile Mission, and of the results of Budd's labours amongst his countrymen. Cumberland was then the extreme point of Missionary effort in Rupert's Land. What that was fourteen years back, the Nepowewin is now. Cumberland, matured and consolidated, has become an important basis for new operations, and the Nepowewin is one of the most recent, as well as important, of those propaganda efforts which are being put forth in different directions. It is situated on the right bank of the Kisiskahchewun, going up the river, about fifteen days' voyage in a western direction from the parent station, Cumberland, and is near the borders of the Plains, where the Indians kill the buffalo by hundreds and by thousands. It is called the Nepowewin, or standing-place, from its elevated situation, "the Indians making it," says the Rev. J. Hunter, "a 'Standing place,' or 'Look out,' to watch the arrival of the Kisikahchewun boats in their annual passage up and down the river. It is also called the 'Netahwekechekunis,' or 'Little Garden,' some potatos having been planted, near the position Mr. Budd has taken up, by George Sutherland in former years. Near here is also another spot called the 'Pahoonahn,' or 'Waiting place,' having reference again to the arrival of the boats, the Indians waiting here to see them pass, and to obtain some supplies of tobacco, ammunition, &c. All these names are very appropriate as applied to the work in which we are engaged: here we have planted the standard of the cross, and hope that the gospel will find a resting and a standing place for ages to come; but we must be prepared to wait patiently for the descent of the early and latter rain, until at length the imperishable seed of the gospel shall take root downwards and bear fruit upwards, like a well-watered garden of the Lord's own planting, making the wilderness to 'rejoice, and blossom as the rose.'"

Moreover, the same individual who cleared from wood a site for the first rude buildings at Cumberland, and fenced in the first field, has been privileged to commence the work at Nepowewin. There, also, he has begun to testify of Christ, and, by the simple message of God's mercy in Christ to sinful men, to remove from the hearts of his countrymen that thick jungle of ignorance and superstition, in the gloom of which they have lived for generations. "Mr. Budd," writes our Missionary from Cumberland, "has had the privilege of preaching the gospel to large parties of Plain Indians: they have listened to the message very patiently and attentively, and a favourable impression has been made. A few are already candidates for baptism, and a small school has been commenced."

It is Mr. Budd's narrative of his proceedings at the Nepowewin which we now introduce. We think it will be read with interest; and that all those to whom the Missionary work is dear will perceive in it ample grounds of thankfulness to God for the zeal, the discretion, and the perseverance, which have been accorded to our native brother.

Journal of the Rev. Henry Budd.

Aug. 24, 1852.--We started this afternoon for the Nepowewin, with a boat and supplies for the winter. The crew consisted of Indians from the Cumberland Station. I chose to go alone for the first winter, and leave my family to winter at this station. I do not know how I may be received by the Indians of Nepowewin. The last summer, when I went there only for a short visit, they received me very well, and appeared to pay some attention to my message; but going, as I am, to remain their minds may be changed, and may even opposed my living among them. I have been informed that one of the chiefs of the Nepowewin, named Mahnsuk, sent me down a message, saying that I had netter not come up as I intended, for he would oppose my landing in any part of the Nepowewin. I had not seen Mahnsuk the last summer: he was not at the Nepowewin during my stay there, and his message only increased my desire to go and see him. May the Lord go forth with us, and may His blessing rest upon us, and upon our humble efforts! I feel by own nothingness and insufficiency for so great a work which lies before me. What a contrast between the instrument employed and the object in view! If the Indians of Nepowewin are to be evangelized, surely it must be all of God! To God, then, I desire to look for grace and for assistance; that God who prepares His work through ages, and accomplishes it by the weakest means and instruments when His time is come. To effect great events by the smallest means--such is the law of God, that the glory may be of God, and not of men. Such, and many more thoughts rushed into my bosom as the men were rowing up the stream. I confess I go to the Nepowewin with more trembling than when I first came to Cumberland.

Aug. 28, 1852--We arrived at Cumberland House this forenoon. Mr. Bell had reached Cumberland some days back, with all the Cumberland brigade, so that there are plenty of people at the Fort, and some tents of Indians outside the Fort, who are all Christian Indians. We have a prospect of having a good congregation to-morrow.

Aug. 29: Lord's day--We held our morning service in Mr. Bell's large hall, where all the people of the Fort, all the Indians about the place, and the whole of our crew and all our people, made a good large congregation. I addressed them from the words of our blessed Saviour, Matt. xvi. 26. In the afternoon we had a full Indian service.

Aug. 30--We made an early start this morning, leaving Cumberland House, and making towards the Kisiskahchewun. The river Kisiskahchewun is remarkably low and full of shoals; this will be, I fear, much against our getting on fast, and it will take us a long time to get up to the Nepowewin.

Sept. 4--About noon this day we were cheered by the men crying out, 'Tents! tents!' They saw a canoe lying on the shore, and some smoke where the Indians were encamped. The men fired a gun, to see if the Indians on the opposite side would come down to the water's edge, in order to ascertain what Indians they were; but seeing no one come down but a few children, two of the men took our canoe and crossed the river to see who it was. It was a family of a Christian Indian from Christ Church, who had travelled so far up the river in search for moose-deer. The man was not at the tent, but his wife was, and the men invited her to come up after us when the husband came back, and spend the Sabbath with us to-morrow: she promised that she would do so. Very late in the evening they came up to us where we had encamped, and where we purpose to spend the Sabbath together, if God will.

Sept. 5. Lord's-day. The men made a good shade with the boat covering and a few of the boat poles, where we had our morning and evening services very comfortably. We knelt down on the fine dry sands, and prayed to our Heavenly Father that He would bless us through the journey, and incline the minds of our poor brethren, to whom we are going, to receive the truths of His most holy word. After we had had the evening prayer, we committed ourselves to the care of our Heavenly Father for the night.

Sept. 8--Early this morning we arrived at the desired spot, and reached the Fort Nepowewin, where Mr. Edward M'Gillivray is in charge. On our coming within view of the Fort we could see the tents and camps of Indians all round it. There was a bustle: we could see men, women, and children, running from their tents towards the river bank, in order to have a good view of our boat. On touching the shore some of the Indians came running down the bank, eager to see who it was: the rest were all standing on the bank, wrapped in their buffalo skins. Contrary to what I had expected, some of the young men among the Indians began to carry up our property with our men.

After the usual salutations, going among them all, I inquired after Mahnsuk's tent, into which I immediately entered. I found the poor old man in great suffering: he was very sick, and lame in one of his feet. This is the first time that I had seen Mahnsuk: I had heard of his name a long time ago. He is the head of the Wood Indians, to distinguish them from the Plain Indians. I have now and then heard, while at Cumberland, that he was much opposed to Christianity. Mahnsuk, however, began to tell me some long stories, and not a word of his driving me away. He spoke very familiarly to me, and very kindly too. I expected, in every sentence he spoke, that he would mention the message that he had sent down to me, but he did not even hint at it in this interview. Asking him what Indians there were at the place just now, he said they were mostly his own people, the Plain Indians having gone away only yesterday, and his people being detained on account of his illness. Mr. M'Gillivray very kindly lent me two tents made of buffalo skins. We got the women to put up the tents for us, alongside of Mahnsuk and his people. Here we are to remain until we have decided where we are to make our houses for the winter. No sooner was my tent put up than the Indians began to flock in, asking me what I had brought, and if I had any medicine with me now. They seem to look upon me more as a trader than a Christian teacher. I soon, however, made them understand that I did not come for trade, and that I had nothing to do with it, but my object was to teach them their duty to God and their neighbour.

Sept. 9, 1852--Our boat and crew left us this morning. I stood on the beach, teaking a farewell look at them starting, going back to their homes at Christ Church, Cumberland. Two men and myself are to try and pass the winter here among these Indians. While I was yet looking at our boat making round the point, one of the Indians came to me, and said, 'So your boat is off, and your men have left you standing here: why did you not go with them?' I said, 'I did not mean to back with them now: I came to winter here among you." Then he said, 'Ah! but you will repent of that, even before the winter is begun: stop till a large party of Plain Indians comes in, and they do what they please, and take every thing you have from you: you will repent them that you allowed your men to leave you.' I said, 'It may be so, but I have no choice now: I must stop, whether I will or no, and make the best of it I can. I hope the Plain Indians are not so bad as to take every thing I have without any provocation.' 'You will see that before long,' he said: 'you will not be able to keep any thing, neither horses, nor cattle; and when you sow any thing, they will reap the fruits of your labour, and leave you nothing.' 'That is certainly very hard,' I said, 'but there is no remedy: I am in for it now, and I am determined to try my chance.' He saw plainly this talk would not frighten me away, and he walked off. I went about the tents to see them all. Not many of those I had seen here last summer are to be seen here now. There are many strange faces. I find that they are more shy of me, and more shy of talking, than I found them to be the last summer. They see that I am come to stay, and perhaps some of them would wish it otherwise. They have, I understand, held several meetings among themselves since my short visit last summer, and the medicine-men and conjurors among them would always use their influence to prevent the rest from embracing Christianity. None are so bad as the Saulteaux who are amongst them.

Sept. 10--The old man Mahnusk is getting better, but is still very lame. I invited him and his brother, Walluck, to my tent: they soon came in. I asked them where they thought it was best for us to begin and build our houses. They pointed out several places, but there was always something wanting of those requisites which are necessary to be taken into consideration in choosing a site for a Mission station. I had a long conversation with the two brothers. Wulluck, or William, is a younger brother to Mahnsuk, or Maguis. He is, I fear, very much opposed: this one can tell by his manner and his talk. Wulluck said, 'I have no enmity to you or to your religion, but I do not think that I shall ever embrace it; because, if I did, I should have no chance of ever meeting with my relatives and friends who are gone before me to the other world:' a notion which many of them have, and which, I fear, it will take some time to root out of them. He said, moreover, 'God has made us different from the white people, and has given us our mode of worship. The white people have, no doubt, their religion from God, and the Indians have theirs from the same Being, and each one should keep the religion God has given him.' I endeavoured to persuade him that God did not make them different from the white people. He made only one man and one woman, and all the white people and all the Indians have their origin from them. And God did not give the Indians their religion and mode of worship: it is the invention of men--men who had lost the right way of worshipping God. But these modes of worship please not Him, and therefore He has given us His word to teach us the right way. He desires all men, whether white people or Indians, to worship Him in His own way. Wulluck made no reply, but went away soon.

Sept. 11--I and Joseph Turner went over to the other side of the river, on a point opposite the Fort. It is now high time that were doing something towards making our houses, and I was anxious to decide when that would be. We found the point suit our purpose well. The soil is excellent and extensive: firewood plentiful at the spot, pine wood for house building, &c., in plenty about two miles off. The whole site is nicely situated--a large level point, with large pieces of clear plain ground, and poplars here and there interspersed. On the back it is sheltered from the cold north by a high and sloping bank, the ground inclining towards the river facing the south. We pitched on a high spot where we could get poplars at hand for our houses. Here we intend, if God will, to make our humble abodes against the coming winter. And indeed we have no means of moving to any other spot; but must remain here and see the Indians as they come in to the Fort. In the afternoon we got our tents across the river, with some of our things, to be ready for Monday morning.

Sept. 12, 1852: Lord's-day--We held our morning prayer in my tent, and then I called in Turner's children to hear them their lessons. Two of them read the New Testament very well, and the other two in smaller books. We went over and held the morning service in Mr. M'Gillivray's. I went to the Indian tents, to see if any of them were coming to join us; but they allowed us to serve alone, while they were cumbered with making preparations to start off to the Plains. A party of Plain Indians arrived at the Fort in the evening. They were no sooner come than we could hear them from the opposite side: all were drunk.

Sept. 13--We commenced this morning clearing a small spot of ground to build our houses on. We find it necessary to put up a small store in the first place, to secure our property from the Indians. I went over at noon to see the Indians who had arrived yesterday evening. I found them still so bad with spirituous liquor, although they had been drinking the whole of the last night, that I was glad to leave them. These are Saulteaux Indians, a wild and hardened set, even in a sober state, and, in a state of intoxication, dangerous. This is the first check that I have received from rum, but I fear it will not be the last. It is evident that the rum and us will not do together: we shall make little or nothing of the Indians while rum bars the gospel from them.

Sept. 14--We are preparing our tools for building and cutting down wood for the store. Mahnsuk came over to see what we were doing. The old man was full of questions--a very friendly old man, a half-breed, the son of 'Twatt,' a carpenter who used to be at Cumberland formerly, who had an Indian woman for a wife, and they had these two boys, Mahnsuk and Wulluck.

Sept. 15--Mahnsuk coming over again, I asked him to assist us, and make a net for us. He said that he never made a net in his life: if he could, he would have been glad to help us by making one. I offered to assist him, and show him the way to work a net. I was anxious to keep him about us, in order that he might have the opportunity oftener of hearing the gospel. Mahnsuk is very shy of the praying religion: he can sit and hear any worldly talk, but he has no ears to listen to any thing respecting his soul.

Sept. 16--The old man came early this morning to work his net: he brought his old wife with him, and said that she would work another for us, for she knew how to make a net very well. I was glad of the offer. The old woman is less prejudiced toward the gospel than the old man. The rest of the Indians are all going off, party after party, to their hunting grounds, and will only come in occasionally to the Fort during the winter. I am glad, however, to have old Mahnsuk about us, very likely the whole of the winter.

Sept. 18--Mahnsuk and his old wife came over to finish the nets they are working. I had a long conversation with the old man this day. He showed a little patience to listen this time, but his wife listens with attention. In the afternoon the two men and myself went out to carry in our wood for the store, and begin laying the foundation.

Sept. 19: Lord's-day--We went over to hold the morning service at the Fort. There are still some Indians about the place. I went, and invited them to come and join us in worshipping, particularly Mahnsuk; but he shook his head, signifying no. His wife, however, with some others, came in, and were very attentive the whole time during service. The women among the Indians are generally more docile than the men. After the service was over, I went to find out Mahnsuk in his tent. On asking him why he was so shy of the word of God, when God has been so merciful to them, sending them His word, by which alone they can know the right way to please God, he said, 'My friend, if you had made a large kettle of broth with your flour, all the Indians would be ready to come in when you want them; but as you merely speak to them about the praying religion they feel no inclination to go, without seeing something to go for.' I was glad that he mentioned this, as it gave me the opportunity of speaking on the subject of paying the Indians to listen to the word of life, when it is their duty to be grateful that we come to tell them such things without any cost to them. Before I left him I made him to understand me pretty well, and I don't think that he will mention the broth again.

Sept. 20--One of the women came over with her grandchild, a fine stout boy, and said that she wanted the boy to work and get something for the winter, and she would help him herself. Glad to get anybody to help us, I soon found him work: at the same time I thought of teaching him to read.

Sept. 26: Lord's-day--We went over to the Fort for the morning service; and, inviting the Indians to join us, one of the women in the tent said that they were afraid to go where we were praying, because, if they did, they would soon all die. What wonderful strange notions they have of the praying religion! Some of them, however, came in, and among them was Mahnsuk and his wife. May the Lord be pleased to bless His own word to them, and open their minds that they may see the state they are in! Every Lord's-day I call the children into my tent, together with Antoine, and hear them their lessons.

Sept. 27, 1852--Mahnsuk and his old wife spent the greater part of this day with us. The old man is getting quite familiar, and one can hold a long conversation with him now on religious subjects. His prejudice is gradually removing, and I trust that, ere long, he will openly profess the religion against which he manifested so much prejudice.

Oct. 1--We are glad and thankful to have our things secure in our own store, as it will save us so much time and trouble, having our things at hand.

Oct. 2--Joseph Turner and Benjamin have begun to lay the foundation of another house: it is intended for a workshop, and at the same time will lodge Turner and his family for the winter. An old man among the Indians, a medicine-man, came to see us. He is particularly prejudiced against religion, and so are all the medicine-men and conjurors likely to be. We can only tell such people very little, and very few portions of Scripture at a time, for fear they should get disgusted, and not come near us at all. For, however much we might tell them, it is only giving 'that which is holy unto the dogs, and casting our pearls before swine.' My object, therefore, with such men, is to endeavour to undermine their prejudice gradually, and by degrees to open their eyes, that they may see that we are not come to do them harm, but, on the contrary, to do all the good we can for them, and so to bring them round imperceptibly to see that there is no help for them but to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, and embrace His holy gospel. If we never spoke to them about religion--about the Indians being such great sinners in the eyes of a holy God--we should be their best friends, according to their ways of thinking. But when we at once oppose their drunkenness, their polygamy, their thievishness, and their conjurations, the interested men among them begin at once to say that we, being strangers, ought not to be allowed to propagate among them a new system of living, for that would change the customs they were brought up in, and their fathers died in. But these men, who bring no small gain to themselves by imposing on the simplicity of the rest of the Indians, are alarmed, not only that their craft is exposed, and in danger to be set at nought, but also lest their great Diana should be despised, and the market for their medicine and conjuring be destroyed. On that account they will always be the last to yield; and if there arise any opposition, it will be from these men.

Oct. 3: Lord's-day--We held the morning service at the usual place. The small room was quite full: all the people of the Fort, and our own, formed a little band. A few of the women among the Indians were present. After the service was over, the old man Mahnsuk followed us to our tent. I took the opportunity of speaking to him about breaking the Sabbath: how God made the world in six days, and rested on the seventh day, and sanctified it for His own worship; how very wrong it must be to rob God of that one day in seven, when all we have comes from Him. On telling him how many first sinned against God, he interrupted me by saying, that during his lifetime he nearly did one sin,--'I was persuaded by another man to consent to poison a woman with bad medicine; but when my mother knew what I intended to do, she made me leave it off, and I did not do it. Now,' said the old man, 'if I had hurt or poisoned the woman I should have done sin once in my whole life.' As much as to say, that since he did not hurt the woman he had not committed even one sin! Such is the state of the Indian! He is utterly blind as to his sinfulness; and, strange to say, the term sin, as we understand it, is not used by the heathen Indians; it is made use of by the Christian Indians only. Astonished at the reply of the old man, I asked him, 'What do you call sin? When an Indians murders another do you call that sin?' He said, 'Yes.' 'But when an Indian steals, and speaks bad words, is that not sin?' He said, 'No; we say of such a man, "nummah eyinneseu," "he is not wise," 'but we do not call that sinning.' When I told him that every thing that the Indians does which breaks the holy law of God, and hurts his neighbour in any wise, is sin, and that all mankind, as well as the Indian, have broken the law of God times without number, and committed more sins than the hair upon their heads, he did not reply, but looked quite astonished, wondering how he could be such a sinner.

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