First Annual Report of
The Missionary Bishop of Niobrara.
To the Board of Missions of the Protestant Episcopal Church:
I was elected to be Missionary Bishop of Niobrara on All Saints' Day, 1872. I accepted the appointment early in December, and was consecrated January 9th, 1873. After three months spent in winding up my personal affairs, in discharging the duties of Secretary of the Foreign Committee, and in presenting in various churches the claims of the Indian work, I departed for the Indian Country April 7th, and now, preserved through my travels by the goodness of GOD and confirmed by what I have seen in my hope for the Indian, have the privilege of presenting my FIRST ANNUAL REPORT.
I cannot perform this duty, however, without first expressing the gratitude I feel that I was permitted, before being called to my present Office, to be identified with the Foreign Missionary work of the Church, and to be associated in labors with those who compose the Foreign Committee and with those who hold the banner of CHRIST aloft in Foreign lands. If I have any fitness for my present trust, it was largely gained in that office. My sense of the practical worth of the Foreign work strengthened every month I was connected with it; and my conviction deepened that that department of the Church's enterprises can never be either relinquished or disparaged so long as the Church believes that her creation and her Mission are not of man but of GOD, and that her resources are not merely an aggregate of human agencies, but "the powers of the world to come." Nothing could have removed me from my connection with it but the solemn call which I received, and the opinion that the opposition of the individual judgment and will to the summons of the Church is almost fatal to her prompt and efficient conduct of her Missionary campaign, and should never be ventured except for reasons of paramount importance.
BOUNDS OF THE JURISDICTION.
The Jurisdiction proper of the Missionary Bishop of Niobrara, is a tract of country bounded "on the East by the Missouri River; on the South by the State of Nebraska; on the west by the 104th Meridian, the Territory of Wyoming, and Nebraska; on the North by the 46th degree of north latitude; including also the several Indian Reservations on the left bank of the Missouri, North and East of said river."
In order, however, to give unity and compactness to the effort of the Church for the Indian tribes, the House of Bishops passed the following resolution:
"Resolved, That the Missionary Bishop of Niobrara be authorized to take charge of such work among the Indians east of the Rocky Mountains, as may be transferred to his oversight by the Bishops within whose Jurisdiction such work may lie."
It has seemed advisable in several cases that Bishops should take the action suggested by this Resolution, and accordingly the Mission among the Oneidas in Wisconsin has been transferred to my Episcopal oversight by the Bishop of Wisconsin, and like action has been taken by the Bishop of Nebraska with reference to the Mission among the Santees within his Jurisdiction.
I made my first Visitation of the Oneida Mission immediately upon leaving the East. The joy at the appointment of a Bishop specially for the Indians, which lighted up every countenance and gave warmth to the pressure of every hand, made the Easter, which I spent among this people, one of the happiest ever passed in my life.
From all directions the Indians wended their way that Easter morning to their unpretending sanctuary. The building (floor, galleries, vestibule, and many of the windows) was crowded with people, and a more reverent and attentive congregation, a congregation in which there were more men, I have rarely seen. Many whom Bishop Hobart confirmed more than fifty years ago, brought their grandchildren to be confirmed by his grandson. The whole number confirmed was twenty. The Holy Communion was then administered, the entire congregation remaining, and at least one hundred and twenty of them partaking in the celebration. And when, having taken my seat in a chair before the chancel rail, the whole Congregation, men and women and children, filed by me and took me by the hand, one old woman slipping a dollar bill in my hand as she pressed it, one man saying "You have made us happy," and another whispering in my ear, "Pray for the Oneidas," my joy was unbounded. The Missionary, the Rev. E. A. Goodnough, who has just celebrated his. twentieth anniversary of work among his people, reports:
"The first church here was a log church, which the Indians built entirely with their own labor. The present church was built entirely with their own funds, proceeds of the sale to the United States of their claim to the forty miles square tract, in a part of which their Reservation is located. They have, since I have been with them, paid one-half towards the cost of building on a chancel and vestry-room, and also one-half of the cost of repainting the church twice. They have always paid part of the Missionary's salary, and they now propose to assume the whole burden of paying their Minister themselves.
"The old 'Green Bay Mission,' which was such an expense and failure, was never in any way connected with this Mission. That was a school for the education of the children of other tribes in the vicinity, though some Oneida children were also sent there. The Oneidas are by no means perfect, yet they show that they are worthy of aid in their good designs."
Some of these Oneidas have for some months past been preparing and hauling lumber and stones for a new Church building, and have gathered material worth, the Missionary estimates, $2,500.
I commend their project to the benevolence of the Church, provided the people will go on in their labors and contributions pari passu with the benefactions of their friends. When a race, whose besetting infirmity is inertness, show tokens of enterprise and progress, they should not want substantial evidence that their more advanced brethren "wish them good luck in the Name of the LORD."
The blemishes which struck me most forcibly in these people, were a want of order and thrift, and the ravages of strong drink; but these were not more apparent than they are in most of our frontier towns and settlements, not as much as they are in a village of Irish miners in our coalmining districts.
And when we pass from comparing the Indians with races whose opportunities of advance have been almost infinitely greater, to comparing their present condition with their own condition only a few years ago, the result is one of which they need not be ashamed, and one which may well make those who are interested in them glad. These Oneidas were, less than two hundred years ago, part of that savage confederacy of the Six Nations who carried blood and fire through all the Eastern States from New England to Georgia, and from the Atlantic to the great Lakes. It is not much more than a hundred years since they gave up the tomahawk and the scalping knife, and other implements of savage warfare. They have been on their present Reservation, none more than fifty, and many less than twenty-five years. When they came to it, it was a dense forest. They have cleared nearly twenty thousand acres of it with their own hands, and now thousands of acres of it are the very best farming land. They have put up hundreds upon hundreds of miles of rail fence. They have cast aside their wigwams, and have erected houses of logs, and often of sawn boards, which are quite equal to those of white settlers upon the frontier. Not many years ago, hardly a house had any other floor than the earth; now hardly a house lacks its flooring of boards. Twenty years ago, there was not a cook-stove in the Reservation; now there is hardly a family without one. Then they ate their meals, squatted on the earth around a huge bowl, into which each one plunged his scoop; now many of them take quite a pride in setting a neat table with white tablecloth, and plates, and knives and forks. And, while the general aspect of the Reservation is by no means first-class, I think that few persons on passing through it would see anything, did they not meet the Indians, to-make them question for a moment that it was a settlement of whites.
VISIT TO THE INDIAN TERRITORY.
I was desirous of studying further the condition of the semi-civilized Indians before going to the wilder tribes of the north-west, and therefore made a visit to the Indian Territory in the south-west, under the Jurisdiction of Bishop Pierce, an additional interest being given to my visit by the knowledge that there are many who favor the project of making this Territory the home of the tribes who now live in the Missionary Jurisdiction of Niobrara. While I was en route, the whole country was plunged into a frenzy of excitement, and of denunciation of the whole Indian race, by the Modoc massacre, and the mouths of many sober men were filled with calls for revenge, such as at other times they were wont to denounce as the characteristic of the vindictive savage. I could not but mourn, as I travelled among the Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, and Chickasaws, as peaceable, law-abiding and moral a people as I ever moved among, a people earning their own living by the sweat of their brow, that the treachery of a handful of Indians was allowed by an intelligent people to govern opinion, while the good behavior of Indians who number fifty thousand was utterly forgotten.
THE GREATNESS OP THE WESTERN MISSIONARY FIELD.
From the Indian Territory I passed directly north, to my own Jurisdiction of Niobrara, stopping for a day at Omaha, on my way, to enjoy the society and counsel of Bishop Clarkson, under whose loving care the Mission in Niobrara had been until my Consecration. I was fortunate in being there during the session of one of the Convocations of the Diocese of Nebraska, and in being called upon to preach at the reception of the first Deaconess. As my journeys led me over the boundless expanse of our western domain, and through populous cities, each teeming with people struggling with restless eagerness after this world's goods, each like a whirlpool sucking in vast currents of immigrants from the east, and flinging them out as emigrants to districts farther west, I was impressed even more than before with a sense of the greatness of the work which our Church has before her, and of the greatness of numbers, and the greatness of mind and heart which will be required to do it, and I learned, for at least the moment, the lesson particularly wholesome and opportune to one set apart to a special branch of the Church's enterprise, that the work of any one Bishop, however absorbing it may be to him and his friends, is, after all, but a very small part of a very large whole.
MISSIONS ON THE MISSOURI RIVER.
The main body of the Missionary enterprise of our Church among the Indians is located among the tribes on the upper Missouri. The whole number of main stations on the River is six. There are besides two sub-stations connected with the Santee Mission and three with the Yankton Mission. I have visited all these stations twice during the six months I have been in the field, and have found in the joy of meeting with the Missionary brethren and sisters engaged there, more than a reward for any trials that I have encountered by the way. Our Missions are strung along the river. They can there do their work more advantageously, for the reason that the Government Agencies are located on the river front. These agencies are points of occasional resort by all the Indians, because the benefactions of the Government are dispensed there. They are also the residence of the better disposed Indians, because they have there both protection and encouragement in learning the white man's ways. Thus, Missions placed at these points not only benefit the people who are settled there, but attract the attention of the wilder roving bands, who examine them with an amusing curiosity, (sometimes with undisguised disgust), and in their wanderings interiorward, gossip over them at their camp fires with all they meet. Said a shrewd Yankton chief, White Swan, as I was about to leave the chapel which has been erected among Ms people, "Stop, friend, I have a few words to say. I am glad to hear you are going to visit the wild, upper tribes. Companies of them often come down to visit my band, and I always take them to see this chapel. I think a good deal depends upon the impression my chapel makes on them. I think if it was put in better order it would make a better impression than it does. The rain and snow come through that roof. This floor is not even. Now, you are called an Apostle. That is a good name. I believe it means, "one sent." But there are many people to whom you are sent to whom you cannot go; for they are wild people. But these visitors of mine go everywhere and tell everywhere what they have seen."
THE SANTEE MISSION.
The first of our Missions in age and in the progress of the people, the first also that a visitor comes upon in going up the Missouri River, is the Santee Mission. It is about thirty miles above the town of Yankton. This Mission was the first Christian effort among the Santees and was begun years ago, when they were living at Red Wood in Minnesota, by Bishop Whipple, who placed among them the Rev. Sam. D. Hinman, who has labored for them and shared their miseries in their forced wanderings until now it is his reward to see a marvellous change. A whole people who, a few years ago, decked themselves in savage attire now wear the white man's dress. The Indian village, a cluster of lodges thronged with idlers and resonant with the drummings of the heathen "medicine man," has disappeared. The people have entered claims wherever the land promised to reward their labors, and are scattered over their Reservation in log houses of their own construction. A considerable number of the more enterprising men have surrendered all the rights to annuities and rations and have gone off to an inviting locality some one hundred miles distant on the Sioux River, have entered farms of one hundred and sixty acres each, formed a settlement of their own and taken the steps necessary to become citizens of the United States. It is from the Santees that the Gospel has been sounded out to the other tribes. On Sundays the Santees may be seen gathering from all directions on foot, on horseback, and in wagons, to attend the Services of the House of GOD. There are among them 289 communicants. It was my privilege to confirm nine on the occasion of my first visit. Much has been written by delighted visitors of the heartiness and reverence with which the Service of the Church are rendered by these humble people. And all that was ever written I found more than realized, when it was my happy lot to kneel with them in their beautiful sanctuary. I could understand how the Apostle could exclaim, as he thought of his converts, "What thank can we render to GOD for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our GOD?"
It should, however, be remembered that the emotional side of Christianity is more easily acquired by a heathen people than its moral, and that Indians, whether Oneidas or Santees, are but children yet, making; childish essays in the path of duty.
There are two of these connected with the main Station. The first is about twelve miles distant, on the Bazille River, established to meet the wants of the people who have taken up farms on that stream. The other Sub-station is about five miles below the Mission, on the bottom land near the Missouri River. At both these Stations we have neat chapels; that at the former Station being the gift of a Society of ladies in New York known as "The Society of the Double Temple," and the other of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Nettleton, of Watertown, Connecticut.
The chapel on the Bazille was the scene until lately of the labors of Paul Mazakute, a faithful native Presbyter, well known to many in the Church. His Christian enterprise as a loving herald of the Gospel among his own people and among neighboring tribes, and his humble, earnest, consistent life, made him invaluable to the Mission. His good report is on the lips of all who knew him. After prolonged infirmity, against which he struggled manfully, that he might die in the harness, he gently fell asleep May 12th. His memory will long be cherished as evidence of the good things God is ready to do for the Indian.
Paul has been succeeded in charge of the chapel on the Bazille, by the Rev. Dan'l Hemans, for several years a faithful Deacon, and ordained by me to the Priesthood in August last.
At the time of writing this Report, the small-pox which broke out among the people about the middle of September, prevails with great violence in its most loathsome and fatal form. The Rev. Mr. Cook of the Yankton Mission (who has had the small-pox), most cheerfully went at my suggestion to the help of the Rev. Mr. Hinman and the ladies at the Mission (Miss West, Sister Mary Graves, and Miss Ives). In preparing food for the sick, carrying it to them in their houses, speaking words of life and comfort, they have fearlessly followed in the steps of their MASTER. In order that their work might be done more effectually, it was proposed to turn the school-room into a hospital, for which, thanks to the friends who have sent boxes to the Niobrara store-room, was able to ensure a supply of comfortables, unbleached muslin for sheets, rags, rice, tapioca, and other things needed for the sick. I regret to say that many of the most useful of the members of our Church have fallen victims to the plague; among them a most promising postulant for the sacred Ministry, Wm. Hemans, who contracted the disease while faithfully performing his duties as a Catechist in praying with the sick.
SCHOOL FOR GIRLS.
I am glad to be able to say that the need of special effort for the elevation of Indian females, a want deeply felt by our Missionaries, will soon be met. The Executive Committee have approved my plan for opening at the Santee Mission an Industrial School for girls, and I hope that, before the winter closes in, as many girls as can be accommodated in the portion of the Mission building which can be set apart for this purpose will be learning the elements of education and under training in the practical duties of the house and of wife and mother. In this school, as in all others in the Jurisdiction, the effort will be to teach the pupils to do their own work, and to fit them for the daily duties of the humble lot to which, in all probability, they will be called.
In pursuance of my call, a meeting of the Convocation of Niobrara was held at the Santee Mission in August last. All the Clergy of the Jurisdiction were present, with the exception of the Rev. Mr. Burt of the Crow Creek Mission, who had gone East, and the Rev. Mr. Dorsey of the Ponca Mission, who was detained at home. It was an occasion of great interest. Love burns bright, when brethren from widely-separated parts meet together after long separation, and are permitted to declare, as was done in the early Church, what GOD has done with them, and how He has opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. There, too, every grade of Indian progress was represented in the Convocation, from the lay delegates of the Santees, the foremost in improvement, to the Yanktonnais delegates, but just awakened to the fact that there is a better way, and hardly recovered from bewilderment at the discovery. And, lastly, the animation with which some of the native delegates joined in our counsels, and questioned me as to my plans, showed that the Church, in taking away their wildness, had not destroyed their spirit, while the ardor with which some of them pleaded that the Missionaries would be earnest in urging the people to a higher morality, was a pleasing evidence that, however immature these Christian Indians may be, they are not sunk in moral ideas to one dead level of apathetic mediocrity.
The crowning event of the Convocation was an Ordination, the first I was permitted to hold, at which Mr. William A. Schubert was ordained Deacon and the Rev. William J. Cleveland and the Rev. Daniel Hemans (a native) were advanced to the Priesthood. The Honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs, being on the Reservation at the time, accepted our invitation and was present at the Service.
THE PONKA MISSION.
Next to the Santees, as one travels up the Missouri River, are the Ponkas, well known to the Church as the people among whom the Rev. J. Owen Dorsey and his mother, Mrs. Stanforth, have been laboring. The Ponkas are but the remnant of a once powerful tribe, numbering now about seven hundred souls, whose Reservation lies, unfortunately, in one corner of the Reserve assigned to the Sioux, a people numbered by the ten thousand, and with the wilder bands of whom the Ponkas are at deadly enmity. The wild frenzy of rage into which the periodical incursions of the Sioux have plunged the Ponkas, and their expectation momentarily of attack, have been great obstacles to their progress. To add to their miseries, the part of the Reservation where a large body of the people dwelt was deluged this spring by rains, and later, an unprecedented rise of the river swept away the alluvial soil on which many of their log houses had been erected. The project of their removal to a more favorable locality, proposed more than once, is now again, I learn, entertained by the Department. The health of Mr. Dorsey and of Mrs. Stanforth was so seriously affected by the malaria arising from the flood, that they found it necessary to retire last August from the field. I lose their valuable co-operation with the deepest regret.
At the time of the flood, the plans were almost complete for the erection among the Ponkas of a Mission residence, an Industrial School, and a Hospital, enterprises in which many friends of our work for the Indians have shown a special interest. Fortunately, however, no outlay of money had been made. It has seemed advisable to suspend our work among the Ponkas, pending their proposed removal, especially as the Government has been obliged to call upon us to surrender the house which the Mission family were permitted to occupy, and there is no other in which a Mission family could live. It is probable that the Ponkas will be removed to a Reservation not under the control of our Church, and should this be the case, I trust that those who have given money for the benefit of the Ponkas will allow what remains on hand to be expended for the good of other Indians within the Jurisdiction of Niobrara.
THE YANKTON MISSION.
The next of our Missions in order, as one advances up the river, is the Yankton Mission. The Rev. Joseph W. Cook is the Missionary and sees in the three congregations which have been gathered (one at the central church and two at out stations), and in the general progress of the people, the evidence that labor for the Red man is not in vain. Much of the progress of the people is due to the efficient administration of the Agent, the Rev. John G. Gasmann, a Clergyman of our Church, disabled from performing the duties of the Ministry. Mr. Cook is aided by the Rev. Luke C. Walker, a Santee Deacon, who has also of late been my constant companion in my Visitations, and my interpreter when I have preached to the people. Miss Baker continues her efficient and cheerful labors in teaching, and in ministering to the sick.
There are three chapels on this Reserve, beside the central church. The Chapel of the Holy Name, Choteau Creek, is under the immediate care of Mr. John Robinson, a candidate for the Ministry, and of a native Catechist. At the Chapel of St. Philip the Deacon, Service is held by another of the native Catechists. I had hoped to provide this point, which is quite an important one, with a white Minister by the Ordination of Mr. Wm. A. Schubert, who came out in June to devote himself to the work; but he was called East by alarming illness in his family shortly after his Ordination, and has not been able, as yet, to return. The Chapel at Botin's, five miles from the central Station, will be provided with Services from that point.
The Yanktons are a large and promising tribe. Their Reservation is the finest on the Upper Missouri. The road by which the others are reached, runs through its length. The contest between heathenism and the Gospel is fairly in array amongst them. Everywhere the white man's quiet dress, adopted by some, shames the fantastic gear of the savage adhered to by others; the log house erects itself alongside the tipi; daily labor pushes idleness with manly pressure; and Christian hymns tune the ear to something higher than the barkings and drummings of the barbarous rites, which try to rival them. Among this people, therefore, I have determined to reside and to establish the general institutions of the Jurisdiction.
My Visit to the Indian Territory and my study of the Indian problem in my own field, convinced me quite early that the Boarding School ought to be one of the most prominent features of our Missionary work.
Indian parents rarely exercise control over their children. They have the conceit that they develop better if left to themselves. Indian children are not fonder of school than white children are. For these reasons, and others, it is found almost impossible to secure their regular attendance at day schools, and the good results accomplished by these agencies are consequently comparatively small. There is no difficulty, however, in getting children to come and live in the Mission families and receive daily instruction. The material comforts of such an arrangement attract them, and once domesticated in a family, they are very docile, and their improvement, in this isolation from heathen influences and residence with Christian people, is decided.
Children gathered in such schools would soon become in their neat and orderly appearance, their increasing intelligence, and their personal testimony to the loving and disinterested lives of the Missionaries with whom they dwell, living epistles, known and read of their wilder brethren. They would form the nuclei of congregations at the chapels connected with the schools, and learn to carry on with spirit the responses and music of the Services. In a word, they would be in a degree what the Jewish colonies, scattered among the heathen, were in the early days of Christianity--the first homes and starting points of the Gospel. Moreover Boarding Schools of this kind could be conducted without great expense, for the children could share in the rations and annuities issued to their tribe. I calculate that $60 per capita each year would provide all other requisites.
The Boarding School has thus peculiar advantages in the Indian field. It is proposed, therefore, that a number of children shall be taken into the Mission family at each of our Mission Stations, and a small Boarding School thus established wherever it is practicable. It is also proposed to begin a Central Boarding School of higher grade, at the place of the Bishop's residence, to be conducted under his immediate supervision, to which the other schools shall be tributary by furnishing their most promising boys for education as Teachers, Catechists and Missionaries.
There is a considerable number of children who have been already tested and are prepared to enter such a High School.
There is already in operation, or will be before many weeks have passed by, one of these schools at every one of our stations on the Missouri. And I am happy in being able to state that the High School at the Yankton Agency, to which they are to be tributary, will not be wanting, as I have been enabled by the generosity of the Executive Committee of the Indian Commission to erect a large stone building (41 feet front by 66 deep, with awing 26 by 18), which is now almost ready for occupancy. The valuable services of Mrs. M. E. Duigan have been secured as Matron. This building will be the home of the Missionary at the Station, the Teachers and Matron, and the Bishop, as well as of the scholars, and the dwelling place, also, I pray, of the Spirit of love, joy, and peace.
I cannot enough thank the kind friends of efforts for the Red man who have, by contributing towards the erection of this building, and by pledging the annual amount requisite for the support of a scholar, ($60), shown interest in this scheme of work. I trust that the next few months will prove that there are many more (individuals, Sunday-schools and Bible Classes), who will esteem it a privilege to provide the annual sum ($60) necessary for the rescue of an Indian child from a wild heathen life, its shelter in a Christian home, and its training in the nurture and admonition of the LORD.
THE CHAPEL AT THE YANKTON AGENCY
will be the Bishop's Church. The simple and pretty log building in which the congregation now worship has become dear to me, who have known it but a few months. How much more dear it must be to those to whom it has been the scene of the first triumphs of the Gospel, they only can describe. But it is altogether inadequate for those who wish to assemble there, and of course this inconvenience will be felt much more when our schools begin. A new building is a necessity, and I hope that I shall hear of friends who will furnish the few thousand dollars which will be required to build such a structure as is needed.
There is another want on which I must be permitted to dwell for a moment. There will be a number of Christian women (Sisters from the Bishop Potter Memorial House and others), engaged in work at the Yankton Agency, and a home is very much needed where they may live by themselves. There are several rooms connected with the present chapel, which have served hitherto as the residence of the Mission family. By an addition, which would not cost more than $1,500, this part of the chapel building could be altered into a Sisters' House, where the ladies engaged in Missionary work could live together, and where they could carry on an Industrial School for girls, an institution which is greatly needed. Will not some of those who believe in Woman's work in the Church furnish the necessary funds?
The other Missions within the Missionary Jurisdiction of Niobrara are considerably farther up the river, that among the Lower Yanktonnais at Crow Creek Agency, under the Rev. H. Burt, and that among the lower Brulés, ten miles distant, under the Rev. William J. Cleveland, "being each about one hundred miles above the Yankton Mission, and that at the Cheyenne Agency, among the people of Spotted Cloud's band, under the Rev. H. Swift, being about one hundred miles further still. These Missions answer in our Missionary work to the blockhouses of the early days of our frontier Settlements. They are the outposts of the Missionary enterprise. They are among tribes who have hardly taken their first lesson in civilization, who are roving and unsettled, and contain within them a considerable element of those who love and glory in lawlessness and violence, and whose contact with the white man has as yet been so little with good men, and so frequently with the vicious, that its tendency has been rather to confirm than to shake their conceit that their own, and not the white man's, is the better way.
The Missionaries among them have it as their lot to see attention on the qui vive when they speak of rations, and flagging when they tell of the Bread which endureth unto eternal life; to be daily frustrated in their efforts to enlighten, by finding that the maxims which are axioms with them are to their auditors strange and even incomprehensible; and to spend months in winning a reputation for common decency of life, because the representatives of their race who preceded them have generally forfeited it. Had they their pretty little chapels, and little congregations of regular worshippers, however few in number, there would be something to catch the eye of sense and reward endeavor--but though some kind friends have provided the necessary funds, it has not seemed to me prudent to invest money in churches, until the people have settled down enough to indicate their final abode: nor by the erection of a chapel to tie a Missionary down to one point before he has thoroughly made up his mind what that point should be; nor to give a people a church, as well as a Mission house and family, before they have any intelligent desire for it. In this opinion each of these brethren has cheerfully acquiesced. If they are human they must have hours in which, like their Divine human MASTER, they cry out, "I have labored in vain and spent my strength for nought." But I pray GOD they may not flinch. I know that every one of these Missions was, in its inception, and has been in its prosecution, a noble venture of Christian faith. I know that without steady self-reliance, high-strung courage, and readiness to do good and lend hoping for nothing again, the workers had retreated months ago. They are heroes and heroines, and that not in the lower realms of courage. I record their names with tears of thankfulness that GOD has given them such grace, and blessed me with the privilege of hearing them call me their Bishop. They are the Rev. William J. Cleveland, Mrs. Cleveland, Miss Leigh, and Mr. Walter S. Hall, among the Lower Brulés, the Rev. H. Burt, and Sister Anna Pritchard, among the Yanktonnais, and the Rev. Henry Swift, among the Indians connected with the Cheyenne Agency. What I know of the history of Missionary work in other lands, what I have seen of the progress of other Indians, and what I have seen of signs of awakening among the very people among whom these brethren labor, produce in me the happy conviction that their day of reward is surely coming. I trust that the Boarding Schools which they will conduct this winter will be both present comforts to the laborers and potent means to the end for which they yearn.
SPOTTED TAIL'S AND RED CLOUD'S BANDS.
Two important bodies of Indians which are embraced within the Missionary Jurisdiction of Niobrara, and which have been placed under the supervision of our Church and therefore claim a place in her Missionary enterprise at the earliest possible date, remain yet to be noticed. They are Spotted Tail's and Red Cloud's bands--their Agencies being known respectively as the Whetstone and the Red Cloud Agencies.
The Indians connected with the first of these bands are estimated at several thousands. Those belonging to the other are set down at a little less than 10,000. I have been exceedingly desirous to visit these people, but their Agencies are in the extreme western part of the Jurisdiction, at a long distance from the present Missions; my time and strength have been taxed to the utmost with duties to the Missions now in operation, above reported, and I have had reason to believe that, on account of changes in their Agents and projects for removing the Agencies, there has not, until within two months past, been any promise that I could accomplish much by a visit. The new Agents are now, however, at their posts, both of them men nominated by the Executive Committee of the Indian Commission, and both giving promise of being conscientious and efficient officers. The Indians have, in a degree, settled down in their new homes; they are reported as ready for Christian Ministers and teachers; indeed, the Rev. Mr. Hinman, who visited them recently, reports the opening among Spotted Tail's people one of peculiar promise. I shall visit them, therefore, God willing, as soon as the winter breaks up, if not before; and I trust that the same Providence, Who opens these fields to our charitable enterprise, will also stir up two men of genuine Missionary spirit and practical knowledge of human nature and the common things of life, to enter into them and do His work.
THE NIOBRARA STORE-ROOM.
Early last Spring, I established for the Jurisdiction a Central storeroom, and invited the friends of the Mission who were making up boxes for its benefit, to make this store-room their destination. I supposed that the advantages which would accrue from the establishment of such a store-room would be such as these:
a. A place ready for the reception of boxes at any time when it may suit the convenience of donors to forward them.
b. Safe storage for all goods sent until actually used.
c. The possession of a supply of goods ready for all emergencies, instead of the delay occasioned by the necessity of writing to the East in case of need, and waiting until a box of goods can be made up and forwarded. Succor thus obtained must often come too late.
d. Economy in distribution. Goods can be sorted out. What would be useless at one station might be useful at another.
e. A fair, constant and systematic provision for the wants of all stations, rather than a spasmodic flooding of some stations and a neglect of others.
The establishment of this store-room commended itself to all the Missionaries, and its actual working has been very satisfactory. Thanks to the kind interest of our friends, it has been well supplied, and from its abundance such stores as were needed have been shipped, from time to time, to the various Missions. I do not know what we should have done without it in the emergency produced by the breaking out of small pox among the Santees. And the establishment of our Boarding Schools had hardly been practicable had I not been able to reckon upon stores of clothing, etc., now there, and upon supplies with which, I do not doubt, the store-room will yet be replenished, as they are needed. Would that I could express adequately, for my brethren and myself, our sense of the loving interest of all those individuals and Societies who have, by their contributions to this store-room, and in other ways, committed themselves as friends of our work! They have furnished us with everything useful which the ingenuity of love could devise. Their prayers and blessings have filled often, when the impulse of zeal lulled, the sails of our bark, and, when baffled and in gloom, we have been helped by their sympathy to feel that the MASTER Himself was near us, walking on the sea.
On many subjects connected with the Indian, I ought not to be in haste to form an opinion; but this I may now say, that I have seen nothing to lead me to think that there is anything in the Indian problem to drive us either to quackery or despair. It will find its solution, under the favor of GOD, in the faithful execution of the powers committed by GOD to the Civil Government, and a common-sense administration of the gracious gifts deposited with His Church.
If any one wonders that the large sums of money, spent by the Government, have accomplished so little for the Indians, let him remember that for years these moneys were not used to elevate the Indians, but were devoured by those who should have been their guardians.
If he wonders that the Indians have learned so little of useful trades from the mechanics whom the Government has employed to live among them and teach them, let him consider that these mechanics have often been shrewd enough to see, and unprincipled enough to act upon, the fact that the less they taught the Indians the longer they would be dependent, and the longer their appointed teachers would retain their places.
If he wonders that the mere presence of civilization has not, long ere this, ameliorated the condition of the Red man, let him remember that the van of civilization is its vilest offscourings; that its first representatives generally despise the Indians, and condescend to them in nothing but the gratification of inordinate appetites and desires; and that when civilization of a better type appears, it is too often so bent on its own progress, and so far from helpful or kindly, that its advance, like that of a railroad train at full speed, dashes in pieces those unlucky wanderers who happen to stand in its way, and leaves the others with only a more discouraging sense of the length of the road, and of the slowness with which they overcome it. In a town of Michigan, ten years ago, I saw half-wild, half-drunken Indians employed by white men to perform diabolical antics to attract men to liquor saloons. In Minnesota, ten years ago, I read in the daily papers the offer of the State of $250 for the scalp of any Indian, delivered at a designated office. In Dakota, to-day, I find, not to speak of other iniquities, the Indian woman, despised squaw though she is, made the victim of the brothel.
This state of things now stares good men in the face. It is high time, surely, for effort of another kind. The Government and the Church call upon them to stand up as champions of what is right. If ever the warning of the wise man be in season, it is now. "If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou gayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? and He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? and shall not He render to every man according to his works?"
Discussions of the probable future of the Indians, are beside the question, and dangerous because they drown the call of present duty. Suppose these people to be designed by Providence to be hewers of wood and drawers pf water. Our duty is to fit them for that lot. Suppose that they are to be merged in our more numerous race. Our duty is to fit them for that absorption by intermarriage, and so arrest the present vicious intermingling. Suppose that they are to die out. Our duty is to prepare them for their departure. Our duty is the plainer, because the treatment which will fit these people for any one of these lots will fit them for either of the others.
But I have heard it said that practical men have come to the conclusion that Indians should be EXTERMINATED. What if some one should make this reply? If they are to be exterminated, now is the golden opportunity. Nature has laid the Santee Indians low with small-pox. Let the advocates of extermination come to her help. Their task is easy. Whole tribes of Indians have perished from small-pox in the past. Parched with fever, its victims have crawled to the river brink to slake their thirst, and, too weak to make their way back again, have died there, until the river's bank has been lined, for miles, with row upon row of ghastly corpses. With a little timely help given to nature's work among the Santees, such a scene may be beheld again. There are thirty or forty Santee scouts just on their way back towards their homes, from service with a military expedition sent out to protect a rail-road survey from molestation from their savage brethren. Brave, gallant fellows they are, some of them communicants of our Church, who have won the commendation of their officers. A telegram has been sent that they ought not to return. Let some advocate of extermination telegraph them just the contrary. They are panting to see their wives and children, and will be glad of an excuse. Indians have children, black-eyed and merry as larks. Let the gentle members of the Sisterhood of Extermination wrap them up and sing them to sleep in infected blankets stripped from their dying mothers. Let them gather together the cast-off clothing and bedding of the sick, and send it off among the upper tribes. The winter is coming on. Many are shivering for want of clothing. The advocates of extermination may easily scatter these infected garments and the fatal plague with them wherever they will. Here, then, is work for the advocates of extermination. I call for volunteers.
Manifestly, the cry for extermination is but a grim joke--perforce, perhaps, resorted to by intensely practical men to startle our too great enthusiasm into common-sense. Rightly conducted and presented, Missions to the Indians will commend themselves to all. Real advocates of extermination, there are none.
WILLIAM H. HARE, Missionary Bishop of Niobrara.
September 30, 1873.