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Bishop Hare's Address

Addresses by Bishop W. H. Hare, Mr. Henry Whipple Waumdixum, and the Rev'd S. D. Hinman at the meeting of the Board of Missions of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America, meeting at the Academy of Music, New York, on October 13, 1874.

From The Church Journal, New York, October 22, 1874, pages 674-675.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2008


Right Reverend Fathers, Brethren, and Christian Friends: I understand full well that this kind of welcome is not offered to me for myself, but for my mission, nay, for something even higher than that, for what you think is represented by my special mission--the mission of Christ Jesus to the hard places of the earth. The applause is meant for every missionary who, in this city, tracking its haunts of vice, and seeing the fearful reproductiveness of pauperism, still maintains his faith in his Lord, and lovingly, patiently, faithfully, does his work. Your applause is meant for every missionary in the domestic field rushing out from the seats of learning here, with an enthusiasm in his heart, thinking that men are hungry for the Gospel in those distant fields, and laboring bravely on, though he finds the men whom he thought hungry for the Gospel are hungry for his church and for his presence, because they think, perhaps, the most of them, that his presence and the presence of his chapel will enhance the value of their corner lots. Your applause is meant for every foreign missionary, who leaving these shores, suffers a twinge of his heart-ties that I never yet could have felt, stepping, as I do, on a train of cars, and keeping on my own land, however far that train may carry me to the West--the foreign missionary who, leaving his native land, and setting forth in a vessel upon the waves finds his way to the shores of China or of Africa. Nay, the applause is meant for every human soul which has sensitiveness and tenderness enough to feel the weight of human misery that cries out, whether from the streets of New York, or from Africa, or from the Indian country, or anywhere else, from his own chamber: "O God, how long, how long?" Yes, I know, Christian friends, your applause is offered to-night because you see gathered around me those dear brethren and sisters from whom I would never separate myself, for many of them were there long before the Church sent me to that distant field. I think this moment, as you think, of Hinman, who fifteen years ago and more [applause], ere yet out of his teens, went forth, a mere stripling, to be the Church's wedge into that vast compact heathenism in Dakota; of Cook, who, living in a Western town, where the hate and animosity against the Indian raised its head the highest, could yet keep his own soul open to the truth of God, and, leaving his parish, could settle down amongst the hated Indian tribes; of Cleveland, who, called and laboring in a beautiful little stone chapel in the lovely valley of Wyoming, could yet go and settle himself amongst the very wildest tribe of Sioux Indians--the Brules--without anything more than a log-house, without any chapel whatsoever; and Swift and Burt, who fresh from the halls of learning, have just taken Deacons' Orders, thought that Deacons' Orders were orders to the front, and went out to Dakota; of Walter Hall, a child almost of this your city, who went out as a boy to minister to those people, that learning their language, he might grow up amongst them, and be stronger to minster to them when he came to be a man; of Robinson, a farmer's strong-armed son, who dwelling for two or three years amongst those people, and now thoroughly familiar with their language and their habits, has come back for a year or so to fit himself the better to go back to that people full of the fulness of the Gospel of Christ, and of the power of a thoroughly completed man; yes, of twelve native catechists, and two native ministers, redeemed from heathen darkness, babes in Christ, out of whose mouths God is this day ordaining strength; yes, better, of nineteen gentle Christian daughters of the Faith, who leaving tremblingly these parts of the world, have many of them gone out, utterly without male protection, that long distance to the Indian country, and who now, scattered throughout it, no matter where, where civilization has planted its foot, or where civilization is not known at all, in log-houses or elsewhere, are living the life of Christ, and doing, as He did, good among men. I see the winds of heaven taking your kind feeling and your applause to that far distant Niobrara mission, I see the hush in the mission house at Santee, and the blood mount to the pale face of Mary Hinman, the sick mother of Santees. I see your kindness and your love hover over a little log-house among the Yanctons fifteen miles from any other mission, where is one single woman with a body so frail that she must go up-stairs and rest herself two or three times a day to do her duty. I see her needle stop, the stitch half made, as she listens to the sound of your kindness and your love. Yes, one hundred and fifty miles further up the Missouri River I see the winds carry your cheers and your live to Sister Ann--living in a log-house amongst a band of Indians who eighteen months ago were utterly abandoned and wild--composed, peaceful, because she labors under the eye of her living Lord, and tracks as He did the homes of misery and sin. [Applause.]

Well may you rejoice in that; and yet I am very much embarrassed Christian friends, in appearing here in these haunts, yes, these intensest haunts of civilization, for this is the temple of the arts; for civilization to a half-wild man like me [laughter], though I never could define it, and I know is a very dangerous thing in some of its elements; and as a poor Irishman out in Dakota once said to me, "Indade, Bishop, it quite takes a man off his fate." [Laughter.] Civilization! Men think it will do all things for men. Men ask the question, Why has not civilization done more for the Indian, why is the Indian never lifted up by it? Friends, have you ever stood in a narrow gap through which a railroad passed, and stood there as the train whizzed by, your hat held on with the force of your hand, trembling, and, seeing the train move out of sight in an instant, felt your own utter nothingness, and if a weary traveller, felt that the presence of that gigantic power only made your way harder and longer? That is civilization to the Indian. Civilization to the Indian is the most discouraging thing under heaven by itself. Civilization is utterly pitiless. It never stops its onward, furious march to pick up the laggard or attend the sick and needy. Civilization as we see it out near the Indian country is that always. The vanguard of civilization is the very worst creatures whom civilization, unable to bear, seems to have thrown off to itself on to the most distant frontier. I never shall forget, without utter horror, my first visitation up the Missouri river. As I came with my travelling companion, the Rev. Mr. Hinman, to ranche after ranche, I found that every man almost who kept the ranche was a cut-throat and murderer, his fingers red with his brother's blood. I shall never forget seeing a little grave back of a ranche, and hearing the story of its origin. I heard the story and it did me good. The man who then kept the ranche was there. A quiet man, as I heard of him, was found to be rather disagreeable to his neighbors, and so for that, or some other reason, they shut up his wife in one of the rooms, tied his hands behind his back, placed his body on a horse, led the horse underneath a telegraph-pole about a hundred yards distant from the house, tied a lariat around his neck, threw the other end over the telegraph-pole, then gave the horse a stroke with the whip, and left him dangling there. A hundred yards further on the road was the grave of a soldier who had come down the river, his pockets full of hard-earned wages. With the same sort of men he had gambled, and then finding he would not give up his money to their wishes they brutally murdered him. These are the men whom the Indian first meets with.

Now, my dear friends, I do not think that anybody will wonder that civilization has no trophies yet to hold up to the gaze of admiring applause from the Indians. When these Indians turn upon me as the representative of a base and diabolical race, I can simply hold my tongue and blush, and nothing more. I mean not to say there are not many noble specimens of Christian manhood at the West. There are. Wherever men settle in towns and bring their wives and children with them there grows up immediately a noble, energetic, prosperous community; but I do not mean to say that civilization has never yet offered to the Indian anything that had power in it to take hold of him in his misery, encourage his heart, and stand him on his feet and tell him "Now you are a man."

People sometimes think that this generation of Indians is fast passing away, and I remember seeing shortly after I was first consecrated an article which went about the papers intimating that as the number of Indians on this continent at the present time was only about 40,000, the time would soon come when each missionary society in the land would have about one Indian to itself. I need not mention to this intelligent audience that the number of Indians on this continent, nay, the number of Indians within the domain of the United States, numbers to-day over 297,000. I may mention here, perhaps, however, that the great Sioux or Dakota nation, to which the Church is particularly turning its attention now, is composed of vigorous men, whose fingers' ends are tingling with life and insolence and defiance. You cannot say "Let them alone, and let them die." They will not be let alone. If you do not attend to them, they will swarm into your settlements, and kill your wives and children. What is to be done with them? Sometimes, when some story comes of a brutal massacre, the public is so stirred up that it says "Hand them over, men, women, and children, to the utter harshness of military rule; inaugurate a great war! We are too humane for that, friends.

I say these people are too humane, they have got too much heart, and, what is higher still, spirit, God-given spirit, in them to be handed over to the mere force of military. You will say, perhaps, Hand them over to civilization; let the Interior Department, as the civilizing power, take them in hand with carpenters, machinery, millers, industrial schools, and farm schools, and train them. I tell you, Christian friends, they have got too much religion in them to be handed over to civilization. (Applause.) They are the most religious people I ever lived amongst in my life. I do not mean to say they are rightly religious, but I mean to say, in their sense of a something outside of them and above them, in their sense of the supernatural, in a hunger after something they know not what, as a thirst land where no water is, they are the most religious people I ever dwelt amongst in my life.

Let me instance some illustrations of that. I sat once in the house of a very hostile Indian named Swan, who dwelt in one of our furthest Christian outposts. I was listening to him. He was exceedingly opposed to everything I had to say; but as I sat there, I saw one of his warriors take a pipe, and lifting it up this [illustrating] as high as he could, address the sky. The top of the wigwam was open for smoke and fire to be emitted, and as he raised the pipe, he drew it back to his mouth, and said "I smoke to God!" Again: You will see these people sometimes, as they take their meals, put quietly a little morsel aside for the Deity. I know not what they think of. Perhaps if I knew and could tell you, it would be rather an exhibition--I believe it would--of all sorts of spirits, good and bad, whom they do not love, but whom they greatly fear. Nay, more than that, these Indians generally never pass the age of sixteen or seventeen without getting in some way or other a deep sense, a vivid sense, of some particular spirit who should be their patron god. It is very common for their boys at that age to go aside and seclude themselves, fast days and nights--for days until they have got their bodies in such condition that all sorts of strange hallucinations come over them. They think they see probably a muskrat coming to them, or an elk, and it is singing a song, and they hear the muskrat say if in the hour of extremity the boy will appeal to him, and sing that song, his spirit will always come to him, and be his guardian spirit. Out boys of sixteen or seventeen here, never--at least I did not--fast day and night for two or three days to get a keener sense of the invisible.

I say these people are an intensely religious people. You must not hand them over to civilization. You say, then, Hand them over to the Church alone. No, not to the Church alone, because they are too wild, too barbarous, too savage, too cruel. I do not want Christian people in this part of the world to think that a mere sentiment about Indians is ever going to solve this Indian problem. All that was ever published in the newspapers about Indians, is true in substance, if not always in its particulars. There is no barbarity so great that they will not practice it. They will pin hundreds of babies to their mothers' bosoms with arrows, and leave them there, and glory in the sight. There is no barbarity too great. Let them once loose on our settlements, as you might if you drove them too hard like a [674/675] general war, and they would make our whole country quiver, as they have done in the past, with horror and dismay. You must have something more than moral suasion, and I suppose that is meant by the Church. What we want for them is, brethren, all three--the military as the exponent of power put forth to maintain the right, civilization as a gentler training still, and the Church as the pitying mother who shall take them to her bosom. (Applause.) In other words, you want for them simply this: God--God as He is, the Being who has ordained governors "for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well," and hath ordered that "the magistrate shall not bear the sword in vain"; that God as the Being who has commissioned man all over the world to subdue it, Who means that he shall practice all the arts of civilization in order to subdue it and be a busy man, working with his hands the thing that is good; and God as He is the Being who, looking down upon humanity--a dry and thirsty land, where no water is, aching for Him--hath sent forth into this world His Son, and caused the light to shine in our hearts, so that we may give the light of the glory of God to heathen men in the face of Jesus Christ. (Applause.) The need of the Indian is a very, very simple thing--it is the Christian's God.

You will inquire of me, perhaps, what, as missionary, I would ask for. What does the Indian this day want? I do not say, first or most, that he wants that Christian men shall break up their indifference about Indian missions. The only thing I wish to talk about to-night is this want: He wants, in one sense, to be let alone; that is to say, he wants that the white man's rapacity shall let him alone. We never begin a mission--I say "we"; I mean all men who go amongst Indians, whether now, or men who have gone amongst them in the past--we never go amongst them with all the ministries or power rightly organized, of civilization, and of the pit of the Church, but there comes in the white man's greed to stir up our nest and break up our work. It was only a few years ago that the Osages sold their lands in Kansas to the white man. The Government gave them in exchange a large territory, or a sufficiently large territory, in the Indian country in the Southwest. It had no sooner been made known that that land was the Indian's land, then, as a very brilliant writer has said, there seemed to be a race between bad white men on the frontier and these poor Indians who had sold their possessions, to see who would get there first. Five hundred white men were in that country before the Indians could get there. The United States Government gave them notice that they must leave. They begged that it would only be an act of common mercy to let them stay there the Winter through--the Winter was then upon them. They were permitted to stay. By Spring fifteen hundred white men were on that Indian reservation, the Indians were squatted down outside, and it was only when a company of military was sent there, and, as it were, took these scoundrels by the neck and shook them and turned them out, that the Indians could take possession of their own land. [Applause.]

The horror of my childhood was a story that I used to read of a poor prisoner of State placed in a daintily-furnished room, and going at night-time to his bed thinking that he was kindly cared for though condemned, and waking in the night to see, to his amazement, in the dim light that was in his chamber, that the walls of his room were moveable and gradually closing in with irresistible might and movement to crush him in his bed. The Indian is that man. Our civilization, nay, the men of flesh and blood that make it up, are those walls, not of iron or of stone, but of what we call our enterprise. And with these expeditions going into the Indian country and sending back their bulletins of its magnificent beauty and its attractive arable land, yes, its millions of wealth, of precious stones and gold, held up before the rapacious population of the West, we seem to be saying, "Let the Indian perish, let him be kindly fed by the Government, kindly preached to by the Christian Church, yet find civilization too mighty for him, and crush him even when he thinks that Christian pity is kindly and fondly putting him to sleep in his downy bed." The story was the horror of my boyhood. The fact is the horror of today.

Now, my Christian friends, I have the great privilege of introducing for a few moments to you one of my dear brethren, the leader in this work of the Church to the Dakotas, and one of those terrible people who are incapable of civilization, who, I need hardly tell you, perhaps, to-night, will not endanger any of your lives, but is altogether a very decent sort of man--Henry Whipple Waumdixum, a Santee Sious Indian. [Great applause.]


Mr. Henry Whipple Waumdixum, whose introduction to the General Convention as a lay deputy from Niobrara, then made an address in his native tongue, of which the following is the translation by his interpreter, the Rev. Mr. Hinman:

MY FRIENDS: I have come here for no other purpose but to see the missionary spirit and the missionary assemblies of the Church. Sometimes in our country we see a very large flock of white geese, and among these geese one black one, and I seem to be that black one in this large assembly. [Great laughter and applause.] In what, then, am I different from the people that I see here? When I come to the East, I find that as I walk along the streets, as I go into the houses, as I go into the church and sit down in the congregation, I am noticed because I am different. If an Indian were walking here in your midst without purpose, he might be ashamed of all this; it might confuse him; but I know that, although I am walking among strangers, yet all these I see before me are my brethren and sisters in the Lord. [Applause.] It seems improper that an Indian should arise in such an assembly as this to speak to the, but you have permitted me to do it, and in my heart I am very glad. [Applause.]

My friends, you desire to send the Church among the Indians of the West, but it is a very difficult thing to do. All those people are sitting in great darkness. The Indians were in darkness at the West, and the Government, though its officers, promised to teach them how to live, and our fathers, the chief men, asked of the President that he would show them how to live like men, and they asked among other things, that they should have a religion and a church, and he gave it to them, and they received it, not knowing what it was. They told the Great Father that if he would give them a church, they would give up all their Indian customs and dances and religions, and that they would turn themselves to the church. But they were not faithful to their promise. They received the church, and they kept also their Indian customs; and all at once a great judgment from God in Heaven fell down upon them. And so we came into great trouble, and it was while we ere in trouble and distress that we seemed to find ourselves in the same place that the prodigal of old found himself when he had wasted his father's goods with bad deeds and riotous living, and we were led from repentance to say, "I will arise and go to my father, and say to him, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." And it was only when, from the grace of repentance, we had discovered the evil of our ways and returned unto God, and understood Him properly, that He has now received us into His arms, and we have received into our hearts the blessing of the Gospel. We have now, like the other children, the ring and the fatted calf. We have been through great trouble with the messengers you have sent out to us, but now that we have learned their ways, we mean to hold on to them, and to stand by them, and go with them to the end.

I am very thankful for the reception that I have had here this evening. [Great applause.]


The Rev. S. D. Hinman, the pioneer and veteran of the work among the Indians, and hose sincerity is attested by the devotion of a life-time, was led, by the urgency of the audience, to speak briefly as follows:

I have only one word to say, and that is that this man who has just spoken was twelve years ago a heathen man, as wild and as bad as any of those Indians that the Bishop of Niobrara has told you about, a man that one might be afraid of, and that he is not the only one, but one of hundreds that have been converted and turned by the Church not only to civilization but to a belief in and practice of Christianity; and we believe that the same work carried on in the same way that it has been in the years past, will soon, although the problem now seems difficult, succeed in reaching and in bringing into the church and into life all the Indians that are left upon the Plains.

I have only one more thing to say, and this is, that if the Church has any more men here at the East, in the parishes or in her offices of trust, like the Bishop of Niobrara, the best thing to do, now that we are discussing making new missionary jurisdictions, is to send them out there to take the lead in this work. [Great applause.]

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