THE year 1878 marked no line of division between primitive and more civilized conditions, no turning point from the hardships of early days in Niobrara and the handicaps of body and spirit to a more comfortably ordered life. It was only a milestone on the way towards better things, though a milestone marking a memorable ordeal. By 1878 the religious and social work for the Indians was merely well begun. The great influx of white settlers, which within the next decade was to introduce a new order in South Dakota and to call for many readjustments, was still in its early stages.
The reader of the preceding chapters will therefore be quick to understand that in continuing the narrative of Bishop Hare's many and widely varied activities it would be impossible, in any reasonable space, to follow his work year by year, school by school, mission by mission. The best one can do is to present specimen instances of the way in which he dealt with a multiplicity of problems, and, avoiding an avalanche of details, to gain, if possible, some impression of the spirit underlying all his work and of the general results it accomplished.
Of many a problem with which he was confronted, it might truly have been said, solvitur ambulando. Indeed, the very solution often lay in moving from place to place. When we read, for example, in his Annual Report for 1880, that his spring and summer visitations involved him in two thousand miles of traveling in his own wagon, besides not a little stage-coaching, we can realize into what obscure and remote corners he was carrying his message. In these pilgrimages across the unbroken prairies, where for days together he could travel without seeing a single person or habitation, there were inevitably the best of opportunities for searching thought about the nature of his work, and its fullest accomplishment.
"The Bishop's traveling equipage," wrote one of his mission workers, Miss Elaine Goodale (now Mrs. Charles A. Eastman) in The Independent immediately after accompanying him on a journey in 1885, "is famous for the perfection of its simplicity. Absolute neatness, immutable order, entire absence of the superfluous and complete success in essentials--these are its characteristics. Certainly the Bishop has mastered in all its details the art of traveling on the plains!" A two-horse wagon, a small tent, the simplest cooking utensils were the chief necessities. "The labor of 'making camp,'" to revert to Miss Goodale's description, "is very quickly and skillfully performed, under the Bishop's military direction." There were times when the weariness from a long day's drive was such that Bishop Hare must first of all spread a horse-blanket on the ground and rest his aching back. These were probably the times when he was not accompanied by guests, as in the journey described by Miss Goodale. More frequently his sole companions were his driver and perhaps an interpreter. In a letter to his sister, dated "In Camp, Chaine La Roche, June 13" (1881), there is a typical glimpse at the conditions under which his traveling was done:
"I am sitting under my wagon at noon, having this morning left the Upper Church of the Crow Creek Mission on my way to the Mission and Boarding School on the Cheyenne River Reserve. I left Yankton Agency last Tuesday and, but for mosquitoes, which have made sleep almost impossible, have had a pretty comfortable trip.
"My company consists of only my driver and my interpreter, the former a white man whom I picked up last Fall and the latter a half-breed. I am struck, as often before, with the superiority of the latter in everything which makes one a tolerable companion. The language and demeanor of the common white man are low enough. The Indian half-breeds who have been brought up in connection with the Mission have learned better manners and habits and are altogether more agreeable. After all, anyone, whether white man or Indian, needs to be pretty unexceptionable not to be an annoyance when you have to eat with him, etc., and have him all day long as a constant companion. I find it hard to take the trial sweetly!"
Six days later he wrote from Cheyenne Reserve, also to his sister: "I have been on a trip now for ten days or more, a fairly comfortable one, though a heavy storm of wind and rain blew my tent down over my head last Tuesday night and gave me hours of work and much wretchedness, and my horse balked in the middle of the Cheyenne River on Friday last as I was fording it, broke the single-tree loose and left me in the middle of the rapidly running stream with the water running into my wagon-box. But such ills are the concomitants of travel out here, and I am used to them."
One of the older South Dakota clergy, the Rev. John Robinson, has recalled in a recent letter some of these "concomitants": "I saw him in the rough and tumble of it, much the same as ourselves as we camped together; shutting himself up tight in his one pole cone-shaped tent known as a 'Sibley tent' in the hot summer nights to escape the torture of the mosquitoes; enjoying a bath in the clear stream. Yes, we all knew that if mice nibbled at our hair in the night, or that if we were liable to be roused from our slumber to see rats playing tag over our drowsy forms, our Bishop was liable to the same treatment."
Further details of discomfort are provided by a frequent fellow-traveler with Bishop Hare: "It must be remembered that almost every night during the summer the mosquitoes wherever we camped were incredibly thick, causing quite as much annoyance in one's nose, mouth and ears as by biting, and sometimes so thick in the air that you could grasp them by rolling the fingers down in the palm of the hand and having a roll of dead mosquitoes in each palm. In other words, they were almost as thick as the grass on the ground. On one or two occasions, when we inadvertently camped where Indians had preceded us, our blankets became infested with fleas, and we had to stay up all night in a wagon in our coats, nearly freezing to death. The water holes in the various dry creeks which we had to make, sometimes by forced marches, were covered with an iridescent scum which had to be pushed aside before the water was dipped up. Of course, none of it could be drunk, but had to be boiled and taken in the form of boiled coffee, and the cup of coffee was nearly always iridescent on its surface."
But enough of these petty annoyances, of which it is only to be said that the sufficient accumulation of mole-hills in the pathway of any one person may be far worse than one or two honest mountains to be climbed. The conditions themselves, the general forlornness of life, whether in camp or within four walls, are realized more through the reports of others than from the incidental references which Bishop Hare made to them. From him we gain, instead, an impression of satisfaction and triumph in the progress of an absorbing cause on behalf of which "the day's work" necessarily involved the coping with many minor obstacles. We may well turn, therefore, to some of his own renderings of adventures by the way and of the solution of problems in the very act of moving about his jurisdiction. An old saying which appealed to him so strongly that he took it for a guide in daily conduct--"In woe, hold out; in joy, hold in"---will be found to receive frequent and forcible illustrations.
Writing, on June 10, 1878, from Yankton Agency to his sister Mary, he describes a typical experience:
"I had a very hard drive down, but, in spite of all hindrances and trials, reached my destination well, though exhausted. One night I had to drive till midnight. The horses were high-spirited animals, and it was all that the driver could do to hold them. We plunged along; once I was thrown out as the wagon half keeled over, but we reached the creek where we were to camp just at midnight without mishap. A heavy storm was gathering behind us and hurried us on, and it was with intense relief that I found that we had at last reached a pitch in the road which I recognized as the descent to the stream. A vacant and half-roofless log cabin was to be our refuge for the night; but, fortunately, we found a tent pitched by the road. My driver, a rough, good-hearted young soldier, called out, 'Who's there? Got any room in there? I am carrying a Bishop down the country; the old gentleman can't stand roughing it as well as I do. [Bishop Hare was then forty years old.] Can you take him in?' His care for me was very touching. I waited for a reply with mingled feelings. Behind me was the growling storm, before me the prospect of crawling into a small tent and sharing the blanket of some man of whose antecedents, habits, etc., I knew nothing. A good-natured voice answered, 'Yes, come in, as many as want to,' and in I crept, thankfulness in my heart for a cover, struggling with nausea in my stomach at the thought of my bed-fellow (or blanket-fellow, rather). Well, it is all over now. I wish I could tell you all the funny and the trying adventures which came to me, but I haven't time."
In the December, 1878, number of Anpao, where many of Bishop Hare's communications to the Church through The Spirit of Missions and otherwise were reprinted, there is a letter describing a visit to the Santee Indians, who were attempting to live as white men at Flandreau. His earlier effort to visit them, and his finding refuge from a snowstorm in a cabin crowded with a surprise-party, will be recalled as an episode of the first years in Niobrara. This letter of 1878, after describing the excellent progress made by the Indians at Flandreau, proceeds with a statement of what Bishop Hare calls "The Other Side":
"I fear the people at the East are weary with the whole Indian question, so incessantly are discouraging pictures of its condition held up to their gaze. It must be remembered that it is only the sensational side of the story, i. e., the lawless or criminal, which purveyors for the public prints find it profitable to herald. An Indian scare is always thrilling; dissensions in Spotted Tail's camp merit a flaming heading in a sensational newspaper. But how many care to note that in the midst of all this dissension and disorder a clergyman, a sister, and two day-school teachers have been devotedly working; that school has been carried on morning, afternoon and evening with an average attendance of over sixty; that solace has been carried to the sick and disconsolate; that congregations of from 100 to 150 people have regularly assembled for the worship of Almighty God; that deep religious interest has attended many of these services, and improvement in life followed them; that twenty or thirty have been confirmed, and that the little flock, though jeered by bad men of the tribe and threatened with violence by the wilder ones, kept up daily prayers on the prairie amidst all the hindrances which inevitably attended their emigration across a wild country from their old to their new home? Slip after slip cut from secular newspapers has come into my hands in which the real or imaginary shortcomings of missionaries have been served up by anonymous writers with ill-disguised relish. I have yet to receive one which narrates that a Christian lady, dedicated to the service of the Saviour, has given up the comforts and purity of her own home to minister to the sick and wretched amid scenes of wickedness like that at Sodom; that she has endured a journey of eight days and seven nights, through a wilderness in which during the whole trip not a human habitation was met with; that she has followed the people whose salvation she seeks in their migration across the wilderness, and now shares their tent life!
"Let it be remembered an unusual dearth of other news the past summer, which the pestilence at the South has only recently relieved, has led the public press to give the slightest ripple of evil upon the surface of Indian affairs a strained importance. Half the difficulty of the Indian question lies in the fact that everything about it wears the aspect of the extraordinary and grandiloquent. One familiar with the real state of affairs wearies for the time when a squabble over a horse-race shall cease to be chronicled as 'an insurrection,' preparations for a feast heralded as the 'eve of an Indian outbreak,' and a set of horse-thieves termed 'a war party.' There is a deal of truth in the remark attributed to a Piute Indian: 'When three or four bad white men stop and rob one stage, maybe kill somebody, you send one sheriff catch three, four bad men; same way when some bad white men steal some cattle, or some horses, you send one sheriff; but when three, four bad Injun stop one stage, kill somebody, steal some horse or cow, you try catch three, four bad Injun? No; all white men say, "Injun broke out, Injun on warpath," and then come soldier for to kill everybody.' "
The church building in process of erection at Flandreau when Bishop Hare made the visitation to which the unquoted portion of the foregoing letter refers, was finished early in 1879. A letter from Flandreau, April 21,1879, "to our Brethren of the Church," relates some of the circumstances attending the service of consecration:
"Sunday, April 20, was the day appointed for the consecration of the church. A roaring gale prevailed, but the consecration services were participated in by a large congregation, who gave undivided attention until I had advanced about ten minutes in my sermon, when the frightened glances of two or three of the men who were sitting near the windows which look out toward the town (about an eighth of a mile distant) turned my attention in that direction. I saw in an instant that a fire was raging there, an alarming event always in this windy region when the country has been long without rain.
"The prairie fire is the terror of the farmer, for it sweeps the labors of months out of existence in a few moments, and he is fortunate if his wife and children escape the catastrophe which falls upon his property. The story is in every one's mouth just now of a husband and wife, who, as they frantically endeavored to save some of their stock from one of these prairie fires were, for a few moments, separated from one another by a cloud of smoke, and when the smoke lifted, the husband found that the flames had swept over his wife and left her writhing in mortal agony; 'Every stitch of clothing burned off, her body burned from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet and her flesh dropping in shreds from her bones.'
"The sight which met my eye as I looked from the windows of the church excited my alarm, of course, and I immediately told the men that I thought we could best honor God by going at once to the assistance of the people of the imperiled town, doffed my robes, as did Rev. Mr. Young his surplice, and ran with him and the rest of the people towards the flames. A spark from a chimney had lighted upon the dry grass on the western side of the town, the flames had leaped then to the hay piled back of, and over, a rude frontier stable and was bounding on and threatening the whole west end of the village. We all worked as for dear life, some trying to whip out the fire with old coats, shawls, brooms, and indeed with whatever in the excitement we could lay our hands on, while others helped to empty the houses which were most threatened. The driving gale carried the sparks before it, and we whipped away in one place only to find that the grass had been ignited, here and there, ten or twenty feet beyond us and that the devouring element was gliding on from those points with alarming rapidity. A drought of many months' duration had left everything as dry and almost as combustible as tinder and it was soon evident that everything ahead of the wind in the line of its movement was doomed. Notwithstanding all our efforts, first a house, then the piles of lumber in a board yard, and then another house were consumed and the fire shot on in the direction of our new church and the houses of some of our best and hardest-working Indians. The smoke and cinders were blinding and smothering; but whites and Indians, men and women, all worked as best we could and at last had the satisfaction of seeing the fire sweep by along a line which came no nearer our holy and beautiful house than fifteen feet. One of the Indians whose houses were in the track of the fire was not so fortunate. He and his people had been so busy helping to protect the property of others, that they had not noticed in time the peril of their own, and when they rushed at last to its rescue and carried their household goods from their dwelling, the fire by a curious freak consumed the goods and left the house untouched. Providentially no lives were lost.
"After our labors we were all as begrimed and besooted as miners, and, as we talked over our adventures, might have been taken for Ethiopian minstrels canvassing the results of their evening's entertainment.
"The case of the sufferers is very sad. Several of them lost almost their all, that all the result of the hard fight for life which our western pioneers almost always have to wage the first few years of their settlement in their new home. One poor woman had invested her earnings as a school teacher in a millinery establishment. Her goods in the general alarm were snatched from her store to be carried to a safe place and were seized by the hurricane and whirled into the flames or blown over the blackened plains. Another sufferer is a man with a wife and four children, whose house just built and all its contents were entirely consumed. He is reduced almost to beggary. One of our Indian communicants lost two plows, a barrel of pork and a good deal of wearing apparel.
"I invited the people of the town to meet in the evening in the church, the only available place, to devise means for relieving the sufferers. The meeting was accordingly held and immediately followed by divine service, in which only a few words were needed to impress upon all the solemnity of the lesson we had been taught by the events of the day on the uncertainty of human possessions. The subscription for the relief of the sufferers has been quite general and I have promised to solicit help from my friends in the East. . . .
"Our Indians won, by their hearty and efficient efforts to check the flames and save property, the admiration of the most cynical. I shall not soon forget one little episode. Toward the close of the excitement, when our exhausted energies were all being bent to saving the church, an old Indian woman who saw me putting a bucket of water to my lips ran to me and asked a drink, put the bucket to her parched lips and then, stopping first for a moment and putting her shriveled hand in mine with an expression of thankfulness, rushed back to continue her work of beating the flaming prairie. Notwithstanding the exhaustion which the excited efforts of the Indians had produced, a fair-sized congregation assembled in the church in the afternoon, when Rev. Mr. Young presented a class of eight for confirmation.
"There is room for much improvement in these people. They are lacking in persistent application and plant far less of their land than they ought; but they have in a commendable degree resisted the temptation to drink, which their vicinity to a white man's town presents; they have won the reputation of being quiet and peaceable neighbors; their credit is good at the stores, and they are more attentive to their religious duties than most white men are. To one who moves as I do among the barbarous brethren of these Flandreau people and compares the quiet farming life of the one with the dancings and drummings, the indolence and wildness of the others, the condition of the former is full of encouragement."
In the following month, May, 1879, a characteristic scene, in which Bishop Hare took part, was enacted at the Crow Creek Agency. It was described in Anpao for July, 1879, by Mr. S. J. Brown, catechist at Crow Creek, under the heading, "A Heroic Step":
"One of the bravest acts and one of the most interesting ceremonies that I ever witnessed, took place here at the time of Bishop Hare's visitation in May last.
"The hero of what I am about to relate is a Sioux brave and named Iewicaka, or Truth Teller, a nephew of an hereditary chief of considerable note, who died a few years ago, and whose name he bears, and is otherwise closely connected by blood with the 'best families' of the Sioux nation. He is considered one of the bravest of his people and, though a young man of only about thirty-five years of age, is (or was) his chief's--White Ghost's--head soldier, warrior and chief counselor, a position given only to the best and bravest of the tribe. On account of his daring exploits on the warpath and his well-known love for the Indian life and his open warfare against the God of civilization, he was, last winter, made master and keeper of the drum of the Order of the Grass Dance, and thus was he found upon the Bishop's arrival, clothed with all the honors within the gift of his people.
"Upon the occasion of the Bishop's visit and at one of his councils with the Indians who had gathered to hear the great spirit-man talk, Truth Teller, who was present, suddenly arose in the midst of the people and advanced to the front, shook hands with the Bishop, and then, stepping back a few feet and drawing himself up to his full height, in a clear, ringing voice, which at once indicated the deep earnestness and bravery of the man, he declared his purpose to abandon all Indian ways and to adopt those of the white man--to give up all heathen rites and ceremonies and worship only the God of civilization, and then, to attest his sincerity, took from his scalp-lock a war eagle feather--that ensign of bravery and of many years of savagery--and handing it over to the Bishop, said:
"'I give to you this war eagle feather. Take it, and keep it in remembrance of the words of Truth Teller,' and then with an eloquent impressiveness that touched my heart as it never was touched before, he presented the Bishop with the drum of the Order of the Grass Dance, and continued, 'I part with the feather and the drum and all Indian ways forever, and with them give to you my body and my soul.'
"The next important step in this interesting man's career was taken Sunday, June 29, while he was present at a Missionary Conference assembled by the Bishop at the Yankton Agency, when he was, in an impressive ceremony, admitted a catechumen. The Bishop met Truth Teller and his witness at the door of the church and addressed to the former the following questions, to which he answered affirmatively:
"'Dost thou believe that the God whom we preach is the Lord of heaven and earth and that there is no God besides him?' Ans. 'I do.'
"'Dost thou desire to leave the ways of darkness and walk in the light?' Ans. 'I do.'
"'Wilt thou patiently seek instruction in the ways of God?' Ans. 'I will.'
"Then followed a collect, after which the Bishop, taking him by the right hand, addressed him in these words:
"'The Lord vouchsafe to receive you into His holy household and to keep and govern you always in the same, that you may have everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'
"The newly-admitted catechumen was then led into the church and seated among the congregation.
"Truth Teller is no longer the soldier, the warrior, or the chief counselor that he was, no longer honored or even respected. He is most pitiably degraded in the eyes of his people, most heartily despised by the Order of the Grass Dance. He has subjected himself to the merciless persecutions of that powerful Order, but as he has dropped a seed that cannot fail to bring forth good fruit, it now remains for the Government to specially care for, protect, and encourage the man in his laudable efforts to break up that evil genius inimical to civilization--the Grass Dance Lodge." . . .
A thrilling sequel to this act of Truth Teller has been recently related, as follows:
"Truth Teller's act angered the young Indians of his camp. Armed and with painted faces they rushed into the Bishop's presence, crying, 'We want that drum!' One of them, coming close to the Bishop, said to him in a low voice, 'I am your friend,' then, loudly, 'We want that drum!' Calmly facing them, the Bishop said, 'My friends, Truth Teller gave that drum to me. He said it was his and he had a right to dispose of it as he wished. I cannot give away what my friend has given to me.' But they insisted that the drum belonged to the company, not to the one man. 'The Agent shall decide this question,' the Bishop finally told them. 'If he says the drum is yours, of course you shall have it.' Under the circumstances the Agent found the wisest verdict was to award the drum to the young men."
In Anpao for August, 1879, is found a letter on "The Cheyenne River Agency Mission," well worth preserving for its estimate of Indian character as seen under the conditions best suited to its display:
"Accompanied by the Rev. Mr. Swift, I lately paid a visit, full of interest, to some Minnecon-jous, Sans Arcs, Blackfeet and other bands of Sioux who are connected with the Cheyenne River Agency. We found the chief, Four Bears, and the other Indians, who had heard that we were coming, on tip-toe with expectation. Their signal fires were visible by night long before we reached their camp, and when we arrived we found them more than ready to escort us over their country, display its merits and make it clear how much there was to give promise of success, if we would only plant among them the Industrial Mission which they so much desired.
"It is when you bury yourself with him in his own wild country that the Indian appears at his best. He is faithful and versatile in emergencies, considerate and tractable in his intercourse with you, and, about the camp-fire, easy, communicative and confiding. We scoured the country up hill and down dale all day long, and decided, to the joy of our Indian friends, that it abounded in the three sine qua non to a successful settlement, viz., timber, good water and arable land. At night we returned to the camp, where I promised myself the comfort of sleeping in a new tent which the chief's wife had but lately set up. I found, however, that in our absence the good woman had swept and garnished her log cabin for us and that I should give mortal offense unless I accepted the attention. And so, after two or three hours of talk with a houseful of Indians, amidst clouds of smoke from tobacco pipes, and of fumes, not so pleasant though quite as odoriferous, from heated bodies, Mr. Swift and I lay down upon a couch which our hostess had prepared for us, which, whatever its shortcomings, gratitude and sentiment metamorphosed into a cleanly and inviting bed, while Four Bears, the chief, and his wife committed themselves to sleep upon an even less comfortable couch, and their son, a young man of eighteen, stretched himself on the earth floor between us. This young man has taught himself to read and write his own tongue and showed with modest pride his Bible and Prayer Book and read in the former for me.
"The next day, Friday, we traveled some forty-five miles in a wagon without springs over a rough road and were almost jolted to pieces; but about five o'clock we reached St. Paul's Mission Station at Mackenzie's Point and found, in the joy of the people who crowded the chapel on our arrival and in the many signs of progress which met our eyes, ample reward for the fatigue of the day. Mr. and Mrs. Swift resided in this camp for a year and the condition of the people tells of the useful lessons for guidance in daily life which they then learned, which their faithful Indian Catechist, whose good wife keeps the Mission House as clean as any white woman could, successfully labors to keep fresh in their minds.
"I confirmed here on Saturday morning a class of ten.
"At noon we started in an open wagon for the central mission, the residence of the missionary, distant twenty-two miles. We had been on our way but an hour when a tremendous storm of wind, rain and hail came down upon us. Shelter there was none within many miles and we pressed on toward the crossing of the Cheyenne River. Here we found a rude skiff half full of water and we all fell to work to turn it over and empty it, animated by the hurried exclamations of our Indian guides, who feared that the river, already considerably swollen, would become impassable before we could cross it. Indians shine in such emergencies, if disposed to please you. They will plunge, on horseback, into streams running like a mill-race, or doff their clothes as readily as a white man would his hat, and swim the flood, carrying your valuables upon their heads. We hurried on and were congratulating ourselves that the storm was over and there was now no barrier between us and our destination, when, on reaching the brow of a hill, we discovered to our dismay that the rivulet which ran in the valley beneath us was swollen to a river, surging along at the rate of from eight to ten miles an hour. There was nothing to do but to sit down and wait for the stream to run by. We watched the flood disconsolately till sunset, then till dark, and at length reluctantly made up our minds that we should have to spend the night there. We were all hungry as well as wet. A messenger managed to swim the stream and made his way to the mission, six miles off, where, as we afterwards learned, he represented that we were starving. By nine o'clock our ears were greeted by the sound of his horse's feet and, presently, his precious burden of food was borne across the stream on his head and laid in safety at our feet. It was eagerly devoured and we were then fain to roll ourselves up in our blankets upon Mother Earth and invite the descent of 'tired nature's sweet restorer,' which in our case proved rather dewy than 'balmy sleep.'
"With the early dawn we rose, found, to our relief, that our stream had been more considerate than that which the poet wrote of, and had indeed run by. It was not long before we reached St. John's Mission and Boarding School, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Swift. I thought myself at first too worn out and stiff for any duty, but the sight of the fourteen neat, happy-looking Indian girls who constitute the school, the evidences which I saw of their docility and of their dexterity at the wash-tub and the kneading-trough, the sweetness of their responsive singing at family prayers and then the gathering of the Christian Indians and their cordial handshaking and hearty 'Hows' were inspiriting, and I found by ten o'clock at night that, notwithstanding my fatigue, I had participated with Mr. Swift in three services, two for Indians and one at Fort Bennett for white people, and confirmed a class of thirteen. At another station, twenty miles off, I confirmed, a few days later, a class of eight.
"It does not do to scrutinize human nature too closely, whether out here or in New York, unless at the same time that you scrutinize that of other people, you examine your own, and there is much that could be said of these Indians (and many like nothing better than to say it) which it would not be encouraging to detail; but they are the victims of so many disadvantages, their desire to extricate themselves from their sad plight seems in many cases so honest, and so great a change for the better has taken place among them within the last few years, that their case appeals to my deepest feelings and it is not easy for me to realize that they can be the defiant and supercilious people whom I first met six years ago. Mr. Swift's seven years of labors and exhortations in season and out of season are bearing fruit and the eminently wise administration of the present Agent, Captain Schwan of the Army, is bringing order out of chaos, so that they have become reasonably obedient and the best of them are clamorous almost to break away from the lazy village life in which they have hitherto huddled and to adopt the separate farm life which the Agent desires for them. . . .
"Opposition to a shameful proposition to despoil a tribe of Christian Indians of their farms has brought upon my head out here a storm of newspaper interpretations, and if I may believe some of the public prints, I am a pretty thoroughly demoralized fellow. There is no material offset to such calumnies which I should enjoy more than generous help in planting among these Cheyenne River Indians the church and mission dwelling which are so essential to their welfare and which they so much desire, and I conclude with the appeal of No Heart's, 'Let all our friends hear these words. We long for life. Help us more and more.'"
The transition from camp and travel to the life of the boarding-schools was one which Bishop Hare was constantly making, and the following letter, with its glimpse of him surrounded by Indian children, cannot be spared:
"HOPE SCHOOL, SPRINGFIELD, DAK.,
"May 17, 1881.
"To Our Benefactors Who Support Scholars in the Boarding Schools of Niobrara.
"MY DEAR FRIENDS: Some of you have heard, perhaps, of the five weeks which I spent first snow-bound and then flood-bound, vainly trying to get back to Niobrara, all the time just on the border of the Indian country, but never within it. It was annoying enough, but it seems so trifling as compared with the trials of those who were shut up in the Indian country all the winter through that I have not a word to say about it.
"Such a winter was never known: six full months of unintermitted rigor, communication was cut off five or six weeks at a time, and at some points, supplies were reduced so low that people were well off who managed to keep on hand the barest necessaries of life, such as coffee, pork and beans.
"The season leaped, however, at last from winter to summer in a week, and the members of the Mission are all recovering from the exhaustion from which they looked as if they had suffered, though they did not complain. The schools will soon rally from the evil effects of their special trials, which are chiefly apparent in the condition of some of the buildings and of the clothing of some of the children. In this latter the schools have been very short, as boxes expected in November and December have not yet come through.
"My time thus far since my return has been occupied chiefly with the schools. The improvement of the children has been most marked. I have heard them recite the multiplication table, answer questions in geography, and perform arithmetical exercises with a readiness which is not excelled in ordinary white schools.
"Their essays in speaking English have been very creditable, indeed. Imagine them pretty much the same as white children and you will have the truest conception of them. I went up to a little girl of ten years the other day, and putting my hand under her chin, enquired: 'And why didn't you sing at prayers this morning?' The answer, somewhat timidly and plaintively given, was: 'I did not want to.' 'And why didn't you want to?' was my reply. What did she respond, think you? ' 'Cause,' the answer of children all the world over, methinks.
"Yesterday, I proposed to the children of Hope School that I should give them a drive in my traveling wagon. They were more than ready, and in the afternoon we started, eleven little people crowded with me into a two-seated wagon, so that I was quite surrounded, 'Children to right of me, children to left of me, children in front of me,'--shall I complete the line and say, Volleyed and thundered'? No, not that; but I was charmed with the confiding way in which they soon came to be quite at home with me, first chatting with each other about the scenes through which we passed, and then at my request singing me some of their songs and hymns. Presently we stopped at a farmhouse where I had some business. The good people looked at my load a little askance, moved, I think, somewhat by the old dread that the whites have for the Indians and somewhat by the feeling: 'How absurd to try to do anything with a lot of Indian children!' I thought I would undeceive them, and therefore, after the children had played a few minutes in the grove back of the house, proposed to the family that the children should go into the sitting-room. 'Perhaps,' said I, 'you would like to hear them sing.' 'Why, yes,' was the quick but somewhat unbelieving reply. In we all went, and to the amazement of the audience, the children stood and sang, first:
"Jesus, meek and gentle,' . . .
and then one of their songs:
"'In a meadow green I saw a lamb,' . .
"I never before acted so much in the capacity of a traveling theatrical manager, and know now what are the sensations of such a personage when he is not ashamed of his troupe."
The humor of a situation was seldom lost on Bishop Hare, even when he looked beyond and behind some strange scene into its true significance. Thus, too, he put a just value upon the uses of a dignified symbolism in the roughest surroundings. Witness the ensuing letter:
"RED DOG'S CAMP, Oct. 27. [1882.]
"We reached Medicine Root Station, where Miss Leigh bravely represents the work of Christ, Wednesday, October 25. She was overjoyed to see us, for it is not once in a month that she sees a white person, and bustled around to make us comfortable in a way which made us feel that we were the most important persons in the world. We had a service in the evening, at which three young men and one young woman were baptized; were up bright and early the next morning and celebrated the Holy Communion before breakfast; after breakfast had another service at which I confirmed four and were off for the next station, fifteen miles distant, in time for a service there, and then for a drive of eight miles and a service at night at St. Andrew's Station, where Rev. Amos Ross, a native Deacon, is settled. The baptism of the three young men and one young woman at Medicine Root Station presented features of peculiar interest. The Indians are foolish and superstitious beyond description, and the work of the Church gives rise to surmises and notions of all possible sorts. A common feeling is one of dread. They watch the career of those who identify themselves with the Church, and, should sickness or death come upon them, lay the calamity at the door of the Church and argue that 'the new way' is good for white men, but was not meant for Indians. When any one advocates the Church and says it is 'a good thing,' they dare him to be himself baptized and see what the result will be! The three young men of whom I write came forward with a manner which indicated what an appalling step they were looked upon as taking and as if bracing themselves for the ordeal. They stood close together, shoulder to shoulder, one buttressing another, as it were, and swayed and bowed as they relieved their tense muscles by change of posture. One was in white man's dress, another in full Indian costume, the third had been able to procure only pants and vest and stood in his shirt sleeves; but one did not think of the ludicrousness of the apparel in the solemnity of the service. . . .
"At each of these stations the people gather together for worship in the Governmental Day Schools, which are transformed from schools into chapels by the movable prayer desks and altar and beautiful hangings which were provided for them by the members of the Niobrara League. I am sitting now in the schoolhouse in Red Dog's Camp facing this movable chancel furniture, and its effect is so salutary that I am moved to say (forgive my boldness) how much I wish that the same donors or other persons like-minded would send some hangings like them for a new station, called St. Luke's, among Spotted Tail's people, and for the chapel at which the girls of St. John's Boarding School worship, and for St. Paul's, Mackenzie's Point. Besides other good influence exerted by this adornment of the places we use for worship, it shows that we think worship of enough importance to be carefully prepared for. I thank God that, though we live in the wilds and are driven to all sorts of makeshifts in Niobrara, our public worship is never careless or slovenly."
In November of 1884 Bishop Hare paid a visit to the Standing Rock Reservation, on the northern line of the present state of Dakota, and took the first steps towards the establishment of a mission there in the following year. His own account of the experience shows with what elemental conditions he had to deal even so late as 1884:
"Early Monday we started out upon our trip up the river. Our party consisted of five selected Indians, the Rev. Mr. Swift and myself. Our destination was the Standing Rock Agency, where there is a large body of Indians as yet unreached by educational and missionary effort, some of whom have again and again sent us requests that we would come and do for them the work which we had done for other Indians.
"Mr. Swift's Christian Indians have taken up their plea and pressed it upon us with great earnestness, No Heart, a Christian chief, and others volunteering to accompany us and smooth our way. A good deal of smoothing is sometimes necessary, for Indian life is a tangle of intrigue and diverse parties and clashing plans and interests through which the benevolent, however clever, may find it hard to make his way.
"We reached the Agency in two days without mishap. Fort Yates is close by, and Mr. Swift and I were most hospitably entertained by the chaplain, one of our own clergy, the Rev. Mr. Dunbar.
"We busied ourselves for two days, while our Indian colleagues moved among the Indians and quietly arranged for an interview.
"The Government Boarding School work on this Reserve is in the hands of the Roman Catholics. That in charge of the Sisters is carried on with great self-denial, and we saw much that excited our warmest admiration. Of the evangelistic and pastoral work which has marked our Mission, we saw, however, little, and it is the lack of it which has led the people to invoke our aid. The agent, Major McLaughlin, is one of the best in the service, active, business-like, large-minded, and deeply interested in the Indians and in his work.
"At the appointed time we met a large council of the Indians composed of men of all kinds, and all kinds of speeches were delivered; one chief saying that 'he blamed our grandfathers and his grandfathers. He blamed ours because they killed the Son of God, and he blamed his because they had not taught their children better ways'! Some intimated that they would be more favorably disposed to listen to us were the Indians who had listened to us better off!
"Some said they were glad to see us if we had come to bring them more beef and sugar and coffee! After this fusillade of speeches made for effect, the representatives of the Indians who had again and again invoked our help rose and sententiously remarked that their minds were not changed, that they wanted our Mission, that they had said this several times before, and now said it again.
"The mental and spiritual destitution of these poor people is appalling. Their call to us to come to their deliverance is distinct and emphatic. The work which the Church has done for their neighbors has provoked it. Somehow or other we must respond to it.
"Mr. Swift and I, under the guidance of the agent (who in this and in every way showed us every courtesy), traversed the Reserve extensively that we might intelligently choose a location for our future enterprise, and at last fixed upon Oak Creek, where there are stretches of good arable land, with wood and water close at hand.
"A mission begun here would soon gather about it a body of well-disposed Indians, and, by God's blessing, Mr. Swift's work among the Cheyenne River Indians would be reproduced. . . .
"In starting on our return trip we got separated from some of our party, and at night took refuge in a camp of Indian herders and were forced to remain there nearly two days. A whole beef quartered and hung up just before the log house in which we slept, on a pole stretched between two trees, from which, when meal time drew near, large steaks were cut, assured us that, primitive as our quarters and our surroundings were, we should not lack food, while the free hospitality of the herders made us feel quite at home. About twenty miles from here the Congregationalists have established a Mission Station under a native teacher who is highly esteemed. We had hoped to visit it, but found he was absent and that a visit would add considerably to our journey. Surrendering this plan, therefore, from this point we struck out into the hack country, leaving roads and hoping that, as the weather was growing bitterly cold, we could make a short cut to White Wolf's Camp and cheer the little flock there.
"Our friend No Heart disapproved the venture, but was over-persuaded and traveled with us till noon; but then announced laughingly that he could not afford to over-drive and kill his horses if we could afford to kill ours, and that he was sure we should be overtaken by the night and lose our way. He would camp near where he was.
"Two others of our Indian companions were more hopeful.
"The herder who had guided us and was about to return to the camp, thought we could reach our destination in four or five hours, and Mr. Swift and I, with two Indians, determined to cut loose from our baggage-wagon--our base of supplies--and make for White Wolf's Camp.
"We followed a cattle trail hour after hour, each hour revealing no sign that we were nearer our destination than when we started.
"The trail, too, divided into many smaller trails and, as they say, 'petered out.' Night came on. We pushed on and on until far in the night. Our perplexity was complete and, calling a 'council of war,' we determined that we were helplessly lost, and that our only recourse was to creep into the bushes near by and there pass the night. Our tent and most of our bedding and food, alas, were in the baggage-wagon.
"We had taken the precaution, however, to bring some of our blankets and some food with us. I was better provided than the others. There was dry wood near by from which we made a huge fire. The night was intensely cold, freezing even the pickles in our lunch basket. Our quarters were not palatial, but they might have been worse.
"The morning light revealed not a sign which was the least clew to any of us where we were. We traveled on, however, and after several hours, descried a figure on a hill-top some distance off. One of the Indians made for him. He turned out to be the native catechist from White Wolf's Camp, who was out seeking lost horses. He guided us to camp, where a sight met our gaze which was a full reward for all our night's discomfort--in a vast wilderness a new essay at a farming settlement, and at a central point a dozen Indians busy erecting a log chapel! I had sent them money with which to buy flooring, doors and window sash. They had themselves cut and hauled and hewn the logs, had put them in place and were doing all the work. The sight provoked the exclamation, 'In the wilderness shall waters break out and streams in the desert.' The people's joy that I had come to see them, and my joy at seeing them, were alike unbounded."
A recent letter from Major McLaughlin, now Indian Inspector, and author of the illuminating book, My Friend the Indian, brings a valuable corroboration of Bishop Hare's account of his visit to Standing Rock Agency, and of the first steps towards the establishment of St. Elizabeth's Mission there. The letter mentions one point which Bishop Hare's narrative does not touch upon, namely, that he made it very clear to the Indians with whom he conferred, "that he did not wish to erect his mission buildings in a district of the reservation within which a mission of any other denomination was then being conducted," and ends with a paragraph which must be quoted entire:
"I met the Bishop very frequently during my fourteen years as Agent, at Standing Rock Agency, and esteemed him very highly. He was of sterling character, an earnest Christian gentleman, and broad-minded enough to recognize the good in every conscientious worker, regardless of what his religious affiliations might be."
Through all the wanderings and vicissitudes to which the preceding pages have referred, the daily, the domestic concerns of those to whom he was most closely bound in the East, were constantly in his thoughts. The welfare of his son, the family birthdays, the health and affairs of all his circle, from parents to nephews and nieces, were frequently recurring topics in his intimate letters. These do not reveal him as one of those who rejoice in "roughing it" for its own sake. He is seen rather as taking his experiences as they came, and taking them without complaint, his tastes and instincts all the while pleading within him for the mode of life to which he was born, amongst the kinsfolk and friends whom he held--as they held him--in warm personal affection.
Not long after his mother's death in 1883 he wrote to his sister Mary: "Mother's photograph, stuck into the frame of one of Mary's [his wife's], is before me as I write. How much those two women have done for me, and are still doing for me!" Corresponding with the element of tenderness in his feeling towards sister, mother and wife, was an element of chivalry towards all women. Corresponding also with the personal debt to the few women with whom he was most intimately allied, was the debt of all his mission work to the women of the Church. In the first of all his addresses to Indians, at Oneida, Wisconsin, he reported himself as saying, "I told the Indians of the meetings I had attended of ladies in Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and told them that I represented those ladies, and that they must see in my face the face of a thousand friends." These friends continued to multiply through such organizations as the Indians' Hope of Philadelphia, the Dakota League of Massachusetts, the Niobrara League of New York, a society devoted primarily to the work of Bishop Hare, and, finally, through many branches of the Woman's Auxiliary, to which the special organizations generally allied themselves. Owing much to the women of the East, he gave then of his best to the women of his Mission. Indeed, there was no portion of his service in which the inherent nature of the man expressed itself more fully.
As the women of the Mission had to do especially with the children of the schools, it was often a joint benefit which he rendered to these two classes dependent upon his care. In the earliest days he is found taking an arduous journey, on the false rumor of an Indian uprising, to a distant post where two women were working unprotected. If there was danger, it was for him to share, and to guard those whom he had exposed to it. In the schools there was all manner of detail to be ordered properly, and, in the interest of women and children, he applied himself to it. When the Hope School at Springfield was about to begin its work, he wrote to his sister Mary, November 23, 1879: "I am still at Springfield wading through the preparatory stages of housekeeping, viz.: carpentering, painting, white-washing, house-cleaning; but nearer the finale, I am glad to say, than when I last wrote. I have been reading up on the subject of housekeeping in a little book, From Attic to Cellar, which I recommend to other young housekeepers, for instance Mother. It is surprising how much I know, and with what self-possession I give orders to a very bustling and self-confident cook I have the privilege of employing. She studies me and goes back to the kitchen wondering, I believe, whether such knowledge as to the condition in which dripping-pans, etc., should be kept is a sine qua non in the Episcopal office." In times of emergency his helpers were sure of his support. One of them, Miss Amelia Ives, has recalled in a private letter "the time of the burning of St. Mary's School and Mission buildings at Santee Agency [February, 1884]. He was at the East meeting his appointments there at the time of the fire, which occurred on Sunday morning. At 10 A. M., a message was sent, 'Mission buildings burned, all lives safe.' In a few hours the reply came, 'Start to-night, will be with you Wednesday night'; and he was. He canceled his engagements and took the first train that made connections through. When needed we knew that we could depend upon him absolutely."
In a recent letter of a Congregationalist missionary, the Rev. Mary C. Collins, to a worker under Bishop Hare, Miss Mary S. Francis, a characteristic incident is related: "Once I was driving along the road on the bluff back of Pierre. It was near the holiday time and in the distance I saw a horse and small buggy with a man walking through the snowy slush, driving. In the buggy was a great trunk with the seat on top of it. It looked strange even in that queer country. As I approached I saw it was Bishop Hare. We met and greeted each other. Laughingly I said, 'Well, Bishop, it would be strange to see a lady with so large a trunk that she had to walk in order to transport it; but a man, and that man a Bishop, is beyond my comprehension.' He laughed heartily, and said, 'It is not all my personal belongings, but I found one of the belated Christmas boxes for the school, and I knew what the disappointment would be if they did not get it.' He had a very long distance to go, and was not a very young man then. The incident impressed itself upon my mind." Indeed, his own love of fun gave him a full understanding of the need of it--especially in the schools. "The Indian's old life," he once wrote, "was like his moccasin, soft and easy-fitting. The new life is like a tight, hard leather boot. It rubs him and makes him sore. Therefore the more innocent fun we can have in our Indian Boarding Schools the better."
There were many incidents like that of the trunk, many practical applications of the truth, that "whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all." The clergy under his charge recognized his constant care for them as clearly as the women of the Mission. And well they might, though none of them could have known of his writing to his sister in 1889, about a clergyman newly come to the mission field: "My heart sometimes bleeds for him and his wife. What is old to me must seem so new (and so repulsive), to a stranger." One of the older missionaries, the Rev. Edward Ashley, of Cheyenne Agency, has recently written: "To me he was not only Bishop, but father, brother, friend, and he was all of that to others also." Another of those who served longest under him, the Rev. H. Burt, of Crow Creek Agency, took for the subject of his address at the Indian Convocation of 1910 at Greenwood, "Bishop Hare, his constant thoughtfulness of us all." He recalled the words from the Bishop's first pastoral letter, "I shall have you constantly in my heart," and showed how truly this promise was fulfilled through nearly thirty-seven years. The qualities of thoughtfulness, tenderness, care and protection were those upon which Bishop Tuttle laid special emphasis in his memorial sermon on Bishop Hare in April of 1910. "The sweet care that settles itself for other men upon the loved ones in the home flowed forth from him upon all the different kinds of people represented in his scattered flock. A watchful shepherd's care outspreads itself over them all. So far as one man's strength could reach them, so far as one man's thoughts could plan for them, they were all thought about and cared for, for thirty-seven years."
The work he set himself to do demanded quite as much of the head as of the heart. He was fortunate in possessing a rich gift of practical wisdom, and he used it to the best purpose. His working habits were always methodical. No surmountable obstacles could prevent him from keeping his appointments. In a land of wooden structures and high winds, no fire could destroy a mission building but that the insurance was found to be adequate, and paid up. His judgment of men was uncommonly keen. His marked diplomacy in dealing with them, in determining, for example, whether the settlers of a new town wanted a church for its own sake or for advertising purposes, and in choosing the course both of prudence and of spiritual leadership, was frequently called upon. It has been well said that one of the most remarkable points in his administration was "the fact that he was deceived so seldom and yet never started out with his guard up because of suspicion." If his kindness of heart had not at times involved him in disappointments at the hands of borrowers, he would have been hardly human--and a little disappointing besides. His shrewdness in selecting men to work under him is well illustrated by an incident related by the former rector of an important parish in New England--an incident of later years, but typical of a life-long astuteness. "I received a telephone message one morning. 'This is Bishop Hare. I am at Bishop------'s. Could you possibly come up to see me?' I had no idea that he was in the East, and said instantly, 'Of course,' and went. He explained to me that two men had been highly recommended to him for an important work in his district, and then said with a smile, 'Bishops recommended them. You know I never put any value upon the commendations of Bishops. You know these men. I want you to tell me whether my impression of them is right. I will now describe them.' His description of them was as keen as it was accurate."
Valuable as all these qualities were in the cause of Indian civilization, it is clear that their scope was capable of wide extension.