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Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate
Being Reminiscences and Recollections
of the Right Reverend
Henry Benjamin Whipple, D.D., LL.D.
Bishop of Minnesota

New York: The Macmillan Company, 1899.

Chapter XVI

AT the first service which I held in Faribault, I saw, sitting on the chancel steps, a bright-eyed Sioux boy of ten years of age, with painted face, a blanket, and a feather in his hair. He listened attentively and seemed much touched by the music, and afterward was always present at the services. I became so deeply interested in the boy that I educated him and baptized him George Whipple St. Clair. As he showed more and more that the Saviour's love had fallen upon him, I put him in our Divinity School, and he became a candidate for Holy Orders.

He was the first Sioux whom I ordained to the sacred ministry. After some years of faithful labor among his people he went to his rest. The day of his burial, four of our Chippewa deacons, who were in Faribault, asked to be his pall-bearers. It moved me deeply, for I knew that the father of two of these men, the Rev. George and the Rev. Fred Smith, was killed by the Sioux, in a battle in which the father of the Rev. George St. Clair had also been engaged,--an illustration of the truth of our motto, "Pax, per sanguinem crucis."

His only son, Henry Whipple St. Clair, I have recently ordained to the diaconate. The ordination service took place in the pretty stone church at the Birch Coulee Mission, which the Indian women, long before sunrise, had made beautiful by the flowers of the prairie, which have no rival. A more blessed service never gladdened a bishop's heart, for as I cradled this dear son in my arms at holy baptism so I have carried him in my heart all these years. I confirmed him; then he was catechist at this mission, and he is now in the Seabury Divinity School. Like his father, he counts it joy to tell men of the love of Christ, and is full of the desire to work for his people, who hold him in deep affection and respect.

The strongest opponent to missions would have bowed head and heart could he have looked upon the dignified, thoughtful faces of that Indian congregation as they hung upon the words of the holy office which gave them a shepherd from among their own people.

Among the lines of veterans whom I first knew as wild men in paint and feathers, were Wakinyan-was'te, warden of the mission, and Wahacankamaza, heroes of the massacre of 1862, and other warriors who had laid down tomahawk and scalping knife to follow in the footsteps of their Master. The lay reader, Wabasha, is the son of Wabasha, the hereditary head chief of the Lower Sioux.

When Te-me-za heard that her grandson, Henry St. Clair, was to enter the ministry, she exclaimed with tears of joy: "This is the best thing that has come to me; my son's boy is to give his life to his people and will lead them to the Great Spirit. I shall die in peace."

After the Rev. Mr. Peake became a chaplain in the army, Enmegahbowh was left in charge of the Gull Lake Mission. It was a hundred miles to the nearest priest, and the Holy Communion could be administered only at my visits.

Enmegahbowh had a good English education and was devout and well-read in the Scriptures and Church history. With the consent of the Standing Committee I gave him a dispensation in Greek and Hebrew. He was a faithful student, and I selected three of the ablest men in my diocese for his examiners,--the Rev. Dr. McMasters, the Rev. Dr. Edward Welles, and the Rev. Dr. Knickerbacker. The examination lasted a day, and my Indian deacon did not miss an answer. When the examiners said, "It is very remarkable," my heart leaped for joy, for I knew that henceforth my red children could receive regularly the Christian's Bread.

I ordained Enmegahbowh to the priesthood in the Cathedral at Faribault.

The story of this pioneer Indian clergyman whose life has been so interwoven with my own in the history of the Chippewas for the past forty years, is interestingly told in his own way, in a letter written to me, which may be found in the Appendix.

A providence of God may be traced in an incident which occurred many years ago, when the Chippewas were encamped on Lake St. Croix, where Enmegah-bowh's wife, then a young child, was visiting an aunt. In the night the Sioux attacked the village and murdered all the inhabitants except this child, who was unnoticed as she slept between her aunt and sister. I have always looked with reverence upon this Mother in Israel whose life had been spared to help and bless her heathen people.

I have known Enmegahbowh in sunshine and in storm, and he has always been to me a faithful friend and brother. He has been my companion in many of my journeys in the wilderness, and while he is most thoughtful in character, he possesses a vein of fun which, I suppose, he has more often revealed to his bishop than to any other.

His letters are often amusing. In one he says:--

All of your red children send you their love and say, "Tell him that we remember and pray for him, and that our prayers are not lip prayers--they are from the heart." We uneducated red men do not know the seat of the faculties of men. Some wise men say it is in the brain. We do not know. We do know that "the Lord said unto Moses that Pharaoh's heart was hardened." He did not say that Pharaoh's brain was hardened. Jesus said, "Son, give me thy heart." He did not say give me thy brains. Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled." He did not say let not your brain be troubled. As I said, the seat of the mind we do not know. We do remember the advice you gave us to pray out of our hearts. Had you told us to pray out of our brains, we should have tried to do it; but I think they would have been brainless prayers,

The death of his son, the Rev. George Johnson, the last of his children, was a severe blow to Enmegahbowh. He was a young man of great promise, and possessed his father's ability as a preacher.

The Rev. Charles Wright, the son of the head chief of the Chippewas, Wah-bon-a-quot, began his theological studies with George Morgan and Mark Hart, under the Rev. J. A. Gilfillan. He spent two years at Seabury, and for the last few years has been at Leech Lake, where he has been doing faithful work.

I have always been pleased by the loyal obedience of the Indian clergy. When I was about to establish a mission at Leech Lake, I called my Indian deacons together, and said:--

"I want to send one of you to Leech Lake. The one who goes will meet many difficulties; and you must tell me frankly if you shrink from the responsibility."

Fred Smith said:--

"Bishop, when you ordained me, I promised to obey my bishop, and by God's help I will."

"The field where I now am," said George Smith, "seems large to me and is very pleasant; but you look over the whole field, and if you say I am needed at Leech Lake, I go."

Samuel Nabicum said:--

"I was ordained to preach the gospel, and the field which the bishop, the head shepherd, thinks is mine, I want."

Mark Hart's answer was:--

"I say as my brothers have said--that the mind of my bishop is my mind."

The Rev. Charles Cook was sent to Seabury by Bishop Hare. He had been graduated from Hobart College. I have known few men with a more remarkable power of language, or who have been more truly consecrated to Christ. He became a missionary to his own people, the Yankton Sioux. Upon the death of Mrs. Whipple he wrote me the following letter:--

My dear Father in God: I am sure you will pardon my intruding on the privacy of your sorrow, but I cannot forget the kindness to me, in my student life, of one whom we delighted to call by the best name the Indian heart knows, "Ina," Mother. The memory has been an inspiration to me through all my ministry. May our Father long spare your life to bless the poor red men, is the prayer of one of your sons in the native ministry. Good Thunder gave me twenty acres of his land for the mission at Birch Coulee. Over twenty-five years ago he left his tribe at the Santee Agency and preempted one hundred and sixty acres of land near Flandreau; but, longing for his old home, before the outbreak he sold this land and bought eighty acres at Birch Coulee. He then came to me and said:--

"I cannot live without a tipi-wa-kan (sacred house). If you will build one, I will give you land."

I told him that I could not allow him to give me his land. Finally, after several visits, he said to me with great earnestness:--

"I do not give the land to you. I give it to the Great Spirit."

After that there was but one thing to do. I accepted the land, upon which I built a church and a mission house and consecrated a quiet acre of God where sleep the missionary, the Rev. Mr. Hinman, and many of his flock.

At the laying of the corner-stone of this church Good Thunder brought me a paper signed by the Indians, which read:--

We were once wild men. We are now Christians. It was you who led us to the light. You have always been our Father. You are to lay the first stone of a tipi-wa-kan to-day. We ask you, Father, to name it after one we loved so well, "Saint Cornelia."

Upon the occasion of a Fourth of July celebration at a village which had been named in his honor, Good Thunder was asked to be present as the honored guest.

A white man who had no friendship for Indians told the Committee of Arrangements that Good Thunder, the chief for whom the village had been named, was dead, and that their invitation had been sent to a bad Indian of the same name, a relative of Little Crow, the leader in the Sioux massacre. The Committee withdrew their invitation, and Good Thunder came to see me burdened with sorrow because, as he said, his "good name had been stolen."

I drew up a paper giving the facts of the case, and General Sibley and myself ' signed it. The people of the town of Good Thunder at once sent a committee to explain the mistake and to escort the chief and his wife to the celebration. They were driven in state to where a public dinner was given; and when Good Thunder was asked to make a speech, he arose with quiet dignity and said:--

"My friends, you have called your village Good Thunder. Perhaps when I am dead some one will ask why the white men gave this name. He will be told that it was named after a Christian Sioux who thought it would please the Great Spirit if he saved some of his white children from death. I thank you for naming your village after me. But, my friends, if this village has no Praying day; if it worships in a saloon instead of a church; if its people swear; it will not be an honor to have it bear my name. I hope you will be people who love the Great Spirit and who love each other. Good-by. I am done."

A touching proof of what the gospel can do for heathen wild men may be seen in the spirit of love and gentleness which has taken possession of the heart and life of this once savage warrior. Shortly after the outbreak Good Thunder and his wife were coming to visit me. They passed through a village where a colored woman had just died leaving a mixed-blood Indian infant. No one wanted the child, and finally Good Thunder said he would take it. He said to me afterward:--

"You have told me that the Great Spirit loves little children. He did not say white children. I think he will like to have me take care of this motherless baby. It makes no difference if its body is of another color. Will you baptize it Charles Whipple, after your son? "

God has repaid this loving act, for no son could be more thoughtful in caring for his parents than Charles Whipple Good Thunder.

One year the crops at Birch Coulee failed. Upon my visitation I saw near Good Thunder's house some immense stacks of hay. I expressed my surprise to Charles, who answered:--

"I heard of a white man ten miles from here who had much grass on his meadow-land. I agreed to cut it on shares, and got enough to more than last for the winter."

The Rev. Lord Charles Harvey paid me a visit to learn about our Indian missions. He went with me to White Earth, where I consecrated the Church of St. Columba and confirmed a large class. The Indian women had prepared a forest feast for us, and, unknown to me, a pantomime for my friend. We were sitting on the greensward in front of a log house, when the chief, Wahbonaquot, said to me:--

"Your friend comes from across the great water; would he like to know the history of my people?"

Lord Charles said he should be very glad to hear it, and the chief began:--

"Before the white man came the forests and prairies were full of game, the lakes and rivers were full of fish, and the wild rice was everywhere--the gift of Manitou to his red children. I will show you some of my people as they were before the white man came.

He clapped his hands and the door of the log house opened and a man and woman appeared, fine specimens of the free-born native American, dressed in skins ornamented with colored porcupine quills, and with brilliant feathers in their hair.

"These are my people before the white man came," said the chief. "Shall I show you what the white man did for us? He told us that we had no houses, no fire-horses, no fire-canoes, no books, and that if we would give him our land he would make us like white men. He had a forked tongue. This is what he did for us."

He again clapped his hands, and then appeared in the doorway a wretched-looking Indian in tattered blanket, without leggings, and by his side a miserable woman in a ragged gown.

"Oh, Manitou! "cried the chief, "are these my people? How came it?"

The man drew a black bottle from under his blanket and answered:--

"Ish-ko-te-wabo (fire-water), the gift of the white man!"

Turning to Lord Charles, the chief continued:--

"I would not have told you this, but there is more to tell. Many moons ago a pale-faced man came to see us. We hated white men, and would not listen to his words. Each year when the sun was so high we saw this white man coming through the forest. One day I called my people in council. I said:--

"Why does this pale face come to see us? He does not trade; he does not ask anything of us; perhaps the Great Spirit has sent him. Our ears must be open. We then listened to his story; we took it to our hearts. This is what it has done for us."

He clapped his hands, and a manly young Indian clergyman in clerical clothes appeared, and by his side a gentle woman in a neat gray gown.

"My friends," said the chief, "there is only one religion that can lift a man from the mire and tell him to call the Great Spirit, Father, and that is the religion of Jesus Christ."

A sceptical friend who was with me grasped my hand and exclaimed:--

"Bishop, all the arguments which I have ever read in defence of Christianity are not equal to what I have seen to-day."

There were present at these services some Otter Tail Indians whose lands had been sold, leaving them homeless and wanderers. The chief of the band had brought us the children of one of these Indians who had been killed by a white man, saying:--

"These children have no father; will you pity them?"

The chiefs of the White Earth band offered these Otter Tails a township of land if they would live with them. I promised to build them a church and parsonage at Wild Rice River, and Lord Charles said he would give them a font for the church.

This is the most beautiful font in the diocese; the bowl is of porphyry, supported upon variegated marble columns, resting upon a block of Sienna marble.

In my first sermons to the Indians I preached as I would to white men; but after one of the services a chief said to me:--

"What does the white man mean by slandering my people and calling them sinners? We are not sinners. We know that his people are sinners. It is his people who bring fire-water and evil to my people and our daughters. It is better that he talks to them."

When this chief learned of the goodness of God, he sat as a little child at the feet of Jesus. It reminded me of the saying of St. Paul, "When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died."

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