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Mission Services at Two Kettle Village
Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American,South Dakota | No Comments
By Miss M. M. Lickorish
The church at Two Kettle Village on the Cheyenne was dedicated May 19th. I was delighted to receive an invitation from Mr. Riggs to accompany the party from Oahe. We crossed the Missouri River in a boat, and on the other side took the carriage that had to be sent around by Pierre, an extra distance of thirty-two miles, in order to cross on the bridge. Doctor and Mr. Frederick Riggs, from Santee, now joined us, and the day being pleasant, the prairie covered with the wild flowers so abundant here, we had a most delightful drive.
About one o’clock we met missionaries and delegates from all parts of the Indian field at a place previously agreed upon, and there spent a most agreeable hour in social chat, and discussing the contents of our lunch boxes. A ride over the prairie is an excellent appetizer, and missionaries so exiled most of the time from all but a few of their own race, find these occasional meetings most pleasant, but having a long ride still before us, and a river to ford before dark, we were soon again on our way. About sundown we came in sight of the memorial church. It is situated on a little hill, and facing the Cheyenne River, and a lovely, picturesque valley, rendered more attractive just now by the numerous Indian tents scattered singly or in groups over the grass near the river.
Just before our party reached the ford, two of our missionaries, Mrs. Griffiths and Miss Dodge, were driving across, and the river being very high, the horse stumbled into a hole, but some Indians watching them from the bank went quickly to their assistance. They were soon taken ashore in another conveyance, but not before getting thoroughly drenched and gaining the admiration of the Indians for their courage. Reaching the camping-ground tired and hungry, it was pleasant to find a large new tent, made and erected by the Indian women, for the use of the white women of our party. Mr. Riggs’s larger one, near by, was used by the men. The tents were all the round kind, used by Indians, with poles projecting from the top, and an opening left for the smoke of our little fire in the center, for the cool evenings made a fire very desirable. The opening for a door is a little more than three feet high.
The wife of the native pastor, Mrs. Phelps, had an abundant and appetizing supper ready for us. Our white ladies could but express their admiration for the composure and quiet dignity with which this Indian woman, who could not speak or understand English, entertained, from Saturday until Monday, about thirty-five white people and natives at her table, and in a house of one room. She was a Martha we might emulate in this, for though careful for the needs and comfort of all, even the group of Indian women and children, whom she fed sitting on the floor in one corner of the room, while her table was surrounded by her most honored guests, she never seemed troubled and anxious, and received offered help quietly, never letting her extra duties keep her from the meetings. Before we spread our blanket beds in the tent, the women brought us dry grass to make them more comfortable, and we were all invited into the house each evening for worship before retiring.
On Sunday morning early we gathered in the neat little white chapel, made bright with numerous bouquets of wild flowers from the prairie. The grave of Elizabeth Winyan, that noble Indian woman whose life was spent in earnest missionary work among her own people, is near by, and the church is a fitting memorial. The Indians came from far and near, and filled the church till some had to sit on the floor for lack of seats, but this they did not mind, for, judging by the long hair and Dakota dress, we know many were but little used to the customs of civilized life.
The dedicatory prayer was offered by Doctor Riggs, and then followed the examination of two candidates for the ministryEdwin Phelps, the son of Elizabeth Winyan, and her nephew, Elias Gilbert. The services and examinations were all in the Dakota language, but the intense interest and earnestness of the audience, as well as of those taking part, made them very impressive, even to those who hearing could not understand.
After a short intermission for dinner the council convened, and Dr. Riggs, acting as interpreter, so all might understand, the examination was concluded, and the two men who have been working so acceptably for the Master for some time were ordained to the Christian ministry, and received the right hand of fellowship, extended by Rev. C.F. Reed, of Pierre. Then followed the double wedding of two couples, who wished the sanction of Christian marriage to unions entered into according to the customs of their people in the past, but which are rapidly passing away before the enlightenment of the present. Several children were then brought forward for baptism, and the sacred promises of Christian training were made by parents who desire much for their children, but who are so unfit to lead, knowing but dimly the way themselves.
Oh, that we might gather more into Christian schools, that intelligent as well as earnest Christians may be the leaders among these people in the future. Seven members were received into the church, and then we gathered a happy Christian congregation of two races, but one spirit, around the table of our Lord. It was a fitting ending to the delightful, helpful services of the day.
But a little later, there was still another meeting in the evening that will not soon be forgotten by those who were present. After the sun went down, in the long twilight that lingers so late here, the women gathered in a large circle on the green grass for a women’s meeting. There were about forty women present, including those who formed a row outside, who wore the Dakota costume, and wished only to see and hear from outside, and come in at last to the feast. The meeting was led by Mrs. T.L. Riggs; portions of Scripture were read, prayers offered, and remarks made by the Dakota women. All entered heartily into the singing, which, like all the services, was in Dakota. Then each of the white women present spoke a few words of kindness and encouragement to the women, and their remarks were interpreted by Mrs. Riggs. After the close of this meeting the men were escorted to the center of the circle, and soup, which had been preparing in numerous kettles near by, was served to all.
We were glad to sit in the circle with those Indian mothers and speak to them of their children, our love for them, and how we were trying to help them. One could not be in such a typical gathering of Indians without noting the intelligent faces and strength of character depicted in them. One is continually surprised, not at the depravity of this people, but with their many good traits, and the progress they are making in the face of so many obstacles.
On Monday morning the council listened to reports from the field, and then adjourned. We were now soon on our way home. About sundown we reached the river opposite Oahe, but it was very much swollen and rapid. While we sat on the bank and ate supper from what remained in our provision boxes, we saw the young man who was to bring a boat across for us, struggling against the current. As he seemed unable to cross, we began preparations for spending the night there under the clear sky, but at last he succeeded in crossing in a little boat, and by much hard work and skillful rowing, taking two each time, Mr. T.L. Riggs was able before midnight to land most of us on the other side in safety, though the swift current and much driftwood made this somewhat hazardous. The rest made themselves as comfortable as possible without tents, and came over in the morning.
Not long ago a collection for benevolent purposes was taken among the Indians in the church at Fort Berthold. Supt. Hall, of the American Missionary Association, writes the following:
“The collection amounts to $15.02, and will be increased by out-stations. There were about twenty Indians in the congregation, and as all were not there a messenger was sent to have another collection taken in the evening at the meeting at Deacon Many Bears’ house. Our people are always ready to give what they can. The boys and girls of the school, thirty-eight in number, all took a hand, giving of their allowances or earnings. Little lame Bertha wrote her name down for eleven cents, which was the ‘widow’s mite’ with her. The names of some of the Indian contributors are: Red Fox, Strieby Horn, Little Eagle, Andrew Crow, Fighting Bear, Mrs. Two Bears, Mrs. Rough Horn, Mrs. Jack Rabbit and Louisa Crow Tail.
“The Sunday was a cold one, ten degrees below zero, and some of our leading members were camping out on their way with food supply from Minot, sixty miles north over a trackless waste of snow. One Monday morning Andrew Crow came in on horseback, with the result of the previous evening’s contribution. We get little change here, so we put down the amount to be given on paper, and settle the account as we can by exchanges or work. We do not have many unpaid subscriptions.”
Such facts as these abundantly prove that our Indian Christians are realizing the responsibility upon them to assist with their means in these great missionary movements. If all the churches in the land would give according to their ability as generously as did this Indian church on the prairie, not one of our benevolent societies would need suffer.
A Pioneer Missionary Among The IndiansIn 1843 a number of young men from Oberlin entered upon a mission among the Ojibway Indians in the northern part of what is now Minnesota, under the auspices of the Western Evangelical Missionary Society, which was soon afterward transferred to the American Missionary Association. Of the inaccessibility of this field, a competent authority has said: “There is probably no missionary field to-day on the face of the earth more difficult to reach than this was at that time.”Among this group of missionaries was Rev. S.G. Wright. As a part of his experience it is said that after a short visit at home, Mr. Wright returned to the mission taking his young wife with himtheir wedding tour. It was a journey of over a month made in a canoe. They were both compelled to walk at intervals twenty-two miles in the swamps along the side of the stream until they reached Mr. Barnard’s station. These walks were varied by sickness; Mr. Wright sometimes had chills every day, but at Mr. Barnard’s station he recovered. There remained yet twenty miles of their journey, and this was undertaken on foot, but soon a storm brought five inches of snow. Mr. Wright says: “My wife was very lame, and what woman would not be after walking twenty long miles through mire and water, over high hills and through gullies, in snow from four to five inches deep?”The change wrought by these missionaries can be indicated in a sentence: When they went there the Indians cultivated almost no land and their only domestic animals were dogs. They maintained a precarious [pg 94] existence by hunting and fishing, and the gathering of wild rice, with starvation as no uncommon experience. In a few years these Indians raised their own supplies of corn and potatoes, with some to sell to procure other necessaries; they began to build houses for themselves; had the benefit of a saw mill and a grist mill, with the blessings of a church and boarding school.The Association withdrew from the mission in 1859, but Mr. Wright returned under other auspices, and spent several years in effective and useful work. He still lives and is active in Christian labors as a member of the church in Oberlin.
By Miss Edith Leonard.
The last busy days of the school year are over. We have gathered the first fruits of our work; we hope there will be a greater harvest in years to come.
At the communion service, on June 7, three of our pupils were received into the church. The next Thursday came the evening of declamations, recitations, and music, for which the pupils had been preparing. During the last four weeks it was a common thing to find a boy declaiming to an imaginary audience in the schoolroom, or to find a girl reciting in some secluded spot in the yard, or on the hills in the pasture. In most schools that is nothing worthy of remark, but to us it shows that the young people are beginning to feel that their success depends on their own efforts.
When the evening came we had an enjoyable entertainment. The house was decorated with the tall, graceful stems of the Solomon’s Seal, and the platform had a rug and potted plants upon it, and our two beautiful flags draped behind it.
Among the recitations, “Betty, the Bound Girl,” and “The Peril of a Passenger Train,” were well rendered. Lowell’s “A Day in June” was given with a pleasant voice and manner that fitted the poem. There was an organ solo, an organ duet, and a sprightly little song by a quartet, “All Among the Barley.” Among the best things were part of an address by Channing on “Distinction of Mind and Material Forms,” and one by Mitchell on “The First View of the Heavens.” The thoughts were noble and nobly expressed, and the young men delivered them with thoughtfulness and appreciation, which made us glad, especially as these addresses were their own choice.
Immediately after these exercises we all adjourned to the dining room to see what the girls had done in their little missionary society. Here was a table gay with pretty articles they had made. Among them were a nice comfortable, some embroidered doilies, chair pillows, handkerchief cases, and other things. Most of them were quickly sold. There was also ice-cream and cake for sale. The girls took about seventeen dollars by their fair, and the proceeds are to go to the A.M.A.
The next day was the last. We planned to have an exhibition of school and industrial work during the forenoon, and parade of cadets in the afternoon. And, in order to give the pupils a little uplift of enthusiasm in a good cause, we arranged to have a Christian Endeavor rally of societies from five neighboring towns, and also to invite the members of two Sunday-schools that are bravely “lifting the gospel banner,” each in a scattered community near by, where there is no church.
The people began to arrive about half-past ten. One party came in a large farm wagon made gay with flags.
We hastened to take them about. In the blacksmith shop, two young men who had been in school only a year, were making some steel nut-crackers. A table covered with hooks, bolts, chains, towels, ice-picks, etc., represented the work done during the year. In the printing office, the boys were turning the press, and printing our Indian paper. The carpenter-shop exhibit contained some neat boxes, tables, and cabinets, and here some small boys were at work making joints. In the cooking school, the girls were making biscuits, coffee, and corn-bread, while the table was covered with nice loaves of bread, cake, rolls, and cookies, made the day before. Here, also, the girls’ sewing was displayed. There was a neat set of doll’s clothing, a doll’s mattress, pillows, sheets, and pillow-cases, a number of boys’ shirts ready for use in the school, beside other clothing for the girls.
The primary schoolroom contained clay animals, weaving and sewing done by the kindergarten class, and some neat language and number work by the older pupils. The other schoolrooms also had illustrated language work, examination papers, maps on paper and in sand, and a collection of botanical specimens.
About seventy-five visitors came from neighboring towns. They enjoyed looking at the school work, and they enjoyed their lunch under the trees, and the marching and drilling of the boys with their wooden guns.
But the best thing in the day was the meeting in the afternoon. Our Christian Endeavor guests, with the school and some of the agency people and neighboring Indians, filled the chapel full. Several of the societies had pretty banners, and it was inspiring to see them come marching in. The meeting was just a warm-hearted Christian Endeavor meeting. Each society responded by a verse of Scripture recited in concert, or a song, or by the words of some member chosen to represent them. There was also time for volunteer prayers and testimonies, and a number of songs. We were all glad to be thereglad to belong to a great army of Christian workersand we believe our boys and girls will not forget it, but that the thoughts of that hour will help to make them strong.
After these guests went home, there yet remained the principal’s reception in the evening, where the school gathered with our Agency and Indian friends, to talk a little while and say goodbye. There was one delightful little surprise when Dr. Riggs called up thirteen of the Indian girls and gave to each, as a reward for faithful, successful work in bread-making, a copy of a cook-book to take home with her. The pupils enjoyed all these last days, but especially the Christian Endeavor rally, and we shall remember this year’s close as our Christian Endeavor commencement.
The response of an Indian church to the appeal for help in view of the financial distress upon the Association, is certainly worthy of any Christian church anywhere. In reporting their collection, Dr. A. L. Riggs writes as follows:
“On February 10, our mission people and Pilgrim Church responded to the call of the American Missionary Association, and made a subscription of two hundred and sixteen dollars. This subscription will be paid in before the first of April, and it will likely be increased some. Of course the larger part is the gift of the missionaries, but the Indians did well, a number contributing five dollars apiece.”
In giving an account of a service the day this large collection was taken at this Indian church, Mr. F. B. Riggs writes:
“Two of the mission people started the pledge with twenty dollars each. That rather startled the people, but several soon ventured ten dollars each. Then one pledged ten dollars on condition that nine others pledged the same. The nine were found. One Indian woman pledged ten dollars. Several Indians put down four, five, six and seven dollars each. We would sing and then call for pledges; speak and sing again, and then pledges again. The committee was instructed to canvass the matter farther immediately. The work is now going on outside. In the meanwhile the pledges are being paid very fast, and I expect to be able to remit to you soon. This contribution from Pilgrim Church means much from the hearts of our members. They have gone right down to the suffering point in this giving. The pupils in the school have done well in helping, too. I have been astonished that many members of America’s great churches think that missionaries and people in our mission fields are only recipients. I wonder if the good people in all our large churches did as much to lift the debt of the American Missionary Association on Lincoln Memorial Sabbath as did the members of this Indian Mission Church on the prairie. If so, the debt is wiped out.”
David Tatankaota recently wrote the following letter to Miss M. C. Collins. David is the missionary in Thunder Hawk’s village, a new mission recently opened by the American Missionary Association. Miss Collins writes that David sent his report together with this letter and a collection of $5.50 from the Indians in his mission:
“January 26, 1895.
“Winona, My Friend:
“I will give you a letter. My children and wife we are all well. Every Sunday brings praying. Some are beginning to understand the Bible. At the second service on Sunday I ask some to pray and some to talk. Also at the Wednesday prayer meeting these are ready to respond. Chasinghorse, Flyinghorse and Whiteagle.
“Thunderhawk is growing a little stronger (spiritually). He and his family are always at church. I have said enough.
“This is written with my own hand. Amen.”
Translated by Miss Collins.
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