Collection: Missionary work among the Ojibway Indians

Chief Little Pine.

Chief Little Pine (Augustin Shingwauk) was following his work in the lonely bush, his at the thought of the black-coat (missionary) leaving them. Suddenly a thought entered his mind, it was as though an arrow had struck his breast; “I will go with him,–I will journey with this black-coat where he is going. I will see the great black-coat (the Bishop of Toronto) myself, and ask that Mr. Wilson may come and be our teacher, and I will ask him also to send more teachers to the shores of the great Ojebway Lake, for why indeed are my poor brethren left so long in ignorance and darkness with no one to instruct them? Is it that Christ loves us less than His white children? Or is it that the Church is sleeping? Perhaps I may arouse them, perhaps I may stir them up to send us more help, so that the Gospel may be preached to my poor pagan brethren. So I resolved to go. I only told just my wife and a few friends of my intention. I felt that the Great Spirit had called me to go, and even though I was poor and had but a few dollars in my pocket, still I knew that the great God in heaven, to whom forty years ago I yielded myself up, would not let me want. I felt...

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Changes In Prospect.

It was at the end of June that I arrived at Sarnia. Very glad was I to be at home again after my long, rough journey, and very glad too was my wife to see me, for it was but seldom that we had had an opportunity of writing to one another during my absence. In the autumn our second child was born–a boy–to whom the Indians gave the name of Suhyahquahdung (proclaimer), and shortly after this we gave up our cottage on the Indian Reserve to Mr. Jacobs, and moved to a larger house in the town, where we should have room to take two or three Indian pupils as boarders. This seemed to be a judicious step, as of all things it appeared to be the most important, to commence preparing young men who might afterwards act as catechists and school teachers among their people. And so Mr. Jacobs, who had recently married, settled in at the Mission-house as Pastor of the Sarnia Indians, and an Indian from Walpole Island was appointed to take his place as catechist at Kettle Point. Our readers will not have forgotten poor Shegaugooqua, the poor decrepid bed-ridden creature whom we found in such a pitiable condition in an old wigwam back in the Bush. They will remember also the mention we made of her little five-year-old boy, with his shock of...

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“I know I shall lie awake at night and grieve at the loss of my boy,–we Indians cannot bear to be parted from our children, but it is right that he should go.” Such were the words of the pagan Indian on the shores of Lake Neepigon, when he parted from his loved son Ningwinnena, and gave him up to return with us. I remembered those words,–and often over the camp fire–as we journeyed home I looked across at my adopted son and thought, I will take the very best care I can of you and I trust that by-and-bye it may please God for you to return and do a good work among your people. Such a nice intelligent boy he was,–such gentle eyes, and such a trustful look,–he seemed quite to accept me as his father and guardian, and was always ready to give a helping hand, and he learned with marvellous rapidity. Our arrival at Sault Ste. Marie was quite a new era in his life,–the steamboats, the shops, and people;–few of course in comparison to places further south–but multitudes compared to the Neepigon region, and he had never seen a horse in his life till he reached the Sault. It was a great pleasure to me preparing this dear boy for baptism, there were two other pagan lads from Michipicoten and I had them in...

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Baptism Of Pagans.

There were not many genuine Pagans either at Sarnia or at Kettle Point. Pagan practices had fallen altogether into disuse. There were some Indians living who had been “medicine men,” but we never heard that they practised their charms. Still there were several families who held aloof from Christianity. When spoken to about being baptized, their reply was that they thought the Christian Indians behaved worse than the Pagan Indians, and they were afraid that if they were baptized they would become as bad. It was sad that such a thing could be said, and sadder still that there should be any truth about it. Of course the mere fact of the Indians being brought into contact with white people would lead them into temptations from which, in their wild wandering state, they had been comparatively free. It has been said even by white travellers that they have found the pagan Indiana of the North more honest and trustworthy than those in a semi-civilized and nominally Christian state. The Indian when he mixes with the Whites soon learns their bad habits, but is more slow to learn what is holy and good. There were several families at Kettle Point who at the time when we established our Mission were still nominally Pagan. Chief among them were Ahbettuhwahnuhgund and his sister, and Shaukeens, with his wife and family. Ahbettuhwahnuhgund’s wife...

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A Wedding And A Death.

_Feb_. 3, 1873.–To-day William Buhkwujjenene, the Chief’s only son, was married to Philemon Atoosa. The wedding was appointed for 10 a.m., and early in the morning William was off to fetch his bride and her party, their house being about four miles off, on Sugar Island. It was long past the hour when Buhkwujjenene, Atoosa, and several other Indians came to me in a rather excited state, and Buhkwujjenene, as spokesman, explained that, although Atoosa, the father, was willing for his daughter to be married in our church, the mother and brother were opposed, and wanted the priest to marry them. I replied briefly that there were two religions, Roman Catholic and Church of England. When marriages took place between parties of different Churches, agreement must be made in which Church they would be married; this agreement had already been made in this case, banns had been published, and the bride and her father were both willing, so there was no need for any trouble. Chief Buhkwujjenene said that was enough, and he would go for the party. However, I waited on and on, and at length went over to Buhkwujjenene’s house to ascertain the cause of delay. I found that he, Atoosa, and his son, had gone over to see the priest. They soon returned, and brought word that the priest raised no objection to the marriage being...

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An Indian Chief In England.

We were not long in setting the Chief to work. It was Friday when we arrived, and on the following Thursday our first meeting was held in Bishop Wilson’s Memorial Hall, Islington. Notice was given of the meeting in church on the intervening Sunday, the Chief occupying a seat in one of the pews, and a circular was also issued headed:– “A Red Indian Chief’s Visit To England.” The result was an overflowing meeting. The vicar occupied the chair and a number of clergy were on the platform. Chief Buhkwujjenene seeming to be just as much at his ease as if he were addressing a council of his own people, stood forth and in simple eloquent terms told his story, myself interpreting for him every time he paused. “My brothers and sisters,” he began, “I salute you. I have come all the way across the great salt water to see you, and it does my heart good to see so many pale faces gathered together before me.” He then recounted what had led him to take the journey. It had not been his own wish, but he felt that God had led him to do so; God had preserved him amid the dangers of the ocean, and he trusted that God would prosper the cause for which he came to plead. “Many years ago,” he said, “I and my...

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After The Fire.

Late in the afternoon Dr. King, of the American side, arrived. He was very kind and did all he could both for my suffering wife and our sick child; there seemed but little hope that the latter would live, in her weak state the shock had been too great. After tea I went over to see my poor Indian children. All were lacking in clothing more or less. Jimmy Greenbird, who ran into Frosts’ room after the fire began and saved his coat for him, was rolled up in a counterpane. Little Nancy, eleven years old, had her hand to her head and looked ill. She said, “My brain pains me.” She seemed inclined to faint, so I took her in my arms and gave her some restorative. All night our little Laurie was very ill, and Mrs. Wilson never slept at all. Next day, Monday, the Indians held a council to hear from me what I proposed to do. They asked me whether I felt “weak or strong about it,” whether I would collect money to re-build again, or whether I should give up the Mission. I reminded them of what I had said in the church. I could only wait on God till I saw my way. Some of them said it was unfair to ask me just now when the calamity was but just over, and...

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A Trip Up Lake Superior.

It had been arranged that directly the holidays commenced at the Shingwauk Home, the Bishop and myself should start on a Missionary tour up Lake Superior, the plan being simply as follows:–We would take with us our boat, _The Missionary_, five or six Indian boys to man it, and provisions for six or seven weeks. We would first proceed by steamboat 300 miles direct to Prince Arthur’s Landing, taking our boat on board; remain there about a week, during which we would pay a visit into the interior; then coast the whole way back, visiting all the Indians along the north shore of the Lake. When we reached the Landing, the Indian superintendent, to our great satisfaction, invited us to join him in an expedition to the “Height of Land” where he was going to pay the wild Indian tribes their annuity money. At length after four days we reached the Hudson Bay waters, the Savanne connecting through a long chain of lakes and rivers with Lake Winnipeg. Lac des Milles Lacs, into which we soon entered, is a perfect labyrinth of lakes and islands. Here and there were expectant Indians come out to meet us in their frail bark canoes, and, paddling up alongside, they joined the cluster at our stern. A strange and impressive sight was it when we at length hove in sight of the “Height...

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A Trip To Batcheewauning.

Besides the Indian Home which was being built I had various other objects to attend to. There were the Garden River Indians to visit from time to time, and I wanted, if possible, to make another trip up Lake Superior. One Indian settlement, about fifty miles up the lake, called Batcheewauning, I had already visited, and the Bishop had consented to my building a school-church there and placing a catechist in charge. So, as soon as the new Institution was fairly started, I arranged to pay a visit to this place, accompanied by Mr. Frost. We took with us a tent and a good supply of provisions, also lesson books and slates, and a voyage of some ten hours brought us to the saw mills, where we were to land. It was a dark night and raining a little. The outline of the saw mill and a cluster of small buildings was just visible. The inhabitants of Batcheewauning consisted of about twelve men and three women–white people, and some sixty or seventy Indians, whose village was six miles off across the bay. We landed our things, a sack of camp kettles and provisions, our bedding and tent. Jacob, the Indian boy who had come with us, was left in charge, while Frost and I went off to look for a suitable place to camp. The owner of the saw...

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A Trial Of Faith.

After this, meetings were held at Hastings, Reading, Eynsford, Bayswater, Hampstead, Tooting, Wimbledon, Coleshill, Kensington, Ware, and many other places; all much of the same character–money was collected, and photographs and articles of birchbark sold. The Chief excited much interest by recounting the circumstances of his own conversion to Christianity. “When I was a little boy, not older than that little fellow there,” he said, pointing to a child in the assembly, “I was very badly off. My mother was dead, and my father loved the fire-water. I was often cold and hungry, and at night would sometimes crawl into the wigwam and lie down beside my drunken father. After I was grown older, a preacher came into our neighbourhood and began to preach the Gospel to the Indians, and I used to go sometimes to listen to him. I thought the words he spoke were very wonderful, and I was so much impressed by them that I took every opportunity I could of going to listen. As for my father, he would not go to hear the preaching, and he did not wish me to go, but I used to go secretly without telling him. One, evening I was going as usual to hear the Missionary speak, wending my way alone through the dark lonely bush. My path led me out into a clearing where I could see...

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A Pow-Wow At Garden River.

The following is an account of a visit paid by the Bishop and Mrs. Sullivan to Garden River, where Indian names were conferred on them:– Garden River was reached about 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 29th, the tent pitched, the vacant Mission house occupied, fires lighted, water brought from the river, and other preparations made for the night, the boys of the party voting, with true tramp-like instinct, that they preferred slumbering in the new mown hay in the barn. After tea under the shade of a spreading pine tree, the Bishop and myself spent some time visiting the Indian houses, among them that of an old man of eighty, who had been blind for four years, but bore his affliction, augmented as it was by other trials, with an uncomplaining submission. Another dwelling visited was that of Chief Buhkwujjenene, already known to our readers. On the table his Indian Testament lay open, his constant study, in which, he told the Bishop, he had taught himself to read his own tongue. At 9 p.m. all assembled in the little church, and there, by the light of “a lantern dimly burning,” and amid a holy calm, unbroken save by the rustling of the leaves at the open windows, joined in the evening sacrifice of prayer and praise. Soon after breakfast next morning the tinkling of the church bell was heard,...

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A Sad Winter.

The winter of 1882 was a sad time. There was great mortality all through the country, and our Homes did not escape. Our kind friend, Mrs. Fauquier, who, though a constant invalid, had done very much to promote the interests and welfare of our Girls’ Home, was called away to the Heavenly Rest on the 4th of November, 1881. During the last few years of her life she had made the Wawanosh Home her special care, her work for Christ. Those girls were always in her thoughts: she it was who devised their uniform dress of blue serge trimmed with scarlet, and got friends in England to supply them; she chose the furniture for the Home and fitted the lady superintendent’s rooms so prettily and tastefully. Many were the kind words of counsel that the girls received from her, and it used to be her delight to have them to visit her in the afternoon at the See House. Only a month had passed after we heard of Mrs. Fauquier’s death,–she died in New York,–when the appalling tidings reached us that the Bishop, too, was gone. He had died suddenly in Toronto on December 7th. In the same mail bag which brought the sad news was a letter to me from him, written only an hour or two before he died. “The sad void,” he wrote, “which my dear...

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Missionary Work Among the Ojibway Indians

The largest freshwater lake in the world is Lake Superior, through the centre of which runs the boundary line between the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada. The Indians call it the “Ojebway Kecheguramee,” that is–literally translated–the Great water of the Ojebways, or as they are often called the Chippeways. The Ojebways are an extensive Indian tribe spreading over a large part of Canada, the Northern States, and the North West; specimens of their language and customs appear in Longfellow’s song of Hiawatha. Lake Superior may be regarded as the centre of their ancient possessions. Along...

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