In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requiremwnts for the Degree
Master in Theology
Charles A. Maxfield
April 29, 1991
slightly revised, 2001
Unfortunately, in the life of the church, a marriage is sometimes accompanied by a divorce. For two generations, New School Presbyterians and Congregationalists had acted as one in Foreign Missions through the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). Now those ties were severed, with some missions, missionaries and properties being transferred to the Board of Foreign Missions of the reunited Presbyterian Church. Many Presbyterian missionaries were faced with the wrenching decision of dissolving ties to the American Board, to which they had a strong emotional attachment, in order to do their duty to their reunited church.2
The last mission to have its status determined was the mission to the Dakota Indians. The result was two missions, one Presbyterian and one Congregational. Stephen Return Riggs, American Board missionary to the Dakotas, who had shared in the excitement at Pittsburgh as the delegate from Dakota Presbytery, lamented years later, "the plowshare must run through the mission field also."3
This is the examination of a schism that was meaningless to the church members and not desired by the local church leaders. It is about how the schism was faced with a combination of resignation and resourcefulness. To understand the unfolding story of this schism, one must first know something about the history and culture of the people who were divided, the history of the mission, the shared experience of the close-knit family of missionaries, and the evolution of the mission boards and denominations involved.
The Dakota used to call themselves the "Oceti akowin" or "seven council fires." In this way they identified themselves as a confederation of seven tribes that used to meet together annually to make important decisions for the alliance.
The four eastern tribes, making up the Isanti (Santee) division of the Dakota nation, and speaking the "D" dialect, were the
As the Dakota tribes moved west, and population increased, new tribes were formed. Soon after 1840, the Ihanktonwanna divided into three,
The tribes in each division occasionally consulted with each other. Each tribe, when necessity required, would have a meeting of the chiefs and other designated leaders of each band.
Each tribe was composed of several bands. A band was either a tonwan (village) or tiopaye (a "camp" without a settled location). Each band had a chief, who often inherited his position, but always had to maintain it with his abilities. The chief made decisions in consultation with the other elders of the band. A band was a group of a few hundred people, who were usually related to each other in some way. It was not unusual for restless would-be leaders or discontented people to organize new bands out of existing ones. Such new bands were gathered by free choice, and were accepted by the others as a constituent part of the tribe.
Royal B. Hassrick, in writing of the Titonwan of 1830-1870, observed,
No one recalls when the Seven Councils met. Even among the Tetons, none remember when they assembled as a body. Yet each of the seven Sioux divisions [i. e. tribes], while independent, sometimes joined others and lived so closely that their distinctions tended to be lost.2The total autonomy of each unit of the Dakota nation was balanced by a strong consciousness of a common identity, re-enforced by kinship relationships and frequent fellowship.
One band of Ihanktonwanna withdrew from the Dakota nation about 1640, and allied itself with the nation's enemies. Calling themselves Nakota, called Hohe (Rebels) by the Dakota and Assiniboin by the French, in the late seventeenth century they were located around Lake Winnipeg in what would become Manitoba.
In the last half of the seventeenth century, the Dakota were living in most of what would become the northern two-thirds of the state of Minnesota. They were centered around Mille Lacs Lake, where they probably had been living for at least three hundred years. Over the next 150 years the Dakota were both pushed and drawn to the south and west. They were pushed out by the Ojibwa, who were receiving fire-arms from the French. In the Battle of Kathio, about 1744-45, the Dakota were driven from the Mille Lacs area. A counter-offensive in 1768 failed, and the historic territory of the Dakota was lost. The Isanti first acquired firearms about 1772, and their retreat came to an end. The Isanti then occupied the southern third of Minnesota, which placed them closer to European traders on the Mississippi.
The Titonwan had already begun to move west, where the buffalo of the prairie provided an abundant food supply. In the first half of the eighteenth century they lived on the prairie between the Bois de Sioux and the Missouri. First entering the prairie on foot, they acquired horses from tribes living on the Missouri. They crossed the Missouri about 1760, and had visited the Black Hills in 1775. The Titonwan experienced a population explosion from two sources. First, the horse and firearms made it possible to kill more buffalo, providing more food, which resulted in a natural increase in population. Second, they were joined by persons, and bands, from other Dakota tribes and even from tribes of other languages. On the prairie, the formality of the clan structure of the woodlands broke down, and membership in the tribes became even more fluid than it had been.
The Ihanktonwan in 1700 were in southwestern Minnesota, in possession of Pipestone Quarry, the source of the stone used for pipes by Indians throughout the area. As the Titonwan moved west, the Wiciyena followed, eventually inhabiting most of the territory from northwest Iowa to the Missouri and to Devils Lake.
People from all of the Dakota tribes used to gather for a trade fair each year. As the distances increased, and as traders on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers became more competitive, the annual event declined. The various Dakota tribes came to inhabit a vast expanse of North America, from the upper Mississippi Valley to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The further they spread, the less unity it was possible for them to maintain. But their common language, and their consciousness of being one people remained.
The Indian is a very religious being. The universe is full of his gods. And he accepts his religion very thoroughly. He believes that it should control every act of his daily life, the most trivial as well as the most important.3A modern scholar, Raymond J. DeMallie, has studied the earliest testimonies of Indians regarding their religion. He notes that there was no distinction between the natural and supernatural, "the quality of incomprehensibility characterized the universe: it was neither to be fully known nor controlled."4 He continued,
Because this universe was most fundamentally characterized by incomprehensibility, it was beyond humanity's power ever to know it fully, and perhaps it was this futility that made the quest for understanding of the wakan the driving force of Lakota culture.5A major way of dealing with the wakan was with ritual. Among the Indians, as with many other peoples, "behavior is accorded more concern than belief,"6 behavior meaning ritual.
There was not one "Dakota Religion" different from the other tribes in the vicinity. The ceremonies of the Isanti in the woodlands of Minnesota had more in common with other woodland tribes than with the Titonwan on the prairie, whose practices resembled other Plains tribes. For example, the Wakan Lodge was found among the Isanti and other woodland tribes, but not on the prairie. On the other hand, the Sun Dance was observed by the Titonwan and other prairie tribes, but not in the woodlands. However, a central feature of the religion of all Native American peoples east of the Rocky Mountains, for the last 600 to 2000 years, was the pipe. The burning of tobacco or substitute substance was an offering to the wakan of the four directions, the heavens and earth, and represented a ceremonial adoption of a stranger.
The wakan beings had direct access to the individual through dreams and visions. The vision-quest, or "crying for a vision," was an important spiritual pursuit. Whether sought or not, a dream or vision was carefully interpreted and its directions were rigorously followed.
The Dakota had many kinds of spiritual leaders, of which the Pejuta Wicaa ("medicine man") was only one. Different persons were skilled in different rituals and medicines used for different purposes. They were sought out when needed. There was no all-purpose priest.
The Dakota could identify a variety of wakan beings with varying characters and powers, which non-Indians might call gods. Although there was a strong sense of the presence of wakan everywhere, there may have been no strong sense of a "High God" (Wakantanka--"Great Spirit" or "Great Mystery") until the idea was introduced by whites. Missionary Gideon Pond observed,
We find no reason to believe that the Dahkotahs ever distinguished what is termed the GREAT SPIRIT from their other divinities, till they were taught to do so by men of other nations, who were acquainted with the teachings of the Bible. They have no chants, nor feasts, nor sacrificial rites, which have any reference to such a being, who is superior to all other beings, that we have been able to discover, except it may be some, that there is satisfactory evidence to show are of recent origin, and which do not properly belong to their system.7Stephen R. Riggs observed, "Some of them have told me that they learned the expression [Wakantanka] from white men, and never spoke of Wakantanka till white men came among them."8 However, the term is widely used today, as a way of expressing reverence for the wakan which had always been understood to be universal.
To non-Indians the Dakota often appeared to be immoral, because the non-Indians simply did not understand the different morality of the Dakota. Dakota values included placing the good of the community before the good of the individual, generosity, bravery in the face of hardship, and respect for elders. Missionary Samuel W. Pond observed, "the Dakotas had no authoritative enactments such as would be called laws among civilized people. They had customs which it was infamous to disregard." 9 The social pressure of a close-knit band had more force than any law could have.
After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark held peace councils with the Dakota of the Missouri in 1804. Zebulon Pike did the same with those of the upper Mississippi during 1805-06. However, British trader Robert Dickson continued to be the most influential European in the upper Mississippi. During the War of 1812, with the help of his interpreter Joseph Renville, a half-breed (French-Mdewakantonwan) trader, Dickson gathered a force of Dakotas and others. This force participated in several battles in support of the British. In 1815 peace treaties were signed ending the war between the United States and the Dakota.
In 1819 the United States began building a fort, soon to be named Fort Snelling, where the Minnesota River enters the Mississippi. In that same year Mjr. Lawrence Taliaferro became Indian agent. The government was generally unsuccessful at stopping intertribal warfare and reducing the spread of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol had a devastating effect on Indian culture, and flowed in abundance when competition among traders increased. The Indian agent encouraged the Dakota to take up farming. However, it was against Dakota custom for men to farm, and the farming done by women was meant to be only a supplement to the food supply acquired by men hunting. The depletion of game in the Minnesota Valley was leading to serious hunger. Mahpiya Wicata (Cloud Man) found himself buried in a snow drift during a hunting expedition in the winter of 1828-29. In that condition of danger and confinement he decided that if he survived he would try farming. With the help of the agent who had a soldier do the plowing, Mahpiya Wicata began a settlement of farming Indians at Lake Calhoun, not far from Fort Snelling. In six years the settlement grew from two families to 45 families. The agent designated Mahpiya Wicata to be chief of this band. In 1833, and again in 1834, Taliaferro wrote to Washington requesting that someone be sent to instruct them in farming, but there was no response.
The ABCFM expressed its motivation for action in its first Address to the General Public for funds, in 1810:
The Redeemer of men, who, although 'he was rich, for our sakes became poor,' just before he ascended up on high to give gifts unto men, gave it in special charge to his disciples to 'go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.'1The act of the Savior was an act of love, of self-sacrifice, and an act to bring salvation. The missionary who obeys Christ's command, and the contributor who supports the missionary, follow Christ in love, sacrifice, and, in a different way, bring salvation. Christians are called to the work of foreign missions with urgency, because millions are "sitting in the region of the shadow of death." The missionary is assured of success, in spite of obstacles, by the promise of the Scripture,
that the Son 'shall have the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession,' and that the world shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.'2Founded by Congregationalists, the American Board invited the Presbyterians to organize a similar body and cooperate. The Presbyterian Church's General Assembly in 1812 gave its support to the ABCFM, declaring,
That, as the business of foreign missions may properly be best managed under the direction of a single Board, so the numerous and extensive engagements of the Assembly, in regard to domestic missions, render it extremely inconvenient, at this time, to take part in the business of foreign missions.3The Presbyterian Church was rapidly expanding on the frontier, much of it from the influx of Congregational settlers from New England. The spirit of evangelical unity combined with a sense of kinship to make natural the cooperation in the ABCFM. The Board named some Presbyterians to its membership in 1812, and at various times Dutch and German Reformed, Associate Presbyterian and others.
Timothy Dwight affirmed the "undenominational" nature of the Board when he preached at its fourth annual meeting in 1813,
It is a shame for those who wear the name of Christians, not to unite with other Christians in such a purpose as this. It is not the purpose of a sect, a part, or a name . . . it is a purpose of God. . . . Shall not forms, and modes, here be forgotten; and, so far as the attainment of this might end is concerned, all names be lost in that of Christian, and all diversities amalgamated by the piety and benevolence of the Gospel?4The founders of the Board had intended to send missionaries to the American Indians. This was a "foreign" mission in that theirs was not a Christian culture. However, the Board's Act of Incorporation, obtained in 1812, stated as the Corporation's purpose, "propagating the gospel in heathen lands."5 Some questioned if Indian nations within the territory of the United States qualified. After discussion, the Board voted in 1814,
Voted, that it is the opinion of this Board, that the independent and unevangelized tribes of Indians, occupying their own lands, whether without or within the limits stated in the treaty of peace between the United States and Great Britain, are, with other objects, embraced by the Act of their Incorporation.6In 1817 the Board began a mission to the Cherokee where a previous Presbyterian mission had been discontinued. The following year they began work with the Choctaw.
In 1826 the United Foreign Missionary Society (UFMS) merged with the American Board. This mostly Presbyterian society brought to the Board ten mission stations, nine of which were among the Indians: the Osage, Seneca, Tuscarora, Maumee, and at Mackinaw. The following year the Presbyterian Synod of South Carolina and Georgia transferred its mission among the Chickasaw to the American Board. Indian missions immediately had been made a major segment of the Board's work, amounting in 1827 to 38% of the expenditures going to the mission fields.
The Indian missions of the American Board were always closely associated with the Presbyterian Church. Many had originated with the Presbyterians in the UFMS; the churches organized became affiliated with the Presbyterian Church; and many of the missionaries were Presbyterian.
The American Board learned from its mistakes, and the Cherokee Mission had in many ways been the laboratory of failed experiments. When Sequoyah, a Cherokee also known as George Guess, invented a Cherokee alphabet, Indians began eagerly teaching each other to read. The missionaries realized their efforts to teach in English had been unrealistic, and they immediately began teaching and translating Scriptures into Cherokee.7 After sending a deputation team to visit the Cherokee mission in 1823, the Prudential Committee changed its policies. The Committee concluded that large missionary establishments, with farmers and mechanics, detracted from the main activity of evangelism. Also, mission stations to be most efficient needed to be no larger than a large family.8
Instructions given to missionaries to the Ojibwa in 1832 expressed the new policies, which would also be applied to the Dakota mission. The missionaries were to focus on evangelizing, with little thought of civilizing. Missionaries were to learn the Indian languages, translate Scripture, and use the language in teaching and preaching. The expense of boarding schools and extensive farming and industrial enterprises was to be avoided. Day schools to teach reading were essential.9 The Board appreciated the need for patience to face many years of discouraging results.10
A revival commenced in this place, in the month of June last, and the third week in August a four day meeting was held, during which, and for several weeks after, the powerful effects of the Holy Spirit among us, was evident by the conviction and conversion of many; indeed the feeling among Christians does not at present appear to be much abated, although conversions are not as frequent.--It is now proposed to hold another protracted meeting here, to commence the 25th inst., during which the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper will be administered and a part of those who are the subject of the work will then be united to the Congregational Church. One hundred and sixteen stand propounded; some have, and others will unite with churches of different denominations. The whole number is estimated at about 200--from the age of seven to sixty.11Two of those who were convicted and converted in these events were Samuel W. and Gideon H. Pond, ages 23 and 21 respectively. These two tall and lanky sons of Yankee farmers embraced their faith as they did all of life, with unrestrained enthusiasm and absolute commitment. Samuel reported,
Soon after I joined the church I lost all hope that I was, or ever could be a Christian, and for many months my mental suffering was intense. When I was brought out of that gloomy darkness into the light of the Sun of righteousness, I felt constrained by the love of Christ to go where ever my services in the cause of religion seemed most needed. My brother and I both thought we could be more useful some where else than in New England, where Christianity had so many friends and advocates, and we looked westward for a field of labor. So it was arranged between us that I should go west in the Spring of 1833, and, if I found a place where we could be useful, he was to join me the next year, he in the mean time worked on a farm in the summer, and attended an academy in the winter.12The cholera and his own ill health dissuaded Samuel from his first destination, Saint Louis, and he came instead to Galena, Illinois.
In Galena I often passed by a store where a young man sold liquor, and one day I stepped in to try to persuade him to engage in a better business. That interview led to an acquaintance with him and I learned that he was from the Red River country, and had passed through the lands of the Dakotas, on his way down.13Fascinated by tales of Indians roaming the plains in search of buffalo, Samuel wrote to his brother proposing that they should go to the Dakota in the Spring. His brother agreed.14 On May 1, 1834, the Pond brothers departed Galena on a steamboat bound for Fort Snelling. Both their pastor in Galena and a missionary they visited on the way at Prairie du Chien, told the brothers they were fools to undertake this venture. Samuel reported he,
merely said that we had the Gospel and the Dakotas were perishing for want of it, and that where other men could support their families we ought to be able to support ourselves.15When the brothers arrived at Fort Snelling on May 6 they had two surprises. First, they realized most of their supplies, purchased with nomadic prairie life in mind, were not appropriate for life with the village Dakota of the Minnesota woodlands. Second, they learned that they could not enter Dakota country without permission. When Acting Agent Bliss asked them for papers authorizing their entrance, they shared a letter from the pastor in Galena, one from a General who was well-known in New England, and a letter from their postmaster in Connecticut. This last letter had accompanied some money sent to them by their Sabbath School. Samuel recalled that the Acting Agent accepted these as character references, and then,
He asked me what our plans were, but I told him we had no plan except to do what seemed most for the benefit of the Indian.16Bliss told Samuel Pond that the band at the nearby village of Kapoja wanted plowing done, but did not know how to do it. Samuel volunteered to go and show them. After this job was completed, Agent Taliaferro returned, and gave the brothers permission to settle near Lake Calhoun, and instruct the farming Indians of that village. The brothers were soon pouring their boundless energy into farming, building a house, and learning the Dakota language.
The Gospel proclaimed by the Ponds, as expressed in an article by Gideon in 1861, was one of uncompromising loyalty to Jesus, who was the source of boundless benevolence to humanity. As God had saved Saul of Tarsus, and the "savage hordes of Northern Europe," so God would save the Dakota. "God will not stop at halfway," but will complete the work by bringing salvation to them, and to all humanity. Any compromise with paganism was a compromise with the demonic and an act of disloyalty to the Lord. The act of evangelism was the ultimate act of love for one's neighbor.17 The Ponds' gospel was as unbending, uncomplicated, and compassionate as their lives.
Thomas became principal of an academy, but soon gave this up to study medicine. He received his Doctorate of Medicine at Yale College in 1824, and began a medical practice in Ripley, Ohio. He soon felt a call to a third career, to be missionary to the Indians. He was deeply moved by the story of the Nez Perces who came from the Rocky Mountains to Saint Louis in search of Christ.19
After discussing the subject with his wife, the Williamsons decided they could not go West as missionaries because they had two small children. Less than a year later, son James G. died on his first birthday, January 25, 1833, and daughter Mary P., age 3, died June 12, 1833.
He recognized the voice of God calling him to be a missionary. His wife, though of weak constitution, joined heartily in his decisions. He immediately closed up his professional work and went to Lane Seminary to study theology. The next spring  he was licensed to preach and, under appointment of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, made a tour of exploration among the Indian tribes of the upper Mississippi Valley. Returning that Fall he continued his theological studies, and in the spring of 1835 was ordained to the ministry by Chillicothe Presbytery.20Learning from American Board Secretary David Greene that all of the other prospective missionaries had either "declined, died, gone insane, or had suffered other difficulties,"21 Williamson recruited co-workers from among his neighbors and relatives. On May 16, 1835, the Williamsons and colleagues arrived at Fort Snelling.
It was written of him after his death,
Dr. Williamson was not characterized by an emotional nature. Some may have thought him too undemonstrative. Yet his affections were as true as their object as the needle to the pole. He was a stranger to religious ecstacy, but his trust in God was as unswerving as the law which holds the earth to its orbit around the sun.22Stephen R. Riggs described Thomas Williamson:
Never brilliant, he was yet, by his capacity for long-continued severe exertion, and by systematic, persevering industry, enabled to accomplish an almost incredible amount of labor. . . . He was not at all eloquent in speech, yet through knowledge of God's word, practical good sense, and his lucid explanations, gave him considerable power in the pulpit; but his chief power as a messenger of God lay in his example, in his making himself a true, devoted and trusted friend for those for whom he labored, and in Christian conversation which often seemed as if dictated by God's spirit.23Williamson expressed his complete confidence in God in a sermon he gave at the organization of Minnesota Synod in 1858,
When all about us have been alarmed, He has fulfilled the promise, 'Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day;' and when our neighbors have been unable to sleep protected by a guard of armed men, we have slept soundly, guarded only by the shepherd of Israel.24
We were obliged to commit to memory the Shorter Catechism, and every few months the good minister came around to see how well we could repeat it. All through my life this summary of Christian doctrine . . . has been to me an incalculable advantage.26Stephen went through a period of intellectual questioning, especially regarding predestination. As a teenager, having recently removed to Ripley, Ohio, feeling guilty of his negligence in his brother's drowning four years earlier, and grieving his mother's death, Stephen finally surrendered.
One day I listened to a sermon on the parable of the Great Supper. . . . I saw things as I had not seen them before. God was inviting--waiting. Jesus was calling--waiting. The Holy Spirit was wooing--waiting. I said, 'I come, I come, just as I am.' The contest was ended. A great peace came over me--filled me. And the glory, as of the Only Begotten of the Father, came and for days clothed all things on earth. The trees were greener. The sun shone more brightly beautiful. The air was purer calmer.27Strongly influencing young Stephen was the Latin School at Ripley, where,
the Lord appeared to me in a wonderful manner, making discoveries of himself to my spiritual apprehension, so that from that time and onward my path lay in the line of preparation for such service as He shall call me unto.28Such service was to be in the mission field; Riggs recalled,
Early in my course of education, I had considered the claims of the heathen upon Christians, and upon myself personally as a believer in Christ; and with very little hesitation or delay, the decision had been reached, that, God willing, I would go somewhere among the unevangelized. And, during the years of my preparation, there never came to me a doubt of the rightness of my decision.29Riggs graduated from Jefferson College, and then went to Western Seminary in Allegheny (Pittsburgh). Thomas Williamson was the Physician who had cared for his dying mother. Williamson was also a trustee of the academy where Riggs was deeply influenced. The Physician was writing to him, and to the American Board, making plans for Stephen to join him. In the Fall of 1836 Riggs was licensed by Chillicothe Presbytery. Only one thing was lacking: a wife.
Stephen Riggs met a young school teacher, Mary Longley, at the home of a "rabid abolitionist" pastor in Ohio, who saw them as sympathizers to his cause. Mary and Stephen were married at her Congregational Church in Hawley, Massachusetts, in February 1837, and they began their journey west. They reached Fort Snelling on June 1, 1837.
The Pond brothers, Thomas Williamson and Stephen Riggs, with their wives, relatives and neighbors, account for most of the missionary-years in service in the Dakota Mission. Other missionaries would come and go; these families were repeatedly involved. They would intermarry. They would for periods of time live in the same home, with their children growing up together. Although having occasional differences of opinion, they would always be one family.
The first tasks of the missionaries was to build their houses and learn the language. The people were to be taught to read in their own language, and the Bible was to be translated into Dakota, giving the people direct access to the Word of God. Farming was a constant mission activity, not just for educational purposes, but to provide the mission with food. Dr. Williamson spent at least one third of his time in medical practice among the Indians. He was not sent out as a "medical missionary;" he was a missionary who just happened to be a physician.
When Thomas Williamson arrived in 1835, he immediately began building on the foundations laid by the Pond brothers. The prayer meetings the Ponds had started with the military at Fort Snelling, he organized on June 11 into the First Presbyterian Church in Minnesota. He began language study with the notes the Ponds had accumulated.
Another missionary of the American Board, Jedediah Stevens, arrived on June 1, 1835. Stevens' overbearing personality soon became evident, and Williamson sensed that they could not work together productively.
On his visit in 1834, Williamson had met Joseph Renville, a half-breed trader with a post at Lac qui Parle. (This was the same Joseph Renville who served with British forces in the War of 1812). Renville had invited Williamson to start a mission at his post, 200 miles west of Fort Snelling. After Stevens arrived, Williamson decided to accept Renville's invitation.
The Williamson party arrived at Lac qui Parle July 9, 1835. So the mission was divided: Stevens, with the reluctant assistance of the Ponds, worked with the Mdewakantonwan at Lake Harriet, near Fort Snelling, in the east, while Williamson worked with the Sisitonwan, Wahpetonwan and half-breeds in the west.
Joseph Renville played a key role in the early life of the Dakota Church. He maintained a fighting force of twenty to forty men at his trading post. While he lived he was the protector of the missionaries. He and his family were the first converts of the missionaries and were charter members of the church at Lac qui Parle in 1836. In 1841 Renville was ordained ruling elder. Renville wrote a number of hymns. He held evening meetings and Sunday afternoon services and instructed the Indians in religion. Renville probably wanted to attract the missionaries for three reasons.
Mr. Renville . . . sat in a chair in the middle of his own reception room, in which there was at one end an open fireplace with a large fire blazing, and Dr. Williamson, Mr. G. H. Pond, and myself, seated at a side table with our writing materials before us. When all were ready, Dr. Williamson read a verse from the French Bible. This, Mr. Renville, usually with great readiness, repeated in the Dakota language. We wrote it down from his mouth. If the sentence was too long for us to remember, Mr. Renville repeated it. When the verse was written, some one read it over, and it was corrected; and then we passed to another, and soon to the end of the chapter.2Sometimes Renville and the missionaries did not agree, for example when Renville's converts were not always accepted into church membership by the missionaries. But it was the half-breed trader who opened the door to the Dakota nation for the missionaries. Also, Lac qui Parle was a place where church work could begin far away from the corrupting influence of white people and their alcohol at Fort Snelling.
Affairs did not move smoothly further east. According to Samuel Pond:
Mr. Stevens . . . gave me to understand that, as he was a licensed preacher and I only a layman, he should expect me to spend much of my time in manual labor, and interpret for him in his intercourse with the Indians, but I did not come here to interpret for anyone,--certainly not for one with as little ability natural or acquired as Mr. S., so I determined to go to Connecticut and obtain a license to preach.3Samuel studied theology with his home town pastor for a year and was ordained March 4, 1837. He returned to the mission, and received a commission from the American Board that summer. In 1838 Stevens resigned his post with the Mission Board to accept an appointment with the Indian Agency as a farmer with the Indians.
The Lake Harriet station faced opposition from the traders and was near the degrading influence of Fort Snelling. After 1840 the Indians dispersed, because of the danger of Ojibwa attacks. The Pond brothers labored on, reaching more Indians by visitation than they could with services at a fixed location.
Life among the Isanti was unsettled from 1835 to 1851. Among the Mdewakantonwan and Wahpekute in the east, there were occasional rounds of treaty making, and a growing dependence on annuities. Annuities were annual payments made by the government to the Indians for a number of years after a treaty, in payment for land. As game declined, a few more Indians took up farming.
At first the Indians listened courteously and attentively to the missionaries. They had no reason to oppose new insights about the sacred. As they came to understand that the missionaries were advocating the abandonment of their ancestral ways, opposition hardened. However, the mystery of reading and the healing ability of the Doctor were welcomed.
The church at Lac qui Parle grew slowly, and by the end of 1841 reported 34 members. The effect of the new religion was more widespread. Many who requested membership were rejected several times before final acceptance. In some cases, the monogamy requirement prevented persons from joining. But among those who did not join, many were listening, and incorporating some of the missionaries' ideas into their thinking.4
The testimonies and biographies of early converts spoke of a sense of sin, and the joy of discovering forgiveness, being able to return good for evil in relations with others, rejecting violence, promiscuity and alcohol, rejection of Indian ceremonies as having religious implications, as well as becoming farmers, and wearing the clothes of whites.5 The church had Sunday services, evening meetings, Women's Meetings and Sunday School. The major element in all these services was singing, and "hymns became one of the strongest missionary appeals."6
The early converts to Christianity were half-breeds and women. As women had a smaller role in the Indian religion than did men, and the cultural change was smaller, it was easier for them to make the change. Only when a full-blooded male Dakota become a Christian in 1841, did the traditional religious leaders perceive Christianity to be a threat.
About 1842 the traditional religious leaders decided on a policy of active opposition to Christianity.
A council met and determined that Christianity must be wiped out. Various means were used to accomplish it. All Indians were forbidden to attend either school or church, and policemen were stationed on the road to punish them; so women came to church a number of times with their blankets cut in strips. The officers would deride and make sport of the church-goers in the most vexatious ways. Sometimes they would use flattery and lead them into sin, perhaps drunkenness. Sorcerers would bewitch them so they would die mysteriously--probably from poison.7
They will cause the moccasins of little boys to be hid, so that if they will go to school, they shall go barefoot, which we have known them to do in the cold of the Minnesota winter. . . . They often exclude them from participating, to the extent of their rights, in the distribution of such annuity goods and provisions as are furnished them by our government, and which belong to one as much as to another, and the oppressed have none who can effectually help them. . . . We know of a young man in Bloomington township, who had a charge of shot fired into his body, because he would learn to read, in spite of less violent opposition.8The missionaries noted a marked decline in attendance; a faithful few continued to worship, while others fell away, in spite of their sympathies.
In 1847 the persecutions ceased, and there was a marked increase in interest in reading, farming, and church. At this point a third group in the Isanti community appeared to be growing in strength. Between the Christians and the anti-Christians were a group of people who were not interested in Christianity, but wanted to be friendly to the missionaries because of the benefits of civilization they brought, including reading, farming, and medicine. More missionaries were sent, and by the end of 1849, the mission was operating six stations across southern Minnesota.
On the Reservation, the Indian way of life was permanently altered. No longer able to hunt across a vast territory, the Isanti became dependent on annuities that were always late and never sufficient. Hunger became a way of life. The Indians no longer had any control over their lives, but were subject to the will of agents and a government which did not care about their well being.
With the Indians concentrated on the Reservation, the mission no longer needed six stations. Some of the missionaries left; the Pond brothers decided to remain where they were and minister to the white settlers who were moving in. Only Thomas Williamson and Stephen Riggs remained with the mission. Williamson established a new station at Pejutazi (Yellow Medicine) in 1852. Two years later, Riggs moved from Lac qui Parle to the new community of Hazlewood, just three miles from Pejutazi.
One way for an Indian to cope with the new circumstances of Reservation life, was to become "like a white man"--that is, to farm, learn to read, build a house, and go to church. The old way of life was gone, perhaps the new religion could provide the means of dealing with the new reality. For this reason, opponents, feeling their way of life to be threatened, renewed persecutions of Christians. In 1856 the two churches counted only 43 members.
In 1856 several families of Christian Indians organized the "Hazlewood Republic," adopted a democratic constitution, vigorously pursued cultural change, and were promptly recognized as a new band.
Thomas Williamson's son, John P. Williamson, who had graduated from Marietta College (1857) and Lane Seminary (1860), entered the mission work in the Fall of 1860. He began work at the Lower Agency ("Redwood"), where a church was organized in March 1861.
War against another nation is often used by a party in one nation to advance its cause within that nation. This was true in the Dakota War. The young braves asserted their desire to fight over the moderation of the elders, discredited by too many agreements with the whites that the white’s didn’t keep; the elders had to go along or loose all credibility. The ant-Christian party now believed they had the opportunity to bring to an end the threat to the traditional Dakota way of life; Christians and moderates were shamed and threatened into not obstructing the will of the war party.
The war was not pre-meditated, nor was it carefully coordinated. It was a desperate grab for dignity of a hungry and humiliated people. The Mdewakantonwan and Wahpekute of the Lower Agency started the War, the Sisitonwan and Wahpetonwan of the Upper Agency then felt obligated to join.
The missionaries were warned of trouble by friendly Indians, who assisted in their escape. As they wandered across the prairie for a week before they could find safety, they felt despair. Stephen Riggs wrote:
Then came over us the feeling that our life-work had been in vain . . . it seemed as if this rebellion must sweep over and destroy much of the civilization which we had labored for so many years to produce. The standard of the cross, too, would be thrown down, and our church members scattered, perhaps much demoralized.10The handful of Christian Indians spoke eloquently against war in council, and were not fully trusted by the leaders, with good reason. The homesteads of Christian Indians were destroyed along with those of whites. John Other Day led sixty-two whites from Pejuazi to safety; several other friendly Indians led whites to safety or protected them. In the Indian camp, Presbyterian Elder Paul Mazakutemane with the assistance of John B. Renville, managed to gain control of many white captives being held in the camp, established a camp of those friendly to the whites, and separated from the hostile camp.
After defeat at the Battle of Wood Lake, September 23, the hostiles fled to the west. On September 27 the friendly camp and the military met at Camp Release, and the hostages were given their freedom.
In the Fall and Winter of 1862 the white community of Minnesota was swept by a racist frenzy and a lust for revenge.11 The leaders of the war were on the prairie or in Canada, but the military had in custody the 1200 Indians from Camp Release, and others who had drifted in. The white populace, outraged by tales of atrocities, pressured the military into court trials for those in custody;
A military commission was organized, before which, during the next month, seven eighths of these men were brought, to prove their innocence or to be condemned as guilty. Of those who were thus brought to trial, about fifty were acquitted, three hundred and three were condemned to be hung, and twenty were to be imprisoned from one to five years.12The Tribunal administered “justice” to up to forty persons a day, with complete disregard for Anglo-Saxon legal principles. Distinguishing “good Indians” from “bad Indians” was no simple matter, when one considers the strong social pressures and threats employed by the leaders of the war party of the Indians, the mixed feelings of many, and changing feelings as the prospects of victory faded.
The report of the tribunal was sent to the War Department; the convicted were placed in a prison in Mankato; the rest of the Dakota in Minnesota, mostly women and children, were interned in a camp at Fort Snelling. President Lincoln intervened, and had a commission review the trial record case by case. Only forty sentences were sustained, and two of these were later pardoned. On December 26, 1862,
The remaining thirty-eight condemned mounted the scaffold chanting their death song, reluctantly allowed the white caps to be adjusted over their heads, and then attempted to grasp each other’s hands in a final gesture of solidarity. The trap was sprung . . .13In November of 1862, Thomas Williamson and his sister Jane visited the prison at Mankato, and distributed slates, paper and pencils to the eight or ten young men who had learned to read.
But when these men commenced writing for their own relief and amusement, it was found that many others wished to learn. From that time all the elementary books that could be anywhere procured, were in demand; and the young men who were at all skilled in the books, became the teachers of classes of ten or fifteen each.14There was a new spirit in the hearts of the prisoners. The missionaries, surprised and cautious about this change, observed, “The gods whom they and their fathers had worshipped and trusted, had failed them . . . The spell was broken, and they turned now to Christianity.”15 One of the condemned stated simply, “We judge of ourselves that if we do not forsake our past ways we will again be in trouble.”16
One of the elders of the Pejutazi Presbyterian Church, Robert Hopkins Caske, was in the Mankato prison. As his fellow prisoners turned to him to learn about the Christian God, he became their spiritual leader, and led services twice a day. Caske gave to Dr. Williamson lists of persons who had lead in public prayer: “This was regarded by themselves very much in the light of making a profession of religion.”17 Thomas Williamson preached at the prison on Sundays throughout the winter. Many of the prisoners were Mdewakantonwan, with whom the Ponds had ministered. At the prisoners’ request, Gideon Pond visited them from January 31 to February 3, and noted the following in his journal:
There are over three hundred Indians in prison, the most of whom are in chains. There is a degree of religious interest manifested by them which is incredible. They huddle themselves together every morning and evening in the prison, and read the Scriptures, sing hymns, confess one to another, exhort one another, and pray together. They say that their whole lives have been wicked–-that they have adhered to the superstitions of their ancestors until they have reduced themselves to their present state of wretchedness and ruin. They declare that they have left it all, and will leave all forever; that they do and will embrace the religion of Jesus Christ, and adhere to it as long as they live; and that this is their only hope, both in this world and in the next. They say that before they came to this state of mind-–this determination-–their hearts failed them with fear, but now they have much mental ease and comfort.18Thomas Williamson continued the account of the events of February 3:
I wrote in their own language a confession of faith and covenant. After appropriate religious exercises we read and explained the confession and told them that we were ready to baptize such as heartily adopted it. We baptized on that day two hundred and seventy-four.19John Williamson ministered to the Isanti interned at Fort Snelling, mostly women and children. An Episcopal missionary, who had begun work with the Dakota two years before, was also there.
As in the prison, so at the camp, the school and the church occupied the time. Every evening, and often during the day, men and women and children were crowded into tents and engaged in prayer and praise.20Over a hundred and forty were baptized by Williamson that winter at the internment camp.
When the ice cleared from the rivers in the spring of 1863, the prisoners at Mankato were moved to a prison in Davenport, Iowa, and the internees at Fort Snelling were moved to a new camp on the Missouri River in Dakota Territory. Thirty to forty families of half-breeds and other persons of demonstrated loyalty were taken from the camp at Fort Snelling and employed as scouts. This Scouts Camp moved about east-central Dakota Territory.
The barracks and firewood at Davenport were inadequate, many developed tuberculosis, and 120 died there. The prisoners soon had their chains removed, and were able to make crafts and sell them in town.
With the spiritual leadership of Caske and frequent visits from the elder Williamson, the prison continued to be a church and a school. The congregation in the prison was organized into classes, something like a Methodist system, except that these classes corresponded to the bands in which they had formerly lived. Each class had one or more Hunkayapi (Elders), who were ordained by the Church. Riggs noted:
It was one step toward raising up for them pastors for themselves. On our part it was felt necessary, for we could not properly watch over and care for these people, as they could watch over and care for each other.21The reservation on the Missouri River, near Fort Thompson, was a dry and barren place, and the time spent there was a time of starvation. Of the 1300 Isanti taken to Fort Thompson, 300 soon died. The younger Williamson was in charge of the mission there. In this predominantly female community, he appointed deaconesses, who had charge of women’s prayer meetings. The children also had meetings, conducted by themselves.22
The group of army scouts and their families, whose camp moved about the prairie, included many who had been active in the Presbyterian Church. They were organized as a congregation in 1863, under the leadership of John B. Renville, son of the trader, who was licensed in 1865 and ordained in 1866.
A community of mostly Sissitonwan and Wahpetonwan, which had been growing up around Fort Wardsworth in east-central Dakota Territory, was organized in 1867 as the Sisseton Reservation. This included the Scouts Camp, some who moved up from Santee Agency, and others who drifted in from the prairie. The following year the Scouts Camp was disbanded, and four new congregations organized on the Reservation, all four being provided with licensed or ordained native pastors. In the summers of 1867, 1868, and 1869, Stephen R. Riggs held four day camp meetings at Sisseton, through which many joined the church.
Some of those at Santee were not content with life under the control of Government agents and Indian chiefs. They chose to leave the Reservation in 1869, and take up homesteads in the area of Flandreau, D.T. The Flandreau church was organized in 1869.
John Williamson saw a need for a school to train Indians to be pastors and teachers, but he wanted to do evangelistic work. He had been visiting the nearby Yankton Agency as often as he could, and wanted to move there. So Williamson recruited his life long friend, Alfred L. Riggs, son of Stephen, to develop and run the school.
John Williamson moved to Yankton Agency in March, 1869; Alfred Riggs came to Santee in May, 1870. The younger Williamson and Riggs had both been born at Lac qui Parle, had lived in the same house at times, and had grown up friends. Through the years they had shared with each other their thoughts of the future. When the younger Riggs arrived at Santee, the younger Williamson sent him a message from General Assembly, “Welcome to the glorious workshop of our sires.”23
Alfred Riggs had been ordained a Congregational minister, and had been serving white congregations in Illinois and Wisconsin for several years. He had been studying modern educational theory in preparation for an educational ministry with the Dakota.24. Early in 1870 he was commissioned by the ABCFM.
In the Spring of 1865, the Presbytery met in Mankato; it should have been a joyous time, as John B. Renville was being examined for licensure, the first Dakota to be so examined. Thomas Williamson, out-going moderator, gave the opening sermon, in which “he enforced the necessity laid upon this great Christian nation to deal justly with the inferior races, the African and the Indian.”25 That day a group of hostile Dakotas had come down from Canada and murdered a family in the area; one of the Indians was captured, and the next day he was lynched by a mob. Some of the Mankato people said the Indian raid had taken place because Dr. Williamson was in town. They recalled a previous occasion when he had passed through about the time some white people had been killed by Indians.
So they sent a committee of the principle men of the place, to demand his immediate departure. This committee came to the Presbyterian Church, where the Presbytery was in session, engaged in the examination of licensure of John B. Renville.26Williamson quietly left town. Dakota participation in Dakota Presbytery faced not only the obstacle of language and distance, but also racial prejudice.
In 1867 the Dakota Presbytery sent a memorial to Synod,
that so many of the churches and brethren that are laboring within the bounds of the white settlements be constituted a Presbytery denominated the Presbytery of Mankato, and that the brethren now laboring among the Dakotas and their churches . . . be allowed to retain the original name; viz. The Presbytery of Dakota . . .27.Synod took up the matter at Mankato on September 30, 1867. The way John Williamson’s daughter recalled hearing about it,
Excepting the missionaries, the ministers in attendance, including officers of the Mission Boards, were almost without exception in favor of a division according to geographical limits, as is the usual custom. Mr. [John] Williamson was very strong in his belief that the Indian work was a separate and distinct work. The Sioux Indians being scattered through five states, would form only a small minority in any Presbytery formed according to geographical limits. The Indian ministers were not ready to take their place with their white brethren, and, being few in number, would be overlooked, and their claims crowded out. He believed also that they would miss the enthusiasm which would come from working all together for their fellow Sioux. Mr. Williamson won the ministers over and carried the day.28The new Presbytery of Dakota met in April, 1868, using the Dakota language, with full participation of its Native Pastors and Elders. Through this Presbytery, many Native Pastors would be ordained, and missionaries and pastors would have a collegial relationship.
One of the most delightful features of our meetings has been a seeming forgetfulness of all affinities and preferences, except those which are highest of all.1Missionaries of different denominations, “toiled side by side, many of them unto death, in unbroken harmony.”2 The reason for this harmony Treat explained simply, “the highest and truest unity is that which is breathed into the children of God by an evangelical faith.”3
Presbyterians and Congregationalists entered the nineteenth century with a strong movement toward united action. Through the Plan of Union of 1801 the two denominations established churches on the frontier together. The American Board, established for foreign missions in 1810, and the American Home Missionary Society, established for home missions in 1826, were but tow of many cooperative mission agencies. Most Congregationalists who moved west of New England willingly joined their churches to the presbyteries and synods of the Presbyterian Church. Moved by the Second Great Awakening, both denominations emphasized a person’s relationship with God, and shoved creedal precision and other denominational concerns to the background.
However, as the nineteenth century wore on, both denominations became more conscious and more assertive of their distinctive identities. Some Presbyterians, who became known as the “Old School,” were concerned about what they considered theological irregularities coming into the Presbyterian Church with the Congregationalists. They were also concerned that the advocates of these ideas could not be effectively removed because of irregularities in polity in the Plan of Union presbyteries. These Old Schoolers worked through the Presbyterian political process to bring an end to the patterns of cooperation with Congregationalists. “New School” Presbyterians, many of whom came from Congregational backgrounds, could not discern the difference between Presbyterians and Congregationalists, and worked through the Presbyterian political process to continue cooperation with their Congregational cousins.
Some Old School Presbyterians, like Ashbel Green, participated in the ABCFM as a temporary expediency, until they could have a “Foreign Missionary Society established in the church of their preference, founded on its distinctive principles, and exclusively directed by its own members.”4 Green appreciated the American Board’s pioneering efforts, but expressed resentment of the American Board entering Cherokee country when the Presbyterians were looking for a replacement,5 and absorbing the mostly-Presbyterian UFMS in 1826.6 Opposition by Old School Presbyterians to the American Board centered around the principle that the Church is a missionary society, and that missions are properly a function of the church. A mission board controlled by the church would better guarantee doctrinal purity and propagate Presbyterian churches.7
John Holt Rice, first President of Union Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian school in Virginia, tried to find a middle way. Affirming, “I never will do anything to injure the wisest and best Missionary Society in the world, the American Board,”8 he observed on the other hand,
the Presbyterian spirit has been so awakened up, that I begin to apprehend that no power of man will ever bring the whole body to unite under what is thought to be a Congregational board.9When Rice was on his deathbed, he wrote an Overture, which was approved by General assembly that year, 1831. It declared:
That the Presbyterian Church in the United States is a Missionary Society; the object of which is to aid in the conversion of the world; and that every member of the Church is a member for life of said Society, and bound in maintenance of his Christian character, to do all in his power for the accomplishment of this object.10The Overture created a Committee of the Presbyterian Church for Foreign Missions, directed the committee to coordinate its work with the American Board, and directed the local congregations to contribute to either the American Board or the Presbyterian committee. Because of the New School’s strength, the committee was never very active.
In 1831 the Pittsburgh Synod formed a Western Foreign Missionary Society (WFMS), and invited other Presbyterians to join. They argued that they were not competing with the ABCFM because many Presbyterians were not supporting missions, and another missionary society would result in more missions being done.11
In 1837 the Old School expelled from the Presbyterian Church the four synods most effected by the Plan of Union, ended cooperative mission activities, and adopted the WFMS as its Board of Foreign Missions. The expelled synods became the nucleus of the “New School” Presbyterian Church, which continued to work with Congregationalists and the American Board.
The criticisms of Congregationalism by Old School Presbyterians helped the former to appreciate their distinctness. After 1837, Congregationalists increasingly established their own churches and associations in the west, distinct from the Presbyterians. The first national meeting of Congregationalists, the Albany convention of 1852, revoked the Plan of Union with Presbyterians. Midwestern Congregationalists gained greater unity as they came together to support Chicago Theological Seminary, established in 1855 as a center of resurgent Congregationalism. A second national meeting of Congregationalists, in Boston in 1865, led to the establishment of a national denominational structure in 1871.
|ABCFM Board members||31||24||6|
|Mission churches organized||27||7||0|
In 1832 an agreement was made with the Dutch Reformed Church, whereby funds raised by that church would be channeled by the Board to that church’s missionaries, who would be stationed together. The American Board was never comfortable with this exception from the policy of sending people where needed without regard to denomination,13 and in 1857 an amicable separation of work was negotiated.
With the withdrawal of the Old School from the American Board, it became a more predominantly Congregational agency. Board membership in 1860 included
the principle of the Board is that of entire nonintervention. . . Missionaries are free to organize themselves into, or connect themselves with, such ecclesiastical bodies or churches as they may choose.16The committee did recommend, to the extent possible, to assign Presbyterians to the same fields. Relations between the two groups continued to by judged “eminently satisfactory.”17
6. There shall be one set of Committees or Boards for Home and Foreign Missions, and the other religious enterprises of the Church, which the churches shall be encouraged to sustain, though free to cast their contributions into other channels, if they desired to do so.18A reunited Presbyterian Church would conduct foreign missions through its own Board; the work of the American Board would be altered in some way.
The General Assemblies in 1869 approved another Plan of Reunion, with Article 6 unchanged. The New School Assembly’s Committee on Missions, of which Stephen Riggs was a member, also desired “to express our large and continued confidence” in the American Board.19
On November 11, 1869, the day before the Reunion Assembly in Pittsburgh, the New School Assembly took some last minute actions regarding foreign missions. As the American Board’ expenditures had already been set for the fiscal year, ending September, 1870, the General Assembly resolved:
to urge upon the churches hitherto contributing to the American Board, that they do not withhold their Contributions from it during the present fiscal year.20They also resolved to name a committee to negotiate with the American Board and recommend to the next Assembly “such measures as to them may seem proper and expedient for the adjustment of those relations to the new posture of our affairs.”21
The New School negotiating committee met March 19, 1870, to develop a strategy. They desired that “a fair proportion” of the Missions of the American Board be transferred to the Presbyterian Board. As most Missions included persons from both denominations, they allowed that ministers of both denominations could maintain their standing even if they were in the otehr denomination’s mission.22
This committee met with American Board representatives May 10 and 17, 1870. ABCFM Secretary Selah B. Treat later reported,
It had been obvious from the outset that the proposed reunion . . . might seriously affect our relations to our Presbyterian constituency, and to the missionaries who went out from it; precisely to what extent, however, and in what ways, it was impossible to predict. But when the consummation actually occurred, it brought with it a heavier trial than the committee had contemplated.23After much deliberation and prayer, the American Board representatives agreed to the following principles.
When the question was asked, ‘How much of the common work will satisfactorily represent the Presbyterian share therein?’ the answer was, ‘the missions to Syria, the Nestorians, the Gaboon, and the North American Indians, the same being largely Presbyterian.’25The transfer was emotional. Sixty years of fellowship in prayer, sacrificial giving, and dedicated missionary service, could not be left behind easily. By May of 1871, five missions (Gabon, Syria, Seneca, Ojibwa, Nestorian) with forty-three missionaries had been transferred.26 Selah Treat reported to the ABCFM on October 1870,
The Dakota Mission, at the time the reunion became a certainty, was confidently expected to change its relation; but it has decided to remain with us for the present.27
The Dakota Presbytery was composed of the seven congregations that had resulted from the work of the ABCFM. Pilgrim Church at Santee Agency accounted for about half of the 628 members. Four congregations at Sisseton Reservation, one at Flandreau, and a small congregation re-established at Lac qui Parle, rounded out the roll of churches. The three ordained missionaries of the American Board. four ordained native pastors, and five licensed native pastors, were all members of Presbytery. The events at the Mission Boards did not effect the denominational affiliations of the churches or the ministers. The decision facing the missionaries was whether or not to transfer from the employ of the American Board to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. Their decisions would effect the ownership of the mission property, and would determine which Board would be responsible for financial support.
It was up to each missionary–primarily the ordained missionaries–to take the initiative in writing to the Board to request a transfer. In the period 1866-70, the mission had been served by three ordained missionaries, two teachers, and four wives.
The Williamsons were eager to transfer their relationship to the Presbyterians, but wanted the mission to transfer as a unit. Riggs was reluctant; so nothing was being done. On April 22, 1871, John Williamson wrote to his father,
I feel that I should go over to the Presbyterian Board before long; but I think it would be well to have the Mission all together and talk it over once before I take any steps in that direction.28Thomas wrote back,
I do not understand what you say in your last about transferring our relations to the Presb[yterian] Board. I thought your mind was made up that if the Riggs would not come over within a year they never will and so it seems to me that it is useless to wait for them after the time of our next meeting. I mentioned the matter several times to S[tephen] R. R[iggs] but he evinced on disposition to discuss it bot a determination to retain his present relation. It seems to me manifest we ought to be supported by presbyterians but I do not wish to go by myself so I wish to know what you intend to do before I go to Chicago.29After attending General assembly, he wrote to his son,
I had several opportunities of conversing with Sec. Lowrie [of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions]. I do not remember that he said anything to me about the transfer of our mission but other members of the assembly did and the feeling of all who mention it seemed to be that such transfer ought to take place. If after discussing the matter at our next meeting S[thephen] R. R[iggs] still opposes it I think it will be our duty to begin a correspondence with the Secs of the Boards in reference to the matter. I hope to attend that meeting. . . 30The issue was evidently thoroughly aired among the missionaries when they met at Flandreau on June 23. Stephen Riggs later recalled that, “the question of a change of our relations was thoughtfully considered and fully discussed.”31 Although the Williamsons went over to the Presbyterian Board, Riggs recalled,
For myself, I did not care to do so. Although conscientiously a Presbyterian, I was not, and am not, so much of one as to draw me away from the associations which had been growing for a third of a century. Whether I reasoned rightly or wrongly, I conceived that I had a character with the American Board that I could not transfer; and I was too old to build up another reputation. Besides, Alfred L. Riggs had now joined the mission, and as a Congregational minister he could do no otherwise than retain his connection with the A.B.C.F.M. . . . The case was a plain one. We divided. Some questions then came up as to the field of work. These were very soon amicably settled. . . .32It was a decision Stephen Riggs would rather not have had to make. He was a Presbyterian minister, his late wife had been a Congregationalist; he had developed close ties with the staff of the American Board and some of its supporters, many of whom were Congregationalists. Two of his sons who desired to enter the mission, Alfred and Thomas, had attended Chicago Theological Seminary, the center of resurgent Midwest Congregationalism, and they identified with that denomination. After procrastinating as long as he could, Stephen Riggs finally made his decision clear: he would continue to be a Presbyterian minister in the service of the American Board.
The Williamsons transferred to the Presbyterian Board, and the work at Flandreau and Yankton went with them. The Riggs family continued with the American Board, which continued to support the work at Santee and Sisseton. None of this in any way affected the Presbyterian standing of all of the churches or the older Rev. Riggs.
John Williamson wrote to his father33 that he had written to Secretary Lowrie for the first time on December 18, with an estimate of funds needed. Notice of the transfer of the Williamsons to the Presbyterian Board appeared in the December, 1871 issue of Presbyterian Monthly Record34 and in the January, 1872 issue of Missionary Herald,35 and the Foreign Missionary.36 A letter from John Williamson, dated December 18, 1871, appeared in the Presbyterian Monthly Record37 describing the stations transferred to the Presbyterian Board.
The interests of these two societies, the A.B.C.F.M, and the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions among the Dakotahs are one, and it is most earnestly to be desired that they ever remain one.38How could the mission and churches continue with their spirit of unity in spite of their divisions?
John Williamson wrote to his father in the Spring of 1872,
I wish your opinion on one point. Alfred Riggs wishes to form what he calls a Missionary Association in which all the Native Helpers are to be associated with the Missionaries in which all questions of interest in our mission work are to be discussed. I have not a very clear idea about what its powers and future development are to be and I do not know whether he has or not. He gave as one reason for it that without some such arrangement there would be no place in which he and Thomas could come in and participate in our work on an equality with the rest.One suspects that none of the missionaries had a clear idea of its “powers or future development,” even after it happened. The meeting was held June 21-24, 1872, at Goodwill, on Sisseton Reservation. Stephen Riggs reported to his Board,
It seems to me we must concede something of this kind but what shall it be?39
The most significant item of this meeting was the formation of the ‘Ptaya Owohdake’ or General Conference. Its design is to furnish a freer medium of interchange of thought, and to develop and direct through it the capabilities of our churches and of our native helpers. Its members include the missionaries of the two Boards in this field; the ministers and officers of the churches under their charge; other preachers, teachers of day schools and Sabbath Schools in connection with us; and one special delegate from each church. The arrangement has been heartily entered into by our people; and we had a membership at the Conference of thirty-six.40Elsewhere, Riggs described the more memorable events of that meeting,
For the time being we had quite a camp around our mission. Many came about the middle of the week before, and remained until Tuesday of this week. As our [meeting]house would accommodate only about 130 persons, we erected a booth 70 x 40 feet. . . . At least 600 were present on the Sabbath. . . . Eight new members were added to the churches.41For the missionaries, the “memorable event” was the creation of a structure through which Presbyterians and Congregationalists, missionaries and native leaders, could continue to work together, and deal with substantive issues. Most of those who came, however, did not participate in that meeting of thirty-six. For them, Ptaya Owohdake was a camp meeting, a time of fellowship, and the sharing of sacred events. It was not unlike the gatherings of Dakota Indians from distant places for a large encampment with religious ceremonies in pre-Christian days. Both the Indian and the Christian character of the meeting soon became tradition. The crier went from tent to tent calling people to meeting. The host church provided food for everyone. Prayers were held by tribal groups; the whole assembly discussed substantive issues; clusters of separate meetings (Presbytery, Association, Women, Elders, Teachers, etc.) were held at various times. The climax was Holy Communion, with baptisms and people joining the church.42 Whatever the younger Riggs and Williamson intended, Ptaya Owohdake became an enduring unitive event with a spiritual focus and wide popularity.
The missions continued to function as one, in spite of the division of work in 1871. Winifred Barton, John Williamson’s daughter, listed as first cause, “the feeling of the Dakota people themselves, the majority of whom knew no distinction.”43 The Dakota as a nation had always had a consciousness of unity, in spite of the absence of any formal national organization. One could expect the same kind of unity to be found in the Dakota church. A second cause was the missionaries, the majority of whom came from the Riggs and Williamson families. Raised together in the mission, and feeling strong bonds of affection and a common calling, they worked to establish common institutions.
Ptaya Owohdake, the first institution of unity, held the mission together with a minimum of structure and a maximum of inspiration.
Santee Normal Training School, the second institution of unity, was established at Santee Agency in 1870 by Alfred Riggs, on a foundation laid by John Williamson. The school continued to be a project of the American Board after 1871, with considerable Presbyterian involvement. The purpose of Santee was “the preparation of Indian young men and women for missionary and educational leadership among their own people.”44 Seeing a need to train future Indian leaders in civilized ways from an early age, Santee included a boarding school for children and youth. Frederick Riggs, son and successor to Alfred Riggs as superintendent of the school, described this aspect of the school in 1900:
Home life is recognized as a potent educational means, and the Santee dormitories are accordingly small and numerous, each in charge of a Christian lady who appreciates the responsibilities of mothering her flock.45Farming, homemaking, and other industrial courses were part of the curriculum. Short term “Theological Institutes” were offered to ministers and candidates. Santee School produced a corps of dedicated teachers and evangelists, and a solid body of faithful lay people, who took the lead in spreading the Christian faith through the western Dakota tribes. The educational system of the missions included numerous day schools, and three other boarding schools, but Santee was the highest level of education among the Dakotas. Teachers at Santee School included both missionaries and Indians.
Iapi Oaye was the third unifying institution of the Dakota Mission. In May, 1871, John P. Williamson began publishing this four page Dakota language monthly paper. It reported news from all the churches and mission stations, contained Sunday School lessons, news of the worldwide church, and discussion of issues being faced by the Indian communities. It was subscribed to and read, and helped to bind together the widely dispersed church membership. English-language pages were added for the benefit of mission supporters, and editorship was shared by Williamson and Alfred Riggs.
Wotanin Wate, or the Native Missionary Society, was the fourth unifying institution of the Dakota missions. At the Ptaya Owohdake in 1875, one of the questions discussed was, “Is it not time for the Dakota churches to send forth a missionary of their own to the wild tribes.”46 The senior Riggs and Williamson had been preparing the people for this idea, with articles in Iapi Oahe about a Native Hawaiian Missionary Society. Several Dakota evangelists had gone out, under the support of the mission boards, working with missionaries. This proposal called for a native evangelist funded by the Dakota churches, to be sent on his own. A committee was named to raise funds and report.
The following year, 1876, $245.23 and one horse had been collected, the Wotanin Wate was organized, and David Greycloud was appointed missionary to Standing Rock Reservation.47 Soon the local women’s groups were raising over half the funds. The churches and organizations brought their gifts for the year to Ptaya Owohdake. John Williamson observed, “The income of this society is small, but the running expenses are almost nothing and the missionaries are inexpensive.”48
The native pastors, whether supported by their own society or one of the denominations, were numerous and significant. A deputation team from the American Missionary Society concluded in 1901,
It was felt that the native preacher is the most important factor in Christianizing and upbuilding the native church. Through him nearly all the conversions heve been made. He lives with the people, speaks their language and is in a position to influence and lead them.49A fifth unifying force for the mission was language work. Over the decades, the Williamson and Riggs families and others had translated the Bible, many hymns, and had prepared a dictionary, grammar, and reading books. In 1871, the two Boards agreed to a formula for paying for joint language work. The hymnal, Dakota Odowan, provided the churches with a common collection of music for worship.
With the establishment of these five cooperative activities,
First there is the story of the missions and the churches. Most of the Isanti having become Christian, their churches were ready to carry their new faith to their relatives and neighbors to the west. This expansion began in 1869 when John P. Williamson moved to Yankton Agency. By the 1890s a beginning had been made on most of the Reservations of the Wiciyena, Titonwan, and some others, although the work of developing the church continued into the twentieth century.
Second, there is the story of the western Dakotas, especially the Titonwan, in their obstinate fight against the advancing white civilization. This history began in 1843 when some of the Titonwan moved to the vicinity of the Platte, and ended in the bloody snow of Wounded Knee in 1890.
Third, there is the denominational story. A complex sorting-out of mission board responsibilities, not only between denominations, but also between foreign and home boards of each denomination, began in 1871 with the division of mission work, and ended in 1893 with the final decision of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions to withdraw.
Interwoven with all three stories is the active role of the federal government in Indian policy.
An understanding of the division of the Dakota Mission requires an examination of all three stories as they are woven together in this period. During these years the Dakota churches and their missionaries found ways of coping with the division, with the various denominational agencies, and with the government, simultaneously with a massive missionary extension to the west.
Civilization came through a number of steps at Santee, all of which occurred eventually at the other reservations.
For the Titonwan, the stage was set for conflict with white culture in 1834. The Titonwan had hunted widely across the prairie from the Missouri River to the Rocky Mountains. In 1834 a trading post was built at what would become Fort Laramie, and the Titonwan were invited by the traders to move closer to that post. Some of the Oglala and Sicangu did move there, placing them on the Platte River, the main road to Oregon. At this critical location a series of conflicts began between the Titonwan and the United States government. Depredations against immigrants led to a war with the United States 1854-55. In the Dakota War of 1865-68, the construction of a road across the Powder River hunting grounds was prevented; at this time many Titonwan settled in Agencies near the Missouri. Those who did not settle fought the United States again in 1876-77, after whites illegally occupied the Black Hills. At the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn), a United States force was defeated; however the Titonwan could not sustain a war. Many of the hostiles drifted back to the reservations, while one of the leaders, Tatanka Yotanka (Sitting Bull) and several thousand of his followers fled to Canada.
The Oglala settled on Pine Ridge Reservation, the Sicangu on Rosebud and Lower Brule Reservations, the Itazipco, Oohenonpa and Mnikondju on Cheyenne River Reservation, the Hunkpapa on Standing Rock, and the Sihasapa on Cheyenne River and Standing Rock. In 1881 Tatanka Yotanka returned to the United States with his followers.
Settlement on a reservation was the occasion of cultural crisis for the Titonwan, as for every other Indian tribe, as it caused a loss of control over the community’s life. Dependence on annuities, poverty, and loss of cultural cohesion followed.
About 1886 a Paiute named Wovoka, also known as Jack Wilson, had a series of eschatological visions near his home in Nevada. It was revealed to him that God would drive the whites from the land, and life as the Indians had known it would be restored. About 1888 he gave a dance to his followers, which became known as the “ghost dance.” A delegation of Titonwan visited Wovoka in 1889, then began teaching the dance and preaching the message in 1890. The message of hope got a warm response from Indians who had not become Christian, but white agents and Christian Indians feared that this religion might lead to violence. Attempts by agents to suppress the dance led to the death of Tatanka Yotanka, December 15, 1890, and a massacre at Wounded Knee a week later.
Dakota Indians first came to Canada in flight from the defeat at the Battle of Wood Lake. The Dakota were not welcomed by British authorities, who saw them as a possible international incident, nor by Canadian Indians, who looked upon them as intruders. A few settlers took pity on the starving Dakota, and they were eventually given small reserves on which to live: Wahpeton at Bird Tail Creek, Portage-la-Prairie and Wahpeton; Sisseton at Oak River, Standing Buffalo and Moose Woods; Wahpekute near Oak Lake. Over the years, many drifted back to the United States, and some of these settled at Fort Peck Reservation in Montana.
Most of the Hunkpapa and others who came to Canada in 1877 drifted back to the United States with Tatanka Yotanka in 1881 or before, and went to Standing Rock; some went to Fort Peck; a few remained in Canada at Wood Mountain.
The Assiniboin, who had lived on the plains of Canada, were reduced by half in a small pox epidemic in 1836, following which they were further decimated by attacks from their enemies. About half of the Assiniboin settled in the United States, at Fort Peck and Fort Belknap; half remained in Canada, at Moose Mountain and Stoney Reserves.
At such a time the Church should see that her peculiar work is not neglected. Her work is not to give Indians an education, but the Gospel; not to teach them how to farm, but how to be followers of Jesus. More or less of other work may be done by the Church, but if she neglects to preach Christ, the Son of God, she is no longer the church of God, the pillar and ground of truth.1Evangelistic work developed a familiar pattern in the Dakota missions. Native preachers and teachers would visit an Agency for several months at a time. These visits might be repeated for several years until a qualified missionary could be recruited or funded. The white missionary would establish a central station, and supervise native pastors and teachers at out stations. Initial opposition and occasional persecution from tribal leaders could be expected, and missionaries would get discouraged. After several years, a small congregation would be organized. Young people from sympathetic families would be sent to Santee School, and would soon be working for the conversion of their families.
Dakota Presbytery in 1871 included churches at Santee, Sisseton and Yankton Agencies, and at Flandreau. Solomon Tunkanaiciye was first sent to the Dakota in Canada in 1873, where he organized a congregation in 1878, which was transferred to Manitoba Presbytery in 1879. Churches were organized at Devils Lake (1881), Lower Brule (1887) and Crow Creek (1888) through the efforts of native missionaries.
Williamson visited Fort Peck in 1874, and sent native missionaries the following winter. A permanent station was established on Fort Peck at Poplar in 1880 by George Wood, Jr., Jennie Dickson and Charlotte McCreight. A second station at Fort Peck, established at Wolf Point in 1882, was in a few years being handled by the two female missionaries. The government, enforcing an English-only policy, broke up the Wolf Point School,2 and Dickson and McCreight were reassigned to Pine Ridge. In 1890 Edward J. Lindsey and his wife, the former Nancy Hunter (John Williamson’s niece and for several years a teacher at Yankton Agency) began a long ministry at Poplar.
The Board of Foreign Missions sent a missionary to Pine Ridge in 1886, who soon established four out-points with the help of native and women missionaries. A Presbyterian chapel at Wounded Knee, on the site of the massacre of December 29, 1890, was left undamaged.3 Dickson and McCreight, stationed at Wounded Knee, remained at their post throughout the ordeal. After the massacre, the wounded of both races were taken to the church; Elaine Goodale wrote on January 22, 1891,
The church is still a hospital where the wounded captives are tended night and day with unflagging care and tenderness by Christian Indian men and women. The little children and women who were unhurt or but slightly, have been adopted into families. . . . The missionary, himself a Dakota, organizes and sustains the work of mercy. Christmas-boxes furnish sheets and shirts and dresses for destitute sufferers. Christmas dolls are put beside the pillows of injured little children. The physician–also of Indian blood–moves among them. . . . The dead are laid to rest in the church burying ground.4The Christian Indians did not participate in the Ghost Dance; they feared that this revival of paganism might lead to violence. The failure of the Messiah movement, which was in many ways the last effort of the old religion to reclaim its subjects, and the humane treatment from Christians, caused many to turn to the church.
Congregational evangelistic work, distinct from the work of the Dakota Presbytery, did not begin until Thomas Riggs established a station at Oahe, on the Cheyenne River Agency, in 1872, where a church was organized in 1876.
The next Congregational mission station was established at Fort Berthold, among the Arikara, Hidatsa and Mandan, in 1876. Charles L. Hall, a Congregationalist, was sent out with the encouragement of both denominations. He was ordained to this work on February 22, 1876, with three Indian Presbyterian Churches participating in the Congregational ordaining council, John P. Williamson giving the ordaining prayer, and Alfred L. Riggs giving the right hand of fellowship. Just one week earlier, Hall had married Emma Calhoun, who had served with the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions for four years at Yankton Agency.5
In 1883 Pilgrim Church at Santee, and its Pastor, Artimas Ehnamani, transferred from the Presbyterian to the Congregational Church. Bazille Church was organized at another location on Santee in 1888, and on September 2, 1888 the Dakota Association (originally called Conference) of Congregational Churches was organized, consisting of Pilgrim, Bazille, and Oahe churches.
By 1896 the Dakota Association had twelve congregations on four reservations (Santee, Cheyenne River, Rosebud and Standing Rock); there was also a congregation at Fort Berthold and missions at Crow and Ponca Agencies.
Indian church leaders believed that the Ghost Dance movement was a revival of paganism that could lead to another war.6 The missionaries opposed it on religious grounds, but did not condone the violence against it, and offered compassion to the victims. After Tatanka Yotanka was killed, his followers fled, and seven bodies were left on the ground. Thomas Riggs, with some native pastors and families of the victims, recovered the bodies and gave them honorable burial.7
The failure of the Ghost Dance led many to turn to Christianity. Mary Collins, a Congregational missionary at Standing Rock, reported the following summer,
All those who were disaffected last winter are with our people now. Our work is full of promise. I never saw it so encouraging. All of Sitting Bull’s relatives and followers attend our meetings. His two wives speak in our meetings and are members of our women’s society. I have had all the old men visit me one at a time, and in groups of three or four, to ask advice about the future, and all promise to do what is right if they only know the right.8
The Episcopalians were assigned Yankton, Sisseton, Cheyenne River, Crow Creek, Rosebud, and Pine Ridge; the Catholics got Devils Lake and Standing Rock; the Friends got Santee; the Methodists were given Fort Peck. The only two churches working with the Dakota, besides the American and Presbyterian Boards, were the Episcopalians and Catholics. Both were relative late-comers, and the Episcopalians with their proselytizing had gained the animosity of the American Board missionaries,10 who resented that they did not get their fair share of agencies.
When Stephen Riggs was erecting the mission buildings at Sisseton in 1870,
After three or four weeks, when I was in the very middle of my work of building, there came an order from Washington that I should suspend operations, until they would settle the question to what religious denomination that part of the field should be assigned. That subject was then under advisement, they said.11Riggs kept on building, and after completion, received a letter giving him permission to build.
Sisseton Agency was transferred to the American Board; but after one year, the American Board, which never liked involvement in politics, withdrew. The American Missionary Association (AMA), a Congregational society that had worked primarily with freedmen in the South, took over Sisseton, and was also assigned Fort Berthold.
The first missionary of the Wotanin Wate, David Greycloud, had gone to Standing Rock, but the Roman Catholic agent did not allow him to remain. John Williamson, as stated clerk of Presbytery, protested his treatment there, reporting that Greycloud,
met with so much opposition from the Roman Catholics and from the government agent at the place who is a Romanist, that he was compelled to withdraw from that point, and to labor at the Cheyenne Agency . . . That the Romanists should oppose Christian effort was to be expected. But that an officer of this commonwealth of religious liberty should use his official authority, to keep out this Christian missionary, telling him reportedly to leave his Agency or he would make him leave is an outrage in religious liberty.12In 1879 Wotanin Wate sent Daniel Renville to preach and teach at Devils Lake. When the agent refused to allow Renville to receive his rations there, Stephen Riggs wrote to Washington in protest. The answer Riggs received was that Renville could not work there, “it is against the rule of the Indian office to allow teachers of one denomination to intrude on the field held by another.”13 Wotanin Wate appealed; the new Director of Indian Affairs polled the heads of the nominating bodies, and found two non-committal, one opposed to exclusion, and six approving of exclusion. Amid protests from the American Board and Presbyterians against the whole system of collaboration, the Indian Department relented, and Renville was allowed to return to Devils Lake in 1881.14 During his absence, Charles Hall, of Fort Berthold, had organized a church at Devils Lake on the request of the believers there.
The Santee School began accepting financial aid from the government in 1880, and was enabled to expand its program. The Indian Bureau, opposed to the use of Indian languages in schools, issued an order in 1886: “In all schools conducted by missionary organizations it is required that all instruction shall be given in the English language.”15 The missionaries protested, and finally dropped some of their programs and complied.
In 1888 an agent visiting Santee even questioned the practice of devotional exercises in Dakota. The Mission had a long commitment to the use of the Dakota language. English had been taught as a second language, as students would need it to cope with their English-speaking neighbors. But they were trained to preach and teach in Dakota. The American Board had learned the hard way, in its Cherokee Mission around 1825, that people learn to read more readily in their native language.16 The missionaries were also convinced that, “the heart language–the language of any people where religion can find a resting place–is the native tongue,”17 therefore, the native tongue must be used for religious instruction.
In 1892, the Protestant mission boards resolved, “to decline to seek or accept any subsidy from the government.”18 Although the national boards took this action to oppose aid given to the Catholic Church, Santee School, after reducing its staff and enrollment, was free to teach by its own policies.
The General Allotment Act, better known as the Dawes Act, became law February 8, 1887. By this law, each reservation, when it was ready, would have land allotted to every tribal family in private ownership, the remainder being opened to white settlement. Hailed as the “emancipation proclamation” for the Indians,19 the action in fact was a setback to the process of civilization, and the proximity of whites brought many moral problems.20
Three principle societies, begun interdenominationally, but now by default virtually Congregational, were the ABCFM, the American Home Missionary Society (AHMS), and the AMA. The AHMS worked primarily to establish churches among the white Protestant population in the United States. The major work of the AMA was an enormous educational enterprise for the benefit of the Freedmen in the South after the Civil War. The AMA also had missions overseas and among American Indians–established by persons who objected to the ABCFM not taking a strong stand against slavery. When the American Board washed its hands in Grant’s Peace Policy, the AMA assumed that work for Congregationalists.
The Consolidation Committee recommended in 1874 that the AMA transfer its overseas work to the ABCFM, and the ABCFM transfer its Indian work to the AMA. The AMA had already been supervising Agents at Fort Berthold and Sisseton, where the American Board was doing church work.
A deputation team from the Prudential Committee of the ABCFM visited the Dakota Mission in April and May of 1882, and reported to the committee,
That while the Fort Sully and Cheyenne River, with the Fort Berthold and Devils Lake fields, are still appropriate fields for Foreign Missions, the Santee and Sisseton communities, under God’s blessing upon faithful labors, have reached such a condition, that they should pass out from the care of a Foreign, and come under the care of a Home Missionary Society. At Santee and Sisseton the churches are as fairly organized–they cover the ground and are doing their appropriate work, as well as the Home Missionary churches around them. Regarded in all aspects, they may not improperly be considered as Christian communities as truly as the neighboring communities of white people. . . . The churches are all Presbyterian, with native pastors, elders and deacons, in organic connection with Dakota Presbytery. It seems proper therefore that the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions should take them in charge.21Leaders of the American Board and the Presbyterian Home Board met and tentatively agreed to the plan. When Ptaya Owohdake met on September 21, 1882, Stephen Riggs called together the pastors and elders of the six Sisseton churches and explained to them the recommendation of the American Board. There was some opposition to further division of the work of the mission, but, “after being fully explained, it was accepted by them. This really settles the matter so far as the churches are concerned.”22 The following day the Presbytery unanimously approved of the transfer of the Sisseton churches to the care of the Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church.23 The work at Santee was not included in these motions, the reasons for which were not given.
Meanwhile, the AMA proposed a transfer of all Indian work to the AMA, all work in Africa to the ABCFM. This proposal was approved by the American Board at its meeting October 3-6, and by the AMA two weeks later.
Effective January 1, 1883, the entire Dakota work of the American Board was transferred to the AMA, without the approval of the churches, and without informing the Presbyterian Home Board of the change in plans. Thomas Riggs visited the New York offices of the AMA that winter, and Secretary Strieby of the AMA visited the Dakotas in the summer, including Sisseton Agency, “to say good bye before the station is passed on to the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions.”24 Before the end of 1883, the Santee Church withdrew from Presbytery to become Congregational, the Devils Lake Church had joined Presbytery, and the work at Sisseton was transferred to the Presbyterian Home Board.
Now there were two Presbyterian Boards at work in Dakota Presbytery–the Home board at Sisseton; the Foreign Board in the west. The Foreign Board had received the work of the Williamsons from the American Board in 1871, and continued to expand; the Home Board received the work at Sisseton from the AMA in 1883.
At this time a movement was becoming strong within the Presbyterian Church to have all Indian missions transferred to the Home Board. The proposed change had the backing of Home board supporters, and had its roots in criticism of mis-management by Presbyterian-appointed Indian Agents in the Southwest. The proposed change was opposed by the missionaries to the Indians, and by some Indian churches. The reasons for the proposal were simple. The Home Board should handle missions in this country; as non-Indians became the neighbors of Indians, there should be one Board coordinating a unified work.
Arguments against the proposed change were many, including:
Both denominations had transferred Indian missions from their foreign mission board to a home board. However, to look upon the American Missionary Association and the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions as comparable would be inaccurate. The Congregational equivalent to the Presbyterian Home Board was the American Home Missionary Society. The closest Presbyterian equivalent to the AMA was the Freedmen’s Committee. The Presbyterian Home board, though it was diversifying, did work primarily in English, and did primarily finance church extension. Williamson was soon complaining about lack of funds, and having to personally borrow money in order to pay the native pastors.27 The AMA supported large school establishments, and made frequent statements on political issues, while the missionaries would have preferred more emphasis on evangelization.
Both Presbytery and Association grew under the new Boards, with the Congregational work showing more growth, but never exceeding the Presbytery.
The Dakota community has become overwhelmingly Christian. However, Christian belief and traditional practices are today understood to be compatible by many people. Within the life of the church, Christianity is practiced with an Indian style, described by one observer as, “so integral, although covert, that religious life is distinct from that of the larger society.”1 The distinctiveness is seen in wake and funeral customs, ways of honoring the dead, services for special occasions in families, and different patterns of gift-giving. More subtle are the less assertive forms of communication, rhetorical style, generational roles, and kinship influences.
Change is to be expected in any institution. However the change that has occurred in the churches of the former Dakota Mission, especially since 1915, has been initiated from the outside, and has tended to the erosion of the familiar and accepted established institutions. Continued financial dependence on denominational support causes the denominations to feel obligated to interfere, which causes resentment among the people.
In 1989 the Dakota Presbytery listed 1,306 members in twenty-four congregations, six at Fort Peck, five at Sisseton, three each at Yankton, Pine Ridge, and in Minnesota, and one each at Lower Brule, Flandreau, Crow Creek, and Fort Totten.2 That same year, the Dakota Association of the United Church of Christ (UCC) listed 540 members in fourteen active congregations, eight on Cheyenne River, four on Standing Rock, and one each at Santee and Rosebud. In addition there were 340 members in eight congregations not belonging to the Association on Fort Berthold.3 About 1944 the United Church of Canada had Dakota congregations at Portage-la-Prairie, Oak Lake, and Moose Woods, and the Presbyterian Church of Canada had a congregation at Bird Tail Creek.4 The Congregational work on the Crow Reservation was turned over to the Baptists in 1923.
Since 1918 membership has declined aver 30% for the Presbyterians and over 40% for the Congregationalists.
The Wotanin Wate was continued as a joint venture until 1984, when the funds were eavenly divided; since then each denomination has maintained its own Wotanin Wate.5
The Santee School continued to prosper and supply leadership for the churches, under third-generation missionary leadership: Frederick B. Riggs, son of Alfred L. Riggs, served as Superintendent, 1916-32, and Jesse P. Williamson, son of John Williamson, was in charge of the Bible Department, 1913-18.
The AMA reported in 1913 on efforts to upgrade the program for training ministers:
Our long-established comity with the Presbyterians in the Dakota Indian work has now developed into active cooperation in a Bible training department in the Santee Normal School. The Presbyterians will erect a building for the department, and furnish the additional teaching force.6The building was completed in 1917. A correspondence program for Indian pastors had become part of the curriculum by 1924. The basic curriculum of the school was reorganized to meet Nebraska Public School requirements for a high school in 1922. The Santee School closed in 1935.
The Iapi Oaye continued to be published as a joint venture until 1939, when it was discontinued.
Language work has been undertaken cooperatively when needed. The most recent venture was the republication of the hymnal, Dakota Odowan, in 1969.
In the 1960s both denominations were committed to integration. In support of the movement for Civil Rights for Blacks in the South, the denominations believed it to be morally right to abolish church judicatories defined by race. Recent church mergers, through which the Presbyterian Church became part of the United Presbyterian Church (1958), and the Congregational Churches became part of the United Church of Christ (1957), were used as the occasion to reorganize judicatories in such a way as to do away with racially defined presbyteries and associations.
In the summer of 1961, efforts to integrate Dakota Presbytery with all white Black Hills Presbytery were effectively resisted by the members of Dakota Presbytery.
The resistance offered was a kind which Indians have worked out over the years to block innovations offered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Only a few openly opposed it; rather there was a request for postponement until ‘there is more time to study it.’ Or much opposition was expressed simply by refraining from doing anything. Indians, in their silence, expressed the belief, ‘Here is one more white man’s plan forced upon us about which we can do nothing.’ Actually, of course, Indians could and did do something. They acted in ways which completely blocked acceptance of the proposed innovation and defeated it through gossip, non-cooperation, and ridicule.7In accordance with denominational guidelines, the Dakota Association voted to dissolve in 1963, with the congregations joining their geographic Associations. The following year a “Dakota Fellowship” was organized, and the former members of the Dakota Association requested that the Dakota Association be recognized and reinstated as a regular association of the United Church of Christ.8 This was done in 1972.9
The Ptaya Owohdake continues to meet every year. The stated object, in its by-laws, is:
to bind together members of the Dakota Presbyterian churches and Dakota Association churches who are followers of Jesus Christ for the purpose of sharing in the worship of god and in making His will dominant in the lives of men, individually and collectively, as that will is set forth in the life, teachings and death of Jesus Christ.10Membership consists of “All communicant members of the Dakota Presbytery churches and the Dakota association churches,”11 and one meeting is held each year.
its design is not to send Presbyterianism, Independency, Episcopacy, or any other form of church order and government (about which there may be differences of opinion among serious persons), but the glorious Gospel of the Blessed God, to the heathen; and that it shall be left (as it ought to be left) to the minds of the persons whom God may call into the Fellowship of His Son from among them to assume for themselves such form of Church government as to them shall appear most agreeable to the word of God.12This attitude was reflected in the sermon of Timothy Dwight, quoted earlier. The Gospel was central in the work of evangelism; denominationalism was set aside as unimportant.
Later generations of leaders of the White churches lost this vision, and sought to export, not only their denominations, bot numerous other trappings of European and Euro-American culture. Churches, such as those of the Dakota Mission, formed under the old vision of Christian Unity, experienced division, not as the result of any indigenous cause, but as the result of interference in their affairs by the Missionary societies.
Rufus Anderson, one of the Corresponding Secretaries of the American Board from 1823 to 1866, and an opponent of linking civilization and Christianity, made an analogy between the early Jewish Christians who wanted converts to observe the Jewish law, and contemporary advocates of spreading western civilization with Christian missions.13 He committed the American Board to the position that acquiring the attributes of western civilization should not be linked to becoming Christian. The Board policies clearly classified the denominations of western civilization as features of the culture not to be imposed.
The ideal which Anderson held, and which was expressed by the LMS, was certainly an ideal toward which missionaries should strive. The question of what is of the essence of the faith and what are its cultural attachments, must be constantly asked. However, Christianity can never be totally stripped of its culture. The missionaries took to the Dakota the Christ they knew. They understood Christ through their experiences as participants in the nineteenth century evangelical movement; it was this understanding of Christ that they shared. Then it was for the Dakota to understand this message in the light of their own culture, and to allow this faith to develop within their culture. This process has worked, as the Dakota churches have developed their own style.
The denominations continue to try to “help” the Dakota Churches, with little understanding of the Dakota culture or the history of the churches. There are three possible ways the denominations could relate to the Dakota churches (1) interfere, (2) ignore, or (3) listen and learn from them. Denominational policy has tended to oscillate between the first two.
Denominational controversies in the sending church can effect the mission church, through the missionaries. The Dakota Mission was among those which were expected to be transferred to the Presbyterian Board. As the churches of the mission belonged to the Presbyterian Church, and the missionaries were Presbyterian, that made perfect sense. But Presbyterian Stephen Riggs hesitated. His two sons had chosen their mother’s denomination, and were moving into the Congregational ministry; they were also eager to join the work of the Dakota Mission. The father’s own loyalty and emotional ties to the American Board also kept him from transferring.
So the work was divided, and a second denominational body came into existence. In the minds of the missionaries to the second and third generation, there was no division of work. Institutions were created to carry on the joint work, and their personal friendship gave the work cohesion. In the minds of the Indian church members there was no difference, and the Ptaya Owohdake became a uniquely Indian expression of unity. In the structure of the Dakota nation, the creation of a new band did not destroy the unity of the tribe; in this light, the creation of a distinctly Congregational work was not a division of the church.
As time has passed, the people whose personal friendships made unity work, have passed away. The community memory of a consciousness of unity has gradually faded. The denominations have interfered with their own agendas, based on white cultural values, and the unifying institutions of the Dakota Mission have been set aside. But for over a generation after the division, the arrangements for unity worked, and the most Indian of these, the Ptaya Owohdake, persists to this day.
----------. Annual Reports, 1821-1883.
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Prudential Committee, and United Foreign Missionary Society, Executive Committee. Address to the Christian Public . . . Boston: Crocker and Brewster; New York: John P. Haven, 1826.
American Missionary 30 (1876); 41 (1887)-50 (1896).
American Missionary Association. Annual Reports, 1896-1936.
Anderson, Rufus. The First Fifty Years of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Boston: ABCFM, 1861.
--------. Foreign Missions: Their Relations and Claims. New York: Charles Scribner, 1869.
Atkins, Gaius Glenn, and Fagley, Frederick L. History of American Congregationalism. Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1942.
Bartlett, S. C. Missions of the American Board Among the North American Indians. Boston: ABCFM, 1878.
Barton, Winifred W. John P. Williamson, A Brother to the Sioux. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1919; reprint, Clements, Mn: Sunnycrest Publishing, 1980.
Beard, Augustus Field. A Crusade of Brotherhood. Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1909; reprint, New York: Kraus Reprint, 1970.
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2 Missionary Herald 66 (1870):390-95.
3 Stephen Return Riggs, Mary & I, reprint (Williamstown, Mass.: Corner House, 1971), 241.
2. Royal B. Hassrick, The Sioux: Life and Customs of a Warrior Society (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma, 1977), 6.
3. Alfred L. Riggs, "Some Difficulties of the Indian Problem," New Englander & Yale Review 54 (1891):327.
4. Raymond J. DeMallie, "Lakota Belief and Ritual in the Nineteenth Century," in Sioux Indian Religion, ed. Raymond J. DeMallie and Douglas R. Parks (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma, 1987), 28.
5. Ibid., 32.
6. Jordan D. Paper, "The Sacred Pipe: The Historical Context of Contemporary Pan-Indian Religion," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 56 (1988):646.
7. [Gideon H. Pond], "Paganism and Demon Worship," Presbyterian Quarterly Review 9 (1860-61):359.
8. Stephen R. Riggs, "Mythology of the Dakotas," American Antiquarian and Oriental Journal 5 (1883):149.
9. Samuel W. Pond, "The Dakota or Sioux in Minnesota As They Were in 1834," Minnesota Historical Society Collections 12 (1905-08):385.
3. Quoted in Rufus Anderson, First Fifty Years of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Boston: ABCFM, 1861), 81.
4. Timothy Dwight, Sermon Before the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Their Fourth Annual Meeting (Boston: Samuel T. Armstrong, 1813), 23-24.
5. First Ten Reports, 43.
6. Ibid., 80.
7. ABCFM, Annual Report, 1825:51-52; 1826:56,63-64.
8. Ibid., 1824:48-51.
9. Ibid., 1832:163-67.
10. Ibid., 1827:148-49.
11. Religious Intelligencer 16 (Oct. 1831): 331.
12. Samuel W. Pond, "Two Missionaries in Sioux Country: The Narrative of Samuel W. Pond," ed. by Theodore Blegen, Minnesota History 21 (1940): 17.
13. Ibid., 18-19.
14. Ibid., 19.
15. Ibid., 20.
16. Ibid., 22.
17. [G. Pond], "Paganism," 376-78.
18. Stephen Return Riggs, "Protestant Missions in the Northwest," Minnesota Historical Society Collections 6 (1894): 126.
19. John P. Williamson, "The Pioneer Among the Sioux, Thomas Smith Williamson, M.D., 1800-1879," in Home Mission Heroes (New York: Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., Board of Home Missions, 1904), 89. The story of the Nez Perces' visit to Saint Louis, first appearing in a Methodist periodical, the Christian Advocate and Journal for March 1, 1833, was summarized in "Interesting Inquirers," The Presbyterian 3 (March 13, 1833): 41.
20. J. Williamson, "Pioneer," 89-90. He was ordained a missionary by Chillicothe Presbytery, September 18, 1834, according to S. Riggs, "Protestant Missions," 127.
21. Greene to Williamson, Aug. 29, 1834, quoted in Jon Willand, Lac Qui Parle and the Dakota Mission (Madison, Minn.: Lac Qui Parle County Historical Society, 1964), 17.
22. R. F. Sample, "Rev. Thos. Smith Williamson, M.D.," The Church at Home and Abroad 18 (1895):380.
23. Stephen R. Riggs, "In Memory of Rev. Thos. S. Williamson, M.D.," Minnesota Historical Collections 3 (1880):384-85.
24. "Miscellany," Missionary Herald 55 (1859):89; also quoted in "The Late Rev. Thomas S. Williamson, M.D." Foreign Missionary 38 (1879-80):73-74.
25. Stephen R. Riggs, "Return's Story," Iapi Oaye/Word Carrier 3 (1874): 32.
26. S. Riggs, Mary and I, 3-4.
27. S. Riggs, "Return's Story," 32.
28. S. Riggs, Mary and I, 4.
29. Ibid., 5.
2. Stephen R. Riggs, Tah-koo Wah-kan; or, The Gospel Among the Dakotas, intro. by Selah B. Treat (Boston: Congregational Sabbath-School and Publishing Society, 1869), 162.
3. S. Pond, "Two Missionaries," 158.
4. For example, Stephen R. Riggs, "Dakota Portraits," Minnesota History Bulletin 2 (1917-18):499,530,532-34.
5. Vine V. Deloria, Sr., "The Establishment of Christianity Among the Sioux," in DeMallie and Parks, eds., Sioux Indian Religion, 9-111; Paul Mazakutemani, "Narrative of Paul Mazakootemane," translated by Stephen R. Riggs, Minnesota Historical Society Collections 3 (1870-80):82-83; S. Riggs, "Dakota Portraits," 543-46; S. Riggs, Tah-koo Wah-kan, 179-80,186-95; Williamson Owancamaze Rogers, "Dakota Territory," Woman's Work for Woman 4 (1874-75):288; Henry H. Sibley, "Sketch of John Other Day," Minnesota Historical Society Collections 3 (1870-80):99-102; Thomas S. Williamson, "Napehshneedoota: The First Male Dakota Convert to Christianity," Minnesota Historical Society Collections 3 (1870-80):188-91; "A Converted Brave," Foreign Missionary 45 (1886):55-56.
6. Willand, Lac qui Parle, 102.
7. J. Wiliamson, "Pioneer," 96-97.
8. [G. Pond], "Paganism," 372-73.
9. Roy Willard Meyer, History of the Santee Sioux (Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1967), 78.
10. S. Riggs, Tah-Koo Wah-kan, 289.
11. Meyer, Santee Sioux, 124-25.
12. S. Riggs, Tah-koo Wah-kan, 333.
13. Meyer, Santee Sioux, 129. According to the white press, they sang their “death song.” The tradition maintained by Dakota people today is that they sang a Christian hymn composed by Renville, “Wakantanka taku nitawa.”
14. S. Riggs, Tah-koo Wah-kan, 343.
15. Ibid., 346-47.
16. Thomas Williamson, “Translations of some letters of the Dakotas in prison at Mankato Dec. 25, 1862 addressed to Rev. S. R. Riggs and myself,” Thomas S. Williamson and Family Papers, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, Mn.
17. S. Riggs, Mary & I, 187.
18. Ibid., 334-35.
19. quoted in George Warren Hinman, The American Indian and Christian Missions (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1933), 85.
20. S. Riggs, Tah-koo Wah-kan, 358.
21. S. Riggs, Mary & I, 196.
22. Ibid., 197.
23. Winifred W. Barton, John P. Williamson, a Brother to the Sioux (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1919; reprint, Clement, Minn.: Sunnycrest Publishing, 1980), 121.
24. S. Riggs, Mary & I, 218.
25. S. Riggs, Tah-koo Wah-kan, 423.
26. Ibid., 423-24.
27. Moses N. Adams, John B. Williamson, and John B. Renville, The First Fifty Years: Dakota Presbytery to 1890 (Good Will, S.D.: Good Will Mission Indian Industrial Training School Press, 1892; reprint, ed. Leslie B. Lewis, Freeman, S.D.: Pine Hill Press, 1984), 15-16.
28. Barton, John P. Williamson, 117-18.
3. Ibid., xxiv.
4. Ashbel Green, Domestic and Foreign Missions in the Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia: William S. Martien, 1838), 79.
5. Ibid., 52.
6. Ibid., 75-85.
7. Earl R. MacCormac, “The Development of Presbyterian Missionary Organizations 1790-1870,” Journal of Presbyterian History 43 (1965): 149-73.
8. Letter, John H. Rice to B. B. Wisner, 11/22/1830, found in William Maxwell, Memoir of the Rev. John H. Rice, D.D. (Richmond, Va.: R. I. Smith; Philadelphia: J. Whetham, 1835), 383.
10. “Project of an Overture,” Ibid., 390.
11. Foreign Missionary Chronicle 1 (1833): 1-8.
12. ABCFM, Annual Report 1832, 184-85.
13. Anderson, First Fifty Years, 93-94.
14. Ibid., 89.
15. ABCFM, Annual Report 1859, 24.
16. Ibid., 25.
17. Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Minutes of the General Assembly 1870, 39.
18. PCUSA [new school], Minutes 1868, 31.
19. Ibid. 1869, 265.
20. Ibid., 494.
22. PCUSA, Minutes 1870, 39-41.
23. ABCFM, Annual Report 1870, xxii.
24. Ibid., xxiii.
25. Ibid., xxiv.
26. PCUSA, Minutes 1871, 534.
27. ABCFM, Annual Report 1870, xxiv.
28. J. Williamson to T. Williamson, 4/22/1871, Williamson Papers.
29. T. Williamson to J. Williamson, 5/2/1871, Williamson Papers.
30. T. Williamson to J. Williamson, 6/15/1871. Williamson Papers.
31. S. Riggs, “Williamson,” 381.
32. S. Riggs, Mary & I, 242.
33. J. Williamson to T. Williamson, 12/23/1871, Williamson Papers.
34. Presbyterian Monthly Record 22 (1871): 383.
35. Missionary Herald 68 (1872): 13.
36. Foreign Missionary 30 (1871-2): 232.
37. John P. Williamson, “The Dakota Churches,” Presbyterian Monthly Record 23 (1872): 80-81.
38. John P. Williamson, “A Look at the Dakotah Indians as a Mission Field,” Presbyterian Monthly Record 23 (1872): 176.
39. J. Williamson to T. Williamson, 5/18/1872, Williamson Papers.
40. ABCFM, Annual Report 1872, 83-84.
41. “Missions of the Board,” Missionary Herald 68 (1872): 282.
42. Barton, John P. Williamson, 145-49; M. L. Riggs, ed., “Ptaya Owoglake,” mimeographed material, 1943; J. Williamson, "Letters," Church at Home and Abroad 21 (1897): 101; “Missions of the Board,” Missionary Herald 69 (1873): 257-59, 293-94; “Dakota Mission Conference,” Iape Oaye 11 (1882): 79.
43. Barton, John P. Williamson, 187.
44. Frederick B. Riggs, “Santee Normal Training School,” Southern Workman 29 (1900): 279.
46. Alfred L. Riggs, “Missions of the Board,” Missionary Herald 71 (1875): 387.
47. “Missions of the Board,” Missionary Herald 73 (1877): 26.
48. Barton, John P. Williamson, 150.
49. American Missionary Association, Annual Report 1901: 31.
1. John P. Williamson, “Three Stages of Progress in Indian Mission Work,” Presbyterian Monthly Record 33 (1882): 167.
2. PCUSA, Board of Foreign Missions, Annual Report 1888, 15-18.
3. Ibid. 1891, 111.
4. “Foreign Mission Notes,” Church at Home and Abroad 10 (1891), 18.
5. “Commissioning the New Recruits,” and “News Items,” Iapi Oaye 5 (1876): 16.
6. Mary C. Collins, “Sitting Bull and the Indian Messiah,” Southern Workman 20 (1891): 142.
7. Frederick B. Riggs, “A Century with the Sioux,” in A.M.A., Annual Report 1935, 11-12.
8. Mary C. Collins, “Little Eagle Station,” American Missionary 45 (1891): 333.
9. R. Pierce Beaver, “The Churches and President Grant’s Peace Policy,” Journal of Church and State 4 (1962): 175.
10. For proselytizing see J. Williamson to T. Williamson 4/6/1863, Williamson Papers; Robert H. Keller, Jr., American Protestantism and United States Indian Policy, 1869-82 (Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1983), 43-44; after Episcopal missionary Samuel Hinman was removed by his churchfor various irregularities–see Meyer, Santee Sioux, 179-80–relations between the two denominations improved markedly.
11. S. Riggs, Mary & I, 231.
12. John P. Williamson, “Dakota Presbytery Report,” undated, Williamson Papers.
13. quoted in Stephen R. Riggs, “Shall It Be Exclusion?” Missionary Herald 76 (1880): 346.
14. ABCFM, Annual Report 1881, 84, 89.
15. quoted in Meyer, Santee Sioux, 188.
16. ABCFM, Annual Report 1825: 51, 52; 1826: 56, 63-64; Rufus Anderson, Foreign Missions: Their Relations and Claims (New York: Charles Scribner, 1869), 98-99.
17. Stephen R. Riggs, “Under Which Board,” Foreign Missionary 36 (1877-78): 214.
18. AMA “Minutes of Annual Meeting,” American Missionary 46 (1892): 427.
19. Frank Wood, “Report on Indian Work,” American Missionary 41 (1887): 357-59.
20. AMA, Annual Report 1911, 21.
21. “Preliminary Action.” Iapi Oaye 11 (1882): 70.
22. “Dakota Mission Conference.” Iapi Oaye 11 (1882): 79.
23. Adams, et al., Dakota Presbytery, 35.
24. “Our Visitors,” Iapi Oaye 12 (1883): 46.
25. PCUSA, BFM Annual Report 1884:16-18; S. Riggs, “Under Which Board,” 213-14; F. F. Ellinwood, “Metlahkalta,” Foreign Missionary 38 (1879-80): 58; G. L. Defenbaugh, “The Proposed Transfer of the Indian Mission Work,” Foreign Missionary 42 (1883-84): 425-26; “The Indian Work of Our Ministry,” Presbyterian Monthly Record 25 (1874): 273; “Theory and Practice of Indian Missions,” Presbyterian Monthly Record 34 (1883): 158; J. R. Ramsay, “On the Transfer of Indian Missions,” Presbyterian Monthly Record 35 (1884): 14-17; “The Indian Transfer Question,” Presbyterian Monthly Record 35 (1884): 130.
26. PCUSA, BFM Annual Report 1893, 6.
27. John P. Williamson, “Letters,” Church at Home and Abroad 21 (1897): 101. If the amount of space devoted to Indian Missions in annual reports is an indication of the level of interest, the Presbyterian Home Board showed markedly less interest than the Foreign Board.
2. PCUSA, Minutes 1989, vol. 2.
3. UCC, Yearbook 1989.
4. Gontran Laviolette, The Sioux Indians in Canada (Regina: Marian Press, 1944), 114-20.
5. M. L. Riggs, “Ptaya Owoglake,” 2.
6. AMA, Annual Report 1913, 14.
7. Ernest L. Schusky, “Mission and Government Policy in Dakota Indian Comunities,” Practical Anthropology 10 (1963): 111; See also, Schusky, “Political and Religious Systems in Dakota Culture,” 140-47, in Nurge, ed., Modern Sioux.
8. E. R. Gutch, “Conference of the Dakota Churches,” 1980.
9. Dakota Association first reappeared on the list of associations in the UCC Yearbook, 1973.
10. Ptaya Owohdake, “Constitution and By-laws,” (1985), Art. 2.
11. Ibid., Art. 3.
12. quoted in C. Silvester Horne, The Story of the L.M.S., new edition (London: LMS, 1904), 16.
13. Anderson, Foreign Missions, 94.
I thank Dr. James Smylie, my advisor at Union Seminary, for his advice, interest, and constant enthusiasm. I thank Patsy Verreault, reference librarian, for her patience and persistent help. I also thank Mrs. C. F. Gutch, Chairperson of the Historical Committee of the South Dakota conference, United Church of Christ, for her assistance, which included providing me with most of the materials described as “Mimeographed materials” in the Bibliography.
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