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- Missionary Work Among The Ojebway Indians - 6/34 -


changed places with me and applied some of the liniment, and the poor creature immediately felt some relief and began talking about it to her daughter. These poor people seemed to be entirely dependent on the kindness of their neighbours; it was old Shesheet who first told me about them, and I understood that he used often to send them food or firewood. When I visited her on another cold day in October, accompanied by my wife, we found her coiled up in her rags moaning with pain, and only a few dying embers to keep her warm. Little Willie was coiled up asleep in a sheepskin. While we stood, Willie roused up out of his nest, and came to see what was going on; his sister, however, motioned him to go back, and, like a discontented little puppy, he made a low sort of whine, and buried himself again, head and all, in his sheepskin. We went back to the Mission-house and brought some tea for the poor woman, which she drank eagerly, and we provided her also with a candle stuck in a bottle and some firewood, but she never smiled, or said thank you. Her feelings as well as her features seemed to have become hardened with constant pain and suffering. However, we were agreeably surprised one day when she presented my wife with four tiny baskets, tastefully made, and a smile for once actually played on her lips. Some time after she was taken into a house by some friendly Indians, and kindly cared for, the result of which was that she became gradually better.

Very soon after our arrival at Sarnia we had proposed to the Indian women that they should meet together once a week for needlework and reading, but the scheme was not carried into effect until we had settled in our new house on the Reserve. The first meeting was held in our hall in the summer of 1869. On the hall-table were spread out all the articles of clothing sent to us from England, and we had on view patterns of prints, flannels, &c., from one of the dry goods stores in the town, the prices being affixed, and discount allowed at ten per cent.

As soon as all were assembled I explained to them that the object in meeting together was that they might provide clothing for themselves and their children at as cheap a rate as possible, and at the same time might have an opportunity for friendly talk and instruction. The plan would be for them to engage in needlework for an hour and a half, during part of which time I would read to them a story, which, my interpreter had translated into Indian, and after that we would have scripture reading, singing, and prayer to close the meeting. After all who wished to become members of the meeting had given me their names, they were invited to inspect the patterns and select the material with which they wished to make a beginning. We found the plan answer very well, and soon our "Mothers' Meeting" was thoroughly established.

But it was not always that everything went on so harmoniously and peacefully. Unhappily there was a considerable amount of whiskey- drinking among the men, and sometimes drunken fights would occur in close proximity to the house. A son of Antoine Rodd's was particularly vicious when under the influence of liquor; once he frightened us all by making a murderous attack on his father with his tomahawk and gun, and the old man had to escape back into the Bush for his life. Another time the wife of this same man came rushing into our house with her infant on her breast and another daughter following,--her drunken husband running after and threatening to kill them. We dragged them in and shut and locked all the doors, and soon the man was pounding away and trying to get in. The two women in great alarm locked themselves up in the pantry and remained all night under our protection. The saddest occurrence of all was when a man named Winter was actually killed by his own son while in a state of intoxication. We did what we could to try and stem the tide of drunkenness by forming a Temperance Society, which a large number of the Indians joined; but a more effectual check has of late years been put upon the terrible practice by the action of the Dominion Government; it is now against law for a white man either to give or sell liquor to an Indian on any pretence, and the penalty is very heavy.

I must finish this chapter with an account of an Indian funeral. The daughter of one of our Indians, named Kwakejewun, had fallen sick and died--died, as we hoped, trusting in her Saviour. As is usual among the Indians, a large number of people gathered together to show their sympathy with the bereaved parents, and to follow the body to the grave. The coffin was first brought into the church. I read the usual service, and a hymn was sung very sweetly and plaintively. Then we proceeded to the cemetery, nearly a mile distant. The snow was deep on the ground and sparkling in the sunlight. I drove in my cutter and headed the long funeral procession. A sad and picturesque sight it was; from eighty to a hundred people in all, some in sleighs, some ploding through the snow on foot,--aged women in their white blankets, mothers with their children, some of them in bright scarlet shawls, boys and girls, all in their Sunday attire. Through the silent forest we wended our way till we came at length to the wild little cemetery with its rude snake fence encircling it. The coffin was taken from the sleigh and carefully lowered into the grave; then the men took off their hats and we sang another hymn. It sounded very sweet in that wild desolate spot, and the poor mother stood enveloped in a blanket at the head of the open grave, and, with her eyes fixed on her daughter's coffin, joined in the singing. Then I read the remainder of the service, and, having shaken hands with the poor father and mother, returned home. The mother grasped my hand warmly, and met me with a happy smile. She believed, I think, that her child was safe with the Saviour.

CHAPTER VIII.

THE BISHOP'S VISIT.

We were now well settled into our Indian home at Sarnia and my work was clearly defined. The Sarnia Reserve was our head-quarters. Here there were some 400 Indians, and at Kettle Point, thirty miles away, were about 100 more. The out-stations were to be New Credit, Saugeen, and Cape Croker, which places together contained about 1150 Indians. The idea was to place a catechist at each of these distant settlements, and for me to visit them twice or three times in the year. With the view of providing catechists suitable for the work I was authorized by the Church Missionary Society to receive and educate some young men; and within a few months after we had taken up our residence on the Reserve I commenced to teach two young Indians, named Wilson Jacobs and William Henry, with the view of their becoming catechists.

The great event of the summer was a visit we received from the Bishop of Huron and Mrs. Cronyn. The fact that twenty-five persons were confirmed, and that forty-five came forward afterwards to receive the Holy Communion, will show that our work among these poor Indians had already made some progress. Among the candidates for confirmation was poor old Quasind, who came up bare-footed, a great-grandfather, and, I suppose, about ninety years of age. In the evening our own child, Archibald Edward, was christened during the time of Divine service by the Bishop.

The following day we had appointed to have a gathering of Indians, a sort of social party, to meet the Bishop. When morning broke, however, rain was pouring in torrents, and a picnic on the grass became altogether out of the question. So, after early dinner, our hall was cleared, and the business of cutting up bread-and-butter and cake and preparing the tea began. Two or three Indian women had made their appearance, and were soon hard at work with merry faces and busy hands. About 6 p.m. the Indians began to arrive, and by half-past seven sixty had collected. Tea being ready, we called in as many as we could pack into our hall; others sat in the passage or on cordwood piles outside; then each had a cup and saucer given him, and baskets full of bread-and- butter, buns, and cake, and tea were carried round, and all ate their fill.

The hall table was covered with books, illustrated magazines, maps, &c., and as soon as the Indians had finished tea they took up these and amused themselves with the pictures. There was a draught-board also, which engrossed the attention of some of the young men, many of them being very clever in playing the game. An old Indian, generally known as "the Doctor," caused great merriment by singing one or two old Indian songs in that peculiar tone of voice which only an Indian can command. The great event of the evening was the conferring of an Indian name on our little boy, only a few months old. The task was delegated to old Shesheet. The old man came forward with his usual radiant face, and after a few prefatory remarks, expressing his great pleasure in meeting the Bishop and Mrs. Cronyn, he took "the pale-faced babe" into his arms and conferred upon it the name of "Tecumseh," a great warrior who many years ago fell in battle fighting under the British flag. After I had thanked the Indians for making my little boy one of themselves, the Bishop rose and gave a very nice address, which Wagimah interpreted. He told them how anxious he had been to see these, his Indian brothers and sisters, ever since he had heard of their becoming members of the Church of their great mother the Queen. He was very pleased indeed to see them, and so was his "squaw," who had come with him, and he wished them every prosperity and happiness and the blessing of God on the Mission. Before parting we sang a hymn, and then closed with prayer and the blessing. The Bishop and Mrs. Cronyn stood up at the end of the hall and shook hands with the Indians one by one as they passed out.

In accordance with the instructions I had received from the C.M.S., I made arrangements as soon as practicable for placing a catechist in charge of the Kettle Point Mission, and about this time gave up employing an interpreter, as his services would be no longer needed, and I had now a good stock of sermons written in Indian which I could use at my Sunday services. Before long, John Jacobs, the young native student already mentioned, and who, after satisfactorily passing his course at the Theological College, was ordained in July 1869, took up his abode at Kettle Point as my assistant Missionary. Besides preaching on the Sunday, he taught school during the week, so that his time was well occupied.

It was just about this time that I had a severe attack of fever, which for the time quite prostrated me, and my medical adviser ordered me to go away for a few weeks' rest and change of air. So Mr. Jacobs came to take my place at Sarnia and with two of his sisters occupied the Mission-house during our absence. After spending a week with friends in Toronto, we thought we would explore a more northern region, and visit Mr. Chance's Mission at Garden River, which we had often beard of, so we took train to Collingwood, and were soon on our way up the lakes in the beautiful steamboat _Chicora_.

Thus was God gradually opening the way for us, and preparing for us a larger and more important sphere of work.

It was on this visit to Garden River that I first felt drawn in spirit towards the Indians of the Lake Superior region, that there first entered into my mind the idea of an institution for training the young Indians, and that I first made the acquaintance of the old Indian chief, Augustin Shingwauk.

CHAPTER IX.

FIRST VISIT TO GARDEN RIVER.


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