Lemuel Call Barnes.

Missions to the heathen online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryLemuel Call BarnesMissions to the heathen → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


> ■»

" ° ^

* * * °* C

* ^
10 f

<J> O N J •<£,*

v y


<£ .«■'•„ ^

. t ' »




2 ° ,J "V c?




* H

V p * • °.

> o. V



«■ ' • ~ •&


* 9 H A\

A v







n> %




1 ' ^° ^V "* * o M o ° ^



Winning The New World. III.

cTHissions to
the Heathen





We American Baptist Home Mission Society"

23 East 26th Street (Madison Square) New York



OUR denomination is to be congratulated on its way of
conducting its general work for Winning The New
World. Other communions in a number of cases, have
entirely distinct Societies and Boards for carrying on the various
enterprises enumerated below. We have but one organization,
one office, and one set of officers for all these.

1 . Founding Christianity in New Regions : We are

now helping churches in the new, swiftly crystalizing West
to sustain there about one thousand missionaries. An investi-
tigation just completed in one state by the Federal Council of
the Churches of Christ in America (thirty-two denomina-
tions) finds more than one hundred towns there without any
regular religious work, either Protestant or Catholic.

2. Christian Education of Africans: One-seventh of
our fellow citizens who are only one-seventh as far as Anglo-
Saxons from completely pagan ancestors.

3. Christianizing Heathen Indians: Many bands of
American savages (at least thirty in the United States) are
still untouched by any form of Christianity after four hundred
years of spoliation by whites, and one hundred years of
missions to heathen afar.

4 . Conversion of Latin Americans : Great masses
just out from under four hundred years of Spanish misrule
are now incorporated with us. According to Roman Cath-
olic authority they were never yet Christianized.

5. Gospel Americanizing of Foreigners : They are
gaining on us faster than ever, and now mostly from non-
evangelized classes in Europe — Jews Greeks, Latins, —
non-Christian Asiatics, too, scores of thousands.

6. Chapel Building for Mission Churches : They
are helpless without buildings and are unable to build with-
out help.

7. Salvation of Congested Cities : In co-operation with
the local forces of Christ, which are hard bestead, almost
overwhelmed by the prodigious developments cf our day.


HE following is not an account of the
work among the heathen, which is
now being conducted by the Ameri-
can Baptist Home Mission Society,
it is but a single instance selected

because it is one of the more recent

and least well known.

We have 1 1 missionaries to the
Jlmerican heathen (not counting our
missionaries to Chinese and Japanese
heathen in America) wording among
14 Indian tribes. There are 1,038
communicants in our "Blanket Indian" Churches,
recently rescued from pagan darkness. In the Indian
churches of somewhat longer establishment there are
3,211 members. Even these have been brought out
of paganism more recently than many of the churches
in Burma and other parts of East India. They are
largely self-supporting. In the nature of the case, it
is our high privilege and a necessity for a time yet to
provide some missionary superintendence and Christian
education. Indian University at Muskogee, Oklahoma,
is our chief institution of learning among them.

Recent investigation shows that after four hundred
years of spoliation by white men in America and one
hundred years of missions to heathen afar there are yet
some forty tribes and bands in the United States
Without Christian Work among them of any denomina-
tion. Arrangements are now being made to reach
these. As Baptists we must not fail to take our share
of the new work among the heathen whose plight cries
to high heaven in the ears of every child of God who
has any sense of justice, to say nothing of Christ-like
brotherhood, in "this glorious land of ours" — OURS ?

Missionaries to the Heathen

By Lemuel Call Barnes, D.D.



T is at the heart of the great central plateau
of the continent, ranging from five to seven
thousand feet above sea level, not counting
ranges and peaks running three to four
thousand feet farther heavenward. On this
lofty platform the highest development of
pre-Columbian life took place within the present territory of the
United States. Ages before the Genoese started on his crazy
sail for India, people inhabited this plateau who were at least
semi-civilized. There are indications that the country was less
and at that time and that it was inhabited by many more people
tht^ than now, as well as by people farther advanced. Charred
ears of corn embedded in lava along with implements of civiliza-
tion suggest that possibly volcanic disturbances changed the face
of nature, nearly obliterating the trace of man.

Even yet, however, the Indians who in their primitive state
are most nearly civilized/ live on this plateau, possibly the rem-
nants of the ancient population. Our Woman's Home Mission
Society has a mission among the most remote and uncontamin-
ated of the Pueblo or town-making Indians, the Hopi of north-
eastern Arizona. It is in every sense of the word a pagan land,
a land of villages as the whole plateau once was. The Hopi
Reservation is entirely surrounded by the Navaho Reservation
in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico. The
latter Reservation is about the size of Connecticut and New
Jersey combined. It is the largest of the Indian Reservations.

Every perennial spring and brook is precious in this country.
Even wells are marked on Government maps. Every wayfarer
must be careful to reach water for a camping place, if possible.
The missionary must carry a large canteen of water on his
journeys for the sake of long stretches where none can be found,
even of the alkaline variety, which is probably the only kind he
can bring from his home. But wherever there is water will be
found human habitations, the larger the oasis the greater the

population. In the foot hills of the great ranges there are places
of perpetual verdure and beauty. Yet even there, as in the
valley of the Nile, if one lifts his eyes he looks out upon arid
wastes not far away. In the Navaho country, however, they
are not absolute wastes. There is pasturage, at least at seasons
of the year, over nearly all the land. If water were more
abundant there would be less hope of keeping white men from
seizing this first and last stronghold of the brown men in our


The Navahos were pioneers in our country long before the
Spaniards or the English or the French. They came down like
other tribes of the Athabascan race from the direction of
Alaska, bringing with them a tradition that their forefathers
had crossed a narrow sea. Some think that the happy marriage
of one of the Indians with a Chinaman not far from where these
words are written is but the coming together again of long
separated members of the human family.

The Government has made but one attempt to relocate the
Navahos, and soon abandoned that. Their present reservation
is the region in which the Spaniards found them in the sixteenth
century. The Navaho pioneers had become old settlers genera-
tions before the Pilgrims landed. For centuries they were great
marauders, living largely by depredations on the agricultural
Pueblo Indians, and later on Mexicans and other Americans.
But they somewhat rapidly advanced from savagery to bar-
barism. On account of their self-defense and independence
many Pueblos and members of other tribes joined them for the
sake of greater safety from savages both red and white. Hence
they acquired some of the advantages which commonly go with
amalgamation of races, as notably in case of the Anglo-Saxon-
Keltic-Danish-Norman, etc., in England, and of the unnum-
bered races in the United States. It is commonly believed that
the Navahos first obtained sheep by raiding and that they
learned the art of weaving from the Pueblos. The raising and
care of sheep has become the chief occupation of the men, and
the weaving of blankets the chief occupation of women. Next
to sheep, horses are the great possession and means of trade.
There is considerable agriculture, however, by means of prim-
itive irrigation ditches. Corn is the principal crop. Beans,
melons and peaches stand next in favor. The only other oc-
cupation attracting much attention is silversmithing. By means


of crude appliances Mexican and United States coins are trans-
formed into bracelets, spoons, brooches and buckles. Men and
women both are fond of wearing belts adorned with as many
large silver disks as possible. Bridles also are decorated with
silver. Their silver work in addition to being moulded is en-

The varied industries of the Navahos mean hard work, of
which they are not afraid. In this they are exceptional among
native races. They cheerfully hire themselves out to white
men, and according to all accounts do as good work as other
laboring men. Every home has its simple hand loom, where


the women patiently toil, having prepared and dyed the wool,
working out the striking patterns of the famous Navaho blankets.
As a "steamer rug" is a shawl, so, per contra, a "Navaho
blanket" is a rug. It is commonly too stiff for comfortable
wear. The men and the women all wear blankets ; but almost
invariably they are factory made, one Navaho blanket selling
for enough to buy two or three factory blankets. The trousers
of the man and gowns of the women also are products of factory
looms. But feet are mostly clad in moccasins. Men as well
as women wear their hair long. The men tie it out of the way
with a coronal fillet of some gay fabric. The hair on the chin
they dispense with. We found by the trail one of their "tin
razors," for extracting instead of cutting the beard.

The Navaho house is called a hogan. Some are building
cabins of logs, pressed adobe and stone. But most live in a
domical hut of rough frame-work covered top and sides with
earth. The two openings are a doorway and a smoke-hole.


The fire is built on the earthen floor. In one instance I saw a
hood and smoke pipe over the fire, made of tin cans. There is
no room for tables, chairs or bedstead. Other utensils are few
and simple. Some native pottery is in use. They frequently
have a summer hogan, which is an airy booth, either detached
or serving as a vestibule of the winter hogan.

The Navahos are heathen in the original sense of the word;
they are heath-men. Their calling as shepherds in an arid
country requires them to move from place to place. They
camp for the time in the most convenient region. They may or
may not live near their cornfields. Land is owned in common,
but occupation and improvements give a sort of title. Their
nomadic life is one of the supreme difficulties in the way of their
uplift by school, mission or home improvement. For instance,
last winter, a mission located near one of their most permanent
and thickly inhabited neighborhoods had but two families in
residence. They are in the patriarchal stage of development,
their customs illuminating the story of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob. It is a long way from Abraham's tent to the city of
David. If we can help to shorten it, we shall be working with
God in his process of human evolution.

The Navahos are further advanced in some vital respects
than were the biblical patriarchs. In the matter of monogamy,
concubinage and social purity, they are in advance, not only

of most aborgines, but also of the most resplendent days of the
Old Testament. Many Indian tribes are literally rotting with
native and imported vice. 1 he worst diseases, I am informed
by Government physicians, are unknown among the Navahos,
except near the sooty iron trail of the white man. Navaho


women are not in any respect the slaves of men. They do not
do all the work, as in many tribes. But with their blanket
weaving they are industrially the equals of the men. In domestic
economy, too, they are equals or better. The control of the
household is mainly in their hands. One of the oddest customs
concerns a mother-in-law. What is a matter of superficial
joking with white people is a deep-seated reality with Navahos.
Mother-in-law and son-in-law must never see each other. If
they do, blindness or some other blight is sure to befall. It
is everybody's duty to give sharp warning if danger of a meet-
ing arises. Even after reading of this in good authorities I
could hardly believe that the custom still rigidly prevails. I
found out for myself. A company of Indians was assembled
m our mission hall while I preached to them through the inter-
preter. With the exception of one or two young bucks, they
were behaving with great decorum, when all of a sudden there
were exclamations and a tremendous hubbub. I could not
imagine the cause till I was told that a mother-in-law of one of
my auditors approached the door. Instantly many shouted to
warn the imperiled parties. The man within pulled a hat over
his eyes, while she retreated. To avoid this constant menace a
man sometimes marries the widowed mother of his prospective
wife before marrying her. Then they are both his wives and
there is no mother-in-law.

Their superstitions are complicated and rank. By them not
only is progressive beauty of character rendered impossible, but
life itself is often imperiled. Their medicine man is both doctor
and priest. Their method of attempting to cure the sick is by
weird incantations. These "sings" as they are popularly named
in English gather a crowd together and last throughout the
night. According to all accounts they must be demoralizing to
both physical and mental well being. "Sometimes pertaining
to a single rite there are two hundred songs or more which may
not be sung at other rites." "One error made in singing a song
may be fatal to the efficiency of a ceremony ; in some cases the
error of a single syllable works an irreparable injury."

When the sick person is sufficiently wealthy or influential the
wild revel lasts for days. Dr. Mathews, the leading student
and authority as to Navaho customs, describes their great med-
icine dance of nine days. On the last night a great fire is built
in the center of a corral and eleven ceremonial dances are per-
formed throughout the night. The following is his description
of one of them :





"After an interval of three-quarters of an hour, the dance of
the great plumed arrow, the potent healing ceremony of the
night, began. There were but two performers .... Each bore
in his hand one of the great plumed arrows. While they were
making the usual circuits around the fire, the patient was placed
sitting on a buffalo robe in front of the orchestra. They halted
before the patient; each dancer seized his arrow between his
thumb and forefinger about eight inches from the tip, held the
arrow up to view, giving a coyote-like yelp, as if to say, 'So far
will I swallow it,' and then appeared to thrust the arrow slowly


and painfully down his throat as far as indicated. While the
arrows seemed still to be stuck in their throats, they danced a
chasse, right and left, with short, shuffling steps. Then they
withdrew the arrows, and held them up to view as before, with
triumphant yelps, as if to say, 'So far have I swallowed it.'
Sympathizers in the audience yelped in response. The next
thing to be done was to apply the arrows. One of the dancers
advanced to the patient, and to the soles of the feet of the latter
he pressed the magic weapon with its point to the right, and
again with its point to the left. In a similar manner he treated
the knees hands, abdomen, back, shoulders, crown and mouth
in the order named, giving three coyote-like yelps after each

Another of the dances is like the performance of magicians
who apparently make a plant grow before your eyes. In an-
other dance, nearly naked Indians race after and prod them-
selves and each other with flaming firebrands. These medicine
dances are the religious services of the people. Is there any
need for missionaries of sane religion and sanitary healing?


It requires nothing less than the spirit of Christ to faithfully
work for these heathen people in such a pagan land. It re-
quires also strength of character and resourcefulness little short
of genius to carry a whole Christian civilization into such an
aboriginal wilderness. Away from all the appliances, conveni-
ences and fellowship of life which even the remotest village
pastor has learned to depend upon, working alone here beyond
the frontier, one expects to find some burly minister of the bush-
whacker type as the only kind who could confront the savage

After a long day's narrow-gauge ride through a nearly un-
inhabited country over the continental divide, then half a day
on a ''mixed train," the only train— alighting at Farmington,
New Mexico, the farthest southwestern outpost of the dare-
devil Denver & Rio Grande system, one is surprised that he
does not see his expected missionary. Perhaps there has been
a hitch in the carrying of the message by the bi-weekly horse-
back mail. When the knot of frontiersmen has been looked over
and hope is abandoned, a delicate looking gentleman, who
might appropriately be the occupant of the chair of belles-lettres


in Boston or Cambridge, modestly presents himself. Perhaps
the hesitancy has been caused by some disillusionment on his
part, too.

Soon the Field Secretary and Lee I. Thayer, missionary to
the Navahos, are on congenial terms, jogging along under the
white canvas cover of the missionary wagon behind "Peter" and


"Lizzie." Our Navaho horses are several degrees larger than
the Society's ponies in Porto Rico. Still they are small loco-
motives for the long trek through desert sands and deep, un-
bridged arroyos. At the end of the first afternoon, having
forded the San Juan River twice, with water into the wagon
box, in order to visit a Methodist mission (no necessity for


winkling), we reach the edge of things including supper and
"lodging at a frontier Mormon cabin. While the horses rest we
walk in the dark to a Presbyterian mission, some say a mile and
a half, some say two and a half, and some say four jiles and
back No wonder that we miss the road and that Indian
schoolboy scouts are sent out to find us, for the hospitable mis-
sionary lad.es have heard of our coming and have kept a supper
wa"tmg for us. Their cheerful lantern makes the way back

brighter. .

At dawn we ford the San Juan again, leaving the last traces
of civilization and plunging into the riverless, treeless, house-
less reservation. One butte after another rising above the
horizon guides our way. But all day long Ship Rock is
sight, as well as more distant mountains. During the orenoon
it looms like a vast pile of Gothic architecture but late m the
afternoon when only the upper peaks are visible, they look so
like two sails of a ship on the horizon that you fairly expect to
detect them pitching with the motion of the.r invisible hull

What communings by the way concerning nature and man
concerning scripture and science, concerning thought, both olde
and latest. At noon, by one of the infrequent springs, ou
gentle thinker quickly prepares a piping hot luncheon out ot
abundant equipment in the unobtrusive box f ached to '^
dashboard— so attached that when removed it leaves no mark
or mar, but when in place and the cover turned back it w .a
lunch table in just the right relation to the wagon seat. He did

Here in a small way emerges what later appears in a large
way in everything about the mission station and the mission
methods— common sense (so uncommon) to the degree of ir-
resistible manual efficiency combined with a scholar s in ere* in
language, learning, and in all the ethereal realms of lite, to-
gether with intense missionary zeal and longing *« *e /edemp-
fion of the heathen nation into the midst of whose habitation he
has thrown himself. At one juncture a plumber was brought
from the nearest town, two days journey each way, wh .looked
the situation over and gave verdict that the ,ob to be done was
impossible. After four days more in getting this expert back to
the cover of a tool-house and bill-heads, our missionary himself
did the complicated, impossible plumbing!

To create the possibility and the platform for his work ot
preaching, teaching, writing, counselling and doctormg. our m,s-



sionary has had to do tree-felling, logging, stone-laying, car-
pentering, joining, roofing, plastering, painting, paper-hanging,
teaming, farming, blacksmithing, cabinet-making, shoemaking
and even plumbing, to say nothing of bookkeeping and no end
of Yankee invention. With all this to do he learned the
language in his first two years so as to preach in Navaho at both
services the first Sunday of his third year, With some promis-
ing inquirers already, there is every reason to expect that we
may have a Navaho church in much less time than it took to
gather our first church in Burma or in some of the American
Indian tribes where we now have most flourishing churches.
Denison University — he is a Buckeye of course — and Rochester
Seminary, ought to be proud to turn out (not in the sense in
which David Brainerd was "turned out" of Yale) even one
man in a thousand who can go into a physical and spiritual
desert and do the kind of work which Lee I. Thayer is doing
at Two Gray Hills.

*£ Long after dark with its December chill on this high plateau,

^ we reached the mission station built of adobe and logs. What

a glowing spot it is amid the cold and darkness of Navaho-


At this point one is introduced to a large part of the secret
of the brave work at Two Gray Hills. It is a cheerful, refined,



thoroughly practical and intensely sympathetic home life. In
other words it is Mrs. Lee I. Thayer. First of all the home is
radiant with domestic affection, next it is aglow with missionary
activity. In the forenoon ten little Indian children are taught
the English language and are given elementary instruction
through that medium. Mrs. Thayer learned the art of teaching
in a State which a few years ago was ranked by an expert as
foremost in that art, Indiana. Before the day is done Mr.
Thayer gives these little Indians a Bible lesson aided by picture
charts which he has ingeniously put together to tell the whole


biblical story. Then he talks to them awhile in their mother
tongue. He is making his own dictionary and grammar of
Navaho speech, using an up-to-date card catalogue system.
Only, dear city friend, instead of buying his appliances at some
library fixture store, he makes them with his own hands.

During the day there will be a number of Indian visitors,
especially to the mill room. Indian corn is the staple article
of food in Navaho- land. The custom of the country is for
women and children to grind by rubbing it between two stones.
Our missionary has installed large coffee-rnills, two of them, of
the simple kind used in retail grocery stores. It is a great boon
to the natives to bring corn in their blankets and run it through
these wonderful machines. Hence there is grinding nearly all
day long.

When the boarding school was to be established the mis-
sionary built a log addition, an "L" to the adobe house. It
has a partition half way to the ceiling. On one side of this
partition, in their three beds sleep the nine little Indian girls,
on the other side of it sleep Mr. and Mrs. Thayer so as to be
right at hand in case of need. If you could look into the
homes (?) from which these children have been brought you
could better imagine the constant care which their physical and
spiritual civilization entails upon the missionaries.

The visiting Secretary had the whole of the main house to
himself and slept so well in its comfortable guest room that
he was not awakened even by a gunshot fired in the cellar. The


Online LibraryLemuel Call BarnesMissions to the heathen → online text (page 1 of 2)