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When Beck reached the house, to his surprise
Braeuninger and the Indians had not yet arrived,
and all waiting proved to be in vain. Fearing an
accident. Beck and Seyler went over the ground
carefully, but the most diligent search on this and
the following day proved fruitless. Later friendly
Indians related that one of the Ogalalas had treach-
erously shot Braeuninger in the back, and as the
fatally wounded man rose, his enemies had killed
him with blows, cut his face, and thrown the body
into the swollen river. Displeasure at a settlement
of whites on the Powder river had moved them to
this act. Some have supposed this to be a piece of
fiction invented by the Indians for the purpose of
frightening the missionaries. According to their
supposition the Indians and Braeuninger separated,
the missionary started for home, and was attacked
by one of the numerous bears of this region.

The first account is much more plausible. The
Indians evidently were determined not to tolerate
a settlement within their territory, and correctly
reasoned that the murder of the leader would drive
away the others. Almost stunned by the blow, and
having met no Crow Indians on the Powder river,
the missionaries retreated to safe ground on Deer
Creek, there to await further instructions. The
leader of the undertaking, an exceptionally capable
man, had died a martyr to the cause, and his pre-
sentiment which caused him in leaving Neuendettels-
au to wind about his photograph a crown of thorns

106 Lutheran Mission fVork

had been a correct Indication of his end for the
glory of the Lord.

Before the report of the tragedy reached Iowa,
the committee in charge had sent as reenforcements
Krebs and Flachenecker, additional money having
been received from Bavaria. When the new men
joined the other missionaries on Deer Creek, the
situation was carefully gone over. Lack of avail-
able means prevented the founding of a colony in the
territory of the Crows, but it was decided that the
old friends should be taken care of just as soon as
circumstances permitted. With the consent of the
Indian mission board the missionaries now turned
their attention to the Cheyenne or Zista Indians.
A station was located about one hundred miles west
of Fort Laramie, in the present state of Wyoming.
It consisted of log buildings a few miles south of
the North Platte river, close to a post route and a
trading station. An effort to farm was also made,
but met with little success, as the light rainfall made
irrigation necessary.

In the spring of 1861 Rev. Ch. Kessler arrived
from Iowa and became the head of the mission,
while Krebs and Flachenecker were ordained. The
work was carried on energetically, and the Arapa-
hoes, who at that time maintained friendly relations
with the Cheyennes, were included as objects of the
missionary endeavors. The Crows had not been
forgotten. But efforts of two of the missionaries
to get in touch with them proved in vain; on their
trip they passed the abandoned station on the Pow-
der river, which they found in ashes. The labor

Among the American Indians 107

among the Arapahoes bore no fruit. Much more
promising was the work among the Cheyennes. A
few of the missionaries constantly accompanied
them on their wanderings and shared their mode of
living. Thus they not only acquired a fair knowl-
edge of the Indian language, but also gained the con-
fidence of the tribe in a high degree, which showed
itself by kind and courteous treatment.

Whenever possible, preaching services were
conducted regularly. Rev. Krebs has described
them in an interesting manner. "To such an Indian
camp near the station I went regularly on Sundays

and Wednesdays and called out : ^Winaasz

nistochiz namhaiohniwh, nata eesz he zistas wues-
tanio,^ which means : 'All of you are invited to my
house, I wish to speak to the Zista people.' Regu-
larly men, women, and children responded in such
numbers as to fill the room, while some were unable
to get inside. The service began with the recitation
of the Lord's Prayer in the language of the Zistas,
followed by a sermon. Then came long discussions
with the answering of questions. The audience was
very quiet and attentive, except that occasionally
the remark Hbawa,^ 'good,' or the expression of joy
'haho' was heard.

"One who never came was the chief Hotuamo
(male elk). Generally he made his appearance at
a different time, namely, just before supper. In the
New Testament story of feeding the five thousand,
Christ preaches before he feeds the hungry multi-
tude. I intended to follow his example. The chief
was fond of sitting on a home-made bedstead. So

108 Lutheran Mission Jt'ork

one day 1 joined him there and talked to him about
God, sin, and forgiveness- During my discourse he
was very quiet, fixing his eyes on the floor. As on
previous occasions, he waited while supper was being
prepared in his presence. But before I had finished
talking, he suddenly rose and left. During the
following days he did not appear, instead sending
me an invitation to visit him. Three of us went.
Seldom or never does one find such perfect order as
prevailed in his tent on this occasion. The chief
was alone. He asked us to be seated, then passed
the peace pipe, which made the round according to
custom. Up to this time he had been silent. Now
he addressed us in the following manner: 'I am
very glad to have my best friends with me. Today
my heart experienced great joy. I am acquainted
with many people, but among them all you are most
dear to me.' Then he told about the Indian tribes
he had visited, the Europeans he had known, as also
about his extensive travels. 'I also noted,' he con-
tinued, 'the various religious ceremonies of the Indi-
ans and the whites, as also yours; but I never inter-
fered. If I saw something peculiar in the ceremon-
ies of others, I always kept silent, and never spoke
against them. Everything was satisfactory to me.'
With this speech he wanted to impress upon us that
we should not interfere with their religion and say
nothing against their idolatry. To inform us of
this had been the sole purpose of the invitation.

"That same afternoon he visited me. As on
other occasions, our friend waited for supper, while
I sat at his side and talked to him as before. I

Among the American Indians 109

asked him not to scorn or to reject my words, since
they were of God. He listened In silence, then rose,
and left before supper. It proved to be his last
visit. Within a short time the Indians broke camp;
but while In passing the others nodded and waved
at us in a friendly manner, our former friend turned
his face In the opposite direction and scorned to look
at us. Not long after this we were informed that
he with another who had shown his hostility against
us even more frankly, had been the first of the Chey-
enne tribe to be hanged by the troops."

For In the spring of 1862 the Indians of the
Northwest rose against the Government. The
Cheyennes were drawn into the trouble, and the
missionaries, after concealing their valuables near
the station, fled to Fort Laramie. Seyler and Kess-
ler returned to Iowa for provisions, which at that
time had a prohibitive price in the Northwest, a
sack of flour, for Instance, costing thirty dollars.
The Insurrection was put down within a short time,
and already during the same summer the missionar-
ies could return to the station, which they found only
slightly damaged. As formerly, they received per-
mission to accompany the Cheyennes on their wan-
derings, and Krebs even won the confidence of the

However, the men sent to Iowa were not able
to return during the same year, sufficient means not
being available. Not until April, 1863, could Kess-
ler and the new missionary. Matter, start for Deer
Creek, where they arrived at the end of July. As
on account of the war practically everything had

1 10 Lutheran Mission fFork

advanced in price, the two wagon loads of food and
other necessaries represented an outlay of fully
$2,000. Rev. Kessler had become married, and as
a bride for Beck accompanied the party, there were
now two women at the station, undoubtedly a bless-
ing for all.

Meanwhile a very gratifying event had oc-
curred. Three Indian children, named Muchsianoe
(brown moccasin), Ekois (little bone), and Mis-
tahemik (owl's head) had been entrusted to the care
of Krebs, who instructed them. This relieved
somewhat the monotonous life of Krebs and Flach-
enecker which the theft of their horses had forced
upon them. When Kessler arrived, active mission-
ary work could again be taken up. As soon as pos-
sible Flachenecker and Matter set out for the camp
of the Cheyennes, but found all fighting men on the
warpath against the Crows, their old enemies.
Flachenecker utilized the time by preaching to the
women and old men, and when the warriors re-
turned, testified against their cruel mode of warfare.
The Christmas festival of 1863 found him again at
their camp, while at the mission station on Deer
Creek the oldest of the Indian boys, Frederick, re-
ceived the Sacrament of Baptism. The second,
named Paul, was baptized the following Easter.

However promising this success might seem, the
events soon to follow disclosed a different situation.
The adult Indians showed little or no permanent in-
terest in the preaching of the Gospel. It was found
also that the unrest among the Sioux was likely to
spread to the Cheyennes and make further mission

Among the American Indians


work Impossible. This fear was only too well
founded. Enraged by dishonest dealings, the Indi-
ans awaited only a favorable opportunity to strike.
The Civil War had denuded the Northwest of
troops, making possible the great Indian uprising

Missionary Krebs and Three Christian Indians

in the summer of 1864. The few companies of
Federal troops proved no match for the concen-
trated forces of the Indians, being compelled to re-
treat while the Indian hordes under the leadership
of the powerful and warlike Sioux ravaged the
country. The missionaries sought protection at
the military post a few miles away. But as the
garrison of forty men was utterly Inadequate, two
months were spent in daily fear of a massacre, the

1 1 2 Lutheran Mission JVork

enemy meanwhile ransacking the mission station.
When finally the Sioux threatened the region of
Deer Creek, friendly Cheyennes notified the mis-
sionaries of the approaching danger and requested
them to leave within four days. They should re-
move also the three Indian boys to a place of safety.
This friendly advice was followed, and toward the
close of the year the missionaries arrived with their
charges in Iowa.

With this the mission really came to an end.
The missionaries entered congregational work with
the exception of Rev. Krebs, who took up quarters
in Wartburg Seminary with the three Indian boys
whose love and confidence he possessed. There
they were further instructed with the hope that ul-
timately they might be sent as missionaries to their
own people. Alas, a forlorn hope! The ways of
civilization once more proved fatal to the children
of the plains, as two of them were attacked with
tuberculosis. The youngest, who had been the last
to receive Baptism, was the first to succumb. With
true Christian fortitude he resigned himself to his
fate, showing by his conversation during the last
days a deep understanding of the essentials of the
Christian religion. On August 2, 1865, he died,
and already in December the second followed him,
who also showed toward the end the results of the
Gospel teaching.

During 1866, when an early peace with the In-
dians was confidently expected, the hope of mission-
ary work once more flared up. Krebs and Matter,
accompanied by the convert Frederick, were sent to

Among the American Indians 1 13

the Northwest; but as hostilities, in which the
Cheyennes took a prominent part, broke out again,
they did not even reach the Indian territory. At
the meeting of the synod in 1867 the missionary
work among the Indians was declared temporarily
at an end, tho Rev. Krebs should watch for an op-
portunity to resume work among the Cheyennes.
But it did not present itself. Finally, in 1885, the
funds were transferred to the Neuendettelsau Mis-
sionary Society, to be used in the foreign field among
the Papuas.

But what had become of Frederick, the first of
the Indian boys to be baptized? The story is soon
told. As long as he remained under the supervision
of his spiritual father Krebs, all went well. But his
natural gifts or rather the absence of them precluded
a career as missionary or minister, so finally he had
to shift for himself. The temptation of the world
proved too much for him, and a life of sin followed.
Only when after a number of years God's hand laid
him вАҐ low in sickness, could a change be noticed.
The disease resulted in his death, and it is charitable
to believe that God's grace was not in vain.

And the visible result of a mission extending
over a period of ten years, with the heavy sacrifices
of money and effort, even life! The cemetery of
St. Sebald, Iowa, contains a double grave, marked
until recently by a wooden cross with the inscription :
"Two Indians." According to plans, a simple but
fitting memorial will soon commemorate the resting
place of two Christians from among the Red Men,
and serve as a reminder of an undertaking which,

1 14 Lutheran Mission JP'ork

tho the results be entirely disproportionate to the
effort, shows the endeavor of noble and consecrated
men to pay the Christian debt of gratitude under
discouraging circumstances.

Chapter V



FOR singleness of purpose and unremittent labor
by one man, no Lutheran undertaking looking
toward the Christianization of the Red Man can
compare with the Danish work among the Chero-
kees at Oaks, Oklahoma. In our chapter entitled
Pious Wishes we met the tribe in Georgia, the Salz-
burgers of Ebenezer planning at one time to be a
light to the benighted heathen. For at the time
of the discovery of America and for fully three
hundred years later the Cherokees held the whole
mountain region of the Southern Alleghenies, tho
evidence is not lacking that as a member of the Iro-
quoian family they had originated in the north.

The Cherokee Indians are highly intelligent,
and about 1820 adopted a form of government
modelled on that of the United States. Only a few
years later a halfblood invented an alphabet, which
at once raised the tribe to the rank of a literary
people. But they were not allowed to remain very
long in their accustomed hunting grounds. When
In the second decade of the last century gold was
found on their territory in Georgia, a powerful agi-
tation for their removal west of the Mississippi at
once set in. In spite of their splendid struggle under
their great chief John Ross, the trickery and injus-
tice of the state and federal governments forced

116 Lutheran Mission ff'ork

them to sell their entire remaining territory in 1835.
The removal to the assigned region in the Indian
Territory took place in the hard winter of 1838-9,
involving terrible hardships and causing many

At the new location the tribe suffered severely
during the Civil War, when on account of a division
of sentiment its members fought for both the Con-
federate and the Union cause- The outcome of
the struggle compelled them to liberate their negro
slaves and to grant them equal citizenship. Since
then the tribe has made great strides toward civiliza-
tion. By an agreement with the United States Gov-
ernment, the tribal form of government came to an
end in 1906, the Indians acquiring citizenship.
During the last decades the Cherokees have in-
creased considerably, the western branch of the tribe
numbering close to 30,000 persons. When the
partly forced removal took place, in 1838-9, quite
a number escaped to the mountains, who later were
allowed to settle on lands set apart for them in
North Carolina, where they number at present about
2,000 souls.

The mission of the Danish Ev. Luth. Church in
America, now the United Danish Ev. Luth. Church,
takes us back to the year 1888, when a young man,
-N. L. Nielsen, emigrated from Denmark with no
other motive than to find an Indian tribe among
which he could settle, preach the Gospel, and by
his life's work be of eternal benefit to the people.
Many things combined to discourage the young man
in his plans, among them the claim that the Red

Among the American Indians 117

Man could not be won for the Kingdom of God.
But courageously he kept his purpose before him,
being influenced more by Christ's command and
promise, Matthew 28:19-20, than by the dire pre-
dictions of friends and acquaintances.

A few years were spent in preparation for the
work at Trinity Seminary, Blair, Nebraska. Then
God opened a door among the Cherokee tribe in
Oklahoma. With a firm trust in God's help and
guidance the young missionary began his labors on
June 11, 1892. He immediately secured the ser-
vices of an interpreter and with his help began to
preach the Gospel to the heathen. Soon after a
Sunday school was started, and a little later also a
day school organized. Thus in time the confidence
of the Cherokee people was won and the foundation
for successful work laid.

After a stay of more than twelve months among
the tribe, the missionary felt the need for an help-
meet, having experienced the truth of God's Word
to Adam : It is not good that the man should be
alone. A Danish bride arrived from across the
waters in 1893, the couple being married on Septem-
ber 7th. In their prayerful attitude the two worked
unceasingly for six long years, with no visible fruits
and no converts. Then one day an old full-blood
came and told them that his daughter, a pupil in the
mission school, was sick, and desired to see the mis-
sionary. When he arrived, she told him of her wish
to be baptized. The consent of the father was
readily secured, and a few weeks later, on Easter
Sunday, 1898, the Baptism took place. That was


Lutheran Mission Work

a great event in the life of the missionary and his
wife. The ice was now broken. In the fol-
lowing year fourteen persons were baptized. Since
then the flock has steadily increased, until at present
there is an organized congregation of over two hun-
dred souls.

Before the Boarding School

In time a fine little church was erected, to which
were added later a commodious two-story school
building and a boarding house. Trained teachers
are employed in the school, in which the Bible,
Luther's Small Catechism, and Vogt's Bible History
are the favorite textbooks. This school is the nur-
sery for the church and the congregation. Out of
it have come most of the converts. The missionary
believes that at present there are about one hundred
pupils who have the secret desire to be baptized, but
are held back by shyness or opposition at home.

Among the American Indians 1 19

Like other Indians, the Cherokees are not fond
of work. However, according to the testimony of
the missionary, they are gradually improving, rais-
ing more grain and vegetables from year to year.
There is a good deal of superstition and immorality
left, but the Gospel lifts the people gradually to a
higher plane.

The missionary correctly holds that the converts
should be taught to become self-supporting as soon
as possible and also to make some sacrifices for
others. The annual Thanksgiving and mission sales
yield $50-$75 for the cause of foreign missions.
The women and children bring their fancy work, and
the men and boys contribute small sums from their
field earning. In 1917 a collection for the suffering
Armenians yielded over $30, while $25 was contrib-
uted to the Y. M. C. A. The Indians also made
their contributions toward the Lutheran Soldiers'
and Sailors' Aid Fund.

Since the war ended and the influenza epidemic
subsided, some regrettable features have become
more prominent. Among the young people es-
pecially there is a hankering after worldly pleasures.
There seems to be less sincerity, and a falling off in
church attendance has also been noticed. Lately
the white element in the neighborhood has mani-
fested a strong opposition to religious teaching in
the school. But at the same time, there is a grow-
ing desire for more knowledge -and a better educa-
tion. A number of children could Jately be added
to the congregation, and the outlook for the future
is distinctly encouraging.

120 Lutheran Mission Work

Thus the work among the Cherokees has en-
joyed a healthy and steady growth, showing what
with the help of God prayerful and conscientious
work may accomplish. "The dear Lord has done
more than I or we ever expected to see here. His
name be praised." These are the closing senti-
ments in a report of missionary Nielsen.

Chapter VI

AT its convention in 1883 the Wisconsin Synod
created a permanent committee of five pastors
charged with the duty of selecting a missionary so-
ciety both orthodox and successful which was to re-
ceive the synod's contributions for foreign missions.
In the following year the committee reported that
"in spite of its efforts it had been unable to find a mis-
sion society to which it could conscientiously entrust
the money, as with none of them they were in com-
plete agreement regarding faith and doctrine." In
view of this extraordinary situation the synod recom-
mended that young men willing to become mission-
aries among the heathen should be trained in the
theological seminary, and the available funds used
for this purpose. Several years later, in 1891, the
committee was able to report that three such stu-
dents, J. Plocher, G. Adascheck, and P. Mayerhoff,
had been- received into the seminary, and in all
probability would finish the course within two years.
The question of selecting a field for the mission-
aries soon presented itself. For a time Japan re-
ceived considerable attention, and tentative plans
to begin a mission there were drawn up. However,
when Indian agents from the great Southwest of our
own country pleaded for help, it was decided to in-
vestigate the possibilities of a mission among the
Red Man. Accordingly, in 1892 two ministers were

122 Lutheran Mission Work

sent to Arizona and New Mexico, one of them Rev.
O. H. Koch, who was a member of the Wis-
consin Synod Indian Mission Board till 1920. Af-
ter a thoro investigation the two men recommended
that a mission be begun among the Apaches on the
San Carlos Reser\ation in Arizona. This seemed
especially appropriate in view of the fact that no
Christian missionaries were working among that
numerous heathen tribe. Whether the Wisconsin
Synod alone would ha\e felt itself strong enough
for the undertaking, is problematical; but just at this
time the larger organization including the synods of
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Nebraska,
was formed, and the plans with a statement of pre-
liminary work done submitted to this body. After
due deliberation it was decided to accept the pro-
posed plans, the immediate supervision of mission
work being entrusted to a board of seven members.
Since the Wisconsin Synod was by far the most im-
portant member of the old joint body and the main
support of the mission, and since the different synods
have recently been re-organized as The Evangelical
Lutheran Joint Synod of Wisconsin and Other
States, we may conveniently refer to the mission
under that name.

The Apaches, who were singled out as the object
of evangelization, form the most southern group of
the Athapascan family. Formerly their field of op-
eration covered extensive regions in the Southwest.
Up to very recent times, they were noted for their
warlike disposition, white as well as Indian settle-
ments feeling the ruthlessness of their raids. At
last General Miles, in 1886, compelled their surren-

Among the American Indians


der, and since then the majority of the tribe has
been confined to the San Carlos and Fort Apache
Reservations, where they are looked upon as prison-
ers of war. These comprise 10,990
square miles of land, partly mountainous and cover-
ed with splendid forests. The soil is very fertile,

Apache Women

but for the raising of crops irrigation is necessary
as the rainfall in Arizona is extremely light. While
formerly the tribe practised agriculture to a very
limited extent, now quite a number have settled

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Online LibraryAlbert KeiserLutheran mission work among the American Indians → online text (page 7 of 11)