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GREED and the GOSPEL are two threads that run through the past 2,000 years.
Those motivated by GREED took land from Indians, held slaves, were East India Tea Company merchants who imported opium into China, hung “Help Wanted-No Irish Need Apply” signs, or voted for candidates promising financial security even though they spread immorality and disregard for human life.
Those motivated by the GOSPEL donated money, food, and clothes, opened orphanages and medical clinics, dug wells in native villages, fought to abolish slavery, founded hospitals, took in homeless, dispensed emergency aid, inoculated children, taught farming techniques, visited those in prison, and provided literacy programs and disaster relief.
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-Scottish missionary to Nigeria Mary Slessor, who promoted women’s rights and ending twin killing;
-Baptist missionary Lottie Moon, who helped famine victims in China;
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-Scottish missionary to the Congo David Livingstone, who worked to end the Muslim slave trade;
-Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma, who created a Burmese-English Dictionary;
-Missionary to India William Carey, who helped end the practice of ‘sati’ – burning widows on their husband’s ashes;
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-George Muller, who founded orphanages in the slums of England;
-Missionary to China Gladys Aylward, who helped end the binding of little girls’ feet;
-Hudson Taylor, who was a missionary and physician in China;
-Irish missionary Amy Carmichael, who worked with orphans in India;
-Olympic athlete Eric Liddell, who was a missionary and teacher in North China;
-Jake DeShazer, who was a prisoner-of-war turned missionary to Japan;
-Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, who were missionary martyrs to Ecuador’s Auca Indians;
-and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who said:
“I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash him and tend to him. I serve because I love Jesus.”
These spread Judeo-Christian ideals like ‘women and children first,’ philanthropy, charity, volunteerism, civil rights, and tolerance.
Though conquistadors unfortunately lusted for gold, they were followed by sincere missionaries like Bartolomé de Las Casas, who ministered to native peoples.
American Indians were caught in the struggle between GREED and the GOSPEL.
Many Indians sided with the French against the British during the French and Indian War. When the French lost, the Indians lost land.
Many Indians sided with the British during the Revolutionary War, as Britain limited colonial westward expansion in 1763. When the British lost, Indians lost more land. (Treaty of Greenville, 1795)
Many Indians sided with the British during the War of 1812. When the British lost, Indians lost more land. (Treaty of Fort Jackson, 1814)
Gold was discovered in Georgia and settlers rushed in. A Democrat controlled Congress hurriedly passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, signed by a Democrat President. Four thousand Cherokee died in their forced march to Oklahoma. (Treaty of Fort Armstrong, 1832; Treaty of Echota, 1835)
Some Indians sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War. When the South lost, Indians lost more land.
During America’s history, there were well-intentioned missionaries motivated by the GOSPEL: John Elliott, Pierre Marquette, David Brainerd, Francis Makemie, John Stewart, Marcus Whitman, and Hiram Bingham.
On April 26, 1802, President Jefferson extended a 1787 act of Congress in which special lands were designated “for the sole use of Christian Indians and the Moravian Brethren missionaries for civilizing the Indians and promoting Christianity.”
After the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson asked Congress to ratify a treaty with the Kaskaskia Tribe, negotiated by William Henry Harrison-the future 9th President. The Kaskaskia Treaty, DECEMBER 3, 1803, stated:
“And whereas the greater part of the said tribe have been baptized and received into the Catholic Church, to which they are much attached, the United States will give annually, for seven years, one hundred dollars toward the support of a priest of that religion, who will engage to perform for said tribe the duties of his office, and also to instruct as many of their children as possible, in the rudiments of literature, and the United States will further give the sum of three hundred dollars, to assist the said tribe in the erection of a church.”
In 1806 and 1807, two similar treaties were made with the Wyandotte and Cherokee tribes.
President Jackson stated in a Message to Congress, January 20, 1830:
“According to the terms of an agreement between the United States and the United Society of Christian Indians the latter have a claim to an annuity of $400…”
President Jackson commented in his 2nd Annual Message, December 6, 1830:
“The Indians…gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.”
In the 1850’s, the territory of the Five Civilized Tribes in the eastern Oklahoma had missions, schools, and academies:
-Presbyterians’ Dwight Mission (Cherokee, 1820, 1828);
-Chuala Female Academy (Choctaw, 1842);
-Tullahassee Manual Labor Boarding School (Cherokee, 1848);
-Congregational-American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions’s Wheelock Academy (Choctaw, 1832);
-Methodist Episcopal Church’s Quapaw Mission (1843); and
-Bloomfield Academy for Chickasaw Females (1852).
President Lincoln stated in his 3rd Annual Message, December 3, 1863:
“It is hoped that the treaties will result in…permanent friendly relations with such of these tribes… Duty to these wards of the Government demand our anxious and constant attention to their material well-being, to their progress in the arts of civilization, and, above all, to that moral training which under the blessing of Divine Providence will confer upon them the elevated and sanctifying influences, hopes and consolations, of the Christian faith.”
In 1869, the Board of Indian Commissioners noted in its annual report: “the religion of our blessed Savior is…the most effective agent for the civilization of any people.”
President Grant stated in his First Annual Message, December 6, 1869:
“I have attempted a new policy toward these wards of the nation… The Society of Friends is well known as having succeeded in living in peace with the Indians in the early settlement of Pennsylvania… They are known for their opposition to all strife, violence, and war, and are generally noted for their strict integrity and fair dealings. These considerations induced me to give the management of a few reservations of Indians to them…The result has proven most satisfactory.”
President Grant stated in his 2nd Annual Message, December 5, 1870:
“Reform in…Indian affairs has received the special attention… The experiment of making it a missionary work was tried with a few agencies given to the denomination of Friends, and has been found to work most advantageously… Indian agencies being civil offices, I determined to give all the agencies to such religious denominations as had heretofore established missionaries among the Indians, and perhaps to some other denominations…to Christianize and civilize the Indians, and to train him in the arts of peace.”
President Grant stated to Congress, January 1, 1871:
“Civilized Indians of the country should be encouraged in establishing for themselves forms of Territorial government compatible with the Constitution… This is the first indication of the aborigines desiring to adopt our form of government, and it is highly desirable that they become self-sustaining, self-relying, Christianized, and civilized.”
President Grant stated in his 3rd Annual Message, December 4, 1871:
“The policy pursued toward the Indians has resulted favorably… Through the exertions of the various societies of Christians…many tribes of Indians have been induced to settle upon reservations, to cultivate the soil, to perform productive labor of various kinds, and to partially accept civilization… I recommend liberal appropriations to carry out the Indian peace policy, not only because it is humane, Christianlike, and economical, but because it is right.”
Oklahoma had missions run by Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Mennonites, Quakers, Moravians, and Mennonites, who had a mission among the Comanches at Post Oak Mission and at Colony.
Catholics had missions in the Potawatomi Nation at Sacred Heart Abbey, at Anadarko on the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache Reservation, and in north central Oklahoma among the Osage, Ponca, and Otoe.
In 1884, one of the first missionaries to the Yupik Indians in Alaska was John Henry Killbuck, great-grandson of Lenape Chief Gelelemend, who in 1778 made the first Indian Treaty with the United States and later was converted to Christianity by German Moravian missionaries.
President Cleveland issued the Proclamation respecting Church property in Alaska, November 14, 1896:
“Whereas…the Russian Empire ceded to the US the Territory of Alaska…the churches which have been built in the ceded territory…shall remain the property of such members of the Greek Oriental Church… The Cathedral Church of St. Michael…The Church of the Resurrection…called the Kalochian Church, situated near the battery number at the palisade separating the city from the Indian village….Three timber houses…for lodging of priests. Four lots of ground belonging to the parsonages.”
As a boy, Herbert Hoover had spent several months living on the Osage Indian Reservation in Oklahoma Territory.
After becoming a multi-millionaire in the mining industry and organizing the feeding of Europe after World War I, Hoover became the 31st U.S. President.
He chose as his Vice-President Charles Curtis, the nation’s first Native American Vice-President, from the Kaw tribe in Kansas.
Hoover reorganized and provided increased funding to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The next President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had John Collier serve as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, 1933-45.
The son of a successful Atlanta businessman, John Collier pressured Congress to pass the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 which preserved Indian identity by restoring native lands, improving reservation medical services, and promoting development of business opportunities for Indians.
Photo Credit: nps.gov
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