Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians


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Graphic Novels Comic Strips. My Wishlist. Next time I saw the missing limb it was steaming on the breakfast table! I must not make this chapter longer. By-and-bye I shall tell of the baptism of the Chief and several other of the pagan Indians of this place. Suffice it to say now that our little school kept nicely together, and services were held either by myself or my interpreter every fortnight.

In a little more than a year's time we had the satisfaction of seeing both a school-church and a master's residence erected, and a catechist placed in charge of the station. It is a custom with the Indians to bestow Indian names upon missionaries and others who come to work among them, in order to make them, as it were, one with themselves. We had not been many months resident in Sarnia before we received an invitation from the pagan Chief at Kettle Point, to come to a grand feast which the Indians were preparing in our honour at that place, and to receive Indian names by which we should be incorporated into the Ojebway tribe.

It was one of the coldest of winter days when we started, the glass very low, a high wind, and the snow whirling through the air in blinding clouds. We went by train to Forest, and there Ahbettuhwahnuhgund met us with his sleigh. It was just a common box sleigh with two seats, and the bottom filled with straw, and two horses to pull us. We were all bundled up in rugs and blankets and wraps; the Chief, who was driving, had his head completely smothered up in a bright blue shawl belonging to his wife, and wrapped so many times round that he was as wide at the top of his eyes as at his shoulders.

The only one of the party who appeared careless about the cold was an Indian named Garehees, who had come with us from Sarnia, and he sat with his feet hanging over the side of the sleigh; however, when we asked him how it was that he did not feel the cold, he replied with a grin, "Moccasins no cold,—white man boot cold,—ice! She had brought with her a few small gifts for the children, with which they were much delighted. A little boy named Isaac had a sugar-dog given to him; he soon had its nose in close quarters with his mouth, and the people laughed to see it disappearing.

Indians are nearly always very much behind time in their arrangements; they do not appear yet to understand the value of time— whether in their councils, their daily work, their feasts, or their attendance at church, they are generally behind the appointed hour. If a council is called to commence at noon, three or four Indians will have perhaps assembled at that hour; others straggle in as the day wears on; they sit or lie about, smoking their pipes, chewing tobacco, and talking; and it will probably be three o'clock before the council actually commences.

The Indian feast of to-day was no exception to the rule. It was appointed to take place at noon, but hour after hour sped by, and it was nearly four p.

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On entering the room where the feast was laid out, we found two seats arranged for us at the end of the apartment beneath an ornamented canopy decked with cedar boughs, and we were requested to sit down. Then the Chief and Shaukeens both pagans stood up, and the Chief made a brief oration to the people, which John Jacobs, a young native, then studying for the ministry at Huron College, interpreted for us. The Chief expressed his pleasure in receiving us among them, and his desire that we should become as one of them by receiving Ojebway names; and then, taking me by the hand, he continued: "The name that I have selected for you is one which we greatly respect and hold in fond remembrance; for it was the name of an old and respected Chief of our tribe who lived many years ago and whose name we wish to have retained; and seeing you are a missionary to the Ojebway Indians, it is the wish of my tribe as well as myself that you should be called after our late respected Chief; so your name hereafter is 'Puhgukahbun' Clear Day-light.

Wilson then rose and received her name in the same manner. The Chief, addressing her, said: "It is with great pleasure that I bestow also on you, the wife of the missionary, an Ojebway name. The name I am about to give you was the name of one of our sisters who has long since passed away from our midst, and it is our wish that her name should be retained among us.

Your name therefore is 'Nahwegeezhegooqua' Lady of the Sky. We almost had our hands shaken off, and from all sides came the cry, "Boozhoo, Boozhoo, Puhgukahbun; Boozhoo, Nahwegeezhegooqua, Boozhoo, Boozhoo! I had the seat of honour next to the Chief, and Mrs.


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Wilson sat next to me. The table was well covered with eatables—venison, cakes, pork, Indian bread, preserves, all in the greatest abundance. About thirty persons sat down to the first table the others waiting with true Indian patience for their turn to come; and a long time it was coming, for as soon as the first set had finished, an intermission was made for music and speechifying. Several very pretty songs were sung by the Indian choir, some in English and some in Indian. After the feast was over and the tables cleared, I was asked to address the people, and Wagimah interpreted for me.

I told them briefly hew much pleased I was to receive an Ojebway name, and thus become one of their number, and how Mrs. Wilson and myself would now feel that we could shake hands with them and regard them as our brothers and sisters.

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God, I said, had greatly prospered our work since I came among them. We had already our church completed and our Mission-house nearly so at Sarnia; the great Society in England had contributed five hundred dollars towards the erection of these buildings, and our friends in England about five hundred dollars more; so that there would be no debt. As soon as we had money enough I hoped that with their help we should be able also to build a little church and teacher's house for them here at Kettle Point, and send a catechist to reside among them and teach their children.

It was late in the evening when we bade good-bye and drove back to Forest, where we remained for the night and the next morning returned to Sarnia. On our arrival I found a letter awaiting me from the Secretary of the Church Missionary Society, authorizing me to place a catechist in charge of the Kettle Point Mission. We were anxious as soon as possible to have both church and Mission- house built on the Sarnia Reserve, so that we might move down among the Indians and dwell in their midst.

When therefore the matter of the land was settled, and one acre of Antoine Rodd's farm had been given over for the use of our Mission, we began preparations for the erection of the two buildings. For the building of the church, I wished the Indians to give as much in the way of labour and help as possible, so as to show their earnestness in the cause; but for the erection of the Mission-house, we had to depend largely on contributions from our friends in England. However, the Church Missionary Society made us a grant of L, and friends helped liberally, so that we had no lack of funds, and by the time the two buildings were completed and fenced round with a board fence, all was paid for.

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We moved into our new house on the 29th of January, , just six months after our arrival in Canada. It was a nice little frame cottage, with a large room or hall in the centre, study and bed-room on one side, and sitting-room and bed-room on the other; and at the back, connected by a covered passage, were the kitchen and pantry, with servants' bed-room over.

We were close to the river, and from our front windows could see in summer-time all the shipping passing to and fro, which made it quite lively. We were sorry not to get into our Mission-house before Christmas, but this was impossible. Our little church, however, was opened for service two days after Christmas Day, and was beautifully decorated for the occasion. I must go back a little, and tell how it all happened.


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I had bought some pews from an old Scotch church in the town which was going to be pulled down, and one day early in December we got them carried down to our little church building, and the Indians assisted me in putting them up; there were ten on each side, and as they would seat five each we had room for a congregation of just a hundred persons. On Christmas Day, thirty-four people assembled in the log-house, which had been beautifully decorated by the Indian women with cedar branches for the occasion. After service I took the opportunity to say something to them about the arrangements in the new church.

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Among other things I suggested that they should sit together in families instead of the men on one side and the women on the other, as had been their custom. The proposal was well received and caused some amusement Shesheet said humorously that he would consider it a great privilege to be allowed to sit by his wife. Just as we were coming away the old Chief's wife, Mrs. Chief as we used to call her, came running after Mrs.

Missionary work among the Ojebway Indians / by Edward F. Wilson.

Wilson with a parcel, and pushed it into her hand, saying, in her broken English, "Christmas, Christmas! Wilson expressed her surprise and pleasure at the present. Two clergymen besides myself assisted in the services at the opening of the church, which on that occasion was crammed with about a hundred and fifty people.

One of the most interesting features was just at the close of the service, when an Indian named Buckwheat, from the neighbouring mission of Walpole Island, came forward, and, after giving a short address expressing the sympathy that was felt by the Walpole Islanders for the Indians of this newly-formed Church mission, proceeded to loosen a belt from his waist, and to take from it a little carefully wrapped up packet, which he brought forward and presented as the offering of his brethren towards the erection of our church and Mission-house. It contained nine dollars. The next day was the children's treat and Christmas tree.

It was held in the hall of the new house, although we had not yet moved in. It was amusing to watch the faces of the children as they gazed upon the unusual sight of a Christmas tree lighted up with tapers. Not even the older people had ever seen one before. There were thirty-one children present, and there was some little gift for each of them. During the evening we taught them to scramble for nuts and candies. It was absurd to see them, at first all standing in mute astonishment and wondering at my ruthless waste in throwing away such excellent sweatmeats all over the floor; however, they soon learned how to perform their part of the game, and began scrambling for the good things as eagerly as any English children.

The Indians, although to all appearance so grave and stoical, have a fund of quiet wit and humour about them, and are even sometimes quite boisterous in their merriment. Joseph Wawanosh, the Chief's eldest son, was a particularly quiet grave-looking man, and yet there was often a merry twinkle in his eye, and sometimes he would come out with some funny remark in his quaint broken English.

He was our churchwarden, and had a great weakness for making up large fires in the church, to which my wife strongly objected, and they waged a chronic war on the subject.

Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians
Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians
Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians
Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians
Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians
Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians
Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians
Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians

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