"Indians at the Anniversaries"
Rev. J. H. Franklin
One of the most interesting features of the Baptist Anniversaries at St. Louis was the presence of a delegation composed of representatives of ten of the fifteen tribes of Indians, which the American Baptist Home Mission Society laborers. Four of the representatives were from the civilized tribes of Indian Territory. The rest were from the blanket tribes of Oklahoma and Montana. They were fine specimes of manhood, with strong typical Indian faces. In several cases the dress and hair were suggestive of the romantic days when the Indian was the lord of the land. Seated with their interpreters beneath the folds of a great pictorial tepee with which the platform was decorated, or within the Home Mission booth, whose walls were covered with Indian blankets, bead and leather work, and implements of war that were used in former days, they made a most picturesque and interesting group.
There was Adam Lacie, a native Cherokee preacher, who for thirty-three years has been an appointee of the Baptist Convention in the work of the Home Mission Society. For the past five years the Home Mission Society has co-operated with the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in the work for the five civilized nations and the Osages.
Three of the representatives were ministerial students from Indian University, a Home Mission school near Muskegee, I. T. – Benjamin Thompson, Choctaw; Edward Miller, Delaware, and Paul Land, Creek.
Bennie Strike Ax, who was a delegate, is the only active Christian of evangelical faith among the Osages. He is interpreter at the mission.
Twelve years ago the missionaries of the American Baptist Home Mission Society and the Woman's Baptist Home Mission Society commenced work with blanket Indians of Southwestern Oklahoma, who were living in their filthy tepees on the wind-swept plains, far from civilization at that time. The story of the triumphs of the gospel among these people is marvelous. To-day there are six churches among these blanket Indians, who, a few years ago, were on the warpath. To-day their hearts are changed, and their lives prove it. Many were moved to tears as these simple Christians told through interpreters how their lives had been changed, and how they now love the Savior.
Gotebo, a famous ex-warrior of the Kiowas was present, and with him his interpreter, Samuel Ahatone, the child of Mexicans who were captured by the Kiowas in the days of raids. Samuel, though a full-blooded Mexican, is a Kiowa in thought, habit and tongue. Years ago Gotebo was a desperate Indian. He danced around the scalp poles a half mile from where he is now a deacon of the church.
Chief Buffalo Meat, of the Cheyennes, was present. Twenty-nine years ago he surrendered to the United States government and was confined in prison at St. Augustine, Florida, for a number of years. He is a deacon now, as is his interpreter, William Little Elk.
Hail came from the Arapahoes, a tribe with which we have been at work for several years. Our missionary reports that they are coming to the light, though slowly. Hail was induced to come, with the hope on our part that he would go back to his people with an impression that will be used of God to hasten the awakening among the Arapahoes.
Taupa, a deacon in the Comanche church, told through an interpreter, story of his love of the Christ. Years ago he would travel a long distance to avoid the missionary. When he had become a Christian he traveled twelve miles to ask if it were right to partake of meat which he thought had been stolen.
These Kiowa, Comanche and Cheyenne Christians are liberal supporters of missionary effort. Last year a church of one hundred and thirty-three members gave $363.00 to send the "Jesus Road" to tribes. Dr. C. A. Cook, superintendent of the Christian Stewardship League, examined the minutes of their association, and declared that their record in missionary contributions is unsurpassed by any association of like size anywhere among the Baptists of America. Remember, a few years ago these Indians were kept in restraint by the United States troops.
For the past year the Kiowas, Cheyennes and Comanches have helped support the missionary to the Crow Indians. Imagine their joy, then, when Chief White Arm, of the Crows, told them in the sign language that he had given his heart to Jesus and would walk in the "Jesus Road." This was no sudden impulse with White Arm. He had been thinking a long time. At St. Louis he reached a decision and made it known. Squaw Bread, the other Crow who was present, said he intended to come some time. The Indian moves slowly. He is thinking.
It is likely that nothing at the Anniversaries aroused more interest than the presence of these Christian Indians. The educated boys from Indian University proved by their splendid appearance and bright speeches that the Indian possesses great possibilities. The former savages gave evidence of the saving power of the gospel. May the interest aroused be used of God to lead the people to go to the twenty tribes for whom evangelical Christians are doing nothing.
Missionaries E. C. Devo, W. A. Petzolt, Robt. Hamilton, C. W. Burnett, Miss Isabelle Crawford and Miss Mary P. Jayne, who are giving their lives to the Indian work, were present.
Kansas City, Mo.
[From The Baptist Argus, June 8 , 1905, p. 2; via Baylor U. Digital documents.