Living the Middle Ground: Two Dakota Missionaries, 1887-1912

by Darcee McLaren
Living the Middle Ground: Two Dakota Missionaries, 1887-1912
Darcee McLaren
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Darcee McLaren, McMaster University

Abstract. This essay examines Richard White's concept of the "middle ground" through careers of two Dakota missionaries active in Rupert's Land in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, John Thunder and Peter Hunter. The ar- chival sources suggest that both men used the process involved in the creation of the middle ground in an attempt to communicate effectively with the dominant white society. To attain their own goals, they appropriated and manipulated Euro- Canadian symbols and institutions.

For the native people of Canada, the last half of the nineteenth century was a time of increasing government policy and increasing settlement of the prairies, which disrupted their way of life. It was also a time of increasing missionary activity among the Plains Indians. The work of bringing Chris- tianity to the native people was carried out not only by Europeans and Canadians but also by native men who worked for the missionary societies as catechists, missionaries, and lay preachers. Two such men, John Thun- der and Peter Hunter, were employed by the Foreign Mission Committee (FMC) of the Presbyterian Church in Canada to minister to their own people among the Dakota in southern Manitoba. However, Thunder and Hunter's goals and perception of the missionary role were not necessarily those of the FMC. Applying historian Richard White's (1991) theoretical framework of the middle ground shows that both men used the office of missionary and the symbols of Christianity to communicate their needs to the dominant white society and to achieve their goals on behalf of the Dakota people.'

Until the I~~OS,

anthropologists, historians, and government officials saw assimilation as the only possible option for Native Americans in con- tact with Western, European culture. Through a linear process of accul-

Ethnohistory 43:2 (spring 1996).Copyright Oby the American Society for Ethno- history, ccc OOI~-I~OI/~~/$I.SO .

turation, Euro-American traits would be learned proportionately as native ways were lost. Thus native people at either end of the continuum were labeled "traditional" or "progressive." The traditionalists retained a high percentage of native beliefs and ways, whereas the progressives were highly integrated with European culture. However, one hundred years of assimi- lationist government policy had little impact. To understand why Native American cultures had not disappeared, native studies shifted from theo- ries of assimilation to theories of continuity, renewal, and transformation. Present-day studies of culture contact and change tend to agree that the unilinear continuum is far too simplistic to explain the lives and actions of the individuals who constitute these changing cultures (see Clifford 1986; Comaroff 1985; Comaroff and Comaroff 1991; Fowler 1984; Lewis 1991; McFee 1968; Simmons 1988; White 1991). There is also a consensus that the traditionallprogressive dichotomy does not exist except in a gross sense, and that adherence to it as an analytical concept can inhibit understanding (McFee 1968; Fowler 1984; Lewis 1991). Instead, contemporary anthropolo- gists see culture contact as highly flexible and dynamic, involving "both reinforcement and tension, reproduction and transformation" (Comaroff

1985: 6). As Simmons has put it, anthropologists have begun to wonder where "individual calculation, invention, choice, doubt, independence, and experiment fit into the larger picture" (1988: 9).

In The Middle Ground, historian Richard White (1991) has shown that contact between cultures is not necessarily a battle in which one cul- ture gains only at the expense of other(s). New cultural forms can arise as a product of the contact situation (see also Wolf 1982: 387). According to White (1991: x), this particular type of cultural accommodation takes place under conditions of mutual need and common interest. As long as all parties involved must rely on one another, there will be sufficient incentive to cooperate in the creative negotiation of cultural forms. This negotia- tion can include adjustments based on incidental and also often deliberate misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and distortions of the values and practices of the Other (White 1991: x). However, as White points out, "from these misunderstandings arise new meanings and through them new prac- tices," which constitute a "common, mutually comprehensible world," the "middle ground" (ibid.).

For White, the "middle ground" refers to "the place in between: in between cultures, peoples, and in between empires and the nonstate world of villages" (ibid.). It refers to a moment in time as well as to a place, but it is also a worldview and a way of life. Furthermore, it is a means of com- munication or a meaningful system of symbols; it can also be a process. Since the creative negotiation of cultural forms is continuous, the middle ground is not static but rather ongoing change and accommodation. This concept is not unique, since it could be that cultures continually undergo transformation (Handler and Linnekin 1984; Wagner 1975), but in this case change is directed by the perceptions and misperceptions of the values and practices of all the cultures. As White (1991) describes it, the construction of the middle ground is a process of continually trying to communicate across cultures.

Although White's analysis is restricted to seventeenth-century native- white contact in the Great Lakes region, it seems likely that the process of the middle ground could operate anywhere and anytime the members of one culture are motivated to communicate with members of another cul- ture. Thus, in a two-culture contact situation, one culture could function in terms of the process of the middle ground even if the other culture does not reciprocate. In such a case, no "common, mutually comprehensible world" would be created; the process would be unsuccessful or incomplete. Yet, lack of success does not imply lack of effort or lack of motivation. John Thunder and Peter Hunter had every incentive to negotiate the terms of the middle ground. The process of the middle ground, the manipulation of institutions and the perception and misperception of symbols, was open to them, and they used these strategies to communicate their needs and goals to the dominant white society. Unfortunately, Euro-Canadian society at the time had neither the interest nor the incentive to enter such a negotiation, and ultimately, Thunder and Hunter were unsuccessful in their attempts to maintain Dakota autonomy.
Biographical Sketches

John Thunder, a Dakota Indian born in the latter half of the nineteenth century, probably lived on the Birdtail Creek reserve. Although he moved frequently, the earliest records show him residing at BirdtaiL2 Furthermore, Dakota residence patterns seem to have been patrilocal (Howard 1984: 84-85; Landes 1968: 31; Wozniak 1978: 25), and Thunder had brothers and friends who lived permanently at Birdt~iil.~

Nothing is known about Thunder before 1887, when he was the first signee of a petition sent to the Department of Indian Affairs requesting help in stopping "the grass dancing and other heathen amusements." At this early point in his career he is already clearly aligned with the Christian Indians at Birdtail Creek, a position he consistently maintains. In fact, it is likely that Thunder had been converted to Christianity up to a decade earlier by the Rev. Solomon Tunkansuiciye, a Dakota missionary from the United States who taught at the Birdtail Creek reserve (Baird 1895: 19): Tunkansuiciye was a close rela- rive of Chief Mahpiyahdinape of the Birdtail Creek reserve and was there at this chief's request (Elias 1988: 229 n. 14). By 1880, after the missionary had been among them only five years, the Birdtail Creek band had built and paid for its own school and church (ibid.: 68). As early as 1901, and prob- ably much earlier than that, "most of the ~eople at Birdtail were confirmed churchgoers" (ibid.: 114). Thus Thunder had roba ably been a Christian for some time before he signed the 1887 petition.

In April 1888, Thunder became the interpreter at Portage la Prairie. His employers noted that he was a "most admirable interpreter" and that he taught Bible lessons, sang, and played the organ.6 In fact, members of the FMC considered Thunder to be one of the best, if not the best, interpreter in the area.' The 1889 report of the FMC lists Thunder as the interpreter at the Indian Head, File Hills, and Muscowpetung reserves, and there is evidence that he also continued to work in Portage la Prairie.8 However, in Novem- ber 1889 Thunder seems to have moved back to Birdtail Creek reserve and was filling in for the missionary by giving services on alternate sun day^.^ He is officially listed as the interpreter at Birdtail Creek as of May 1891.'~ In the fall of 1893, Thunder was employed by the Christian Endeavour Society as a teacher at the Turtle Mountain Reserve."

In 1895 John Thunder became missionary at the Pipestone reserve, the third Dakota man to hold that position.12 While at Pipestone, his corre- spondence showed his concern for the condition of the mission buildings, the distribution of clothing, the procurement of wood for the winter, and the work on the farms, as well as for the numbers of baptisms and mar- riage~.'~

However, in 1901 a violent quarrel between Thunder and his wife precipitated his transfer and demotion to the position of interpreter for the missionary at Birdtail Creek.14 Thunder had been the sole missionary to Pipestone at a salary of approximately $420 a year.l5 As interpreter at Bird- tail Creek he received only $100 a year.16 It is at this point that Thunder began a campaign, which he continued throughout his career, to emphasize the importance of having missionaries on the reserves who could speak the native language. The successes of Tunkansuiciye at Birdtail and Thunder's own experience of following two other Dakota-speaking missionaries at Pipestone probably led at least in part to the formation of this opinion. However, given the timing of the campaign, it was also undoubtedly a re- sponse to his demotion. Thunder's persistence in this campaign even after he regained full missionary status on a reserve of his own indicates the strength of his dedication to the promotion of native-speaking missionar- ies. He was not to be given another posting as missionary, however, for six years-a period marked with conflict but also with increasing respon- sibility."

The year 1902 marked the beginning of two quarrels that dominated Thunder's correspondence for many years. The first was with the FMC itself; Thunder claimed that the committee owed him payment for improvements made to the mission buildings at Pipestone. The dispute finally ended some- time in 1904 with no clear winner.18 The second quarrel was with another interpreter by the name of Alec (or Alex) Ben. Although the initial dispute with Ben only lasted a matter of months, it reoccurred in 1~0~,1~11,1912, and 1913.'~

By 1905 Thunder apparently felt that he was stagnating, speaking of his three years as an interpreter as "worthless to recall" and requesting to be posted again as "a native missionary amongst my red people."20 In re- sponse the FMC seems to have suggested he take a position in Montana. Thunder's reply was succinct and implied that the committee was treating him in an unjust and un-Christian manner?' Nothing is then heard from, or about, John Thunder until 1907, when a report to the FMC places him as missionary at Pipe~tone.~~

In 1908 Thunder was appointed to a committee of the Convention of Presbyterian Workers among the Indians to help pre- pare language study courses and to set examination^.^^ This appears to have been the high point of his career, for by 1912 there was talk of removing him from Pipestone. However, Rev. G. G. McLaren from the Birtle school, who had also been overseeing the Pipestone mission, argued against the move on the unflattering grounds that "the band [at Pipestone] is too small for any white man." 24 Thus, in the end, John Thunder was kept on because it was not thought worthwhile to send in a "regular missionary." 25

Peter Hunter was also from the Birdtail Creek reserve, and he signed his name directly below John Thunder's on the 1887 petition against "hea- then" amusement^.^^ Hunter was educated first at the mission school on the reserve, then at the Shingwauk Home in Sault Ste. Marie, and finally at the Santee Training School in Nebra~ka.~' At this last school he was supported by the Knox Church Missions Board, since, as they said, "he is an earnest young Christian and a good worker he wants to be a missionary." 28 Judging only by the date on the missions board letter, Hunter went to Nebraska in the fall of 1888. The Canadian government Indian Agent, J. A. Markle, reports that he was back in Canada in 1892 but does not say exactly where he was staying, only that he was chopping wood for a livingF9

In the spring or summer of 1894, Hunter was hired by the FMC and began his very controversial and very short career as a missionary at Pipe- stone.30 Agent Markle suggested that the appointment was made out of sympathy after Hunter was injured in an accident,3l but there is no other evidence to support this position, and it seems more likely that the Pres- byterian mission board members had intended to use Hunter in mission work from the day they sent him to college. Furthermore, Markle's com- ment was motivated by the desire to remove Hunter from his position, as he had become a major source of irriation for the two white authorities in the area, namely Agent Markle himself and government Farm Instructor Scott stationed at the Oak River reserve. According to Markle and Scott, Hunter had been actively campaigning against the permit system, a series of amend- ments made to the Indian Act that restricted the financial transactions of Canadian Indians (Carter 1993 [~qqo]: 156; Miller 1989: 191-92).

Under the Indian Act the department [of Indian Affairs] could regulate the sale, barter, exchange, or gift of any grain, roots, or other produce grown on reserves. The official rationale for the permit system was that Indians had to be taught to husband their resources. . . . The permit system, however, . . . precluded the Indians from participation in the market economy since they could not buy, sell, or transact business. (Carter 1991: 361)

Although .the permit system was rarely effective (Miller 1989: 192; 1991: 327), in the case of the Dakota specific instructions were given to Scott "to see that no grain left the reserve without a permit" (Carter 1983: 5). In protest, Hunter had written letters, appealed beyond Markle to the authorities in Brandon, and held meetings of the Indian~.~~

If he had been successful in having the permit system revoked, Hunter would have been paid by the Indians for his services.33 As it happened, he did attract the at- tention of the Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, who wrote to Markle in November 1894 recommending that Hunter be removed from the Oak Lake reserve, if at all possible.34 However, by January 1895, Hunter had been given a "severe reprimand" by the Rev. Prof. Hart, Joint Convenor of the FMC. AS a result, Hunter had promised to confine his energies to mission This apparently satisfied the go~ernment?~

and Hunter re- mained as missionary at Pipestone. On 22 May 1895 Hunter died suddenly of an unidentified illness. In his eminently diplomatic way, Rev. A. B. Baird, Joint Convenor of the FMC, noted that Hunter had been young, energetic, and had "wielded a great influence among the Indians." 37

The similarities between Thunder and Hunter are significant. Both men actively chose to be Presbyterian missionaries and to preach Christianity in the Dakota language. They both found themselves at various times and in various ways in conflict with white authority. Thunder and Hunter both used what authority they had as missionaries on behalf of their people. Finally, it seems that each one saw himself not only as a missionary but also as a leader of the Dakota people. Though John Thunder and Peter Hunter identified themselves with the Dakota, they also chose to take on the West- ern, European role of missionary, and it is in this voluntary participation in the cultural forms of the Other that the process of the middle ground can be seen operating.

The Middle Ground

No middle ground could be created in southwestern Manitoba during Thunder's and Hunter's careers, not in the sense of a "common, mutually comprehensible world." In Canada, unlike in the United States, government policy preceded settlement in the West (Miller 1989: 169), and that policy was aggressively assimilationist (Tobias 1991a). The end of the period of mutual dependence between the native people of Rupert's Land and the Europeans began with the union of the North West Company and the Hud- son's Bay Company in 1821 and was virtually complete by the time Canada bought Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company in 1870 (Miller 1991: 116-35, 154). Twenty-five years before John Thunder became a mis- sionary, Native Americans in Canada's west had become irrelevant in the Canadian government's decision-making process. The reverse, however, was not true: the decisions of the Canadian government were not irrele- vant to Native Americans. During the treaty-making process in the 187os, native leaders showed a strong understanding of the ramifications of the treaties and took the initiative to try to ensure that their interests would be protected (Carter 1993 [~qqo]: 13, 54-55; Miller 1989: 168-69; Taylor 1991: 209; Tobias 1q91b: 212-1)). That is, they were willing to cooperate with the Canadian government concerning the treaties, but on native terms and for native reasons. Realizing that, perhaps for the last time, they had something of significant importance to Canada, native leaders negotiated not just for treaties but for "friendship, peace and mutual support" (Miller 1989: 165). In other words, they were negotiating for the middle ground even after Euro-Canadians had lost the incentive to reciprocate.

In addition, at this period, many native leaders decided that agricul- ture could offer them an economic stability that no longer existed with the buffalo hunt or the fur trade. As Sarah Carter (1993 [1990]) has shown, the Plains Indians were familiar with agriculture, but the European style of farming-using plows, oxen, binding machines, threshers, and so on- was an innovation. The native people were quite willing to farm, but they needed assistance in the form of equipment, oxen, seed, and practical in- struction (ibid.: 49). They insisted that these things be included in the conditions of the treaties (ibid.: 49, 55; Miller 1989: 169; Taylor 1991: 209; Tobias 1991b: 213). Finally, it should be noted that, though the Canadian government was not eager to pay for all the agricultural implements that the native people wanted to have stipulated by treaty, agriculture as a tool and measure of civilization was a Victorian ideal (Carter 1993 [~qqo]: 1822). Consequently, the native initiative to farm was easily accepted and encouraged by Euro-Canadians, at least in principle.

However, this desire to become agriculturalists should not be inter- preted as evidence for native assimilation to white ways. Certainly, the native people of the Plains were adapting to the changed circumstances brought on by the disappearance of the buffalo, and they also appropri- ated European farming technology to facilitate more intensive agriculture than they had ~racticed in the past. Yet, though the method may have been European, the goals were still native. Carter, quoting Milloy, notes, "Revitalization of their traditional culture within an agricultural context, they would have. . . . Assimilation, the total abandonment of their culture, they would not" (1993 [199o]: 14). The native goal was not conversion to the Euro-Canadian way of life but the creation of "a new Indian culture" (Milloy 1991: 152) in the reservation context. Native people were using the process of the middle ground, trying to negotiate a new way of life using terms that both natives and Euro-Canadians could appreciate. The native people agreed to allow settlers into the Plains and to take up agriculture, but most native groups were not willing to give up their culture, dances, and religious ceremonies. Whereas agriculture was synonymous with civiliza- tion for the Victorians, the native people understood it as a way to maintain a certain level of independence and cultural autonomy (Carter 1993 [~qqo]).

As refugees from the United States, the Dakota "were not considered as having aboriginal land rights in Canada" (Carter 1983: 3) and did not have an official role in the treaty-making process. Thus they did not have the opportunity to state formally their intention to farm or to request agri- cultural aid. However, the Canadian government did allocate reserves for the Dakota and allowed them to choose their own reserve sites (ibid.; Elias 1988: 51). Agriculture had been the goal of American Indian agents for the Dakota since 1820 (ibid.: 15-16), and those Dakota inclined to farm after coming to Canada chose reserves in southern Manitoba (ibid.: 53). Further- more, the Dakota were very successful at agriculture, in Euro-Canadian terms. Canadian government Inspector McGibbon noted in 1888 that the Dakota crops at Oak River were "equal to any white man's crop" (in Carter 1983: 4), and in 1891 Inspector Wadsworth reported: "Upon reaching my destination [Birdtail reserve] I could not help making comparisons between the Indians' crops on the Reserve, and those so lately passed through [the settlers'], the verdict was strongly in favour of the Indians" (in Elias 1988: 86-87). In the same report, Wadsworth also noted that the Dakota at Oak River were "in the van of Indian farmers in this country" (in Carter 1983: 4).

The Dakota advanced beyond subsistence farming to commercial agricul- ture, growing enough wheat and garden produce to meet their own needs and selling the surplus (ibid.; Elias 1988). By 1891 the agricultural accom- plishments of the Dakota were sufficient to allow them to compete and cooperate with the settlers at Deloraine and Portage la Prairie. According to Elias (ibid.: 74), the increasing size of Dakota farming operations was, at least in part, a response to the agricultural standards set by incoming settlers. At the same time, the Dakota enjoyed good relations with their white neighbors, cooperating at harvest time and maintaining strong eco- nomic ties (ibid.: 80, g4). When government Indian Agent Markle and Farm Instructor Scott began enforcing the permit system on the Dakota reserves in 1891, the settlers seemed to sympathize with the Dakota (Carter 1983: 7; 1993 [1990]: 227-28; Elias 1988: 88, 98-99), Thus the Dakota were making some major lifestyle adjustments as they settled into their reserves and were developing some areas of commonality with the Euro-Canadian settlers in southern Manitoba.

However, though Dakota agricultural operations may have been Cana- dian in style and thoroughly commercial, they were integrated into a con- tinuing Dakota culture and did not represent assimilationist tendencies. Until the Indian agent began to dictate otherwise, Dakota patterns of labor organization and property management did not strictly follow European forms. Labor was organized communally and, on the Birdtail reserve, by age groups, and material resources were shared (ibid.: 72, 76, 80, 85, 90, 108). Land was held communally at least until the late 187os, and even after property became private, the products and proceeds of the land were still distributed communally through the giveaway, or wacipi, ceremony (ibid.: 73, 81, 88, 108, 115). Christian Dakota who had given up the giveaway ceremony distributed wealth in the community through church collections (ibid.: 114).

Consequently, agriculture among the Dakota in the late nineteenth century was a government-approved endeavor done in a European style in accordance with a Victorian ideal, but it was also a native initiative inte- grated with native beliefs and cultural practices and practiced for the fulfill- ment of native goals. Agriculture did represent an accommodation on the part of the Dakota to Euro-Canadian practices and the realities of reserve life. At the same time, the Dakota appropriated Euro-Canadian farming methods and incorporated them into Dakota culture to serve Dakota needs. Large-scale commercial farming was carried out using communal labor for the benefit of the entire reserve; resources were pooled and profits were distributed just as they would have been if the product had been deer or buf- falo instead of wheat and potatoes. In a move with parallels in the fur trade and in the military alliances of the seventeenth century, the Dakota entered into economic trade relations with the Euro-Canadian community as part- ners, not as dependents. Agriculture provided a middle ground, an arena where white settlers and Dakota could meet and understand one another. It offered the two groups a common language, a common set of concerns, common enemies, and some common goals. Even if only very briefly, the middle ground did exist in southern Manitoba, at least until government officials began rigorously enforcing government policy in 1891.~'

In 1891, three years before Peter Hunter became a missionary and four years before John Thunder accepted the position at Pipestone, the permit system came into effect on the Dakota reserves. Although it was rarely effective, it was nonetheless particularly devastating for the Dakota.

[This] regulation made it illegal for [the Dakota] to commit their pro- duce to the purchase of goods and services that were unnecessary in the opinion of the department [of Indian Affairs]. To [Indian Com- missioner] Hayter Reed, it meant any and all kinds of "labour-saving mechanisms," and to [Agent] Markle, it meant suppression of traffic in liquor, and of the wacipi and giveaway. (Elias 1988: 88)

In addition, Markle restricted Dakota access to credit in order to "elimi- nate access to technology by making it impossible for the Dakota to pay for their purchases" (ibid.: 90). These two policies prevented the Dakota from participating in a farm management strategy that was common practice among the area's settlers and the only practical way to increase production to compensate for low prices (ibid.: 88). According to Carter (1993 [1990]: 229), "The permit system curbed enthusiasm for farming among reserve residents" by effectively preventing commercial farming and by taking con- trol of marketing away from the Dakota farmers (see also Elias 1988: 88, 95). Thus the Dakota economic system was in turmoil in 1894 when Peter Hunter became a missionary, and it had not yet reached a new equilibrium a year later when John Thunder took over at the same post. For Hunter and Thunder, the pattern had been set.

Peter Hunter

Peter Hunter's career as a missionary was cut short by his death in 1895, only a year after it had begun. As a result, correspondence relating to Hunter is scarce. Yet, it is nonetheless apparent from the available records that Hunter approached his missionary responsibilities from a Dakota perspec- tive. Hunter's identification with the Dakota community can be inferred from his choice of schools and from his position on the permit system. First, three other native Presbyterian students from the Plains (Cuthbert McKay, Donald McVicar, and John Black) all attended either Manitoba College or the University of Manitoba for training in theology and teaching as prepa- ration for a career in mission NO native Presbyterian student who expressed an interest in attending either of these schools was ever turned down.40 However, at the same time that John Black went to the University of Manitoba, Hunter went to the Santee Training School in Nebra~ka.4~ Despite having expressed a desire to be a missionaryP2 Hunter chose not to be formally trained as a missionary, at least not in any Euro-Canadian way. He chose instead to attend a school for native students, where les- sons were taught in the Dakota language. This suggests, on the one hand, that Hunter did not consider theological training to be a prerequisite for missionary work and, on the other hand, that he felt it was important to maintain continuity with his Dakota cultural background.

As recent studies of Indian education in Canada have shown, the as- similationist goals of Indian boarding schools were often not fulfilled, pri- marily because native students at residential schools could band together, perpetuating their shared worldview and developing a culture of resis- tance (Barman et al. 1986: 5, 7,14; Haig-Brown 1988: 21,131-32; see also Johnston 1988; Miller 1991: 332-40). Thus, though it is certain that Euro- American teachers desired their native pupils to assimilate, it is also likely that the pressure to do so would have been greater on a native student at a school for whites than on a native student at a school for Indians. The pres- ence of other native students at an Indian school provided the opportunity for maintaining cultural continuity and language proficiency. As Ameri- can Indian Agent Jay Lynch remarked in 1902, "Indian children progress much faster when thus thrown in contact with white children than they do when they are all kept together with whites excluded" (Connell Szasz 1974: 11). In addition, the use of Dakota language at the Santee Training School suggests that this school was less assimilationist than most and even more likely to encourage cultural continuity. Consequently, Hunter's de- cision to attend the Santee Training School, when he could have attended Manitoba College or the University of Manitoba, can be seen as evidence of his self-identification as Dakota and his desire to avoid assimilation and maintain his cultural heritage. It was Hunter's Dakota perspective on missionary work that allowed him to reject theological training and the Euro-Canadian channels of formal education in favor of cultural continuity. Certainly, native cultural continuity was not part of the Euro-Canadian missionary agenda. On the contrary, as with most Canadian policies with regard to native peoples, the missionary agenda was assimilationist, and its one concession to native culture, making allowances for native-speaking missionaries, was made out of necessity.

Second, Hunter's Dakota approach to his missionary responsibilities can be seen in his opposition to the permit system. Judging from the rep- rimand Hunter received from the FMC over his involvement in the permit system debate, the FMC either favored the system or, at the very least, de- clined to oppose government policy on the issue. Hunter was "directed in future to give his undivided attention to the work that he was placed on that Reserve to perform."43 From the wording of this reprimand, it would appear that the FMC felt Hunter was acting outside his role as a missionary. Furthermore, this was not the first time the FMC expressed concern over Hunter's tendency to set his own agenda. As early as the fall of 1894 the Presbyterian missionary at Birtle noted that " 'Peter' was appointed to do mission work, but he appears to have ideas of his own as to what that work consists of."44 Finally, Indian Agent Markle reported that McArthur, the Birtle missionary, made Peter Hunter promise to "drop his egotistical views and work in the interest of the Indians and the Church" as a condition of his employment as missionary at Pipe~tone.~~

The fact that McArthur believed he needed to extract this promise from Hunter suggests that Hunter had strong opinions about what was best for the Dakota and, furthermore, that those opinions did not coincide with the opinions of Markle or McArthur. Apparently, Hunter had a history of thinking for himself and defining his role as missionary from his own perspective as a Christian Dakota.

The fact that Hunter seems to have chosen not to simply follow the FMC'S lead in defining his role as a missionary suggests that he appropriated this Euro-Canadian institution and altered it to suit his own purposes. In fact, there is some evidence that Hunter was interested in the position of missionary for the potential authority and respect it could command with the government. Shortly after being appointed missionary, Hunter asked to be appointed Indian subagent under Agent Markle. Markle denied the request, saying that "I had known him [Hunter] too long to place any authority in his hands."46 Having achieved one level of authority in the Euro-Canadian hierarchy, Hunter almost immediately sought to rise to the next. His motives in wanting this authority cannot be precisely determined from the archival material, but it is likely that he wished either to influence the government Indian agent or to become -he Indian agent. In either case, Hunter's goal would seem to have been to gain some control over the poli- cies affecting the Dakota people and thus to have a role in determining the shape of reservation life.

This interpretation of Hunter's motives is supported by the correspon- dence concerning the Dakota opposition to the permit system. On this issue, Hunter was acting on behalf of the Dakota to affect their relations with the government and its agent. Peter Hunter, with his education and his position as missionary, was well situated to represent Dakota interests.

Although missionaries may not have been well respected by officials of the Department of Indian Affairs, it can still be said that "missionary" was a step up in rank from no rank at all. Furthermore, holding the position of missionary suggested a certain level of "civilization" and indicated a certain level of trust between the missionary and the missionary society members. If the position did not actually make an "Indian" equal to a "white man," it did at least make him more than just an "Indian." As a result, Hunter, and the Dakota who engaged him, believed he had perhaps the best opportunity of any Dakota to negotiate with the government officials.

In effect, Hunter, together with other Dakota leaders, was attempting to negotiate terms of association for the middle ground. The Dakota had established mutually beneficial relations with the Euro-Canadian settlers in southern Manitoba. Their economies, at least, had become interrelated as they transacted business with each other for labor, seed, equipment, timber, dry goods, and produce. The Euro-Canadians needed Dakota labor (Elias 1988: 71-72, 76,109), and the Dakota needed access to Euro-Canadian sources of materials and technology. The permit system disrupted this bal- ance by placing the government Indian agent and farm instructor in the middle of business transactions between the Dakota and the settlers. The balance might have been disrupted eventually as native people became suc- cessful enough to compete with white settlers for markets (Carter 1993 [1990]: 233); but, for the Dakota, the permit system precipitated disequi- librium in their relationship with whites. At stake was Dakota autonomy: their ability to associate freely and to maintain their economic indepen- dence. Up to this point, the Dakota had been able to maintain their culture and much of their independence while adapting as much as they needed to survive in their new circumstances on the reserves. Furthermore, they had established relations with their Euro-Canadian neighbors that supported their own efforts and allowed for some common understanding without excessive cultural interference. The permit system threatened to end this world and replace it with one in which the Dakota would be dependent upon the Indizn agent in all economic matters, including how, when, and why they could work, sell, or buy.

Thus, in arguing for the Dakota against the permit system, Hunter was arguing for the middle ground and against subordination. He was argu- ing for the right of the Dakota to determine how much and in what ways they would adapt to Euro-Canadian culture. Judging by the petition sent to Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Hayter Reed, by Hunter on behalf of the Dakota, the Dakota did not object to having an Indian agent or a farm instructor. They objected to agents and farm instructors who did not work for the Dakota and whom the Dakota could not in- fluence."' This distinction is significant, in that it further suggests that the Dakota were concerned with the loss of their autonomy. The government could send agents and instructors if it wished, just as long as those officials did not interfere with Dakota operations.

According to Carter (1993 [199o]: 229), "the protest led by [Peter Hunter] was the most successful of those in the 189os, but it led to no reconsideration or revamping of the permit system." At this time, the Cana- dian government was not interested in what the "Indians" thought would be best for them: the government had already decided what was best for Indians. As noted above, the government had lost the incentive to cooperate with native peoples decades earlier. Thus Hunter's attempt at negotiating the middle ground could not succeed because the Canadian government was no longer interested in participating in this arena of common cultural understandings. Hunter was using the process of the middle ground, but the government was operating within an entirely separate frame of reference.

John Thunder

Although the careers of Peter Hunter and John Thunder share many simi- larities, there are also some significant differences. First, Thunder spent at least twenty-four years engaged in mission work, either as an interpreter or as a missionary. As a result, considerably more information exists in the ar- chival records for Thunder, which allows for a more detailed examination of his attitude toward missionary work. Second, Thunder does not seem to have become involved in the wider political issues facing the Dakota. He wrote letters about religious practices and farming, and he was concerned about political issues that affected him personally, such as his rivalry with Alec Ben, but he did not write about the permit system nor did he challenge the authority of either the Indian agent or the farm instructor. On a super- ficial level, Thunder appears to have been a model Christian missionary. However, there are sometimes subtle indications that Thunder, like Hunter, interpreted his position as missionary in his own way, for his own pur- poses, and, furthermore, that he appropriated the language of Christianity to gain Euro-Canadian support. He used the process of the middle ground to achieve his own goals, even though the middle ground itself had been thoroughly eroded by 1894.

Like Peter Hunter, John Thunder perceived himself uniquely as Dakota. He referred to himself as an "Indian,"48 and Canadian society would not accept that he was anything but an Indian. It is abundantly clear from the records that the FMC for which he worked always considered him to be a second-class missionary and little more than a glorified inter~reter?~

This attitude is exemplified in the constant reference in FMC letters to Thun- der by his first name, as opposed to his title and surname. In all the FMC correspondence, only once is a nonnative person referred to in that fashion, and it appears to be a case of intimate friendship.jO Furthermore, Thunder was firmly situated within reservation life. He had brothers and friends and his own farm at Birdtail Creek, and he received money from the govern- ment along with all the other band members.s1 This personal association with native life is also apparent in the way he refers to the Dakota. Most frequently he calls them "these people" (as opposed to other missionar- ies who say "the Indians"), but he also refers to them as "our owned [sic] people," "my own people," and "my red people." j2

However, Thunder also demonstrates a thorough understanding of Christian symbols. He seems to have had a thorough knowledge of the Bible and was quite capable of drawing upon it to make analogies with his own situation. Furthermore, he so frequently signed his letters "Yours Fra- ternally" that he could, and did, make statements of strong dissatisfaction simply by signing "Yours Truly" instead. Whether or not Thunder recog- nized a parallel between this symbolic expression of brotherhood in British culture and similar Dakota expressions, he was capable of understanding the symbol well enough to use it to great effect. The same is true of his bibli- cal analogies. They were frequently pointed and clearly intended to hold up Christian ideals of love, honesty, justice, and faith against the actions of his opponents. In one particularly well-aimed letter, written at the height of the trouble over the mission buildings at Pipestone, Thunder ended by saying, "God will known [sic]this Indian Servant and He will judge rightly at one way to the other." j3 This statement, written at the end of a letter outlining how Thunder felt he had been wronged by the committee, again shows his understanding of and ability to use Christian and British symbols-in this case, symbols of the servant, judgment, and innocence. In addition, this letter was signed "Yours Fraternally," emphasizing his commitment to Christian ideals and principles and thus further underlining the committee members' apparently un-Christian behavior.

The FMC may have viewed Thunder as a "second-rate" missionary, but he certainly did not see himself that way. The Christian symbols that he chose to use in his letters continually emphasize his equality with other non-native missionaries, which suggests three things. First, Thunder per- ceived that he was treated unequally; second, he felt his contributions were as valuable as anyone else's; and third, he took advantage of the language of Christianity to create and maintain a position of equality for himself in the mission society. He tried to use Christian language to create a sense of part- nership or brotherhood between himself, as a representative of the Dakota, and the convenor of the FMC as a representative of Euro-Canadians. In doing so, he was fighting against subordination and for the opportunity to live the middle ground, to be Dakota and Christian.

Thunder also used Christian symbols and language to attract the at- tention of Euro-Canadians. In a letter concerning traditional Dakota cere- monies, addressed to Assistant Indian Commissioner David Laird,Thunder opposed Indian attendance at the Brandon Fair on the grounds that "they have been carrying on all kinds of Evil practices. Intoxicated. Fornicating. Dancing + gave away."54 Yet in the same letter, Thunder goes on to say that "this time of the year the Indians have not much of time to spared [sic]."55 This statement seems to indicate that, though Thunder can label the prac- tices he wants stopped as "Evil," he is perhaps doing so for the benefit of the reader, whereas his real concerns are more practical and this-worldly. That is, Thunder objects to Indian attendance at the Brandon Fair because it will take time that should be spent working the farms; but, he phrases his objection in terms that he believes will attract the commissioner's attention and secure his help. Regardless of whether or not the commissioner was actually interested in stopping native religious practices, Thunder's long association with the Presbyterian Missionary Society seems to have taught him that Christianity is the language to use to gain the support and attention of Euro-Canadians. In addition, Agent Markle, the major Euro-Canadian representative to the Dakota, also tended to concentrate his efforts against "heathen practices" (Elias 1988: 88,104). Thus Thunder phrases his con- cern about disruptions to farm work in Christian terms. In support of this interpretation it can be noted that Thunder also opposed disruptions on the reserve instigated by white people,s6 and that until the early twentieth century "there was largely a live and let live attitude on the part of the Christians and non-Christians" (ibid.: 114) among the Dakota. Though the government Indian agent and the Euro-Canadian Presbyterian missionary in the area were interested in eliminating all traces of the so-called pagan- ism, the Birdtail Creek Dakota were much more tolerant. Apparently, the exclusivity assumed by the agent and the white missionary was not a part of Dakota Christianity. Thus it seems that Thunder learned how to manipulate the Christian concerns of some members of the Euro-Canadian population of southern Manitoba to attract their attention and gain their support for his agenda. In the case of the letter written to Laird about the Brandon Fair, Thunder was using Christianity in a way the FMC never intended-as bait.

Similarly, Thunder also used the language of Christianity and the Christian concerns he ascribed to Euro-Canadians as a weapon. In a let- ter to the editor of the Deloraine Times, a local newspaper for the settlers, Thunder attacks native practices, as he did in the letter to Laird, and is particularly critical of any missionary who would allow such practices to continue. Specifically, Thunder is concerned with the approach of the mis- sionary at Oak River, a Euro-Canadian Anglican who, according to one of the Oak River Dakota, "wants us to have our own ways, such as spirit dance, grass dance, medicine dance, conjuror live in teepees, roam around, do all the ways that we have in our life, but yet come to church on Sab- bath."57 Thunder's response is that this approach is the work of the "evil one," and he further notes that "sometimes the missionary is misunder- stood, and works in other ways for his own sake, or his own pocket."58 In short, Thunder implies that the missionary at Oak River is selfish and/or greedy and is doing the work of the devil. Thunder's approach and con- cerns seem to indicate a high level of commitment to Christian principles and values over and against traditional Dakota practices. Yet, his attack is not against Dakota practices so much as it is against the missionary.

At this time, in 1893, Thunder was not employed as a Presbyterian missionary, though he had established himself as an interpreter and was working for the Christian Endeavour Society at the Turtle Mountain Re- serve.s9 Given thevehemence with whichThunder would later fight to secure and maintain his position as missionary,6O it seems likely that something similar was occurring with this letter, specifically that Thunder was looking for a promotion. First, though the FMC was not actively recruiting native missionaries, there was the possibility of a position opening up at Pipe- stone, where Peter Hunter was hired the following year. Such a prospect may have prompted Thunder to articulate his position publicly on Chris- tian matters. Second, the Anglican Oak River missionary whom Thunder's letters attacked, Rev. Hartland, was quite popular with the Dakota. In 1893 the Dakota made it known that "if they were obliged to accept some form of non-Indian management, they wished it to come from Rev. Hartland" (Elias 1988: 96). Hartland's popularity with the Dakota was an obstacle for Thunder. Whether or not he agreed with Hartland's approach to mission work, Thunder could not become a missionary of any influence as long as there was already a popular missionary among the Dakota. The difficulties of competing for influence had already been apparent through the Dakota experience with Rev. T~nkansuici~e.

The Rev. Solomon, as Tunkansuiciye was known, was missionary at the Birdtail Creek reserve from 1877 to 1887 (Baird 1895). During this time, there was no other missionary with influence among the Dakota in the area. After Tunkansuiciye returned to the United States, Hartland gained prominence, taking up the position that had belonged to a Dakota missionary for more than ten years. If Thunder aspired to the position of missionary to the Dakota, it was to his advan- tage to oppose Hartland. With Hartland removed, Thunder would have the opportunity to take his place.

Finally, Inspector Wadsworth, who was generally supportive of the Dakota in their agricultural efforts, dismissed Hartland as having "per- formed his duties as a teacher 'imperfectly' " (ibid.).This judgment suggests that the government, or at least its agents, disapproved of Hartland's ac- tivities. Given the fact that Hartland supported the Dakota opposition to the permit system (Elias 1988: 97), it becomes apparent that Hartland was a threat to the government's assimilationist policy. Thunder's letter seems well timed and well aimed to take advantage of the uneasiness the gov- ernment agents in the area already felt with regard to the Rev. Hartland. All the government needed was the right kind of reason to remove Hart- land, and Thunder's letter provided it. By calling into question Hartland's commitment to Christian mission work, Thunder gave the government the moral high ground and allowed them to petition Hartland's superiors with Christian reasons for his removal. With John Thunder's testimony, Hart- land was no longer just a nuisance to the government, he was a threat to the moral life and immortal souls of the Dakota people. As soon as Agent Markle received a copy of Thunder's letter, he recommended that Hartland be removed from the reserve, which ultimately took place (ibid.).

Thus, through his letter to the Deloraine Times, Thunder manipulated a complex religious and political situation. By taking advantage of the gov- ernment opposition to Hartland, Thunder bolstered his own position as a potential candidate to take over the mission at Oak River or Pipestone. Thunder used Christian terms to place himself on the side of righteousness, and Hartland on the side of the devil. Thunder even went so far as to com- pare Hartland's approach to "swinging the Indians into the arms of evil one." Such an accusation would have been hard to ignore even if the gov- ernment had supported Hartland, particularly since it was made in a public newspaper. By writing a letter to the white newspaper, Thunder appealed directly to Euro-Canadian settlers in a successful attempt to involve them in the issue. He used Christian categories and symbols to create a bond between himself and the Deloraine settlers to consolidate his own position and undermine that of Hartland. Using Christian terms attracted attention to Thunder's cause, just as it did in his letter to David Laird, and in this case it also helped Thunder to have Rev. Hartland removed from the Oak River reserve, potentially furthering Thunder's own missionary career.

In his letters to David Laird and to the Deloraine Times, as in his corre- spondence with the FMC, Thunder applied one appropriated Euro-Canadian system of meaning, Christianity, in support of another appropriated Euro- Canadian meaning complex, either agriculture or Christian mission. He used the process of the middle ground-the selective appropriation, use, and interpretation of symbols and meaning systems-to support the Dakota struggle to remain independent and to achieve a position of influence with respect to the Dakota people and Euro-Canadian agents. For John Thunder, Christianity provided a means to an end or a code, a way of communicat- ing across cultures, that allowed him to achieve his own goals in ways that were acceptable and comprehensible to Euro-Canadians.

Mission work also had advantages for Thunder and for the Dakota in general. For Thunder, a missionary posting offered him authority and pres- tige with the Dakota community and with segments of the Euro-Canadian community. Apparently, John Thunder lacked charisma and could not de- pend upon the sheer force of his personality to engender the respect and cooperation he desired. He needed a position of prestige within the commu- nity, but this was not available to him as an ordinary member of the Birdtail Creek reserve. The chief of this reserve, Mahpiyahdinape, was a very force- ful personality. He had been a chief in Minnesota and had brought the Birdtail band into Canada (Elias 1988: 27). In issues involving the govern- ment or other bands, it was he who represented the Birdtail band (see Elias 1988). In addition, he also taught school (ibid.: 61, 73), invited Tunkan- suiciye to the reserve as missionary (ibid.: 229 n. 14), and wrote a history of the Dakota (ibid.: 106). It seems there was very little Mahpiyahdinape would not or could not do. In fact, the only recorded challenge to his leader- ship came from Mahpiya Duta (Red Cloud), who tried, unsuccessfully, for over five years to achieve government recognition as chief.62 It is not clear when Mahpiyahdinape finally died, but he was still alive at least as late as 1896 (Elias 1988: 106). As a consequence of Mahpiyahdinape's strong leadership, neither John Thunder nor any other band member had a chance of attaining a position of prominence on the Birdtail Creek reserve while Mahpiyahdinape was alive. Waoke, the chief at Oak Lake reserve, was much weaker. He was recognized as leader by Little Crow's, Shak'pay's, and Wakanozhan's bands after those chiefs died. Since these Dakota were "reviled by the other bands as the ones who had got them into their present difficulties" (ibid.: 26), it is likely that Waoke did not command much re- spect among the Canadian Dakota generally. Consequently, moving to the Oak Lake (Pipestone) reserve allowed Thunder the opportunity to become a leader of his people.

Being a missionary also gave Thunder status within the reserve com- munity. The position of interpreter was certainly also accompanied by such prestige, as evidenced by the jealousy and competition among interpreters in the same area.63 It was a paid position, one that entailed a certain amount of responsibility with respect to Euro-Canadians and one that came with a certain amount of power, since the interpreter was also often a mediator between the two groups (see Hagedorn 1988; Kawashima 1989). Yet, with up to four capable interpreters in the area at any one time, there was very little to distinguish between them, unless one of them was also a mission- ary. The designation "missionary," therefore, put John Thunder above Alec Ben and the others in terms of This superior status is indicated by the fact that Ben continued to make accusations against Thunder after the latter was appointed missionary, but once Thunder felt his position was secured, he ceased to attack Ben. In this regard it is interesting to note that Thunder wrote the FMC on a regular basis just as long as he was only an interpreter. During both of his terms as missionary, from 1895 to 1901 and from 1907 to 1913, he wrote few letters to the committee, and those that he did write ~ertained to specific problems. The volume of correspondence received from Thunder between 1901 and 1907 is approximately four times that for the other twelve years. Added to the fact that much of the con- tent of the correspondence between 1901 and 1907 concerns his desire to regain his position as missionary, the value of the post to Thunder becomes clear. Obtaining the post of missionary would secure his status within the Euro-Canadian community (missionaries were less interchangeable than interpreters) and set him above other interpreters with respect to the native community.

Thus Thunder appropriated another Euro-Canadian institution, the position of missionary, and used it in the process of the middle ground to achieve a useful status with respect to both the cultures in contact. As a mis- sionary, the policies and agenda of the Presbyterian mission society were mediated by Thunder. He gave the sermons on Sundays, and he decided what their content would be. In this way Thunder influenced the form that Christianity would take for the Dakota. In addition, he was able to medi- ate Christian concepts for the Dakota people by ministering to them in the Dakota language. Consequently, Thunder's posting as missionary offered him the means and the opportunity to help determine how Christianity was incorporated into Dakota culture. Thunder chose Christianity as an accom- modation in the process of the middle ground, and he also chose to control the nature of that accommodation.

Mission work offered John Thunder certain personal advantages but, according to Thunder, it also had advantages for the Dakota in general. Thunder showed an awareness of the situation of the Dakota and a will- ingness, even an eagerness, to work on their behalf. At one point he wrote, "I love my work if its anything in my way I general did not like it and try to hold the Gospel of Jesus up so the Indians may look to it and live by it and be safe." Later that same month he continued, "At the present generation need not higher Education I mean the Indian generation. If an Indian can count the stars of heaven his own country men will not listen to him sometimes-plain Gospel-plain language-Indians are need it just now."66 And again, he stated that interpreting is "almost out of the [sic] date. Alright for 15 or 20 years ago. but now people need clear language." 67 This statement seems to indicate a practical orientation and a belief that Christianity has something to offer to the Dakota. Such an attitude is fur- ther indicated by a statement made about the purchase of a threshing ma- chine by the band, which was followed immediately by the comment that "the power of the Gospel is just the thing for our owned people."68 For John Thunder, Christianity seems to be a vehicle to restructure Dakota cul- ture to meet the demands of reservation life. Christianity is a means to the end Thunder seeks. Furthermore, it offers a conduit for communication outside the reserve. As Thunder must have realized, Christian symbols and appeals to Christian values could attract the attention and even the respect of Euro-Canadians. There were advantages to being Christian, to knowing the language of Christianity.

At least one advantage was economic. As noted above, the Dakota were dependent, although not by choice, upon the goodwill of government Indian agents and farm instructors for the smooth and efficient running of their economy. If a permit could not be obtained for the sale of produce, the Dakota had to lose the sale or sell their goods illegally. While they were not averse to breaking the permit law (Elias 1988: 103-4), it was much easier to have the agents' cooperation. Furthermore, it was not always possible to find a buyer who was also willing to break the law. Since the Indian Department officials, and Agent Markle in particular, clearly favored the Christian Indians over those they called "pagan" (ibid.: II~),Christianity could be an economic advantage. However, to benefit from this favorit- ism, it was necessary to declare oneself a Christian in a way that the agent was certain to notice. Being a missionary, associating with a missionary, and attending church were all public ways the Dakota could make such a declaration. One simple and direct way of asserting one's Christianization was to sign a petition critical of "heathen amusements," such as the 1887 petition signed by John Thunder and Peter Hunter. Thus mission work and the presence of a missionary on the reserve allowed the Dakota to forge the cross-cultural relationships they needed in spite of the obstacles placed in their way by government policy. Furthermore, these relationships extended beyond the reaches of the church and the mission society and put Chris- tianity to uses never intended by those Euro-Canadian institutions. Again, the Dakota were able to appropriate the institution and symbol system of Christianity and to use it to their advantage in trying to establish and main- tain their autonomy. The agent wanted Christian Indians and the Dakota complied, receiving the permits they wanted in return.


Peter Hunter and John Thunder both chose to become missionaries and to use their position to the advantage of the Dakota people. Both attempted in their own particular way to negotiate with government agents to keep control over Dakota life in the hands of the Dakota. They willingly adapted to Euro-Canadian institutions if those institutions were useful to the Dakota. Both men used the process of the middle ground to approach the Euro-Canadian world from a Dakota perspective. They appropriated mission work and Christianity to serve as a platform, manipulated Chris- tian symbols and concepts to attract attention and reinforce their personal status, and capitalized on the economic advantages of Christian conver- sion. Hunter and Thunder tried to make concessions to Euro-Canadian culture and yet still remain Dakota, to create a place, a middle ground, where Dakota culture could continue alongside, rather than subservient to, the Canadian world. Hunter and Thunder used the process of the middle ground to gain all possible advantages for their people, even in the face of restrictive government policies and even though no "common, mutually comprehensible world" could be created.


I Comparisons could also be made with other native missionaries, such as Peter Jones (see Smith 1987) and George Nelson (see Brown and Brightman 1988), and other Dakota men who sought a role in Euro-Canadian society, such as Charles Eastman (see Eastman 1971 [I~oz], 1977 [1916]). Although comparisons with these other cases are beyond the scope of this essay, they can provide valu- able insights and will be considered in the larger work of which this essay is a part. Also, similar processes of creating a middle ground by using the language, symbols, and rituals of Christianity were occurring elsewhere in native-white contact situations in North America. See, for example, Blanchard 1982; Bolt 1983; Brenner 1980; Brown 1987; Grant 1980; Kan 1983,1985,1989; Morrison 1974,1985; Patterson 1982.

z Petition to Department of Indian Affairs, 19 September 1887, PAC RGIO 3598 no. 1361.

3 Spear to McKay, 4 January 1902, ucc/vu 79.199C. In addition to the Records Pertaining to Mission to the Indians in Manitoba and the North West, the A. B. Baird Papers were also consulted and found to contain mostly administrative material not relevant to this investigation.

4 Petition to Department of Indian Affairs, 19 September 1887, PAC RGIO 3598 no. 1361; see also Thunder to McKay, 9 September1901, ucc/vu 79.1qqC; Spear to McKay, 25 October 1901, ucc/vu 79.19qC; Thunder to McKay, 3 April 1902, ucc/vu 79.1qqC; Thunder to McKay, 5 September 1902, ucc/vu 79.199C; Thunder to Laird, 16 July 1907, PAC RGIO 3569 no. 95-2; Laird to Thunder,

18 July 1907, PAC RGIO 3569 no. 95-2; McLaren to Farquharson, 22 April 1912,

ucc/vu 79.199C; McLaren [to McKay?], 4 September 1912, UCC/VU 79.199C. 5 Baird to Cassels, 21 September 1889, ucclvu 79.199C. 6 McLeod to Wardrope, 7 May 1888, ucclvu 79.199C; McKay to Harvie,~~

April 1888, UCC/VU 79.199c. 7 McMillan to McKay, 25 June 1902; McMillan to McKay, 22 September 1902; both UCC/VU 79.199C. 8 Report of the FMC, January 1889, ucc/vu 79.19qC; Reed to the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Ottawa, 15 February 1889, PAC RGIO 3811 no. 55008. 9 Thunder to the Indian Commissioner, Regina, 18 November 1889, PAC RGIO 3811 no. 55008; Baird to Cassels, 24 April 1890, ucclvu 79.1gqC.

10 Baird report, 14 May 1891, ucclvu 79.1qqC.

11 Thunder to the Editor of the Deloraine Times, 16 September 1893, PAC RGIO 3908 no. 107243; Markle to Reed, 19 November 1893, PAC RGIO 3908 no. 107243; Markle to Forget, 25 November 1893, PAC RGIO 3908 no. 107243. 12 Baird to McKay, 3 June 1895; Laidlaw to McKay, 22 July 1899; Thunder to Hart, 22 June 1901; Thunder to McKay, 9 September 1901; all ucc/vu 79.19qC.

I3 Thunder to Hart, 22 June 1901; Thunder to McKay, 9 September 1901; Thunder to McKay, zo September 1901; Thunder to McKay, 15 October 1901; all ucclvu 79.199C. Any previous correspondence seems to have been lost.

14 Spear to McKay, 25 October 1901; Thunder to McKay, 29 October 1901; Spear to McKay, 5 November 1901; Thunder to McKay, 6 November 1901; McArthur to McKay, 26 November 1901; Spear to McKay, 18 December 1901; Thunder to McKay, 21 December 1901; all ucc/vu 79.199C.

15 Thunder to McKay, 21 December 1901, ucc/vu 79.199C.

16 Report of the FMC, 19 February 1902, ucclvu 79.19qC.

17 McMillan to McKay, 22 September 1902; Thunder to McKay, 13 October 1902; McMillan to McKay, 24 November 1902; McMillan to McKay, 17 February 1903; all ucc/vu 79.19qC. 18 See Spear to McKay, 11January 1904, UCC/VU 79.199C, for the last known record of the issue.

19 For the initial dispute see Thunder to McKay, 3 April 1902; Frazer to McKay, 18 April 1902; Spear to McKay, 13 May 1902; Spear to McKay, 22 May 1902; Thunder to McKay, 5 September 1902; all ucc/vu 79.1qqC. For 1904 see Hart to McKay, 26 March 1904; Thunder to Hart, 29 March 1904; Ben to Heart [sic], 4 April 1904; Hart to McKay, 18 April 1904; McMillan to McKay, 26 April 1904; all ucc/vu 79.199C. For 1911 see McKay to Farquharson, 8 March 1911; McKay to Farquharson, 18 March 1911; both ucc/vu 79.199C. For 1912 see McLaren to ?,4 September 1912, ucc/vu 79.1qqC. For 1913 see Ben to McKay, 22 May 1913; McLeod to McKay, 22 May 1913; both ucc/vu 79.199C.

20 Thunder to McKay, 15 May 1905, ucc/vu 79.199C.

21 Thunder [to McKay?], 6 November 1905, ucc/vu 79.199C.

22 Stephens and Strang report to the FMC, 29 May 1907, ucc/vu 79.199C.

23 Minutes of the Convention of Presbyterian Workers among the Indians, Sep- tember 1908, ucc/vu 79.1qqC. 24 McLaren to Farquharson, 22 April 1912; also McLaren in Minutes of the Executive Meeting of the Indian Mission Committee, April 1912; both ucc/vu 79.199c. 25 Ibid.

26 Markle to Daly, 20 September 1894, PAC RGIO 3937 no. 120445; Baird to McKay, 3 Tune 1895, ucclvu 79.199C; Petition to Department of Indian Affairs, 19 Sep- tember 1887, PAC RGIO 3598 no. 1361.

27 Baird to McKay, 3 June 1895, ucc/vu 7y.1yyC.

28 Wright to Wardrope, 22 August 1888, ucclvu 7y.1gyC.

zy Markle to Daly, 20 September 1894, PAC RGIO 3937 no. 120445.

30 Baird to McKay, 3 June 1895, ucc/vu 79.1ygC; see also Markle to Daly, zo Sep- tember 1894; Chisholm to Scott, 15 October 1894; Deputy Superintendent Gen- eral of Indian Affairs to Markle, 8 November 1894; and Markle to Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, 3 January 1895; all PAC RGIO 3937 no. 120445.

31 Markle to Daly, zo September 1894, PAC RGIO 3937 no. 120445.

32 Markle to Daly, 20 September 1894; and R. W. Scott to Markle, 12 September 1894; both PAC RGIO 3937 no. 120455. 33 Markle to Daly, zo September 1894, PAC RGIO 3937 no. 120455. 34 8 November 1894, PAC RGIO 3937 no. 1~0455. 35 Markle to Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, 3 January 1895, PAC RGIO

3937 "0. 120455. 36 Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs to Markle, 12 January 1895, PAC RGIO 39 37 "0. 120455. 37 Baird to McKay, 3 June 1895, ucc/vu 79.199C. 38 It could also be argued that this period of relative harmony between the Dakota and their Euro-Canadian neighbors only lasted until it became clear that the Dakota farmers were posing a real economic threat to the white farmers in the area (see Carter 1993 [1990]: 233). 39 Hart to McLaren, 6 February 1882; McKellar to Wardrope, 31 May 1884; McKellar to Wardrope, 3 October 1884; Hart to Wardrope, 30 July 1885; Baird to Cassels, I December 1888; all ucclvu 7y.1yyC. 40 Ibid. 41 Baird to Cassels, I December 1888; Wright to Wardrope, 22 August 1888; Baird to McKay, 3 June 1895; all ucclvu 79.1gyC. 42 Wright to Wardrope, 22 August 1888, ucc/vu 7q.1yyC. 43 Markle to Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs, 3 January 1895, PAC RGIO 3937 "0. 120455. 44 Mchrthur to Markle copy in Markle to Daly, zo September 1894, PAC RGIO 39 37 "0.120455. 45 Markle to Daly, zo September 1894, PAC RGIO 3937 no. 120455. 46 Ibid. 47 Hunter for Harry Hotanin and Rest Indians (sic)to Reed, 7 November 1894, PAC RGIO 3908 no. 107243. 48 Thunder to McKay, z February 1903, ucclvu 79.1ygC. 49 Baird to Cassels, 23 February 1893; McArthur to McKay, 26 November 1901; Report of the Indian Mission Committee, January 1907; Minutes of the Ex- ecutive Meeting of the Indian Mission Committee, April 1912; McLaren to Farquharson, 22 April 1912; all ucc/vu 7y.1yyC. 50 McLaren to Bert [R. P. McKay?], 4 September 1912, ucc/vu 7y.1yyC. 51 Spear to McKay, 4 January 1902; McLaren to Farquharson, 22 April 1912; both ucclvu 7y.1yyC; and Agent Wheatley, Statement of Distribution of Funded Money Paid to Members of Bird Tail Sioux Band No. 57,1907, PAC RGIO 3569

52 Thunder to McKay, 13 October 1902; Thunder to McKay, 19 February 1903; Thunder to McKay, 15 May 1905; all ucc/vu 7y.1yyC.

53 Thunder to McKay, 2 February 1903, ucclvu 7y.1qyC. 54 Thunder to Laird, 16 July 1907, PAC RGIO 3569 no. 95-2. 55 Ibid. 56 Thunder to McKay, 26 February 1902, ucc/vu 7y.1ygC. 57 Thunder to the Editor of the Deloraine Times, 26 September 1893, PAC RGIO 3908 no. 107243. 58 Ibid. 59 McLeod to Wardrope, 7 May 1888; Report of the FMC, January 1889; Baird to Cassels, 24 April 1890; Baird report, 14 May 1891; all ucc/vu 7y.1yyC; Thun- der to the Editor of the Deloraine Times, 16 September 1893, PAC RGIO 3908 no. 107243; Markle to Reed, 19 November 1893, PAC RGIO 3908 no. 107243; Markle to Forget, 25 November 1893, PAC RGIO 3908 no. 107243. 60 I refer here to the rivalry between John Thunder and Alec Ben, which I will discuss in more detail below. 61 Thunder to the Editor of the Deloraine Times, 26 September 1893, PAC RGIO 3908 no. 107243. 62 Markle to Indian Commissioner, 25 February 1888; Mahpiya Duta to [Commis- sioner?], 24 April 1890; Mahpiya Duta to [Commissioner?], 8 September 1893; Markle to Indian Commissioner, y September 1893; all PAC RGIO 3598 no. 1361. 63 Spear to McKay, 5 November 1901; Thunder to McKay, 3 April 1902; Spear to McKay, 22 May 1902; Thunder to McKay, zy March 1904; McMillan to McKay, 26 April 1904; all ucclvu 7y.1gyC. 64 Besides Alec Ben, see Spear to McKay, 5 November 1901; Spear to McKay, 22 May 1902; both ucc/vu 79.1yyC, concerning John Noel, the interpreter at Oak River. 65 Thunder to McKay, z February 1903, ucc/vu 7y.1yyC. 66 Thunder to McKay, 19 February 1903, ucc/vu 79.1yyC. 67 Thunder to McKay, 25 May 1903, ucc/vu 7y.1yyC. 68 Thunder to McKay, 13 October 1902, ucc/vu 7y.1gyC.

PAC RGIO Public Archives of Canada, Record Group 10 Department of Indian Affairs Records-West. Ottawa.

ucc/vu United Church of CanadaNictoria University Archives. Presbyterian Church in Canada. Board of Home Mission and Social Service. Records Pertaining to Mission to the Indians in Manitoba and the North West.

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Bolt, Clarence The Conversion of the Port SimpsonTsimshian: Indian Control or Mis-

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