Friday, November 14, 2008

Friends and the Indians

Did you know that Quakers call themselves "Friends"? Rayner W. Kelsey's book about Quaker mission work is called Friends and the Indians, 1655-1917. I'm making it a point to mention the Quakers now because they were very different from the Puritans/Calvinists. The Quakers were consciously doing what I mentioned in yesterday's post: their goal was to help Indians adjust to a world that was much changed as a result of the ongoing European invasion. The Quakers weren't the "preachy" type, they preferred to lead by example.

Because the Quakers did much of their mission work among the Iroquois and other non-Algonkian Indians, much of their work is not relevant to Algonkian Church History. Nevertheless, in 1795, The Quakers helped the Stockbridge Mohicans build a sawmill (in their village of New Stockbridge, New York). Captain Hendrick Aupaumut, one of the tribe's most important leaders, began corresponding with the Quakers in that same year and they later donated farming implements and blacksmith tools to the tribe. Furthermore, they helped the Stockbridges build a gristmill, and sent three of their girls to Philadelphia where they learned to read and write, as well as how to spin wool into cloth (source: Mohican News Jan. 15, 2006 article by Lion Miles). While it might not have made much of a difference, the Quakers attempted to advocate for the New York Indians when unfriendly whites encroached upon their lands (this is from an article by Densmore). Finally, and perhaps most significantly, when a smallpox epidemic came into the area, the Quakers sponsored the vaccination of about 1,000 Oneida (Iroquois), Brothertown, and Stockbridge Indians (Kelsey, 116).

Are you wondering if the Quaker approach was appreciated? Apparently it was. Colin Calloway in Crown and Calumet, quoted a British subject who observed that the Quakers were the only group of whites that Indians looked up to.

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