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Catholic Indian Missions of the United States

Detailed history of Catholic missionary activity to the native tribes of America

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Missions, CATHOLIC INDIAN, OF THE UNITED STATES. —The spiritual welfare of the native tribes of America was a subject of deep concern to the Governments of Catholic Spain and France from the very discovery of the Western Continent. To this fact all the early patents bear’ witness. That granted to Ayllon in 1532 for exploration and settlement along the Florida coast, as quoted by Shea, is typical: “Whereas our principal intent in the discovery of new lands is that the inhabitants and natives thereof, who are without the light or knowledge of faith, may be brought to understand the truth of our holy Catholic

Faith, that they may come to a knowledge thereof, and become Christians and be saved, and this is the chief motive that you are to bear and hold in this affair, and to this end it is proper that religious persons should accompany you, by these presents I empower you to carry to the said land the religious whom you may judge necessary, and the vestments and other things needful for the observance of Divine worship; and I command that whatever you shall thus expend in transporting the said religious, as well as in maintaining them and giving them what is needful, and in their support, and for the vestments and other articles required for the Divine worship, shall be paid entirely from the rents and profits which in any manner shall belong to us in the said land.” With few exceptions secular priests and missionaries accompanied every Spanish expedition of discovery. The first Mass celebrated within the present limits of the United States was probably that offered up by the priests of Ponce de Leon’s expedition at the southwestern point of Florida in 1521. The next was celebrated by the noted Dominican Antonio de Montesinos, the earliest opponent of Indian slavery, at Ayllon’s temporary colony of San Miguel de Guandape in Virginia in 1526, eighty years before the founding of Jamestown.

I. SOUTH-EASTERN STATES (VIRGINIA TO ALABAMA, INCLUSIVE).—The whole southeastern portion of the United States, extending westwards to or beyond the Mississippi, was known in the early Spanish period under the general name of Florida. Although at least fifteen priests had lost their lives in this region with the expeditions of Narvaez and De Soto in 1527-28 and 1539-42, an attempt to evangelize the native tribes was made in 1549 by the Dominican Luis Cancer, the apostle of Guatemala, under a royal commission granted at his own request for the conversion of Florida. Forced by the obstinacy of the ship-captain to land at Tampa Bay among the fierce Calusa, instead of being given an opportunity to search out a friendly tribe, Father Cancer and his two companions had hardly touched the shore when they were killed by the assembled savages in sight of the ship, being thus the first missionary martyrs of the eastern United States. St. Augustine, Florida, the first permanent settlement in the eastern United States, was founded by Menendez in 1565. In the next year, at the request of the King of Spain, three Jesuits were sent out, one of whom, Father Pedro Martinez, having landed with a small party on Cumberland Island on the Georgia coast, was attacked and murdered by the savages. The other two Jesuits, Father Juan Rogel and Brother Francisco de Villareal, after spending a winter studying the language, proceeded to work among the Calusa tribe in southern Florida. Rein-forced by ten more Jesuits in 1568, they went over to Havana to establish there a school for Indian boys from Florida. Father Juan Bautista Segura, as Jesuit vice-provincial, then took charge of the Florida mission, establishing stations among the Calusa, Tegesta, and Tocobaga tribes of the south and west coasts, while Father Antonio Sedeno and Brother Domingo Baez began the first Georgia mission on Guale (St. Simon’s?) Island among the Yamasee, in whose language Brother Baez prepared a grammar and a catechism. In 1569 Father Rogel with several other Jesuits began work in South Carolina among the Orista (Edisto) and others in the neighborhood of the Spanish post of Santa Elena. After about a year, the results proving unsatisfactory, both the Orista and the Guale missions were abandoned, the missionaries returning to Havana with a number of boys for the Indian school.

In 1570 Father Segura, accompanied by Father Luis de Quiros and seven (?) novices and lay brothers, all Jesuits, together with four instructed Indian youths, undertook a mission among the Powhatan Indians in what is now Virginia. The guide and interpreter on whom they depended to bring them into touch with the natives was a young Indian of the region, who was the brother of a local chief and had been brought off by a Spanish expedition nine years before, educated under the Dominicans in Mexico and Spain, and baptized under the name and title of Don Luis de Velasco. Their destination was Axacan (Oshacon)—supposed by Shea to have been on the Rappahannock—but more probably situated farther south. They met with friendly reception, and a log chapel was erected (September, 1570), but, before the winter was over, Don Luis proved treacherous, and under his leadership the Indians attacked the mission (February, 1571) and massacred the entire part with the exception of one Indian boy, who was spared, and finally escaped to tell the tale. The massacre was avenged on the principals by Menendez a year later. In consequence of the small result in Florida the Jesuits were shortly afterwards transferred to the more promising field of Mexico. Years afterwards, on the establishment of the Catholic colony of Maryland, some attention was given to the neighboring Indians of Virginia (see below). In 1577 several Francis-cans under charge of Father Alonso de Reynoso arrived at St. Augustine and began work among the Timucua Indians near the city, of whom a number were soon regular attendants at the parish church. Fifteen years later four Franciscan priests and two lay brothers were at work in the towns of the Timucua and Yamasee from St. Augustine northwards into Georgia. In 1593 twelve more were sent out in charge of Father Juan de Silva, including the noted Father Francisco Pareja, to whom we are indebted for our most complete account of the Timucua people and language and for several devotional works, the first books printed in any Indian language of the United States.

In 1597 a chief of the Yamasee organized a conspiracy which seems to have included also a part of the Timucua tribe about St. Augustine. Five missions, stretching from St. Augustine to Ossabaw island in Georgia, were attacked and five of the six missionaries murdered, Father De Avila (or Davila), although badly wounded, being rescued. The advance of the Indians was finally checked by some Spanish troops, after all the Yamasee missions had been destroyed. The missions among the more peaceful Timucua about the lower Saint John’s River, Florida, continued to flourish, being in 1602 four in number, besides temporary stations, with 1200 Christian Indians. Other Franciscans arriving, the Yamasee missions were reestablished in 1605, the Potano tribe on the Suwanee river almost entirely Christianized two years later, and a beginning made among the lower Creek bands. In 1633 missionaries were sent to the powerful Apalachee of western Florida in response to repeated requests from that tribe. In 1655 there were 35 Franciscan missions in Florida and Georgia with a Christian Indian population of 26,000 souls. This was the zenith of their prosperity. Two years later the Apalachee, in consequence of the unjust exactions of the governor, became involved in a war with the Spaniards, which compelled the abandonment of the eight flourishing missions in that territory. The fathers embarked for Havana, but were all drowned on the passage. In 1674, through the efforts of Bishop Calderon, the Apalachee mission was restored, and several new foundations established. In 1684 the Diocesan Synod of Havana promulgated regulations for the government and protection of the mission Indians. In the same year the Governor of Florida, alarmed at the growing strength of the English colony of Carolina, undertook to remove the Indians of the northern missions to more southern settlements with the result that the Yamasee again revolted and, being supplied with guns by the English, attacked and destroyed the mission on Saint Catherine island, Georgia, and carried off a troop of Christian Indians prisoners to sell as slaves in Carolina. In 1696 an attempt to establish missions about Cape Canaveral resulted in the killing of a religious and six companions. A like attempt in the next year among the fierce Calusa south of Tampa Bay also proved abortive.

For years the English slave-traders of Carolina had made a business of arming certain tribes with guns and sending them out to make raids upon other tribes to procure slaves for Carolina and the Barbadoes. The Spanish Government, on the contrary, refused guns even to the Christian Indians. The War of the Spanish Succession gave an opportunity for an attack upon the Florida missions. In May, 1702, the heathen Lower Creeks, armed and instigated by Governor Moore of Carolina, attacked Santa Fe, occupied by the Timucua, and burnt the church. In October of the same year a combined English and Indian land expedition, cooperating with a naval force, attacked the mission towns north of St. Augustine, burned three of them with their churches, made prisoner the missionaries, and then, proceeding farther southward, burned the town of St. Augustine with the Franciscan church and convent and one of the finest libraries then in America. The fortress held out until relieved by a Spanish fleet. In January, 1704, Moore, at the head of about fifty Carolina men and a thousand or more well-armed Creek, Catawba, and other savages, ravaged the Apalachee country, destroyed ten of the eleven missions towns, slaughtered hundreds of the people, including a number of warriors who made a stand under the Spanish lieutenant Mexia, and carried off nearly 1400 Christian Indians to be sold as slaves in Carolina or distributed for torture or adoption among the savages. The missions, with their churches, gardens, and orange groves, were utterly demolished, the vestments and sacred vessels destroyed or carried off, and numbers of the neophytes burned at the stake. Four of the mission fathers were also killed (two being tortured and burned at the stake), and their bodies hacked to pieces by deliberate permission of Moore himself, who gave up. Lieutenant Mexia and four Spanish soldiers to the same fate.

This was practically the end of the Florida missions, although for more than twenty years thereafter efforts were made, with some temporary success, to gather together again the remnants of the Apalachee, Timucua, and other Christian tribes, and in 1726 there were still counted more than 1000 Christian Indians. With the establishment of the English Georgia colony and the ensuing war of 1740 the attempt was abandoned and the mission territory reverted to its original wild condition. In 1753 only 136 Indians remained in four mission stations close to St. Augustine. In 1743 the Jesuit Fathers Jose Maria Monaco and Jose Xavier de Alana began a mission near Cape Florida among the utterly savage Ais and Jobe with such success that a community of Christian Indians was built up, which continued until the Seminole War (1817-18).

II. MARYLAND.—The English Catholic colony of Maryland, founded in 1634, was served in its first years by the Jesuits, who made the Indians their special care. Under the superior, Father Andrew White, and his companions, several missions were established among the Piscataway (Conoy) and Patuxent of lower Maryland, west of Chesapeake Bay, and considerable attention was also given to the Potomac tribe in Virginia. The principal mission was begun in 1639 at Kittamaquindi, or Piscataway, near the mouth of the creek of that name. Other stations were Mattapony on the Patuxent, Anacostan (Anacostia) adjoining the present Washington, and Potopaco (Port Tobacco), where nearly all the natives were baptized. In 1642, during an extended visit among the Potomac, on the Virginia side, Father White baptized the chief and principal men, with a number of others. The work was much hampered by the inroads of the hostile Susquehanna from the head of the bay, and was brought to a sudden and premature close in 1645 by the Puritans and other malcontents, who, taking advantage of the Civil War in England, repaid the generosity which had given them asylum in Maryland by seizing the Government, plundering the churches and missions and the houses of the principal Catholics, and sending Fathers White and Copley to England to be tried for their lives, while Father Martwell, the new superior, and two other missionaries escaped to Virginia. Later efforts to revive the mission had only temporary success owing to the hostility of the Protestant Government and the rapid wasting of the native tribes. Before 1700 the remnant of the Piscataway removed bodily from Maryland and sought refuge in the north with the Delawares and Iroquois, among whom they have long since become entirely extinct. To Father White’s anonymous “Relatio itineris ad Marylandiam” (translation published in 1833 and again in 1874) we are indebted for the best account of the western Maryland tribes. He also composed an Indian catechism, still extant, and a manuscript grammar of the Piscataway language, now unfortunately lost, the first attempt at an Indian grammar by an Englishman and antedating Eliot’s Bible by at least a dozen years. (See Piscataway Indians.)

NEW ENGLAND.—The earliest Christian mission on the soil of New England was that of Saint-Sauveur begun among the Abenakis in connection with a French post on Mount Desert Island, Maine, by Father Pierre Biard and three other Jesuits in 1613. Both post and mission were destroyed a few months later by the English captain Argall, Brother Du Thet being killed in the attack and Fathers Biard and Quentin carried prisoners to Virginia. In 1619 the Recollects arrived to minister to the French fishermen scattered along the coast, and gave attention also to the Indians, chiefly in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In 1633 they were succeeded by the Capuchins, who made their headquarters at Port Royal (Annapolis), Nova Scotia, and had stations as far south as the Kennebec, the principal one being among the Penobscot, near the French Fort Pentagouet (Castine), at the mouth of the Penobscot. In 1655 the post was seized by the English, and the resident missionary, Father De Crespy, carried off. Although restored to France by treaty in 1667, the mission languished, and in 1693 was consigned to the Jesuits, who made the new mission of Sainte Anne (established by Father Louis Thury in 1684 higher up the river, near the present Oldtown) their chief residence among the Penobscot. The Capuchins had labored also among the Etchemin (see Maliseet Indians) on the northern frontier of Maine, their chief station being at Medoctec on the Saint John, established by Father Simeon in 1688 and revived by the Jesuits in 1701. In 1646 the noted Jesuit, Gabriel Druillettes, was sent from Quebec, and established at Norridgewock (Indian Old Point) on the Kennebec the Assumption mission, which for nearly eighty years thereafter held its place as the principal of the Abenaki missions. The most noted worker at this post was Sebastian Rasle (Rate, Rasles), who labored with the utmost zeal from 1695 until his heroic death in 1724 at the age of sixty-six.

The chronic warfare throughout all this period between the rival French and English colonies, in which the native tribes almost solidly took the side of the French, exposed the Indian missions to the constant attacks of the English and made the missionaries marked men, both as Catholic priests and as supposed agents of the French Government. In consequence many fugitives from the Abenaki bands retired to Canada, where they were joined by refugees from the Pennacook and other southern New England tribes, driven out by King Philip’s War of 1675-76. In 1683 these were gathered by the Jesuit Father Jacques Bigot, into the new mission of Saint Francois de Sales (St. Francis) on the Chaudiere, near Quebec. In 1700 the mission was removed to its present location. In spite of repeated demands by the New England Government (1698, 1701, 1712), the Abenaki refused either to send their missionaries away or to accept Protestant teachers. Realizing the danger, the Jesuits urged that the Abenaki Indians and missions be removed to a safer location in Canada, but the project was not favored by the Canadian Government. In 1704-5 two New England expeditions ravaged the Abenaki burning Norridgewock, with its church, and looting the sacred vessels. In 1713 some Indians removed to the St. Lawrence and settled at Becancour, where their descendants still remain. Norridgewock was rebuilt, and in 1722 was again destroyed by the New England men. As part of the plunder the raiders carried off the manuscript Abenaki dictionary (preserved at Harvard and published in 1833), to which Father Rasle had devoted thirty years of labor, and which ranks as one of the greatest monuments of our aboriginal languages. Earlier in the year the mission village and fine church on the Penobscot, placed under Father Lauverjat, had been destroyed by another party, following which event Massachusetts had summoned the Indians to deliver up every priest among them and had set a price on Rasle’s head. Although repeatedly urged to seek safety in Canada, he refused to desert his flock. At last the blow fell. On August 23, 1724, the New England men with a party of Mohawk Indians surprised Norridgewock while most of the warriors were away, killed several of the defenders, and plundered and burned the church and village. The devoted missionary, now old and crippled, was shot down at the foot of the cross, scalped, his skull crushed and his body almost hacked in pieces. A monument to his memory was erected on the spot in 1833, the year in which the greater monument, his Abenaki dictionary, was published.

Mission work was continued in some measure, although under difficulties, among the Indians of the Penobscot and the St. John, but most of the Norridgewock band retired to Saint Francis, which thus became one of the most flourishing missions in Canada. In 1759 it was attacked by a strong New England force under Colonel Rogers and completely destroyed, with its church and records, two hundred Indians being killed. The mission was reestablished near the present Pierreville, Quebec, and still exists, numbering about 350 mixed bloods, while Becancour has about 50 more. The Abenaki bands which remained in Maine espoused the cause of the Americans in the Revolution, and in 1775 made application to the new Government for the return of their French priests. The Massachusetts commissioners, although willing, were unable to supply them, but a later application to Bishop Carroll resulted in the appointment of the Sulpician Father, Francois Ciquard, to the Penobscot at Oldtown about 1785. For nearly ten years he ministered to them and the Passamaquoddy, when he was transferred to the Maliseet on the Saint John. After various changes the Maine missions reverted again to the Jesuits in the person of Father John Bapst, who arrived at Oldtown in 1848. The most distinguished of the later missionaries is Eugene Vetromile, S.J. (d. 1881), author of several works on the Abenaki tribe and language. The two tribes are entirely Catholic.

III. NEW YORK AND PENNSYLVANIA., a large part of what is now New York State was held by the five confederated tribes of the fierce and powerful Iroquois (q.v.), numbering nearly two thousand fighting men. Through the unfortunate circumstances of Champlain’s allying himself with a party of their enemies in 1609, they conceived a bitter hostility to the French which they gratified with deadly effect after procuring guns from the Dutch thirty years later. For this reason, and from the additional fact that their territory was within the sphere of English influence, no permanent Catholic mission was ever established within their limits, although several attempts were made, and large numbers were drawn off from the confederacy and formed into mission settlements under French control. So far as is known, the first missionary to enter this region was the Recollect father, Joseph de la Roche de Daillon, of the Huron mission in Ontario, who in 1626 made a perilous exploration of the country of the Neuter Nation, adjoining the Iroquois in western New York. In 1642 the heroic Jesuit, Isaac Jogues, was captured with two white companions and several Hurons by an Iroquois war party and taken to the Mohawk town of Caughnawaga (alias Ossernenon) near the present Auriesville, where the Hurons were burned at the stake, and the three Frenchmen cruelly tortured and mutilated, though not put to death. Father Jogues had his nails torn out, two fingers crushed by the teeth of the savages, and one thumb sawn off. One of his companions, the novice Rene Goupil, was killed shortly afterwards for making the sign of the cross over a sick child. The third Frenchman, Couture, was finally adopted. After a terrible captivity of fifteen months during which he baptized many prisoners at the stake as well as dying infants, besides acquiring a knowledge of the language, Father Jogues was rescued by the Dutch and finally found his way to France. In the meantime another Huron missionary, Father Joseph Bressani, had been captured by the same Mohawks, tortured in even more terrible fashion at the same town, and likewise ransomed through the kindness of the Dutch (1644). In the summer of 1644 Father Jogues was back again in Canada, assisting in negotiating an uncertain peace with the Mohawks. In May, 1646, he was sent with a single white companion to the Mohawk country to consummate the agreement. This done, he returned to Canada to make his report, and then, with another Frenchman and a Huron guide, set out once more for the Mohawk to establish a mission. They were intercepted on the way by a war party of the same perfidious Mohawks, and carried to Caughnawaga, where, after various cruelties, all three were put to death on October 18, 1646, the head of Father Jogues being set upon the palisades of the town, and his body thrown into the Mohawk River. The site of the Indian town is now the property of the Society of Jesus, and a memorial chapel marks the spot of their martyrdom.

In August, 1653, Father Joseph Poncet, S.J., was captured near Montreal by a Mohawk war party, carried to their towns, and there terribly tortured, but finally sent back with overtures of peace. Of the five confederated Iroquois tribes, the Onondaga, Oneida, and Cayuga were also now for peace with the French, and only the Seneca (who, however, nearly equalled all the others together) held back. Father Poncet reached Montreal late in the year, and peace was made. Father Simon Le Moyne, S.J., volunteered to go back to ratify the terms in the Iroquois towns, and arrived in the summer of 1654 at Onondaga, their capital, where he successfully effected his purpose and was invited to select a spot for a French settlement. As a result the Jesuit Fathers Joseph Chaumonot and Claude Dablon established the first Iroquois mission at Onondaga in November, 1654. In all the Iroquois tribes there were numerous Christian Huron captives (see Huron Indians), who gave the missionaries a warm welcome. In 1656 Father Le Moyne was again with the Mohawks. In July, 1655, a party of fifty French colonists with several more Jesuits arrived at Onondaga to found a settlement there, as requested by the Iroquois, although it was strongly felt that the latter were insincere and meditated treachery. Mission stations were established in each of the tribes, but almost before a year had passed the Iroquois raids along the St. Lawrence broke out afresh, and in March, 1658, the mission at Onondaga was abandoned.

Besides the Huron and other Indian captives, Christianity still had many friends among the Iroquois themselves, foremost of all being Garaconthie, the Onondaga chief and orator. Through his influence the Onondaga and Cayuga sought for peace in 1661, and Le Moyne was recalled to Onondaga. In 1666 an expedition under De Courcelles completely humbled the Mohawks. In the same year New York and the Iroquois country passed from Dutch to English control. Following the peace six Jesuit fathers (Jacques Fremin, Jean Pierron, Jacques Bruyas, Julien Gamier, Etienne de Carheil, and Pierre Milet) proceeded to the Iroquois, and, before the end of 1668, regular missions were established in each of the five tribes. Garaconthie publicly declared himself a Christian, and his example was followed by several other chiefs. As converts increased it was realized that the prevailing intemperance and debauchery consequent upon the presence of traders in the Indian towns were a serious obstacle to Christian-ity, and many of the better-disposed removed to the neighborhood of the mission settlements in Canada. In this way originated in 1668 the Iroquois mission village of La Prairie (St. Francois Xavier des Pres), the precursor of the modern Caughnawaga (q.v.). Among the names prominently identified with the mission are those of Fathers Bruyas and Marcoux, Iroquois philologists; Father Lafitau, ethnologist and historian; and the sainted Indian girl, Catherine Tegakwitha. In the same year a Sulpician mission was established among some Christian Iroquois, chiefly Cayuga, Quinte Bay, at Lake Ontario; but after a few years it was absorbed by the Iroquois mission of The Mountain, established in 1676 on the island of Montreal by the Sulpicians. This mission was transferred in 1704 to the Sault au Recollet, north of Mont-real, and in 1720 to its present site at Lake of Two Mountains (alias Oka, or Canasadaga), on the island of Montreal, a number of Algonquin sharing the village. Among the missionaries was Father Jean-Andre Cuoq, author of a number of works in the two languages, the most notable of which is a standard Iroquois dictionary.

With the withdrawal of the greater part of the Christian element to Canada and the renewal of war in 1687 all missionary effort in the Iroquois territory was finally abandoned, although Father Milet continued with the Oneida until 1694. In the war of 1687-99 Catholic Iroquois from the Canada missions fought beside the French against their heathen kindred of the confederacy.

At the request of the Iroquois a mission was reestablished at Onondaga and another among the Senecas in 1702 by the Jesuit fathers, Jacques de Lamberville, Julien Gamier, and Vaillant du Gueslis, and had the effect of holding the Iroquois neutral in the next war between France and England, until broken up by the New York Government in 1709. In 1748 the Sulpician father, Francois Picquet, established the Presentation mission on the St. Lawrence near the French post of Oswegatchie, now Ogdensburg, New York, with the design of drawing off the last remaining Catholic Indians from among the Iroquois. Although raided by the Mohawks in the next year, it was at once rebuilt and grew rapidly until the opening of the war of 1754-63, which brought it to the verge of ruin, most of those who remained joining with others from the Caughnawaga mission (Canada) in 1756 to establish a new settlement under Jesuit auspices at Aquasasne, alias St. Francois Regis, which still exists under the name of St. Regis, on both sides of the New YorkCanada boundary where it strikes the St. Lawrence. The Oswegatchie settlement was finally abandoned in 1807. The Catholic Iroquois now number about 4025 out of a total 18,725, Caughnawaga itself with 2175 souls being the largest Indian settlement north of Mexico.

About 1755 the first mission in western Pennsylvania was started among the Delawares at Sawcunk, on Beaver River, where also were some Shawnee and Mingo (detached Iroquois), by the Jesuit Claude-Francois Virot, but was soon discontinued.

IV. OHIO RIVER AND LAKE REGION., Under this head we include the states carved out in whole or part from the old “Northwestern Territory”, viz., Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. As the mission history of this section is treated in detail under the principal tribal titles, we may confine our-selves here to a brief summary. Excepting southern Illinois and Indiana, all of this vast territory was originally included within the French jurisdiction of Canada, and up to the close of the French period in 1763 was confided generally to the spiritual charge of the Jesuits, who continued in the work into the American period. The first mission west of the Huron country was established in 1660, on Keweenaw Bay, a few miles north of the present L’Anse, Upper Michigan, by the veteran Huron missionary, Father Rene Menard, in response to urgent requests from the Chippewas and Ottawas. The next year a call came from some fugitive Hurons, who had fled to Green Bay in Wisconsin, to escape the Iroquois. To the remonstrance of those who knew the dangers of the way he replied, “God calls me. I must go, if it cost me my life.” In making a dangerous portage he became separated from his guides and was never seen again, but as the searchers came upon a hostile trail, and his Breviary and cassock were afterwards found with the Sioux, it is believed that he was killed by a lurking enemy. His place was filled by Father Claude Allouez, who, as vicar-general in the West, established the second Chippewa mission in 1665, under the name of Saint-Esprit at La Pointe Chegoimegon, now Bayfield, Wisconsin, on the south shore of Lake Superior. Other missions soon followed at Sault Sainte Marie (Sainte Marie) and Mackinaw (St. Ignace) in Upper Michigan; Green Bay (St-Francois Xavier), St. Marc, and St. Jacques in Wisconsin, among Chippewas, Ottawas, Hurons, Mascoutens, Kickapoos, Foxes, and Miami. Among the noted Jesuit workers were Fathers Claude Dablon, Gabriel Druillettes, and the explorer Jacques Marquette. In 1688 the mission of St. Joseph was founded by Allouez among the Potawatomi in northern Indiana. The mission at Lapointe was abandoned in 1671 on account of the hostile Sioux, but most of the others continued, with interruption, down to the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1764. In 1727 the Jesuit father, Louis Guignas, founded the mission of St. Michael among the Sioux, on Lake Pepin in Minnesota, which continued until some time after 1736, being abandoned probably on account of the war with the Foxes.

The first mission among the Illinois was that of the Immaculate Conception, founded by Marquette in 1674 near the present Rockford, Illinois, and known later as the Kaskaskia mission. Others were established later at Peoria Lake and at Cahokia, opposite St. Louis, until by 1725 the entire Illinois nation was enrolled as Christian. Among the Jesuit names prominently connected with the Illinois missions are those of Marquette, Rasle, and Jacques Gravier, author of the great manuscript Illinois dictionary.

Missions were also established later among the various branches of the Miami in Indiana as well as among the Potawatomi, which continued to flourish until the decree of expulsion, when the mission property was confiscated, although the Jesuits generally remained as secular priests until their death. Their successors continued to minister to Indians and whites alike till the removal of the tribes, 1820-40.

The majority of the Indians of Michigan and Wisconsin remained in their own homes, with missions maintained either as regular establishments or as visiting stations served by secular priests. Of the later missionaries one of the distinguished names is that of the author and philologist Bishop Frederick Baraga (d. 1865), best known for his grammar and dictionary of the Chippewa language. (See for more recent work, Chippewa Indians; Huron Indians; Illinois Indians; Kickapoo Indians; Mascoutens Indians; Menominee Indians; Miami Indians; Ottawa Indians ]; Potawatomi Indians; Sioux Indians; Winnebago Indians; Frederic Baraga; Jacques Gravier; Diocese of Marquette; Jacques Marquette.)

V. LOWER MISSISSIPPI REGION: THE LOUISIANA MISSION. The “Louisiana Mission” of the French colonial period included the present States of Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, with the Tamarois foundation near Cahokia in Illinois, but excluding the Caddo establishments on the disputed Spanish frontier of Texas, For several reasons, rival-ries and changes among the religious orders, intrigues of English traders, and general neglect or open hostility of the Louisiana colonial administration, these southern missions never attained any large measure of prosperity or permanent success. In 1673 the Jesuit Marquette had descended the Mississippi as far as the villages of the Arkansas, later known as Quapaw, at the mouth of the river of the same name, making the earliest map of the region and indicating the position of the various tribes, but without undertaking a foundation.

In 1682 the Recollect Franciscan Father Zenobius Membre, with the party of the commander La Salle, descended the Mississippi to its mouth and returned, planting a cross among the Arkansas, and preaching to them and to the Taensa, Natches, and others farther down. In 1683 a French fort was built at the Arkansas, and the commander Tonty set apart a mission site and made formal request for a Jesuit missionary, but apparently without result.

In 1698, under authority of the Bishop of Quebec, the priests of the seminary of Quebec, an offshoot of the Paris Congregation of Foreign Missions, undertook the lower Mississippi field despite the protests of the Jesuits, who considered it partly at least within their own sphere. Early in 1699, three seminary priests having arrived, as many missions were established, viz., among the Tamaroa (Tamarois), a tribe of the Illinois confederacy, at Cahokia, Illinois, by Father Jean-Francois de St-Cosme; among the Taensa, above the present Natchez, Mississippi, by Francois-J. de Montigny; and among the Tonica, at the present Fort Adams, Mississippi, by Father Antoine Davion. Father de Montigny shortly afterwards transferred his mission to the kindred and more important Natchez tribe, about the present city of that name, ministering thus to both tribes. Father Davion labored also with the Yazoo and minor tribes on that river. Other priests of the same society arrived later. In the meantime Iberville, the father of the Louisiana colony, had brought out from France (1700) the Jesuit father, Paul du Ru, who, first at Biloxi, Mississippi, and later at Mobile, Alabama, ministered to the small tribes gathered about the French post, including a band of fugitive Apalachee from the revived Florida mission. In the same year another Jesuit, Father Joseph de Limoges, from Canada, planted a mission among the Hums and Bayagula, Choctaw bands about the mouth of Red River, Louisiana.

In 1702 Father Nicholas Foucault, of the Seminarists, who had established a mission among the Arkansas two years before, was murdered, with three companions, by the savage Koroa of Upper Mississippi while on his way to Mobile. Their remains were found and interred by Father Davion. In 1706 Father St-Cosme, then stationed at the Natchez mission, was murdered by the Shetimasha, near the mouth of the Mississippi, while asleep in a night camp.

The Tonica station was abandoned in 1708, being threatened by the Chickasaw in the English interest. The whole southern work languished, the Indians themselves being either indifferent or openly hostile to Christianity, and when Father Charlevoix made his western tour in 1721 he found but one priest on the lower Mississippi, Father Juif, among the Yazoo. Partly in consequence of Father Charlevoix’s report, the Louisiana Company, which had taken over control of the colony, gave permission to the Jesuits to undertake the Indian work, while the French posts and settlements were assigned to other priests. In 1726, therefore, Father Paul du Poisson restored the Arkansas mission, which had been vacant since 1702; Father Alexis de Guyenne ‘undertook the Alibamon, a tribe of the Creek nation, above Mobile, and Father Mathurin le Petit began work among the Choctaw in southern Mississippi. The Ursuline convent foundation at New Orleans in 1727 is due to Jesuit effort, In the next year the Jesuit father, Michel Baudouin, undertook a mission among the warlike Chickasaw.

In 1729 the southern missions were almost ruined by the outbreak of war with the Natchez, provoked by the arbitrary exactions of the French commandant in their country. The war began on November 28 with a massacre of the French garrison, the first victim being Father du Poisson, who was struck down, and his head hacked off, while on his way to attend a dying man. Father Souel was killed on December 11 by the Yazoo, who then turned upon the French garrison in their country. On New Year’s Day, 1730, the Jesuit Father Doutreleau, on his way down the river with some boatmen, was fired upon at close range by some of the same tribe while saying Mass on shore, but escaped although badly wounded. The war involved the whole lower Mississippi, and ended in the extinction of the Natchez as a people. A part of the refugees having fled to the Chickasaw, a war ensued with that tribe in 1736, during which a French expedition was cut to pieces, and the Jesuit chaplain, Father Antoninus Senat, was burnt at the stake.

In 1730 Father Gaston, a newly-arrived Seminarist, had been killed at the Tamarois (Cahokia) mission. In 1754 the last Seminarist was sent out as a parish priest. The Arkansas mission had been killed by official neglect. The missionary among the Alibamon Creeks was driven out by the French commander at Fort Toulouse (Montgomery, Alabama) for his opposition to the liquor traffic. Father Baudouin continued with good effect among the Choctaw for eighteen years until appointed vicar-general in 1757, when his place was filled by Father Nicholas le Febvre until 1764(?). The Alibamon mission was restored and continued under Father Jean Le Predour from 1754 until the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1764, which brought the “Louisiana Mission” to a close. The Natchez and Yazoo are long since extinct, but a considerable portion of the Choctaw, Quapaw, and mixed-blood Huma still keep the Faith. (See also Caddo Indians; Choctaw Indians; Diocese of Natchez; Quapaw Indians; Tonica Indians; Yazoo Indians.)

VI. NORTHERN AND CENTRAL PLAINS.—The earliest laborer here was the Franciscan Father Juan de Padilla, who with four others of his order accompanied the famous expedition of Coronado in 1540-42 and on the return volunteered to remain behind with the Wichita in the “Province of Quivira”, probably in southern Kansas. He was killed soon afterwards, apparently by Indians hostile to the Wichita. The latter, reduced to about 300 souls, are represented at the Catholic mission school at Anadarko, Oklahoma (see Diocese of Wichita).

The powerful Sioux, or Dakota, whose territory stretched from the Wisconsin border almost to the foot of the Rocky Mountains, were visited by the Jesuit Allouez as early as 1666, but tribal jealousies interrupted friendly communication and prevented any mission establishment. In 1680 the Recollect Franciscan, Father Louis Hennepin, spent some months with them as a captive on the upper Mississippi. In 1690 (?) the Jesuit Father Joseph Marest, and in 1728 the Jesuit Father Ignatius Guignas, made unsuccessful mission attempts in the tribe, and in 1736 the Jesuit Father Jean-Pierre Aulneau (or Arnand) was one of a party of twenty-one Frenchmen massacred by them on the Lake of the Woods, just beyond the northern Minnesota boundary. In 1837 a regular mission was established among the eastern Sioux in Minnesota by Father Augustin Ravoux; and in 1848 the noted Jesuit missionary Father de Smet first preached to those west of the Missouri. Nearly one-fourth of the tribe is now Catholic (see Sioux Indians).

The famous Flathead mission in Montana, established by Father de Smet in 1840, the Osage mission, Oklahoma, regularly established about 1847 by the Jesuit Fathers Schoenmaker and Bax, the Kiowa and Quapaw missions, and those among the immigrant Choctaw, Potawatomi, and Miami, also in Oklahoma, those of the Winnebago in Nebraska and the Mandan and associated tribes in North Dakota are all described elsewhere under the tribal titles. Besidesthese, successful mission schools have been established within the past thirty years, and are now in operation, among the Northern Cheyenne (secular), Assiniboin (Jesuit), Crow (Jesuit), Grosventre (Jesuit), and Pie-g an Blackfeet (Jesuit) in Montana; the Arapaho and hoshoni (Jesuit) in Wyoming; and the Southern Ute (Theatine) in Colorado (see Ute Indians).

VII. TEXAS, etc.—Texas as a Spanish colony was connected with Mexico, and was ruled in missionary affairs from Queretaro and Zacatecas, instead of from Havana, as was Florida. Its immense area, four times as great as that of all New England, contained hundreds of petty tribes or bands—so many, in fact, that they have never been counted—speaking scores of languages or dialects, but mostly grouped into a few loose confederacies, based upon linguistic affiliation, of which the principal within the mission sphere may be designated as the Caddo, Hasinai, Karankawa, Tonkawa, Wichita, and Pakawa. Of these, the Caddo group extended into western Louisiana, while the tribes of the Wichita connection ranged north into Kansas. The total Indian population within the present state limits was probably originally close to 40,000. The beginning of mission work in Texas was made by the Franciscan Father Andres de Olmos, who in 1544 crossed the Rio Grande and, after gathering a large body of converts, led them back into Tamaulipas, where they were organized into a mission town, Olives. In 1685 the French commander La Salle erected a fort on Matagorda Bay, and two years later, after a succession of misfortunes, started to make his way overland to Illinois, leaving behind about twenty men, including the Recollect missionaries, Fathers Zenobius Membre and Maximus Le Clercq, and the Sulpician Father Chefdeville. A Spanish expedition which arrived later to dispossess the French found only blackened ruins and unburied bones. All but two men had been killed by the Indians, among whom the chalices and Breviaries of the murdered priests were afterwards recovered.

In 1690 a company of Spanish Franciscans from the Queretaro College, headed by Father Damian Mazanet, established a mission among the friendly Hasinai (Asinais, Cenis), in northeast Texas, and projected others, but the work was abandoned three years later. In 1699 the Franciscans of the Zacatecas College began a series of missions along the south bank of the Rio Grande, to which they gathered in a number of Indians of the Pakawa group in southern Texas. These were kept up until 1718, when the chief mission was transferred to San Antonio in Texas.

In 1715 the two colleges combined to restore the Texas missions, urged by the zeal of the venerable founder of the Zacatecas college, Father Antonio Margil. The Hasinai mission (San Francisco) was restored and another, La Purisima, established among the cognate Hainai (Aynais) in the neighborhood of the present Nacogdoches. Another (N. S. de Guadalupe) was founded by Margil himself among the Nacogdoches band of the Caddo in 1716, and others in 1717 among the Ais (N. S. de Dolores) and Adai or Adayes (San Miguel de Linares), the last being within the limits of Louisiana. In 1719, war having been declared between France and Spain, a French expedition under St-Denis plundered the mission at the Adai. In consequence the missions were abandoned until peace was declared two years later.

In 1718 the mission of San Francisco Solano was transferred to San Antonio de Valero. Other missions were established in the vicinity, making a total of four in 1731, including San Antonio de Padua, the celebrated Alamo. The principal tribes represented were Caddo and Hasinai from the East; Xarame from the Rio Grande; Pakawd (Pacoa) and a few Tofikawa of the immediate neighborhood. In the meantime a lay brother had perished in a prairie fire, and another, Brother Jose Pita, in 1721, with a small party, had been massacred by the Lipan while on his way to his station. In 1722 the mission of Guadalupe was established at Bahia, on Lavaca (Matagorda) Bay among the Karankawa. Nine years later it was moved to the Guadalupe River. In 1752 the Candelaria mission was attacked by the Coco, a Karankawa band, and Father Jose Ganzabal killed. In 1757 the mission of San Saba was established by Father Alonso Terreros for the conversion of the wild and nomadic Lipan Apache, but they refused to settle in it; the following year the tribes destroyed the mission, killing Father Terreros and two other priests. Another attempted Lipan mission in 1761, was broken up in 1769 by the Comanche. At this period the Texas missions had reached their highest point, with an Indian population of about 15,000. In 1760 Father Bartolome Garcia published his religious manual for the use of the San Antonio missions, which remains almost our only linguistic monument of the Pakawa tribes of central Texas. In 1791 another mission was established among the Karankawa.

Although constantly hampered by the Spanish authorities, the missions continued to exist until 1812, when they were suppressed by the revolutionary Government, and the Indians scattered (see Pakawa; Tonkawa Indians; Diocese of Wichita).

VIII. NEW MEXICO AND ARIZONA.—The earliest exploration in this territory was made by the Franciscan Marco de Niza (Marcos of Nizza) in 1539, and the first missions were undertaken in 1542 by the Franciscans who accompanied Coronado. (For the missions among the Pueblo and Hopi see Pueblo Indians.) The most important event in this connection is the great Pueblo revolt of 1680 in which twenty-one missionaries and some 400 others were massacred.

The missions among the Pima and Papajo of Arizona are of later foundation, beginning about 1732, and originated with the Jesuits, with whom they continued until the expulsion of the order in 1767, when they were taken over by the Franciscans (see Papago Indians; Pima Indians).

Attempts to evangelize the powerful tribe of the Navajo in northern Arizona and New Mexico were made by the Franciscans as early as 1746, but without result. Lately the work has been again taken up successfully by German Franciscans. To their scholar-ship and scientific interest we owe also a monumental “Ethnological Dictionary of the Navaho Language”. (See Navajo Indians.) Secular mission work is also now conducted in the Mescalero tribe of about 450 souls at Tularosa, New Mexico.

IX. THE COLUMBIA REGION.—The first knowledge of Christianity among the tribes of this region came through the Catholic Iroquois and Canadian French employees of the Hudson Bay Company, by whose influence and teaching many of the Indians, particularly among the Flatheads and Nez Perces, were induced to embrace the principles and practices of Catholicism as early as 1820, leading some years later to a request for missionaries, in response to which the Flathead mission in Montana was founded by the Jesuit Father Peter de Smet in 1841, followed shortly afterwards by another among the Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, established by the Jesuit Father Nicholas Point. In 1839 Father Francis Blanchet, secular, who had come out to attend the Canadian residents, established St. Francis Xavier mission on the Cowlitz, in western Washington, and another on the lower Willamet at Champoeg, Oregon, while about the same time Father J. B. Bolduc began work among the tribes on Puget Sound. In 1844 three Jesuit missions were established among the Pend d’Oreilles and Colvilles of the Upper Columbia, besides three others across the British line. In 1847 the Oblates arrived, and missions were established by Father Pandosy among the Yakima and by Father Ricard near the present Olympia. In 1848 the secular Fathers Rousseau and Mesplee founded a station (guong the Wasco, at the Dillies of the Columbia, in Oregon. Work was also attempted among the degenerate Chinooks, with little result. The noted Oblate missionary, Father Casimir Chirouse (d. 1892), best known for his later work at Tulalip, reached Oregon in 1847 and began his labors among the tribes of Puget Sound and the lower Columbia about the same period.

With the exception of the Wasco and the Chinooks, these missions or their successors are still in successful operation, numbering among their adherents the majority of the Christian Indians of Washington and southern Idaho. To Fathers Saintonge and Pandosy we are indebted for important contributions to Yakima linguistics. (See Chinooks; Kalispel Indians; Kutenai Indians; Lake Indians; Lummi Indians; Puyallup Indians; Spokane Indians; Tulalip Indians; Yakima Indians.)

Besides these there are Jesuit missions of more recent establishment among the Nez Perces of Idaho; and among the Umatilla, Klamath, Warmspring, and Siletz Indians in Oregon, besides another among the remnant tribes of Grand Ronde reservation, Oregon, served by a priest of the Society of the Divine Savior. (See Siletz Indians; Umatilla Indians; Warm-Spring Indians; Yamhill Indians.)

X. CALIFORNIA., For the mission history see California; and Mission Indians.

For a statement of the present organization of Indian mission work and the sources and methods of financial support, see article Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions.

XI. THE MISSIONARY MARTYRS., The following incomplete and tentative list of missionaries who died by violence or other untimely death in direct connection with their work will show that even before the establishment of the republic the soil of the United States had been baptized in the blood of Catholic missionaries from ocean to ocean. A few other names are included for special reasons. Those who perished with the exploring expeditions under Narvaez, De Soto, and others are not noted.

1542 Padilla, Juan de, Franciscan, killed in Kansas(?). Escalona, Brother Luis de, Franciscan, killed by Pecos, New Mexico. La Cruz, Juan de, Franciscan, killed by Tigua, New Mexico.

1549 Cancer, Luis, Dominican, killed by Calusa, Florida. Tolosa, Diego de, Dominican, killed by Calusa, Florida. Fuentes, Brother, killed by Calusa, Florida.

1566 Martinez, Pedro, Jesuit, killed by Yamasee, Georgia.

1569(?) Baez, Brother Dom. Agustin, Jesuit, died of fever, with Yamasee, Florida.

1571 Segura, Juan Bautista Quiros, Luis de Gomez, Brother Gabriel (novice), Zerallos, Brother Sancho de (novice) Solis, Brother Mendez, Brother Redondo, Brother Linares, Brother, Jesuits, killed by Powhatan, Virginia

1581 Lopez, Francisco, Franciscan, killed at Tigua, New Mexico. Santa Maria, Juan de Rodriguez (or Ruiz), Brother Agustin, Franciscans, killed at Tigera, New Mexico.

1597 Corpa, Pedro de Rodriguez, Blas Aunon, Miguel de Velasco, Francisco de Badaj oz, Brother Antonio, Franciscans, killed by Yamasee, Georgia and Florida.

1613 Du Thet, Brother Gilbert, Jesuit, killed by the English, Maine..

1631 Miranda de Avila, Pedro, Franciscan, killed by Taos, New Mexico.

1632 Letrado, Francisco Arvide, Martin de, Franciscans, killed by “Zipias”, New Mexico.

1633 Porras, Francisco, Franciscan, poisoned by Hopi, Arizona.

1642 Goupil, Rene (novice), Jesuit, killed by Mohawks, New York.

1644 Bressani, Joseph, Jesuit, tortured by Mohawks, but rescued, New York.

1646 Jogues, Isaac, Jesuit, killed by Mohawks, New York.

1653 Poncet, Joseph, Jesuit, tortured by Mohawks, but rescued, New York.

1657 Eight Franciscans drowned, en route Florida missions to Havana.

1661 Menard, Rene, Jesuit, lost, supposed killed by Sioux, Wisconsin.

1675 “Several missionaries”, Franciscans (record incomplete), killed by Pueblos, New Mexico.

1675 Marquette, Jacques, Jesuit, died in woods, Michigan.

1680 La Ribourde, Gabriel de, Recollect, killed by Kickapoos, Illinois.

1680 Twenty-two Franciscans killed in general massacre by revolted Pueblos, New Mexico, and Arizona, viz.: Talaban, Juan Lorenzana, Francisco Antonio de Montes de Oca, (Juan?) Jose de, Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico. Pio, Juan Bautista de, Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico. Torres, Tomas, Nambe Pueblo, New Mexico. Morales, Luis de Pro, Antonio Sanchez de Baeza, Luis de, San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico. Rendon, Matias de, Picuris, Pueblo, New Mexico. Mora, Antonio Pedrosa, Juan de, Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. Maldonado, Lucas, Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. Bal, Juan de, Alona (Zuni) Pueblo, New Mexico. Figueras, Jose de Trujillo, Jose Espeleta, Jose de Santa Maria, Agustin de, Hopi Pueblos, Arizona. Bernal, Juan (custos) Vera, Juan Domingo de, Galisteo (Tano) Pueblo, New Mexico. Velasco, Francisco (Fernando?), de, Pecos Pueblo, New Mexico. Tinoco, Manuel, San Marcos Pueblo, New Mexico. Jesus, Simon (Juan?) de, Jemes Pueblo, New Mexico.

1683 (circa) Beltran, Manuel, Franciscan, killed by Tanos(?), New Mexico.

1687 Membre, Zenobius, Recollect, Le Clercq, Maximus, Recollect, Chefdeville, Sulpician, killed by Karankawa(?), Texas.

1696—Franciscan, by Ais(?) (Tororo), killed Florida.

1696 Arbizu, Jose de, Carbonel, Antonio, Franciscan, killed by Taos New Mexico. Corvera, Francisco Moreno Antonio, Franciscans killed by Tehua, New Mexico. Casanes, Francisco, Franciscan, killed by Jemes, New Mexico.

1702 Foucault, Nicholas, Sem. For. Missions, killed, by Koroa, Mississippi.

1704 Parga, Juan de Mendoza, Manuel de Delgado, Marcos, Miranda Miranda Angel, Franciscans, tortured and killed by English and Indian allies, Florida.

1706 Delhalle, Nicholas, B.C., Recollect (parish priest, Detroit), killed by Ottawa, Michigan. St-Cosme, Jean-Francois de, Sem. For. Missions, killed by Shetimasha, Louisiana.

1708 Gravier, Jacques, Jesuit, died of wound inflicted by Illinois (1705), Illinois.

1715 (circa) Vatier, Leonard, Recollect, killed by Foxes, Wisconsin.

1718 Mantesdoca (Mantes de Oca), Brother Luis de, Franciscan, killed in prairie fire, Texas.

1720 (circa) Mingues, Juan, Franciscan, killed in massacre by Missouri, Missouri (?).

1721 Pita, Brother Jose, Franciscan, killed in massacre by Lipan, Texas.

1724 Rasle (Rasles Rale), Sebastien, Jesuit, killed by English and Indian allies, Maine.

1729 du Poisson, Paul, Jesuit, killed by Natches, Mississippi. Souel, Jean, Jesuit, killed by Yazoo, Mississippi. 1730 Gaston, Sem. For. Missions, killed by Illinois, Illinois.

1736 Senat, Antoninus, Jesuit, tortured and burned with whole party by Chickasaw, Mississippi. Aulneau (Arnaud), Jean-Pierre, Jesuit, killed with twenty others in massacre by Sioux, on Massacre Island, Lake of Woods, about two miles beyond the MinnesotaCanada line.

1752 Ganzabal, Jose Francisco, Franciscan, held by Coco (Karankawa), Texas.

1758 (circa) Silva,—, Franciscan, killed by mission Indians, Texas. Terreros, Alonso G. de, Franciscan, Santiesteban, Jose, Franciscan, killed in massacre at San Saba, by mission Indians, Texas.

1775 Jayme, Luis, Franciscan, killed by Diegueno, California.

1780 Diaz, Juan Morena, Matias Garces, Francisco Barraneche, Juan Franciscans, killed by Yuma, California.

1812 Quintana, Andres, Franciscan, killed by Mission Indians, California.

1833 Diaz-, killed by Caddo(?), Texas.


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