Mission of the Church to the Yankton Sioux Indians. Joseph Witherspoon Cook.

Mission of the Church to the Yankton Sioux Indians.

Yankton Agency [Dakota Territory]: Mission Press, 1870.

4 pp. 8vo. Bifolium of lined stationery, with blind-stamped device of a head in profile above the word "Lakeside". Old folds, faint soiling. Not in Allen, Dakota Imprints. Item #307187

A rare imprint from the Dakota Territories, a pamphlet detailing the history of the establishment of the Episcopal mission to the Yankton Sioux Indians, ending with a plea for resources and including details of the establishment of a printing press there. Taking the form of a printed letter–dated August 18, 1870–from the Rev. Joseph Witherspoon Cook, missionary to the Yankton Sioux, the pamphlet traces the origins of the mission to the tribe's encounter with missionaries at the nearby Santee Sioux reservation, following that tribes removal to the Missouri River in 1865; the failure of Catholic missionaries, headed by Father DeSmet, to respond to Yankton requests for a mission; the plea to Episcopal missionary S.D. Hinman for the establishment of a mission, which led, through the efforts of William Welsh and Paul Mazakute, to the Yankton mission finally taking root. Details of the beginnings of an English school, and the construction of mission buildings are provided, before Cook makes reference to the means of producing the present pamphlet: "We have set up a small printing press and are now engaged in getting out a Primer and parts of the Prayer Books in the Yankton dialect." (See, e.g., Piling 1722.) The pamphlet ends with a plea for "badly needed" resources, including a bell to mark the time at school and religious services; a baptismal font; musical instruments; clothing ("Many of our Indians are anxious to adopt civilized dress but have not the means to make the change"); delicacies for the sick; and, of course, funds. Contributors are directed to addresses in Philadelphia and New York city to send their donations, with a freight address in Sioux City, Iowa also provided.
The several Episcopal missions to the Sioux were established partly in tandem with President Grant's peace policy, which sought to pacify Indian tribes by assimilating them into the American mainstream. Grant's policy encouraged the participation of religious missions (and divided reservations up among various denominations) as a way of limiting federal costs and subverting graft within federal agencies. The policy was a failure, but the religious missions took root and their influence played a significant role amongst the tribes into the twentieth century.

A very rare item: OCLC records only a single copy, at Gilder Lehrman.

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