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The Life of Jeremiah Johnston: Part III

Jeremiah Johnston, fellow missionary James Taylor Rogers, and a Native left the School at Little Forks in a canoe that would see them down river for about thirty-five miles. The Indian sat in the bow on a piece of bark, Mr. Taylor in the middle with Jeremiah steering with his paddle at the stern. Mr. Taylor twisted and turned to try to get a comfortable position for his feet and legs, he found kneeling upright to be the least cramped, for a time he sat down which was comfortable, but he could not paddle much. At Emo, they stopped for dinner in which Mr. Taylor described as a room like an oven. Afterwards they went onto the Manitou Rapids and landed below the Schoolhouse and were met by a Mr. Wood who had only one scholar “George” the son of Red Hawk. After looking around the school some Indians began to arrive, the old Chief Great Hawk came in, Red Hawk and several others (about a dozen men and two or three women) looked in the door, one women had a baby with a cradle on her back. Chief Great Hawk was the medicine man and was greatly opposed to Christianity. Two years prior on his first visit Jeremiah went to see the old chief and told him that he had come to talk to them about their school and tell them the good news about God. The old chief said he could talk about the school, but he would not let them talk about God on the reserve. Jeremiah responded by iterating that is was strange as he had traveled a good deal and seen many big men, big men like the Chief but never had he had any of them say he couldn’t talk about God. The chief felt that he must do as others do so replied that Jeremiah could tell him about the good news as it couldn’t do him any harm, Jeremiah thanked him and hoped that his people would also listen to the good news. As Jeremiah reached the Schoolhouse it was nearly full as he had told others about the service, Old Great Hawk gave a grunt of disapproval when he saw so many there. Jeremiah told them it was the custom from where he came from that before you had a pow-wow you spoke to God and ask his blessing. They listened to the prayer then Jeremiah told them it was also their custom to hear what God had to say to them and before they began to talk to themselves he read a few verses from God’s word and then began to explain it. It wasn’t long before the old Chief stopped him saying “that will do” you can talk about the school but not talk about your God and turning to the people he ordered them all out and told Jeremiah “goodbye.” Mr. Wood who had been expecting much was heartbroken, but Jeremiah shut the door and said let us lay this matter before God, this they did praying earnestly for the Chief and his people. A little while later the Indians began to come back in ones and twos and among them were Red Hawk the Chief’s son. The Old Chief saw them coming but he could not stop them, however the Chief’s influence was strong and this was the first and last public religious meeting Jeremiah held finding it better to go from house to house to talk to the Indians reading the word of God to them.

Next up Jeremiah and Mr. Taylor make what they felt were inroads as they found the Indians were curious and keenly interested in some stories and proclamations.

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