Rice Lake Indians - 1828


COPYRIGHT (c) 2004 Michael Stephenson

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RICE LAKE

During the past year, another body of Pagan Indians have received the gospel. They reside on the borders of Rice Lake, Mud Lake, and Schoogog Lake. Tho’ this body were less addicted to intemperance than some others, yet they were sufficiently fond of spirits to expend annually the avails of their huntings, and often to involve themselves deeply in debt. They now appear entirely reformed; no instances of intemperance are known, but with three individuals in a body of 800 adults; and wherever the Indian Wigwam is found in a circle of 100 miles, there the devotions of prayer and praise are heard three times in the day.

The commencement of this great work was at Hamilton, New Castle District, during the sitting of the Conference in September last. About 20 attended on the means of instruction with great attention for several days, and shewed an increasing concern for the comforts of religion, and in the afternoon of the anniversary of the society, while their religious friends were engaged in prayer on their behalf, the whole number of twenty professed to experience a change.

On the return of these young converts to their friends, two native Christians (Beaver and Moses) were employed to accompany them, for the purpose of strengthening their faith, and explaining to their pagan brethren the religion of Christ. They met a large body of them on an Island in Rice Lake, and here, for several days, they exhorted the multitude to repentance and faith in the Saviour. The effects were, that those who practiced enchantments threw away their “Medicine bag”—the use of spirits was discontinued—they became more cleanly in their apparel, and decent in their mode of living, and the wranglings of drunkenness were exchanged for the “good will” of the gospel and the devotions of religion. The mode of instruction now pursued was, to employ some of the more experienced of the native Christians, who with the assistance of our ministers taught them to memorize in their own language, certain portions of the Scriptures, such as the ten commandments and the Lord’s prayer—As often as the converts have been instructed in these portions, as well as in the nature of the ordinances, they have been admitted to Baptism and afterwards to the Lord’s supper. Their love for the word is ardent, and they improve every opportunity of hearing it; and for this purpose they generally attend our quarterly visitations. Sometimes the itinerant preachers visit their encampments, where they are sure to find a place set apart for religious worship, built of branches and barks of trees; here the missionary explains to them the truths of religion by comparisons, and in language adapted to their capacity. Three of these Indian Chapels are now standing on three Islands in different parts of Rice Lake, where these “Christians of the woods” hold their devotions when encamped in those places. This body has often expressed their wishes for a school, and they are also earnestly desirous for a home where they may cultivate the soil and enjoy more regularly the means of Grace.


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