Visit to Rice Lake Indians - 1827

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Hamilton, Newcastle District, 1827

Rev. and Dear Sir:--the Rice Lake Indians having embraced the gospel during the fourteen months past, have often solicited a school that their children might learn to read the good book. But as yet they had had no settled residence, nor had we funds to support a school. On our return from conference, in September, they came out to meet us here, and renewed their request. I said to the chief, “You are now going far away to your hunting grounds. You will not need a school till spring.” To this they replied, “If we can have a school, we will leave our women and children. Our women make baskets and brooms, buy flour and meat for our children while at school.” This was spoken with an air of so much anxiety, that we concluded to make an effort in their favour, Messrs. J M’Carty and E. Perry having kindly offered to procure the building of the house, a pious youth was engaged as a teacher. When we informed them of our intention to comply with their wishes, they appeared highly gratified, and in the month of October they departed upon their hunting excursions, leaving their women and children to attend the school.

Yesterday, in company with a friend, I visited Rice Lake, which lies about twelve miles to the north side of this. We found the house nearly completed: it is situated in the midst of a wood not far from the lake shore. The teacher, who is now here, will commence the school in about two weeks. Several wigwams were already erected, and other families were soon expected in. We entered one of these smoky cabins, sang a hymn in Indian, and prayed. Altho’ the Indians understood but little we said in prayer, they appeared delighted, and as an expression of their gratitude they offered us a quantity of wild rice, we accepted of about a quart, of which we afterwards took a pleasant and hearty meal. The school, it is presumed, will consist of more than twenty scholars thro’ the winter. As we hope these Christians of the forest will be remembered in the prayers of Zion, so we trust we shall not be forgotten by the wealthy and benevolent, who pray for the salvation of the heathen.

As ever, in love, W. Case

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