Dakota Datebook

Mission Life

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Between 1860 and 1900, eastern churches were intent on bringing the Christian religion to the western Native American tribes. Churches recruited missionaries and raised money for setting up missions, which consisted of a gathering place, housing for the workers and then, hopefully, a school. Prior to the time of Indian reservations, missionaries serving nomadic tribes were required to take The Word out into the field. While reservations made the job a bit easier, it was never an enviable career in terms of comfort or stability.

One Catholic “help wanted” advertisement read: “We offer you: No Salary; No Recompense; No Holidays; No Pensions. But: much Hard Work; A Poor Dwelling; Few Consolations; Many Disappointments; Frequent Sickness; A Violent or Lonely Death; an Unknown Grave.”

Source: The Dakota Experience: Onward Christian Soldiers. South Dakota State Historical Society. http://www.dakotaexperience.org/cvfrontier/onward_missions.html

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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