In the 1830s and 1840s Christian Missionaries came into Indian Country, which included Bloomington, with the purpose of converting Dakota Indians to Christian beliefs and white person's ways. This included farming, owning property, receiving a formal education and establishing a money-based economy.
Missions established to serve the Dakota were located in proximity to rivers or lakes by permanent Native American sites. The success of the missionaries in converting Dakota Indians to Christianity was modest until the 1862 U.S.-Dakota war confirmed the authority of the United States government over the land and lives of Indian people, including the prohibition of practicing Native American religions until the 1970s. Indian people today practice a variety of spiritual beliefs and religions.
Dakota Missions of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Minnesota
Lake Calhoun and Laker Harriet Missions (Minneapolis)
Samuel and Gideon Pond taught Euro-American farming to Chief Cloud Man's village. They also devised a Dakota alphabet and began translating into a written Dakota language so they could teach the Indians how to read the Bible. Under continual threats of attack from the Ojibwe (Anishinabe), Cloud Man moved his village to the Minnesota River Valley
The Lac qui Parle Mission (near Montevideo)
Dr. Thomas S. Williamson began this mission to the Dakota people at the invitation of Joseph Renville, a metis trader and influential leader among the Wahpeton and Sisseton Dakota people. Dr. Williamson was aided by Stephen R. Riggs, Gideon and Samuel Pond, Alexander Huggins, Moses Adams and others. They began translating the Bible into the Dakota language in 1835, a project that took more than 40 years to complete. In 1854 some of the buildings burned down, and the missionaries decided to close the mission.
The Oak Grove Mission (Bloomington)
Gideon and Samuel Pond established this mission near Cloud Man's village in the Minnesota River Valley. After the 1851 Treaty of Mendota, most of the Dakota were removed from the area. Two years later Gideon dissolved the mission and in 1855 founded Oak Grove Presbyterian Church with the help of newly arrived white settlers.
The Prairieville Mission (Shakopee)
At the invitation of Chief Shakpe, Samuel Pond moved to Shakpe's village, 10 miles up the Minnesota River, where he began a mission and school. With the removal of the Dakota in 1853 to the Lower Sioux Agency, Samuel closed the mission and founded First Presbyterian Church of Shakopee with the help of newly arrived white settlers.
The Traverse des Sioux Mission (near St. Peter)
Stephen R. Riggs began this mission station aided by Alexander Huggins and Robert Hopkins. It was here that Stephen R. Riggs and Dr. Williamson were interpreters at the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1851. In this treaty, the Sisseton and Wahpeton Dakota gave up their land in southern and western Minnesota. They were removed in 1853 to a narrow strip of land around the Upper Sioux Agency. The mission was closed in 1853.
The Kaposia Mission (South St. Paul)
Dr. Williamson accepted an invitation from Chief Little Crow to build a mission at his village on the Mississippi River near present-day South St. Paul, where he was joined by his sister Jane. In 1852 the mission was closed due to the removal of the Indians to a strip of land along the Minnesota River in the area of the Lower Sioux Agency.
The Red Wing Mission (Red Wing)
This mission to Chief Wacouta's village, located at Barn Bluff, was begun in 1848 by John F. Aiton, assisted by Joseph W. Hancock. In 1853 Chief Wacouta's band was moved to the area around the Lower Sioux Agency and the mission was closed.
The Pajutazee Mission (near Granite Falls)
In 1852 Dr. Williamson and his sister Jane rejoined some of the Sisseton and Wahpeton Dakota from the Lac qui Parle area to form the Pajutazee (Dakota name meaning Yellow Medicine) Mission near the Upper Sioux Aency. He was forced to leave there at the outbreak of the Dakota War in 1862. Many of his converts there were leading members of the farmer-Indian faction.
The Hazelwood Mission (near Granite Falls)
Founded by Stephen R. Riggs, this mission was located near the Upper Sioux Agency. The mission included a school and numerous Christian Dakota farming families who broke with the communal tribal structures and formed a self-governing organization called the Hazelwood Republic.
The Zoar Mission (near Morton)
John P. Williamson, son of Dr. Thomas S. Williamson, founded this mission, which was located near the Lower Sioux Agency. Most of its members had been affiliated with the mission at Kaposia. The mission was temporarily closed at the outbreak of the U.S. Dakota War of 1862 and resumed operation in November 1862. Shortly thereafter, its members were marched under armed guards to the Fort Snelling Dakota Internment Camp.
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