The Pawnee Mission Letters, 1834-1851

The Pawnee Mission Letters, 1834-1851

by Richard E. Jensen
     
 

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Set out in 1834 to establish a mission to Indians beyond the Rocky Mountains. Unable to obtain a guide and with only a vague knowledge of the West, they instead encountered the Pawnee Indians in Nebraska. It was the beginning of a twelve-year odyssey to convert the tribe to Protestant Christianity and New England "civilization." Dunbar and Allis traveled with the

Overview

Set out in 1834 to establish a mission to Indians beyond the Rocky Mountains. Unable to obtain a guide and with only a vague knowledge of the West, they instead encountered the Pawnee Indians in Nebraska. It was the beginning of a twelve-year odyssey to convert the tribe to Protestant Christianity and New England "civilization." Dunbar and Allis traveled with the Pawnees on buffalo hunts and spent time at their villages, recording the customs and habits of the tribe. After a permanent community was established, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions sent additional missionaries and conflicts over conversion methods ensued, nearly destroying the mission community. The mission was eventually abandoned in 1846, when hostilities between the Sioux and the Pawnees escalated.

This collection of letters written by and to the missionaries, as well as their journal entries, illustrates the life of the mission, from the everyday complications of building and maintaining a community far from urban areas, to the navigation of the bureaucratic policies of the federal government and the American Board, to the ideological differences of the Pawnees' multiple missionaries and the ensuing rift within the community. These writings provide a unique and personal portrayal of this small white community in the heart of the Pawnees' domain.

Editorial Reviews

Nebraska History

"With The Pawnee Mission Letters, Richard Jensen continues his excellent work of bringing the history of nineteenth-century Nebraska to life through the words of those who lived it."—Anne Beiser Allend, Nebraska History

— Anne Beiser Allend

Annals of Iowa

"With the publication of The Pawnee Mission Letters, Richard Jensen has provided historians of church and academy another valuable resource for the study of the complex relationships among Native Americans, U.S. government employees, and Christian missionaries in the nineteenth century."—Bonnie Sue Lewis, Annals of Iowa

— Bonnie Sue Lewis

Nebraska History - Anne Beiser Allend
"With The Pawnee Mission Letters, Richard Jensen continues his excellent work of bringing the history of nineteenth-century Nebraska to life through the words of those who lived it."—Anne Beiser Allend, Nebraska History
Annals of Iowa - Bonnie Sue Lewis
"With the publication of The Pawnee Mission Letters, Richard Jensen has provided historians of church and academy another valuable resource for the study of the complex relationships among Native Americans, U.S. government employees, and Christian missionaries in the nineteenth century."—Bonnie Sue Lewis, Annals of Iowa

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803229877
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
07/01/2010
Pages:
716
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Richard E. Jensen is a retired senior research anthropologist with the Nebraska State Historical Society. He is the editor of numerous books, including Here You Have My Story: Eyewitness Accounts of the Nineteenth-Century Central Plains (Nebraska 2010); Voices of the American West, volume 1: The Indian Interviews of Eli S. Ricker, 1903–1919 (Nebraska 2005); and Voices of the American West, volume 2: The Settler and Soldier Interviews of Eli S. Ricker, 1903–1919 (Nebraska 2005).

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