Spanish Missionaries in Texas

A frontier is a transition zone between two regions, between two areas with different cultures. For the European invaders in North America, the frontier represented the transition between civilization—defined by European languages, governments, and religion—and barbarism—defined by the pagan and incomprehensible Native American cultures. For the English colonists in North America, the frontier was a broad line running north-south and for the English the frontier was always to the west. In New Spain, however, the frontier was to the north. For the colonial Spanish, one of the frontier zones was the area that is today known as Texas.

For the Spanish, the northern frontier of Texas was an area that had to be civilized through the conversion of Native peoples to Catholicism either by persuasion or by force of arms. From 1673 until 1728 Catholic missionaries worked in Texas, establishing missions and seeking converts.

In 1673, in response to what was viewed as a request for Christian missionaries by the Coahuiltecan, the Franciscans sent Fray San Buenaventura and a force of ten soldiers north from Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Coahuila north across the Rio Grande. When the expedition returned, Fray San Buenaventura recommended that the Spanish establish three missions among the Coahuiltecan and that each mission be protected by a presidio (fort) of not less than 70 soldiers.

In 1675, Spanish explorers, including a group of Franciscans, traveled northward from Eagle Pass to present-day Edwards County. They encountered three tribes and noted that smallpox had already decimated tribal numbers. Some of the tribes were hunting buffalo and making jerky.

In 1683, Jumano chief Juan Sabeata led a multi-tribal delegation to El Paso to speak with Spanish state and church officials. Sabeata was appointed to the position of gobernador by the Spanish. Juan Sabeata told the Spanish about the thirty-some tribes to the east, including the “Great Kingdom of the Texas” (the Caddo).

In response to the request by Jumano leader Juan Sabeata the Spanish sent out an expedition to explore the Nueces River country, to learn about the Jumano and other Indian nations in the territory, and to bring back specimens of the pearls which were reported to be there. The Franciscan missionaries Nicolás López and Juan Zavaleta were in charge of the religious aspects of the expedition. The expedition turned back after reaching the Colorado River of Texas and having been attacked several times by the Apache.

 In 1690, Fray Francisco Casañas de Jesus María founded a mission on the banks of the Neches River. The mission was named Santísimo Nombre de María and was intended to convert the Hasinai (Caddo).

Three years later, the Spanish missions and presidios in east Texas were abandoned because of lack of cooperation among the Caddo tribes in the area. One Hasinai medicine man convinced the people that baptism waters could be fatal. The Spanish priests found that the Caddo refused to believe in one god, but insisted that there were two: one who gave clothing, knives, hatchets, and other things to the Spanish; and one who gave corn, beans, acorns, nuts, and rain to the Indians.

At San Francisco de los Tejas the Spanish buried heavy objects, such as canons and bells, and then burned the mission. For several days, the Caddo followed the retreating Spanish at a distance to make sure they were really leaving. Four soldiers, however, deserted the Spanish to join the Caddo. Back at the mission, the soldiers showed the Indians where the heavier objects were buried.

 In 1715, the Spanish decided to re-occupy east Texas and established four missions among the Indians.

The following year, a Spanish missionary party of 75 people, including six Querétan missionaries, reached the site of the abandoned Mission of San Francisco de los Texas. Four leagues inland from this site they established the Mission of San Francisco de los Neches. This mission was intended to serve the Neches, Nabedache, Nacogdoches, and Nacono.

Eight or nine leagues northeast of the new mission, they established another mission for the Hainai which was called the Mission of Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Concepción.

A third mission, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, was established for the Nacogdoche and Nacao. A fourth mission, San José de los Nazones, was established for the Nasoni and Nadaco.

In 1718, the Franciscans moved their mission from Eagle Pass to San Antonio where it became known as San Antonio de Valero.

In 1722, the Spanish established a fort, La Bahía, and the mission of Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga in Karankawa territory.

Four years later, the Spanish moved the Franciscan mission of Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga to the lower San Antonio River in Aranama territory.

In 1728, the Spanish sent General Pedro de Rivera to inspect the Indian missions. He reported: “there was not a single Indian at San Miguel de los Adaes; at Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Nocagdoches, although there were many Indians, industrious and well-disposed, they were all still heathens; at three missions, Nuestra Señora de la Concepción, San Francisco de los Neches, and San José de los Nazones, there were no Indians at all, with little hope of ever getting any.”  In other words, the Spanish missionary efforts to convert the Indians accomplished very little.

The Mi’kmaq and French Missionaries

Until the sixteenth century the Mi’kmaq, one of the northernmost tribes on the Atlantic coast, lived a traditional lifestyle based on hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants. Then the Europeans began to arrive, bringing with them manufactured trade goods and the illnesses of European society, smallpox and Christianity. Smallpox tried to kill the people and Christianity tried to kill the Mi’kmaq culture.  

Traditional Culture:

The Mi’kmaq followed a seasonal subsistence round: their migratory pattern was to hunt inland during the fall and winter and then to spend the summer on the seashore. In the fall they would disperse into small groups to hunt moose and caribou. They also hunted partridge, waterfowl, seals, rabbit, beaver, otter, and porcupine. In addition to using the bow and arrow, they also used deadfalls and snares in hunting.

In hunting moose, the Mi’kmaq would use birchbark callers to attract the animals. Sometimes they would make the call of a female moose and then take water in a birchbark container and let it fall from some height. The noise would make the bull moose think that a female moose was urinating, something that attracted the male.

In the spring the Mi’kmaq would gather in large groups at traditional camping places on the coast and the rivers. Here they would take advantage of the abundant shellfish, and the spawning smelt, herring, and salmon. Groups at this time might have as many as 200 people. In fishing for cod, smelt, trout, and salmon, the Mi’kmaq would use bone fishhooks and nets. Occasionally fishing weirs were used. There are some reports that the Mi’kmaq raised fish in artificial ponds.

The Mi’kmaq were a sea-going coastal people who paddled their ocean-going canoes far out into the open waters of the Atlantic hunting for whales and porpoises. Both the Mi’kmaq and Beothuk seagoing canoes were unusual in that they had a rise amidships which allowed the craft to be leaned over 35 degrees without shipping water. This made it possible for hunters to bring on board a 300-pound porpoise.

With regard to navigation in open water, the Mi’kmaq charted their directions by the stars, using the North Star as a stationary point of reference.

In some areas, the sea-going canoes were rigged with sails for long journeys. While the sails were sometimes made from bark, the hide of a young moose was more common. Some canoes, such as those of the Beothuk, appear to have had keels and used stone ballast, particularly when rigged with sails.

Early European Contacts:

There were only sporadic contacts with the Europeans during the sixteenth century. The first recorded contact between Europeans and the Mi’kmaq was in 1519 when European fishing boats began trading with the Mi’kmaq in what is now Maine and the Canadian Maritime Provinces. It is quite probable that there were earlier, unrecorded contacts between the Mi’kmaq and English fishermen from Bistol in the 1480s and the Vikings in the 1000s.

In 1593, Richard Strong, the captain of an English ship that was fishing off the coast of Nova Scotia, landed at Cape Breton in search of fresh water. They traveled inland and found that the Mi’kmaq had round ponds in which they were keeping live fish.

While there were relatively few accounts of contacts between the Mi’kmaq and the European invaders during the sixteenth century, it is clear that a number of Europeans visited them and perhaps lived with them for a while. In 1609, Marc Lescarbot published his Histoire de la Nouvelle-France. Lescarbot, trained as a lawyer, provided a detailed description of many aspects of Mi’kmaq life.

The Indians generally viewed the French as physically stunted, with repulsive hair on their faces and bodies. Since many could not speak the Indian languages very well, the Indians assumed that they must be mentally retarded. And finally, the French salted their food making it inedible and many of their customs, including their symbolic cannibalism, seemed utterly barbaric.

The Missionaries:

During the seventeenth century, the French claimed what they called New France under the Discovery Doctrine, a legal doctrine which states that Christian nations have a right, and possibly an obligation, to govern all non-Christian nations. While their primary concern was in making money through the fur trade with the Indians, they often justified this by claiming that they would also convert the Indians to Christianity.

In 1610, Samuel de Champlain asked the Recollets-an ascetic branch of the Catholic Franciscans-to send a missionary to work among the Indians. The Recollets did not prove to be very successful in gaining converts and were soon replaced by the Jesuits.

In 1634, the Jesuit missionary Father Julien Perrault described the unique culture of the Mi’kmaq in what is now Nova Scotia. In his report he told how they lived with the seasons, how they dressed and behaved, and what they looked like. Reflecting his Jesuit bias, he reported that

“what they do lack is the knowledge of God and of the services that they ought to render to him.”

In 1634, the Jesuit mission to the Mi’kmaq on Cape Breton Island was closed as the native population had dwindled. The Jesuits decided that Cape Breton was not a productive area for teaching and conversion. The Jesuit missionaries were sent inland.

In 1661, Father Chrestien Le Clercq, a Recollet priest, published Nouvell Relation de la Gaspésie which provided a detailed description of the Mi’kmaq (also called Souriquois and Gaspésians by other early writers). He had spent 12 years living among the Mi’kmaq, teaching them the Gospel. He learned the Native language and the people described how their nation had been settled long before by visitors from overseas.

Le Clercq notes that the Mi’kmaq had writing:

“I noticed that some children were making marks with charcoal upon birchbark, and were counting these with the finger very accurately at each word of prayers which they pronounced.”

He also notes their expertise in cartography by reporting that they had

“much ingenuity in drawing upon bark a kind of map which marks exactly all the rivers and streams of a country of which they wish to make a representation.”

In 1711, the English military took control of Port Royal from the French. This ended the French missionary work among the Mi’kmaq. Unlike the French, the English made no attempt to cultivate any good will among the Mi’kmaq and did not engage in the traditional gift-giving. This led to conflicts between the British and the Mi’kmaq.

Quakers and Indians

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A new religious movement began in England in the late 1640s. The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, felt that it was possible for individuals to have a direct experience of Jesus Christ without the mediation of clergy. In addition, they believed in the spiritual equality of women. These two things made it easier for Native Americans, with a shamanistic and egalitarian background, to accept the Quakers among them as missionaries.  

In 1681, King Charles II of England granted a land charter to William Penn. The friendly relations between the Quakers and American Indians began when William Penn signed a peace treaty with Tammany, the leader of the Lenni Lenape (Delaware) nation.

In 1755, the Quakers established the Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures. In establishing this charity, the Quakers hoped to return to the Indian-European relations that had been established by  William Penn. Unlike other European charities at this time, the new Quaker charity spent its funds on Indians. This caused many non-Quaker Europeans to resent the association. The new charity was intended to be as conspicuous as possible-to both Indians and Europeans-and therefore serve as a shining example of how intercultural relations could be conducted.

In 1760, the Munsee prophet Papounhan and 30 of his followers visited Philadelphia and asked to see the Friends (Quakers) about religion. Unlike other Christian groups, the Quakers did not condemn Indian religions. While in the city, the Indians regularly attended meetings for worship in the Quakers’ Greater Meetinghouse.

In 1765, Quaker missionary John Woolman preached to the Munsee and Delaware. He felt that the Delaware were already communing with the divine light inside them and he sought spiritual tutelage from the Indians. He wrote:

“in mine own eyes I appeared inferior to many amongst the Indians.”

In 1795, the Quakers appointed a committee for the civilization and welfare of Indians. The plan was to introduce among the Indians what the Europeans felt were the necessary arts of civilization, including animal husbandry and the mechanical arts. The following year, the Quakers began their Indian plan by sending tools to most of the Indian nations of the eastern United States.

Following their Indian plan, five Quakers arrived at the Seneca town of Jenuchshadago in 1795. The Seneca, under the leadership of Cornplanter, were hungry because floods and frost had damaged their corn harvest. After consideration of the Quaker request to live among them and teach them, Cornplanter told them:

“Brothers, you never wished our lands, you never wished any part of our lands, therefore we are determined to try to learn your ways.”

Unlike other Christian missionaries, the Society of Friends was willing to accept the theological validity of Indian religious experiences.  The Quakers concentrated on teaching some of the young people how to read and write in English and to teach men and women modern farming techniques. They incorporated moral advice into their practical instruction. In this way, the Quakers attempted to persuade the Seneca to be sober, clean, punctual, industrious: in other words, to take up the Protestant ethic without, necessarily, becoming Protestants.

In 1808, the Quaker missionary William Kirk supervised the Ohio Shawnee as they cleared 400 acres and planted new crops such as potatoes, cabbage, and turnips. The Shawnee purchased breeding stock hoping that hogs and cattle would eventually supply them with the meat they used to get through hunting.

While Kirk was successful in teaching the Shawnee the European methods of farming, he was lax with his paperwork. Having failed to file financial statements with Washington, his mission was terminated by the government. When Kirk left, the Shawnee lost their primary source of technical advice and their experiment in agriculture waned.

In 1827, Seneca leader Red Jacket traveled to New York City to talk with the Quakers about providing aid for his people. Red Jacket trusted few persons other than the Quakers, who could not be intimidated and who were quick to expose a fraud. However, the Quakers were involved with helping the Onondaga and did not have any resources with which they could respond to the Seneca request. Two years later, Red Jacket repeated his request and this time the Quakers provided the Seneca with both farm equipment and sound advice.

The heyday of Quaker involvement with Indians came with President Ulysses Grant’s 1869 Peace Policy in which the federal government turned over the administration of Indian reservation to Christian missionary groups.  

In Oklahoma, the Comanche and Kiowa were assigned to the Quakers and the army was removed from the reservation.

In Nebraska, the six reservations were placed in the care of the Hicksite Quakers, the liberal branch of the Society of Friends. A part of the Quaker plan to destroy the political and social structure of the Pawnee was the elimination of the Pawnee scouts, a group which had a long history of serving the United States army. As pacifists, the Quaker brotherhood made no allowance for the Pawnee culture, traditions, or experiences in which war experiences were glorified. Ignoring the reality of drought and grasshoppers, the Quakers saw farming as the way to convert the Pawnee.

The first Quaker Indian agent for the Big Blue Reservation (Otoe-Missouria) in Nebraska and Kansas, found 450 Otoe living in a 25-acre village which contained 30 earthlodges. The Otoe continued to use their traditional agricultural practices and to do some hunting. While the Quaker agents came with good intentions, they failed to understand the organization of the tribe. Therefore they disrupted the traditional leadership pattern, and contributed to tribal factionalism.

In Nebraska, the Quakers assumed control of the Omaha reservation. The tribal chiefs asked that the funds for the Presbyterian boarding school be withdrawn and that two day schools be established. The Quakers treated the Indians as spiritual equals but cultural inferiors who must learn European ways or perish. They stressed allotment of tribal lands and the creation of individual farms.

Overall, the Quaker experiences with the Indians during the 18th and 19th centuries were good with regard to religious tolerance. Many of the Indians, particularly those in the east, found it easy to incorporate Quaker spiritual concepts into their own religion. The Longhouse Religion, founded by Seneca religious leader Handsome Lake, for example, seems to have incorporated a number of Quaker teachings. On the other, the emphasis on war honors among the Plains tribes created some problems for the pacifistic Quakers.

During the 19th century, the Quakers were hampered by an ethnocentrism which saw the Euro-American way of life as superior to the Indian way of life. While Indian religious practices were tolerated, there was an emphasis on changing other aspects of Indian culture, including government and family.

Moor’s Indian Charity School

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Many Christian missionaries, both Protestant and Catholic, have wrestled with the problem of how best to convert the “pagan” Indians. In 1754, Eleazar Wheelock felt that Indian missionaries could be supported for about half the cost of English missionaries; they spoke the Indian language; and they were accustomed to Indian lifestyles. Wheelock  wrote:

“Indian missionaries may be supposed better to understand the tempers and customs of Indians, and more readily conform to them in a thousand things than the English can; and in things wherein the nonconformity of the English may cause disgust, and be construed as the fruit of pride, and an evidence and expression of their scorn and disrespect.”

In order to create the Indian missionaries needed for this effort, Eleazar Wheelock founded Moor’s Indian Charity School in Lebanon, Connecticut. The school was named for its chief benefactor, Joshua Moor, who donated a house and two acres of land.  


While some of the inspiration for the school had come from Wheelock’s experience in tutoring a Mohegan named Samson Occom from 1743 to 1748, Wheelock felt that the plan for the school was divinely inspired.

The Indian boys who attended the school were separated from their own culture and were given a classical education in Latin and Greek. Looking at the school through the lens of British standards, it appeared to be a sound approach to education. From an Indian viewpoint, however, it was a form of cultural genocide.

The Indian boys began each day with prayer and catechism before dawn. This was followed by formal instruction in Greek and Latin. The Indian boys were required to work on the school’s farm half of the day-a task classified as “husbandry”. Most of the Indian students showed little interest in farm chores.

Indian girls attended academic classes only one day a week. The rest of the time they were delegated to non-Indian households where they worked as servants (some would say that they are slaves). Like other females in British New England, they were taught subjects that would assist their husbands’ needs. Wheelock, like other missionaries, educators, and English leaders of this era, was convinced that the presence of Indian girls at the school would result in future wifely companionship for the Indian missionary husbands.

Initially, recruitment of students was limited to New England and New Jersey since the war between the French and the English (sometimes called the French and Indian War, 1754-1763) interfered with recruitment in other areas. Two Delaware boys, John Pumshire and Jacob Woolley, were the first two students at the school. They were later joined by Pequot, Mohegan, and Montauk students.

Beginning in 1761, Wheelock was able to recruit students from the Iroquois in New York. At the same time, the first two Indian girls enrolled: Amy Johnson, a Mohegan and Miriam Storrs, a Delaware.

Probably the most famous student at Moor’s Indian Charity School was the Mohawk Joseph Brant. In 1761, three young Mohawk men-Joseph Brant, Negyes, and Center-were sent to the school. All of the Mohawk kept their horses ready so that they could flee back to their own country. Center and Negyes soon returned home, but Brant stayed on to improve his written Mohawk and to learn spoken and written English.

Joseph Brant, whose Mohawk name was Thayendenegea, was the son of Aroghyiadecker (Nickus Brant), the grandson of Sagayeenquarashtow (one of the sachems who visited Queen Anne’s court at the beginning of the century), and the brother of Molly Brant, the consort of Sir William Johnson, the British Indian superintendent.

Students from the school sometimes helped in missionary efforts. For example, in 1761, David Fowler (Montauk), who was a student at Moor’s Indian Charity School, accompanied his brother-in-law, the Mohegan Christian missionary Samson Occom on a visit to the Oneida. They visited the Oneida on behalf of the Presbyterian missionary organization, the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. The Oneida were receptive to a missionary and a school and they presented Occom with a wampum belt to bind them together in love and friendship.  Occom told the Oneida that they were to wear their hair long, in the English style, and that they were not to wear Indian ornaments.

In 1765, the first students from Moor’s Indian Charity School were ready for examination by the Connecticut Board of Correspondents, one of several such colonial boards that represented the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. A total of eleven students graduated, with three Indian boys becoming schoolmasters to the Iroquois and six serving as teaching assistants.

In 1768, Moor’s Indian Charity School closed. About 50 Indian students had studied at the school and 15 had returned to their homes as missionaries, schoolmasters, or assistants to non-Indian ministers. Overall, Moor’s Charity School made no lasting evangelistic mark.

By the mid 1760s, Eleazar Wheelock had realized that his plan of sending missionaries to the Indian homelands to educate and convert Indians was not working as planned. He began to look for new directions in which to move. In 1769, he received a charter for a new school, one which would be named for William, second Earl of Dartmouth. Wheelock was appointed Dartmouth College’s first president.  

Franciscans in the American Southwest

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During the early sixteenth century there were many fantastic stories circulating among the Spanish which told of fabulously wealthy cities north of Mexico. These cities, according to the stories, had more gold than the Aztecs or the Inkas, and they were ripe for conquest by the superior Spanish warriors. In 1539, Fray Marcos de Niza, a Franciscan missionary adept in native languages, received permission from the Spanish Crown to explore what is now the American southwest and to determine if the fabled riches actually existed. Before embarking on his journey,   Spanish Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza told Fray Marcos de Niza that

“you must explain to the natives of the land that there is only one god in heaven, and the emperor on earth to rule and govern it, whose subjects they must all become and whom they must serve.”

The rumors about fabulous cities of gold came from several sources. Sometimes it was the Indians who spun these tall tales, perhaps to deflect Spanish interest in enslaving their own people. Sometimes the tales came from other explorers who returned with tall tales about what they had seen. One of these earlier explorers was Cabeza de Vaca who reported that he had heard many stories of wealthy American Indian cities. Among those who accompanied Fray Marcos de Niza was Esteván, the black slave who had been with the Cabeza de Vaca expedition a decade earlier.

Near the present-day city of Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico, the expedition encountered some Pima Bajo who gave them a warm reception and much food. They told the Franciscan of a valley with many large settlements where the people wore cotton (probably the Pima and Opata). In reference to their mica pendants and their pottery made from mica-bearing clay, Fray Marcos thought that the Indians were telling him about people to the north who had pendants and vessels made of gold and silver. Many of the stories told to the Spanish probably contained grains of truth. However, by this time the Indians, especially those of northern Mexico, had learned to tell the Spanish invaders whatever they wanted to hear.

After hearing the stories about what he felt described the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola Fray Marcos sent Esteván with an advance party to investigate this possibility. They followed a well-established trading route that connected northern Mexico with the American Southwest. Esteván reached as far north as Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico, where he was killed.

While at a Pima village on the Rio Magdalena in Sonora, Mexico, Fray Marcos was told about three other kingdoms: Marata, Acus, and Totonteac. The Pima went to these three kingdoms and to Cibola to trade for turquoise, buffalo hides, and other things. Fray Marcos continued his journey north, into Arizona, encountering many settlements. Along the Salt River, he noted that there were villages every half or quarter league. The irrigated fields reminded him of gardens. He continued to hear stories about Cibola and about Marata. He was told that Marata had been reduced because of warfare with Cibola, but still remained independent. The kingdom of Totoneac (probably the Hohokam) was described to him as the largest of the kingdoms and that its people wore clothing of wool which was obtained from wild sheep.

As Fray Marcos continued his journey toward Cibola, he noted that he was traveling on a wide and well-used road that was lined with many shacks used by the people who journeyed to Cibola. Outside of Zuni, he was told that Esteván had been killed. His Indian escorts refused to travel farther, and so Fray Marcos turned back. Before leaving, however, he took possession of Cibola for the Spanish king by erecting a pile of stones with a small cross on top. While Fray Marcos never reached Zuni, he still described it as being bigger than Mexico City. The stories that Fray Marcos brought back inspired more Spanish interest in the Southwest and resulted in other expeditions seeking the fabled gold cities.  

Spanish Missionary Efforts Among Florida Indians

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photo credit: Aaron Huey

When the Spanish exploration of Florida began with Juan Ponce de Leon (the conqueror of Puerto Rico) in 1513 there were an estimated 200,000 Native Americans living in what would later become the state of Florida. European diseases soon reduced this population. The Spanish expeditions which followed were motivated originally by greed and glory. In 1549, the Spanish launched their missionary efforts to convert the heathen natives.  

The first missionary effort was led by Fray Luis Cancer de Barbastro, a Dominican.  Fray Luis was an unusual missionary in that he felt that his primary hope in converting Indians lay in contacting people who had not been antagonized by the earlier Spanish show of force. He felt that Indians could be converted by kindness and good example instead of force.

With him were two other priests, a lay brother, and an Indian woman named Magdalena who was to serve as their interpreter. It is not certain if Magdalena was a Calusa who had been captured by an earlier Spanish expedition or if she was a Native Cuban who had been captured by the Calusa and learned their language. Trading trips to Cuba by the Calusa had been made regularly by fairly large numbers of Indian traders.

The missionary group landed at Tampa Bay where the Indians quickly captured a sailor, the lay brother, and Magdalena. Determined to rescue the captives, Fray Luis sailed to Charlotte Harbor. The three priests went to an Indian village to obtain information about the captives. While they saw Magdalena, they failed to rescue her, but they did rescue a Spanish sailor who had been captured ten years earlier. The sailor told them that the other captives had been killed.

Fray Luis, however, still wanted to save the souls of the Indians. He again went ashore. As he waded ashore he was greeted by Indians who first snatched his hat from his head, and then hit him on the head with a club. They then killed him.  He thus became a martyr to his cause and a victim of Calusa hostility which had been incited by earlier Spanish expeditions.  

While this ended the initial Spanish missionary attempt, there were some unintended consequences of this contact. The Spanish and Magdalena who were captured by the Calusa brought typhus with them. The mortality rate from this epidemic was about 10%.  

Missionary attempts began again in 1566 when the Spanish governor of Florida requested that the Jesuits establish missions among the Indians. Three Spanish Jesuits-Father Juan Rogel, Father Pedro Martínez, and Brother Francisco Villareal-sailed for Florida, but their ship missed St. Augustine and finally anchored off the Georgia coast near St. Simons Island. Father Martínez and some sailors went ashore to ask directions. While they were ashore, a storm blew their ship away from land, marooning them. After ten days, the Spanish built a small boat and attempted to find St. Augustine. Father Martínez and three sailors were killed by Indians.

While this initial attempt did not bode well for the Jesuits, the following year they managed to establish a mission at the town of Calos, the capital of the Calusa nation.

In 1568, a group of 11 Jesuits led by Father Juan Bautista de Segura arrived in St. Augustine. The Jesuits were seeking to establish missions among the Tequesta and Calusa. They made few converts. In general, the chiefs and native religious leaders were openly hostile toward the Jesuits, viewing them as threats to the power of the native elites. The following year, the Jesuits admitted failure and abandoned their mission at Calos. In 1572, the Spanish Jesuits abandoned all of their missionary efforts in Florida.

In 1573, the Spanish governor of Florida arranged for the Franciscans to establish missions in the territories under his jurisdiction. Under Royal Orders, 18 Franciscans were to be sent to La Florida. By the end of the year, three Franciscans had arrived and were working with the Guale and Orista. The Franciscans baptized the chief and his wife of the main town of Guale. This was a major victory for the Franciscans as the chief was in line to become the head chief over a number of villages.

In 1575, the Franciscans decided that it was in their best interest to withdraw from the area because of conflicts with the Spanish colonial government.

In 1584, the Franciscans tried again. A group of Franciscans under the leadership of Father Alonso de Reynoso arrived in St. Augustine to establish missions among the Indians. However, the priest was accused of fraud and denounced for excessive card playing. Thus the Franciscans’ missionary effort ended almost before it had begun.

In 1587, Father Alonso de Reynoso brought nine Franciscan friars to help convert and pacify the Indians. Three years later, Father Alonso de Reynoso brought in another group of 12 Franciscan friars to work among the Indians.

In 1595, a group of 12 Franciscan friars under the leadership of Father Juan de Silva began missionary work among the Indians. This marks the beginning of successful Franciscan missionary efforts among the La Florida Indians. The Franciscans’ missionary efforts were carefully carried out within the context of Spanish colonial enterprise and against a backdrop of native depopulation. As a part of this missionary effort, the Franciscan Francisco Pareja began writing down the language of the Timucua.

In 1608, the Apalachee chiefs asked the Spanish to send them priests. The Apalachee have an estimated population of 50,000 living in 107 towns. At this time, the traditional chiefs were finding it difficult to control their people and felt that affiliation with the Spanish would reinforce their leadership through formal recognition of the leadership, gift giving, and military alliances. The Apalachee had been a Mississippian chiefdom in which the chiefs had considerable power. The native leaders in Spanish Florida were willing to abandon some traditional priestly power when it no longer reinforced their chiefly authority.

A Franciscan priest and an entourage of 150 Potano and Timucua traveled to the Apalachee town of Ivitachuco. The Apalachee cleared a wide road for the travelers and an estimated 36,000 Apalachee, including 70 chiefs, greeted the entourage.

In 1610, the Franciscans extended their missionary work to the interior of the Timucua territory. The Franciscan Francisco Pareja published a book in 1613 in Mexico City which contained sections on religious doctrine in both Spanish and Timucua.

In 1633, the Franciscans established a mission-San Lorenzo de Ivitachuco-among the Apalachee. At this time the native population was relatively large and dense. The Apalachee chiefs appeared to be enthusiastic about the Spanish and the Franciscans. Following the demographic and political collapse brought about by disease, the chiefs were scrambling to retain their authority. They saw the alliance with the Spanish Franciscans as a way to retain power.

In 1680, the Spanish Franciscans abandoned the mission at Santa Catalina which served the Guale. Four years later, the Franciscans re-established a mission among the Guale. The new mission was located on Amelia Island and was called Santa María by the Spanish.

In 1697, the Spanish sent a group of Franciscans to the Calusa. The Calusa were less than enthusiastic about the Franciscans. The friars were ridiculed and insulted. Calusa hecklers mooned the friars and sent them fleeing south down the coast toward Cuba in a small boat.

In 1743, the Jesuits returned to Florida and established a mission, Santa Maria, at the mouth of the Miami River. The mission was intended to serve the 200 people who comprised the remnants of the Calusa, Key, and Boca Raton tribes

In 1763, Florida was transferred from Spain to England, thus ending the Spanish missionary efforts.  

Jesuit Missionaries in Arizona

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photo credit: Aaron Huey

The Spanish missionaries made a four-pronged approach into North America: Florida and the Southeast (beginning in 1549); New Mexico and Texas (beginning in 1581); California (beginning in 1769); and Arizona (beginning in 1687). While there are many histories about the Spanish missions in New Mexico and California, those in Arizona tend to be less well-known. The missionary efforts in Arizona were carried out by the Jesuits (Society of Jesus, a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church).

San Xavier 1

The Spanish missionary efforts in Arizona began in 1687 when Father Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit, established a series of missions among the O’odham peoples in the desert of southern Arizona. These were people who had been farming in this desert environment for at least a thousand years. While Kino was adored and beloved by many, his endeavors were not universally accepted.


In 1691, Father Kino visited the O’odham village of Tumacacori and noted that it contained more than 40 houses which were situated close together. The following year, Father Kino visited the O’odham village which he called San Xavier del Bac near present-day Tucson and noted that more than 800 people were living there.

The O’odham are the descendents of the culture which archaeologists have labeled “Hohokam.” In 1694, Father Kino visited the Hohokam ruins at Casa Grande.

While there is sometimes a stereotypical image of the peaceful, but backward, Indians of Southern Arizona welcoming the peaceful Catholic priests and joyously building their churches while being rewarded with gospel lessons, the reality is different. As in other parts of North America, Indian people were often treated as slaves and they objected to this treatment. This was seen in the O’odham rebellion of 1695. At this time, the O’odham broke out of the mission at Tubutama and attempted to free other Indians at other missions. Father Kino arranged for peace talks, but when the O’Odham arrived at El Tupo, the Spanish opened fire and massacred the peace delegation.

General Juan Fernández de la Fuente with a party of 320-352 troops arrived in Quiburi on their way to engage the Jocome, Jano, and Apache in battle. The Sobaipuri informed the Spanish that the Jocome and Jano were planning to ambush them in the Sierra de Chiricahua. Quiburi was the largest Sobaipuri settlement with a population of about 400.

Two years later, the upper San Pedro Sobaípuri accepted gifts of livestock, grain, trinkets, and baptism from the Spanish and thus solidified the alliance between the two peoples. The Sobaípuris notified the Spanish of pending ambushes which had been arranged by their mutual enemies and they accompanied them on campaigns, perhaps only as guides and spies but nonetheless on the side of the Spanish. From the viewpoint of the Sobaípuri, this alliance gave them an advantage over their enemies and for this they were willing to endure baptism.

The Spanish founded the mission of San Xavier del Bac near the present day city of Tucson in 1700. The native population of the Pima Alto (Papago, Pima, Sobaipuri) was estimated at 23,000 at this time. This indicates that there had been a decline of more than half from their pre-contact population of more than 50,000. This was due primarily to exposure to European diseases between 1638 and 1700.

In 1701, Father Kino noted that the Indians had very good cotton fabrics. The Sobaiuri gave him some very good cotton fabrics and blankets.

In 1747, the Spanish missionary Jacobo Sedelmayr observed a large, sophisticated reservoir in Pima territory. He wrote:

“Its banks appear to be walls or breastworks of mortar or stone and mortar, from the hardness and strength of the material. At its four corners are gates which admit rain water.”

He assumed that the people who made the reservoir came from Mexico. Like many other non-Indians, there was an assumption that American Indians were incapable of constructing large projects and so the large features, including ancient ruins, which they encountered were assumed to be Mexican. With regard to the large multi-story buildings at Casa Grande, he wrote:

“It appears to me that Moctezuma resided in Casa Grande; and, in other buildings on both sides of the Gila, his governors lived: for always, in this type of ruin, one building is outstanding, and dominates the others.”

In 1751, Luís Oacpicagigua led an O’odham revolt against the Spanish because of their policy of forced Indian labor. The revolt started in Saric where 18 Spanish were killed, but one priest escaped and spread word of the revolt. Oacpicagigua asked the Sobaipuri and the Apache to join the revolt, but they declined. The O’odham attacked and plundered a number of missions and rancherias, including Caborca, Sonoita, Bac, and Guevavi. The O’odham killed more than 100 Spanish, including 2 priests. The Spanish killed 40 O’odham. Over a period of several months, the Spanish soldiers suppressed the rebellion.

The Spanish captured and executed several of those involved in the rebellion, including a relative of Luís Oacpicagigua. Oacpicagigua was captured, but negotiated his freedom by promising to supervise the rebuilding of the destroyed churches, a promise which he did not keep.

During the rebellion, many O’odham (both Pima and Papago) feared Spanish reprisals and refused to join.

In 1767, the Spanish king Charles II banned all Jesuits from Spanish lands in the Americas because of his distrust of them. The administration of the missions was then transferred to the Franciscans who were seen as more reliable and pliable.

San Xavier 2

16th Century Spanish Religious Views of American Indians

( – promoted by navajo)

The major European powers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries took very different approaches to American Indians. For the French, the Indians were potential trading partners. The English were interested in Indian land and therefore the Indians were simply in the way. For the Spanish, the situation was more complex. On one level the Spanish viewed Indians as a form of labor which could be exploited and the success of the Spanish colonies in the Americas was based on this exploitation. On another level, they viewed the Indians as having souls which could be brought to their God.  

One part of the Spanish conquest of the Americas focused on religion: on their need to convert Native Americans to the one true religion. The Spanish viewed Indians as heathen savages who worshipped devils. Therefore, Indians would spend eternity suffering the tortures of hell unless they were saved. The Spanish viewed baptizing someone in the true faith, even forcibly, as an incomparable act of love; an act which could save that soul from an eternity of excruciating torment; an act which would provide an opportunity for everlasting ecstasy. From the Spanish perspective, any Native resistance to conversion was seen as the work of Satan.

In 1512, Spain established the encomienda system in the Americas. Under this system, conquistadores and Spanish settlers were given land grants in which the Indians who lived on these lands were considered a part of the lands. The Indians were required to work for the new “owners” and in return, the “owners” were to Christianize and “civilize” the Indians. Under the econcomienda, villages of Indians were ‘commended’ to the care and protection of an encomendero, who could exact their labor. While legally the Indians were free, they were technically slaves and the encomenderos spoke of owning their Indians. Under the encomienda system Indian women murdered their own children rather than have them live under the conquistadors.

Under encomienda, each Spanish hacienda had its corps of Indian serfs to till the fields, maintain the livestock, tend the house, and make whatever the master wanted to eat, to wear, or to sell. There were some problems with the encomienda system from an Indian viewpoint. First, the Spanish required that the Indians tend to the Spanish needs and then, if there was any time left in the day, they could tend to their own fields and houses. Consequently, the Indians were reduced to a state of destitution. Working for the Spanish and trying to maintain their own fields depleted their energies, injured their health, and destroyed their independence.

In addition to encomienda, the Spanish also instituted the policy of repartimiento which gave the Spanish colonists the right to use native labor for religious education. Repartimiento functioned as a part of the Spanish mission system in both the Southwest and in the Southeast. Under this system, labor quotas and the conscription of people to serve on labor gangs were organized through the villages served by the missions (or, from an Indian viewpoint, the villages which served the missions).

At the same time that Spain instituted the policies of encomienda and repartimiento, the Spanish King Ferdinand promulgated the Laws of Burgos which spelled out how Indians are to be treated. Those were the first laws which spelled out measures regarding the freedom of the Indians, the regulation of their work and their conversion to Christianity. In general, the new Spanish land owners in the Americas ignored the Laws.

In 1513, King Ferdinand told the Native Americans that God had declared that the Pope rules all people, regardless of their law, sect, or belief. This included Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles, or any other sect. He asked that the Native Americans come forward of their own free will to convert to Catholicism or

“with the help of God we shall use force against you, declaring war upon you from all sides and with all possible means, and we shall bind you to the yoke of the Church and Their Highnesses; we shall enslave your persons, wives, and sons, sell you or dispose of you as the King sees fit; we shall seize your possessions and harm you as much as we can as disobedient and resisting vassals.”

Furthermore, the Natives who resisted were to be held guilty of all resulting deaths and injuries.

Upon contacting an Indian village, the Spanish conquistadores or the priests who accompanied them would read a document known as the ‘Requirement,’ which recited the history of the world from the Christian viewpoint. They would then demand that the natives accept the Christian myth as true and submit themselves to the Spanish Crown and the Catholic Church. It did not make any difference that the natives might not understand Spanish or Latin, or that they might have their own history of the world. Once the word of the Spanish god was revealed, a just war could be waged on those who rejected it.

The instructions given to the first 12 Spanish missionaries to New Spain (what is today Mexico and the American Southwest) in 1523 told them that the Indians were under the control of Satan, captive to the vanity of idols, and had to be redeemed for Christianity. According to the instructions, the souls of New Spain were being unlawfully reaped by the devil and the flesh. Christ does not enjoy the souls that he bought with his blood.

In 1525, the Dominican official Tomas Ortiz reported that Indians ate human flesh, engaged in sodomy, went naked, and had no respect for love, virginity, or the truth. He reported:

“It may therefore affirm that God has never created a race more full of vice and composed without the least mixture of kindness or culture.”

In 1526, Spanish King Charles V issued orders concerning the fair treatment of Indians. He ordered that Indians be treated so that

“it may be accomplished with no offence to God, without death nor robbery of said Indians and without enslaving them, so that the desire to spread our faith among them be achieved without grieving our consciences.”

However, there was also a royal levy of one-half of all looted grave-goods.

In 1529, Pope Clement VI wrote to King Charles of Spain:

“We trust that, as long as you are on earth, you will compel and with all zeal cause the barbarian nations to come to the knowledge of God, the maker and founder of all things, not only by edicts of admonitions, but also by force and arms, if needful, in order that their souls may partake of the heavenly kingdom.”

In a papal bull, Sublimis Deus, issued in 1537 Pope Paul III declared that Indians were not to be enslaved nor are they

“to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside of the faith of Jesus Christ.”

The Spanish King, however, disagreed with the bull and confiscated all copies of the bull before it could reach the Americas. He then prevailed upon the Pope to revoke the bull.

In Valladolid, Spain, leading theologians and scholars were called together by King Charles in 1550 to determine the criteria by which a just war could be waged against Native Americans. Bartolomé de Las Casas presented the idea that Christianity should be spread by kindness and example rather than by the sword. Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda argued that Indians were brutes who could become the servants of civilized peoples. Spanish authorities suppressed the detailed defense of the humanity of Native Americans prepared by Las Casas. Sepúlveda’s ideas were widely circulated and used as justification for enslaving Indians.

Four years later, Francisco López de Gómara, one of the greatest enemies of Bartolomé de Las Casas, published his Historia general de las Indias (General History of the Indians.) In this book he described Indians as the worst people God ever made and felt that they should be enslaved because they did not deserve liberty. López de Gómara had never been to America.

The Spanish theologians, firm in their belief that all people descended from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, attempted to explain the presence of Indians in a land far away from where the Garden of Eden was supposed to have existed. In Historia natural y moral de las Indias, published in 1590, Spanish Friar José de Acosta postulated that American Indians arrived in the New World by walking across a land bridge from Asia. This reason was not based on Indian oral tradition or on any “hard” evidence. Faced with the task of explaining how the descendents of Noah had become the idolatrous barbarians of the New World, de Acosta provided a theory of their degeneration to a state of savagery and a posterior reinvention of culture under the tutelage of Satan.

19th Century Mormon Missionaries & the Shoshone

( – promoted by navajo)

In 1830, a new religion was born in the United States with the publication of The Book of Mormon. The new religion, founded by Joseph Smith, is unusual among non-Indian religions in that it incorporates some understanding of Indians into its teachings. The Book of Mormon, upon which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is based, offers a history of Indians and sees them as the descendents of the tribe of Joseph, one of Israel’s twelve tribes. Following the Resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared among the Indians in the guise of Viacocha, Kukulcan, or Quetzalcoatl. In founding the new religious movement, Smith announced that he had a revelation to carry the message of the Book of Mormon to the Indians.

In 1846, the Mormons entered what is now Utah and began to build their Kingdom of God on Earth. Upon entering the Salt Lake Valley, the Mormons abandoned their earlier policy of buying or renting land from Indians and declared ownership based on divine donation and beneficial use. The area where the Mormons settled was a contested buffer zone between the Ute and the Shoshone. The Mormons intended to stay in Utah and thus they needed to develop a stable relationship with the Native Americans who inhabited the area. Brigham Young enunciated a policy of friendliness toward Indians that was designed to minimize tensions between settlers and natives.

In 1853, the Mormons established Fort Supply as an outpost in Shoshone country. During the winter, a number of Shoshone sought refuge with the Mormons. Seizing this as a learning opportunity, the Mormons tried to learn as much as they could from the natives regarding their marriage customs, burial rites, and the tribal roles of the medicine men. They also studied the Shoshone language.

At the same time, Brigham Young established the Southern Indian Mission and stressed that missionaries had to learn Indian languages in order to convert them.

Two years later, Brigham Young appointed 27 men to conduct missionary work among the buffalo-hunting Indians of the Bannock, Shoshone, and Flathead nations whose territories lay north of Utah.

Subsequently, a Mormon missionary party settled on the banks of the Salmon River in Idaho to work with the Bannock. The mission was located near a site where the Bannock, Shoshone, Nez Perce, and Flathead met each summer for gambling and horse-trading. The Mormons were greeted in a friendly fashion by Sho-woo-koo, also known as Le Grand Coquin, who assured them that they could use the land for farming.

The Mormons quickly began holding classes to learn the Shoshone language and they soon baptized 55 Indians.

Not all Indians welcomed the Mormons. In 1858, Fort Lehmi, a Mormon mission in Idaho, was attacked by a war party of about 200 Bannock and Shoshone warriors. Two of the Mormons were killed and five were wounded. The Indians captured 250 cattle and 29 horses. As a result of the attack, the mission was abandoned.

In 1873 Mormon missionaries under the leadership of George Washington Hill traveled to southern Idaho where they baptized about 100 Shoshone and Bannock. Speaking to the Indians in their own language, Hill told them about the Book of Mormon and depicted its story by placing pictures on a scroll. The baptized Indians were then settled on farmland near Brigham City, Utah. The Indians named the new community Washakie, after a Shoshone Chief.

In 1875, Shoshone chief Pocatello traveled to Salt Lake City where he demanded to be baptized by the Mormons. In addition to Pocatello, five other Shoshone men and four Shoshone women are baptized. Pocatello predicted that many more would follow seeking spiritual salvation.

In 1875, a Mormon missionary gathered a number of Shoshone on a spot between Malad and the Bear River in Idaho. They put in 140 acres of corn, wheat, and potatoes. The missionary then began a series of evangelical meetings which resulted in 574 baptisms.

While Mormon missionaries were having some success at converting the Shoshone and Bannock, the government did not look upon this favorably. The Indian agent at the Fort Hall Reservation accused the Mormon missionaries of teaching that the Indians were chosen of the Lord to establish God’s kingdom on earth. Furthermore, the agent accused the missionaries of fostering hatred of the American government. While the Indian agent prohibited the Indians from listening to the Mormons, the Indians snuck off the reservation to hear what the Mormons had to say. The government then sent in troops to break up the missionary enterprise and to bring the Indians back to the reservation.

When the military commander ordered the Indians to return to the reservation, they were on their second day of harvest. As a result, most of the crops which they had planted were lost.  Following this incident, the Deseret News reported:

“These shameful Indian scares are actual robberies-they rob the Indians of their hard earned crops and of the right to dwell in peace”

Undeterred by the military breakup of his Indian farm, the Mormon missionary established another farm for the Shoshone between the Bear and Malad Rivers. With the help of other Mormon missionaries, a dam was constructed and work on an irrigation system was started. Eighty acres were planted which the Indians harvested with their own reaper.

In 1877, in response to the establishment of a Mormon farm for the Shoshone, non-Indians again demanded that the Indians be forcibly returned to the Fort Hall Reservation. Rumors circulated that the Indians were well-armed and that their horses were in good condition. The district attorney reported that the Indians had become members of the Mormon church, that they were under Mormon control, and thus they were “disloyal.” He recommended that the Indians be returned to the reservation and that the missionary should be charged with “illegally tampering with the Indians.” While the district attorney argued that military force be used to move the Indians, the Indian agent noted that the Indians in question had never resided at Fort Hall but had always made the Bear River area their home.

In 1880, a Mormon missionary went to the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming to work among the Shoshone. When he asked his old friend Chief Washakie for protection against the Gentile Indian agents, he was told that Washakie was not interested in talking with him nor was he interested in learning more about Mormonism. Washakie explained that Mormonism was an invented story, but also confessed that the Mormons had always been his friends. After a discussion with Washakie, the Mormons received permission to tell the Shoshone about the Book of Mormon.

The Mormon missionary, Amos Wright, explained to the Shoshone the contents of the Book of Mormon, their relationship to the Lamanites, and the promises that God made to them. Wright spoke to them in broken Shoshone, but in spite of this his talk made such an impact upon those assembled that 87 requested baptism. Washakie and 17 of his family members converted. Wright baptized 422 Shoshone during a four-week time period.

Lawrence Coates (1972: 7) writes: “Wright’s success rested partly upon the Shoshonis’ long tradition of accepting dreams and visions as being divine manifestations. To them, the visions described by Wright could easily fit into their religious beliefs.”

In 1882, John Taylor, the president of the Mormon Church, received divine instructions for the church to renew its determination to educate and convert Native Americans. Assignments were made to various apostles to supervise the work among the Indian nations.

In 1883, the Indian agent for the Fort Hall Reservation in Idaho estimated that 300 Bannock and Shoshone were now members of the Mormon Church. He asked the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for help in stopping the Mormons from instructing the Indians in polygamy and other “vile doctrines.”

In 1885, Mormon president John Taylor urged more church responsibility in teaching the Indians. He said:

“We know there are difficulties in reaching the Indian but this must not be an excuse in our neglecting to teach them.”


The Mormon missionaries were successful among the Shoshone for a number of reasons. While most missionaries sought to convert them on behalf of the United States government, the Mormon religion, like the Native American religions, was suppressed by the government. Thus Indians felt a sense of kinship with the Mormons.

The Mormons, like the Indians, were also persecuted because of their practice of polygyny. This contributed to a sense of similarity with the Mormons.

Third, the Indians viewed Mormon doctrine as similar to theirs with its origins in a vision. And the Mormons told the Indians the story of the Book of Mormon in their own language rather than requiring the Indians to learn English. Unlike other forms of Christianity, Indians are included in the religious stories.

And finally, unlike many of the other missionaries which Indians encountered, the Mormons seemed to be genuinely interested in helping them, not only spiritually, but also with regard to their economic well-being.  

Ethnocide. Master’s Commission. Palin

( – promoted by SarahLee)

Read dogemperor’s “Sarah Palin used AK tax dollars to fund dominionist churches”

Sarah Palin, who has attacked Alaska Native Languages and Alaska Tribal Sovereignty, gave a speech at the Master’s Commission on September 2nd, 2008,


It has only one mission, to throw defeat in the face of the Devil and see God’s people freed.

and the Master’s Commission has a branch that Christianizes Alaskan Natives.


Although the Native Reservations of the lower 48 states may be off the beaten path, these tribes are easily accessible compared to the Native tribes of bush Alaska. Forgotten? Not by God! But the reality is reaching the indigenous people of this state is very difficult and very expensive!

Let’s look at the speech and how she’s attacked Alaska Native Languages and Alaska Tribal Sovereignty after briefly looking at the history of Missionary work in Alaska. Then, we’ll look at “Palin’s Pipeline”the TransCanada gas pipeline.

The Master’s Commission that Palin spoke to is continuing the old practice of Christianizing Indigenous People, and more than one denomination has proselytized Alaskan Natives since 1867.…

Russian missionaries remained most successful among he Aleuts, although with the sale of Alaska to the United States in 1867, the status of the church suddenly changed. Its missionaries continued to work among the Native people of Alaska even after it became a foreign land, but their influence declined in the late nineteenth century, as other denominations began proselytizing.

Intellectual snobbery has a price attached to it, and what it may cost with the Military Commissions Act as law and a Dominionist Vice President, are the peaceful yet firm measures needed to prevent that rise to power.

Palin’s Church May Have Shaped Controversial Worldview

“Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God,” she (Palin) exhorted the congregants.

Text Transcript of Sarah Palin’s Speech of June 8, 2008 at Master’s Commission of Wasilla, Alaska

…but really all of that stuff doesn’t do any good if the people of Alaska’s heart isn’t right with God. And that’s going to be your job. As I’m doing my job, let’s strike this deal, your job is to going to be to be out there reaching the people, hurting people throughout Alaska, and we can work together to make sure that God’s will be done here.

– snip –

So all you Master’s Commission students and all of your supporters…and thank you so much for dedicating your lives to Jesus Christ! Thank you!

I wonder why Palin doesn’t mention it’s the TransCanada Pipeline, but just says it’s “a natural gas pipeline.”

Alaska House approves TransCanada gas pipeline

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, July 22 (Reuters) – Alaska’s House of Representatives voted late on Tuesday to allow TransCanada Corp.(TRP.TO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) to build a massive pipeline to tap the vast natural gas resources of the state’s North Slope region.

The chamber voted 24-16 in the state capital of Juneau for a bill backed by Governor Sarah Palin that would grant TransCanada a state license for a 1,700-mile (2,700 km) pipeline to bring the gas to North American markets.

– snip –

Palin, a Republican, has endorsed TransCanada’s plan to build the pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to an existing hub on the Alberta-British Columbia border, shipping 4 billion cubic feet a day. She argues the company, as an independent pipeline operator, would free the state and the North Slope from the dominance of the major oil producers there — BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), ConocoPhillips (COP.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

Why doesn’t she mention it’s the TransCanada Pipeline?

Alaska Natives have lost all fishing rights and all hunting rights, “Alaska Native peoples are among the only Indigenous peoples in all of North America whose Indigenous Hunting and Fishing Rights have been extinguished by federal legislation.” Remember, “But the reality is reaching the indigenous people of this state is very difficult and very expensive!” Expensive to who?

Attorneys: Gov. Palin’s record on Alaska Natives

1. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Fishing

– snip –

2. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Hunting

– snip –

3. Palin has attacked Alaska Tribal Sovereignty

– snip –

4. Palin has attacked Alaska Native Languages

Source PDF file p.25

Native Alaskans

– snip –

Palin opposed subsistence preference.

“When asked about hunting and fishing rights, Palin said she did not want to amend the state constitution to allow preferences for certain Alaskans. ‘I’m pro subsistence for all Alaskans,’ she said, adding that she would seek to manage resources to provide ‘abundance.'”


Palin has refused to accord proper respect to Alaska Native languages and voters by refusing to provide language assistance to Yup’ik speaking Alaska Native voters. As a result, Palin was just ordered by a special three-judge panel of federal judges to provide various forms of voter assistance to Yup’ik voters residing in southwest Alaska. Nick v. Bethel, No. 3:07-cv-0098-TMB (D. Ak.) (Order entered July 30, 2008). Citing years of State neglect, Palin was ordered to provide trained poll workers who are bilingual in English and Yup’ik; sample ballots in written Yup’ik; a written Yup’ik glossary of election terms; consultation with local Tribes to ensure the accuracy of Yup’ik translations; a Yup’ik language coordinator; and pre-election and post-election reports to the court to track the State’s efforts.

Palin said, “your job is to going to be to be out there reaching the people, hurting people throughout Alaska, and we can work together to make sure that God’s will be done here.” Are we to take that to mean that Christianizing Native Alaskans, that attacking Alaska Native Subsistence Hunting, that attacking Alaska Native Languages, that attacking Alaska Tribal Sovereignty, and that attacking Alaska Native Subsistence Fishing is to have an international gas pipeline and to drill for oil? She needs to be asked who the “hurting people throughout Alaska” are that she was referring to. If it was the following, the question would be answered in the affirmative.

Headlined on 9/11/08: An Alaska Native speaks out on Palin, Oil, and Alaska

I am writing this letter to raise awareness about the ongoing colonization and violation of human rights being carried out against Alaska Native peoples in the name of unsustainable progress, with a particular emphasis on the role of Sarah Palin and the Republican leadership. My hope is that it helps to elevate truth about the nature of Alaskan politics in relation to Alaska Native peoples and that it lays a framework for our path to justice.

Ever since the Russian claim to Alaska and the subsequent sale to the United States through the Treaty of Cession in 1867, the attitude and treatment towards Alaska Native peoples has been fairly consistent. We were initially referred to as less than human “uncivilized tribes”, so we were excluded from any dialogues and decisions regarding our lands, lives, and status. The dominating attitude within the Unites States at the time was called Manifest Destiny; that God had given Americans this great land to take from the Indians because they were non-Christian and incapable of self-government. Over the years since that time, this framework for relating to Alaska Native peoples has become entrenched in the United States legislative and legal systems in an ongoing direct violation of our human rights.

– snip –

Let me get specific about what is at stake and how this relates to Palin and the Republican leadership in Alaska and across this country. To this day, Alaska Native peoples are among the only Indigenous peoples in all of North America whose Indigenous Hunting and Fishing Rights have been extinguished by federal legislation and yet we are the most dependent people on this way of life. Most of our villages have no roads that connect them to cities; many live with poverty level incomes, and all rely to varying degrees on traditional hunting, fishing, and harvesting for survival. This has become known as the debate on Alaska Native Subsistence.

“Hurting people throughout Alaska” is an all inclusive statement, and it’s nothing new.

Capitalism, Calvinism and Chauvinism

It’s no coincidence that capitalism and Protestantism ascended simultaneously. Jean Calvin theologically discredited the feudal system in 1541, paving the way for an upwardly mobile merchant class to replace the landed aristocracy. The genius of Calvin, observed sociologist Max Weber in 1904, was the creation of a new concept of God.[7] Prior to this crucial paradigm shift, surplus wealth–i.e., capital–was expected to be donated to the Church.

Essentially, Calvinism was a variation of the chosen-race myth. Its key element was a spiritual “elect” whose elevated position is preordained. The only way one can know if he or she is among the Elect is by his or her level of worldly success[8]– in other words, if you’re rich, it’s because God loves you.

The Puritans of Plymouth Bay were staunch Calvinists and their legacy remains powerful. “American culture, in particular, is thoroughly Calvinist… [A]t the heart of the way Americans think and act, you’ll find this fierce and imposing reformer [Calvin].”[9]


At the same time, Christianity was forced on the Native Peoples by the missionaries. Indeed, it took a special act of Congress, the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), to affirm religious freedom for the Native nations. The law…

Palin said in her speech to the Master’s Commission, whose goal is “to throw defeat in the face of the Devil and see God’s people freed,” “your job is to going to be to be out there reaching the people, hurting people throughout Alaska, and we can work together to make sure that God’s will be done here.” In addition, she has attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Hunting, attacked Alaska Native Languages, attacked Alaska Tribal Sovereignty, and attacked Alaska Native Subsistence Fishing while saying an international pipeline is God’s will. Consequently, that pipeline will run through sites that are sacred, but then again it’s “God’s will.” The Master’s Commission has a specific branch that Christianizes Alaskan Natives; we can safely assume that is also under her umbrella of “God’s will.” To summarize, christianizing Indigenous People destroys the identity of that people so that their land can be stolen; and, that’s easier on the consciences of the predators.


Mr. BAER said Governments tended to be highly unaware of the effects had by the loss of language — indigenous languages were a vessel of traditional knowledge on biological diversity, for example.  Many did little to reverse the trend.

– snip –

Some States were indeed promoting the use of indigenous languages, but many programmes were under-funded.

– snip –

He said the international community should begin to view the violation of language rights as a crime against humanity.  Many indigenous children were not getting access to education.  Most State education policies forced indigenous children to learn in the dominant State language, causing a “language shift”.  It encouraged a change in attitude towards indigenous languages, in that those languages were thought to be less “worthy” than dominant language.  Losing their language meant children became socially dislocated, ultimately leading to economic and social marginalization.  Indigenous children tended to have the lowest level of educational attainment.  They also suffered high rates of depression and teen suicide.  Violation of language rights was a form of cultural genocide, or “ethnocide”, and amounted to a crime against humanity.  The Forum was encouraged to consider appropriate action.

Missionary Conquest  By George E. Tinker. p. 10…

Our understanding is certainly deficient if we overlook the relationship between missions and the Euroamerican economic interests. It was the interest of the fur trading companies, for example, to support the missionary enterprise, since the missionaries contributed to the pacification of Indian Nations, thereby aiding and abetting the companies exploitation of Indians, Indian lands, and Indian resources.

Sarah Palin: Alaskan Pipeline is “God’s Will”