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Alexander Ross on the Red River Settlement

Chapter XX.

(Ross suggests ways of helping the Plains Indians)

HAVING in the preceding chapter pointed out some of the errors and defects in the missionary plan for civilizing and evangelizing the Indians, and its almost universal failure, we proceed now to offer some practical suggestions, the adoption of which would greatly improve, as we think, the existing system, and facilitate the work of salvation. Without presuming that the plans we propose are suitable, without change, for universal application, we have long been satisfied that the course proper to be pursued among heathen tribes generally, many with some obvious alterations be applicable here, due attention being paid to the natural state of the people to be evangelized. The first point to which we would more particularly call attention is the union of temporal and spiritual matters, which, as we have shown by examples sufficiently marked, ought not to be under the management of the same individual. This reform makes the preparatory part of our plan, which places the heathen, while he learns the first step of civilization, entirely under secular guidance; except, perhaps occasional visits from the clergy. In this way the first moral restraints would be imposed on the savage, who would learn the value of order and subordination without alarm to his prejudices. It is the method which reason dictates, and experience enforces; but it is the one which, above all others, will excite the spirit of opposition, and we well know what arguments will be used, and the changes that will be rung upon them. Matt. xxviii 19, 20. In fact, the writer has vainly urged the consideration of this plan, both on Protestant and Catholic clergymen, who all condemned it from the text cited above. 'We must,' said they, 'preach the Gospel to every creature.' But how then does it come to pass, we might ask, as we have asked them in conversation, that you clergymen do not obey this positive command, and preach the Gospel to every creature? You have been located on the spot in question for the last thirty years; why not have preached the Gospel during all that time to 'every creature?' You have not, so far as the heathen is concerned, preached to a tenth, a hundredth part of those around you! You have established missions on your own plans, as we have already noticed, and what has been the result? At this hour, the Indians are running as wild as ever in their native woods and prairies, nay, even in the settlement, and around your dwellings, and dying on every point, without the least regard to their lost state. Our assembling, locating, and training the, as proposed, cannot entail more guilt on the dying, or deprive them in any greater degree of the means of grace than your present system. If your arguments are worth anything, how are you justified in waiting till we locate the Indians, according to the plans you wish to dictate? Why not, in obedience to the divine command, go to their camps, their dwellings, and 'preach the Gospel to every creature' now? Why wait till <anything. is done, if it is not lawful to wait till the right thing is done? So far from this, we may here state the fact, that from 1823, when Mr. West left the colony, up to 1842, when Mr. Cowley went to Partridge Crop, a period of twenty years, no Protestant missionary ever stepped out of Red River to preach once to the heathen, or preach to one of them, as far less 'every creature;' indeed, with the exception of the Swampy Crees, in the village already noticed, no one has even preached to those within the settlement. Some plan, then, for benefiting the poor Indian is plainly necessary, and we know there is much difficulty in proposing one, especially as the very statement of these facts is calculated to raise a strong feeling against ourselves in the minds of those it would be our interest, as well as our sincere desire, to keep on our side -- the very men, too, whose opinion on the subject is best entitled to respect. Nevertheless, our plan, under any circumstances, must eventually stand or fall by its own merits. How short, after all, is the time we propose for ascertaining the result of our scheme, considering the great end in view; for what are the lapse of a few years, or even a few generations, when compared to eternity? We shall, indeed, have passed away before much can be done; but we shall pass away with the firm conviction, that those who come after us 'will pluck the fruit of the tree we have planted.' Nor have we anything really to fear from opposition, which can only lead to a more thorough investigation of the plan, and the more it is investigated of the plan, and the more it is investigated, the more likely it becomes that it will, in the end, be adopted. 'To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,' as the wise many says in Eccl. iii 1. All we ask or expect, is an impartial consideration of the subject, by men who have had much experience in Indian life, studied their language, their habits and feelings, in their native wilds -- where alone the savage is seen in his true character and not when under restraint among civilized men. It is but an essay, in the absence of anything better, that we propose. The apostle says, 'To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.'* Now if we can, as the apostle says, save some, our labour will not be lost. After accomplishing the preparatory step, on the principle we have laid down, that the Indian must first be civilized before he is evangelized, the door would be opened for commencing spiritual instruction. 'When a door is said to be opened, the meaning here is, that every obstruction or barrier is removed in the providence of God for going forward in the way of the moral and religious improvement of the heathen;' or in other words, after they are civilized, for that must be the first step. This course would be agreeable to the laws of our nature, the laws of civil and religious liberty: for they ought to know something of the one, before they can enter upon the other. For the success of our plan, however, three things must be kept in view. First. The Indians must be located some distance from the whites -- fifty miles or more; not, however, in villages, as has hitherto been the case, but in the country lots by themselves, in some fertile place where wood and water might be conveniently got. Our reasons for this are, 1. Their being settled among the whites would expose them to too many baneful temptations, which would operate against temperance, industry, and independence. 2. Their being huddled together in villages would partake too much of their original camp habits, and foster a continuance of savage life which would be injurious to the progress of civilization. 3. The Indians in this quarter are too far removed by everything that can disqualify them from amalgamation with the whites by intermarriages, that they could never rise to an equality and independence among them; but on the contrary, live in a state of slavery and degradation, as they now do. In a separate community, however, they might still retain something of their native spirit and independence -- that gift by which God in his wise providence might mitigate the extreme penalty of barbarism. Secondly. The establishment should be as nearly as possible in the centre of one tribe, and exclusively among the same people. 1. Because if it is on the frontier, or as it were between two nations, it will be subject to annoyance from both, without the support or protection of either. 2. There are many petty tribes in this quarter; but they are all more or less hostile to each other, except against a common enemy. Rivalry and jealously between them would ever be at work, and the object of the mission ought to be unity and peace. This is an important point, and ought not to be lost sight of; for the collisions that would be unavoidable between the opposite tribes would alone be sufficient to frustrate the best devised plan for improving the heathen. Thirdly. The place selected for their location should be as destitute of all wild animals as possible; the more ruined, the easily will the natives be induced to relinquish the chase, and cling to habits of industry for subsistence. But a good fishery would be an additional recommendation to any place -- in fact, absolutely necessary, as a failure in the crops, without some other stand-by, might ruin all; and besides, a fishery is a stationary thing, and would rather encourage than discourage settled habits. To become Christians, the natives would have to forego their roving propensities and the chase, but not the fisheries; nor do we mean that the habit of hunting should all at once be abruptly cut off -- that would be attempting an impossibility. Till the earth yielded her abundant increase, the bow and arrow would have to supply the table, and supply the Indian with his blanket also. It will be for the Government to grant lands for missionary purposes; and if so, Government ought to protect the first creed against all unholy interference of a second, as religious opposition demoralizes the heathen. Of all other obstacles, all other evils, that of opposite creeds warring against each other, in the Indian camp, is the worst -- the most fatal to the Indian, and to pure religion. We might observe as we proceed, that this country is perhaps an exception to most other parts of the earth, and the course pursued by missionaries must be, in some measure, exceptional also. Our savages have almost thrown aside the gregarious nature of man, and show as much aversion from inclination, as other barbarous races have from necessity, to a stationary mode of life. Without industry and without subordination, they neither are willing, nor can they be compelled, to undergo steady toil. Reared with a taste for slaughter, they look with more a butcher's than a herdsman's eye on any cattle they may have -- a propensity, by the by, not disproved by the possession of few animals, for an ox or two to draw fuel cannot be dispensed with, if a fixed house is to be rendered equal in point of convenience to a movable tent. Lastly, having long been in communication with traders, they have come to connect knowledge of all kinds with a good bargain. Education they regard in no higher light than as a means of living by their wits; and they can hardly divert themselves of the suspicion, that the very missionaries, more particularly when pitted under hostile banners against each other, have some mysterious interest of their own in the red man's conversion. With these introductory remarks before us, we shall proceed to a short digest of our plan, which may be most conveniently considered under two general heads, or a first a second stage of procedure, each divided into periods of five years. The preparatory or first stage would occupy a period of ten years or more, for assembling, locating, and training the Indians under secular management. To accomplish these important ends, we require, at the very opening of the mission, the following staff of labourers, and other essentials, which may be considered sufficient for the first five years; our estimate is founded on the prices of Red River taken as a standard.

2 farmers, at 30l. each per annum for five years........ L-300 1 labourer, at 15l. ..................................... 75 2 lads, at 10l. each..................................... 100 1 interpreter, at 20l. .................................. 100 6 oxen, at 6l. each...................................... 36 2 ploughs, at 6l. each................................... 12 Outfit for general purposes ............................. 100 ------- Expenses of first five years............. Pound723

The first thing necessary is to be set the ploughs at work, in order to benefit the Indians materially, by supplying them with food as early as possible. This is the mainspring of the whole machinery, the grand point of attraction, not only in order to keep the Indians together, which would be an important step gained in advance, but for introducing with effect the habits of order and industry among them. Supposing the mission thus far successful, we may presume the Indians would increase in number, which would be attended with increased expense. Accordingly, our estimate for the next period of five years would be as follows: --

The above items continued ............................... L- 723 1 conductor, at 50l. per annum for five years ........... 250 1 additional farmer, at 30l. ............................ 150 6 additional oxen, at 6l. each .......................... 36 1 blacksmith, at 30l. ................................... 150 1 carpenter, at 25l. .................................... 125 1 catechist, at 20l. .................................... 100 ----- L- 1,534

This sum of 1,534l. for the second period of five years, added to 723l. for the first five, gives a total of 2,257l. for the first stage of our process, occupying ten years in its accomplishment. With reference to the Indians changing their habits of life and settling on lands, and the mode of locating them, Sir James Kempt, formerly Governor of Canada, observes: -- 'The locating of the Indians in country lots, would be found much more advantageous in producing habits of temperance and industry, than by assembling them in villages;' and then he goes on to say: -- 'Without the assistance of the Government, indeed, it is impossible to produce any extensive or effectual results on the Indian character and modes of life.' This is exactly the view that we take of the subject; and though we are aware that no extensive plan for ameliorating the condition of the Indians can be entered upon without the aid of Government, we proceed to point out what can be done, in a small way, with the view of improving the system hitherto pursued: it is to this our task seems limited, for if we wait for Government aid, we may wait a day too long. During the first stage, no great result should be expected; but this ought not to discourage us. The change would be gradual, but it would be sure. Soon would some families be inclined to throw off their roving propensities, follow the example of the whites, and fall into civilized habits. Food and care would have their due effect, and after these others would follow. The difficulties would gradually diminish with time. There would be more obstacles to overcome, and prejudices to smooth down, with the first family or two, than with a dozen after. Once the tide commencing to flow, it would flow rapidly, and as soon as one indicated a desire and willingness to settle, it would be for us to help him on, encourage and assist him. We should locate him on fifty acres of land, not wood but prairie, with a frontage of four chains; plough for him the lands he had first cleared, to extent on an acre or more; and then give the means of ploughing himself, two oxen, an axe, a hoe, a spade, and a small dwelling-house. Give him also a deed for his lands; not merely for certain conditions having been fulfilled, but for so long as he remained on them, or transferred them to some other Indian, and no longer. The right of the property thus granted or given him, he should not be able to sell, alienate, or dispose of, before the end of ten years' occupation, when it must virtually become his own. During all this time the mechanics and labourers would be fitting up houses for the reception of the Indians, and in other respects contributing to their comfort. This would be carrying out our plan fully: it would be the portion allowed to each converted family on settling permanently -- a boon granted for encouraging civilization; and being the result of a regular system, would be the means of riveting the Indians to the soil. To those who might settle prior to the end of the first period, this would be the allowance; but those settling subsequently would, in lieu of the two oxen, only get one ox, and a cow, in order that they might have the means of rearing up stock for themselves. Seeing now one or more regular settlers established as a land- mark in the wilderness, we might, indeed, take courage, and record a fair beginning. As others followed the example, they would, as a matter of course, be furnished with houses and lands in a similar manner, one alongside the other, so that there might be a uniformity of proceeding. Unity gives strength. How encouraging it would be to see the germ of civilization, rooted and grounded in hope, thus arise as it were by magic, and raising new feelings in the native mind, to humanize the barren desert. Nor would it at all be over-stepping the bounds of probability to expect, that within the short period of ten years, under civilized guidance, we might see two hundred families, averaging five each, or a thousand persons, comfortably established together, as the nucleus of a great and permanent good, round which thousands might in time be drawn to swell the stream of civilization, and worship the only living and true God, in spirit and in truth. But we come now to our second stage of procedure, which would probably occupy a period as long as the first, and require a vigilant and active superintendence. This is the time for imposing moral restraints, bringing the Indians under social order, and for the introduction of elementary schools, to fit and prepare them for the next and most important step. During the first five years of this stage we would require, according to the anticipated increase of Indians--

In addition to sum already computed .....................L- 2,257 1 more farmer, at 30l. per annum, for five years ........ 150 1 blacksmith, at 30l. ................................... 150 1 carpenter, at 25l. .................................... 125 12 draught oxen, at 6l. each ............................ 72 4 ploughs, at 6l. each .................................. 24 1 schoolmaster, at 25l. ................................. 125 1 catechist, at 20l. .................................... 100 ----- L- 3,003

This sum, with the 2,257l. of the first ten years, gives for the total amount of expenses at the end of fifteen years, 5,260l. In the next five years, to complete the second stage, the farmers, with the exception of one, would be all withdrawn, as the Indians by this time ought to be farmers themselves. The mission the, prior to being left to its own resources, would only require, as a winding up, the following staff of labourers:--

1 intelligent superintendent, at 80l. per annum, for five years L-400 1 farmer, at 30l. ............................................... 150 1 blacksmith, at 30l. ........................................... 150 1 carpenter, at 25l. ............................................ 125 1 schoolmaster, at 50l. ......................................... 250 1 ditto at 25l. ......................................... 125 1 catechist, at 20l. ............................................ 100 2 school-houses, at 20l. each ................................... 40 ----- L-1,340

The former total of 5,260l., added to this 1,340l., gives a grand total of 6,600l. This, of course, is exclusive of the property given to the Indians, namely, the lands houses, axes, hoes, spades, and cattle; being in short, neither more nor less than our estimate for an establishment for feeding the Indians. Even this scale of expenses would not be perpetuated in case of neighbouring missions being entered upon. Once the desire of settling stimulated, a tithe of the present expenses would suffice to carry on the work. Make the Indian thoroughly sensible, as our establishment is calculated to do, that his food and comforts are more certain from the soil than the chase, and he will gradually fall into civilized habits of his own accord. With the aid of civilization to conduct him, the system only requires to be fully set going; it will then progress and prosper of itself. Now, at first sight, this appears to be a very large sum, and perhaps very little good done for it, for the results of all new and limited experiments are doubtful; but that every doubt ought to stimulate us to try, and try again, to arrive at greater perfection. If it be asked, Where is this sum to come from? we might answer the question by putting another: Where did the thousands and tens of thousands spent in the missions already described, come from? Or we might place the subject in another point of view. According to the working of the existing system, a missionary enters a new field, depending on his books and zeal; but neither books nor zeal will feed the Indian. Year after year rolls on; but still the missionary and the Indian are as far from each other as ever. Indeed, the labourer who remains ignorant of the Indian's language can never labour profitably. The best interpreter is but a false medium for conveying Gospel truth. The missionary with an allowance of 200l. per annum, and 150l. more for his establishment, makes out to live indeed; but the poor destitute natives, if they would be converted, must at once give up their wandering habits of life, their hunting-grounds, their wives, their scalps, their gods, everything that is dear to them, and assemble round the missionary to starve; for in this arrangement no provision is made for them: they come and go, and go and come; but still no change in their condition. They are still the wild savages they were before; and during this coming and going, the missionary is left resting for lack of hearers, according to the variety of instances we have pointed out in the working of the Red River missions. Suppose, then, the missionary remains at the station the time we have allowed for giving our experiment a fair trail -- say twenty years -- his expenses alone, according to our statement, would amount, not only to 6,600l., but to 7,000l. Now we might ask any intelligent being this simple question: Which of the two systems is most likely to benefit the natives, and forward the great work of conversion? The answer is self evident. It is equally evident, that if we draw the Indians from their field of chase to a missionary station, and then neglect to provide food for them, we ruin them spiritually as well as temporally; for we assume it as proved that the mission is sure to fail, if the helpless natives are not supported materially. This brings us to the closing period -- that of their spiritual warfare; for the ultimate aim of all missions is to change the condition of the natural man. It has always been matter of remark here, that Indian converts have been too easily, if not hurriedly, admitted to church privileges. We should be careful not to force spiritual things upon them, nor allow them to receive them unworthily; for, of themselves, they must have but a withering conviction of what they stand in need of. This is the stage they are expected to know something of civil liberty. They can plough, sow, and read, and have a knowledge of temporal things. Knowing this, they are next brought to know something of liberty of conscience, or religious liberty, and their duty as Christians. It is at this point that the missionary steps in as their spiritual guide; the last boon in time, the first in end. As we have said before, the exact time of this change, or their getting a church and minister, would entirely depend on circumstances; if in a sufficiently advanced state to warrant it, they might get their minister and church at the end of the first, instead of waiting till the end of the second stage, or at any intermediate period. Up to this time, however, the mission should be visited, as we have noticed, at least once a year, by a regularly ordained clergyman. As to the missionary himself, we would remark, that no man, however learned, pious, and zealous he might be, ought to be placed as spiritual pastor over a colony of new converts, without a knowledge of their language -- and we may add, a knowledge of Indian life, acquired by at least some five or six years' residence among different tribes, to learn something of the Indian character. Nothing would be more absurd than to send a man direct from home to superintend such a mission, with only his learning to recommend him, as is too often the case, and has been the case here too. It takes even the man of business a year or two hafter his arrival to be conducted and instructed, step by step, before he is fit to be a common Indian trader; how much more, then, the missionary, the spiritual guide? We repeat the fact: any man with simply a knowledge of books and utterly destitute of experience in Indian life, is, of all men, the most unfit to be entrusted with the civilizing and evangelizing of Indians; but more especially to be placed at the head of an Indian mission. We have seen enough of this to convince us that such appointments will result in failure, and do more harm than good in such a cause. In the stage we have now reached, nothing ought to be forced or hurried on, if we would go honestly to work; for nothing is more deceptive than the character and demeanour of a savage in the presence of his spiritual instructor. Indifference is mistaken for modesty, cunning for diffidence, and the savage habit of hanging down his head and looking at the ground when spoken to on religious matters, is taken for reverence. In all these appearances, however, there is nothing real. An Indian never appears more pliable and devout than when he is meditating your destruction. We are imposed upon by comparing the habits of the savage with our own. Tow things are often wanting to discriminate aright on these occasions -- experience on our part, and the want of time on theirs: no wonder then, that men ignorant of the Indian character should be deceived and led into error, by adopting hasty conclusions. The missionary must keep a watchful eye on all changes, aspects, and appearances; he must confine his converts to a purely religious education, till the truths of the Gospel have fairly taken root, and a desire for instruction has been widely diffused. The mission should be conducted, as all enterprises of the kind ought to be, on the most economical plan, and the means afloat for carrying on one mission might, with but little additional expense, carry on two, if within two or three hundred miles of each other; but this double advantage would depend on a variety of circumstances, unity of action, and a zeal only known to the traders; for no people int his country seem to get on so well among Indians as the trader; no other class of men have to depend so much upon them as the trader: his life, his fortune, his all, depends on the good or ill will he creates among them; consequently, no one takes so much pains to please, flatter, and conciliate them, as he does. In making these remarks, our object is simply to draw attention to the fact that there is, indeed, a way of pleasing and gaining over our heathen brethren to our views, if taken in the proper way, and that secular guidance at the beginning is more likely to be effectual than purely clerical superintendence. Everyone in his own time, and in his own sphere. To give an instance or two in point. While travelling in the United States, the writer came to an Indian mission of the description here proposed, only on a somewhat smaller scale, conducted by a simple farmer, on an allowance of only 200 dollars a year. In answer to some queries I put, he answered, 'I am the only farmer, schoolmaster, and catechist, about the place; myself and my family attend to the mission, but we are visited by a clergyman generally twice a year.' And yet I was delighted to see everything working like clock-work, as things do when conducted aright. I said to myself, the Americans are a wonderful people, a people going fast ahead. Another example may be drawn from a place nearer home -- that wide and interesting field for missionary labours, known as the Saskatchewan. Here, for a number of years, no other labourer was sent by the Missionary Society but a native catechist, as farmer and superintendent; yet he managed matters so well, as to have prepared some 300 for baptism, and about 50 of the number for the sacrament of the Lord's supper. This mission was likewise visited by a clergyman once a year. Just what we have proposed for our mission. These are encouraging instances. This last mission, however, might owe much of its success to peculiar advantages. The Indians live chiefly on fish, and are stationary; and besides, they are the relations of the Swampy Cree village in Rid River, but entirely detached from the settlement. Their progress is far ahead of their brethren living among the whites. Mr. Budd, the zealous catechist alluded to, has been rewarded by being admitted to holy orders. The Saskatchewan, or Cumberland mission, as it is called, had been long neglected; but is now in rather a thriving way. A few years ago, an excellent and indefatigable man, the Rev. Mr. Hunter, was appointed to that station, who, by his unwearied application, zeal, and talent, has made himself master of the Indian language, in order to preach int eh native tongue -- the only instance of the kind we have known among our Protestant missionaries in this quarter. This, indeed, is doing the work of a missionary in right good earnest. Yet with all this pleasing prospect before us, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact, that like many other places, the Saskatchewan is a disputed filed; so that little real good can be done. The Indians are distracted by opposite creeds. The Upper Saskatchewan was for some time under the Wesleyans -- a very enterprising body of men; but they have left that quarter, it is now wholly under the Roman Catholics. In the neighbourhood of the Lower Saskatchewan also, near Cumberland, in a very extensive district called Isle a la Crosse, the Papist hold sovereign sway. Had there been a zeal commensurate to the means, and that zeal exercised for the benefit of the Indians, the Red River missions would have appeared in a very different light from what they do. Mr. Cockran and his Swampies form the only instance of labour and zeal ever manifested in this quarter. Since his time, the missionaries have been doubled, trebled in number, and yet the more labourers the less work; verifying the old proverb, that 'too many cooks spoil the broth.' But it is in a different aspect that the numerical force of the Protestant clergy is peculiarly hurtful. Being sufficient in number to form a party among themselves, they are now as independent of their flocks on social grounds as they have always been on most other grounds whatever. They are thus placed altogether beyond the influence of public opinion. Nor does this isolation affect merely the lighter matters of social intercourse, for the incidental alienation of mind thus produced, must be fatal, in a greater or a less degree, to the weightier relations between pastor and people. In the absence of any other Protestant creed (a blessing which may thus be too dearly purchased), these weightier relations are not strengthened by any pressure from without; while the same numerical force of the orthodox which occasions the evil, tends also to perpetuate it, by the ever ready shield of mutual example. It is an axiom, which no intelligent settler can doubt, that one-third of our Protestant clergy would do more good than the whole phalanx combined. But, to draw this chapter to a conclusion, there yet remain one or two important observations to make, which we shall endeavour to comprise in a few brief sentences. The zealous missionary often raises a hue and cry against idols the moment he arrives among the heathen. This is not only premature, but absurd, and one great cause why the work of conversion progresses so slowly as it does. We should never busy ourselves over anxiously at first about the Indian's gods. If the desire to cast them away does not spring up among the Indians themselves, when they see us read, and pray, and worship God as Christians, there is no regeneration begun in the heart; and till the, the more pains we take to induce them to abandon their idolatrous customs, the less success we shall meet with in the attempt. This is a work of time, and time must be allowed; otherwise we deceive ourselves, and deceive them also. Another evil in the existing system, more than once complained of already, has been to give spiritual things too rapidly, before they are prepared for them; a thing easily got is thought but little of. There is a time to give, and a time to withhold from giving. Progress is to be secured little by little, and especially by giving at the right time those particular things that can be received with thankfulness. Taking all this into consideration, no intelligent person, experienced in Indian life, will say that we have asked for too much time to do the work as it ought to be done, nor proposed a change of system without due reflection. Before closing our remarks on the present subject, we might notice, and that with much pleasure, that the missionary cause in this quarter is likely to undergo a thorough change for the better, by the appointment and arrival of a bishop in Rupert's Land. This high functionary is a man of great diligence, energy, and zeal. Pious and exemplary, he is most anxious to promote the cause of the heathen, and to that end, is acting upon views which we cannot for the present fully appreciate. Being, however, a man of talent and means, there can be no doubt but, under an improved system, his pious efforts will be able to accomplish much good. This much on spiritual things; and as to temporal matters, we may here quote, in support of our views, a passage from Sir George Murray's observations on the converting of Indians, penned by him when Secretary for the Colonies. 'The white people,' says Sir George, 'by their habits of cultivation, are spreading everywhere over the country, like a flood of water; and unless the Indians will conform themselves to those habits of life, and will bring up their children to occupy farms, and cultivate the ground in the same manner with the white people, they will be gradually swept away by this flood, and will be altogether lost; but by occupying grants of land, and cultivating farms, they will gradually increase their numbers and their wealth, and retain their situation in a country in which they are so well entitled to have a share.' To conclude. Nothing but the postponement of spiritual instruction till the heathen are in a great measure independent of temporal aid, can ever enable merely human eyes to form a correct view of the religious state of aboriginal converts. When a savage is offered at once food and truth, -- both or neither, -- he is at least as ready as civilized men, whether laity or clergy, have often been, to take the one for the sake of the other; in fact, he is strongly tempted to consider what he calls 'praying' as something that makes the pot boil. Nor is the Christianity in such a case less prejudicial to the civilization than the civilization is to the Christianity. Among those who know the Indian by experience, there can be no question, that he would be more likely to appreciate and embrace the sweets of a stationary life, if he were sure of not being attacked, before his own time, about his drum and his medicine, his gods and his wives. Let me not be misunderstood. Though undoubtedly Christianity be the end, yet civilization is nevertheless the best means, -- not only the best means of introducing that end, but still more dearly the sole means of enabling it, when once introduced, to perpetuate itself.

Source: Alexander Ross, The Red River Settlement, Its Rise, Progress, and Present State with some account of The Native Races and Its General History To the Present Day (London: 1856)

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