They depend more, too, upon what the ground yields them for food, and have sought for assistance in ploughing it.
There are four schools sustained by the Dahcotah mission; in all there are about one hundred and seventy children; the average attendance about sixty.
The missionaries feel that they have accomplished something, and they are encouraged to hope for still more. They have induced many of the Dahcotahs to be more temperate; and although few, comparatively, attend worship at the several stations, yet of those few some exhibit hopeful signs of conversion.
There are five mission stations among the Dahcotahs; at “Lac qui parle,” on the St. Peter’s river, in sight of the beautiful lake from which the station takes its name; at “Travers des Sioux” about eighty miles from Fort Snelling; at Xapedun, Oak-grove, and Kapoja, the last three being within a few miles of Fort Snelling.
There are many who think that the efforts of those engaged in instructing the Dahcotahs are thrown away. They cannot conceive why men of education, talent, and piety, should waste their time and attainments upon a people who cannot appreciate their efforts. If the missionaries reasoned on worldly principles, they would doubtless think so too; but they devote the energies of soul and body to Him who made them for His own service.
They are pioneers in religion; they show the path that others will walk in far more easily at some future day; they undertake what others will carry on,—what God himself will accomplish. They have willingly given up the advantages of this life, to preach the gospel to the degraded Dahcotahs. They are translating the Bible into Sioux; many of the books are translated, and to their exertions it is owing that the praise of God has been sung by the children of the forest in their own language.
However absurd may be the religion of the Dahcotahs, they are zealous in their devotion to it. Nothing is allowed to interfere with it. Are their women planting corn, which is to be in a great measure depended upon for food during the next winter? whatever be the consequences, they stop to celebrate a dance or a feast, either of which is a part of their religion. How many Christians satisfy their consciences by devoting one day of the week to God, feeling themselves thus justified in devoting the other six entirely to the world! But it is altogether different with the Dahcotahs, every act of their life is influenced by their religion, such as it is.
They believe they are a great people, that their country is unrivalled in beauty, their religion without fault. Many of the Dahcotahs, now living near Fort Snelling, say that they have lived on the earth before in some region far distant, that they died, and for a time their spirits wandered through the world seeking the most beautiful and delightful country to live in, and that after examining all parts of, the earth they fixed upon the country of the Dahcotahs.