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Mission Life


Between 1860 and 1900, eastern churches were intent on bringing the Christian religion to the western Native American tribes. Churches recruited missionaries and raised money for setting up missions, which consisted of a gathering place, housing for the workers and then, hopefully, a school. Prior to the time of Indian reservations, missionaries serving nomadic tribes were required to take The Word out into the field. While reservations made the job a bit easier, it was never an enviable career in terms of comfort or stability.

One Catholic “help wanted” advertisement read: “We offer you: No Salary; No Recompense; No Holidays; No Pensions. But: much Hard Work; A Poor Dwelling; Few Consolations; Many Disappointments; Frequent Sickness; A Violent or Lonely Death; an Unknown Grave.”

Source: The Dakota Experience: Onward Christian Soldiers. South Dakota State Historical Society. <http://www.dakotaexperience.org/cvfrontier/onward_missions.html>

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm