Those who have been devoting time and energy to the giving of the third angel's message to the Indians of North America are finding that an altogether new phase of the work is developing. This change has been more noticeably apparent during the last year or two. For many years previously, missionary efforts on behalf of our North American Indians were often met by a stoical indifference. However, there has been a marked melting of hearts by the wooing influence of the Spirit of God as it is being poured out in these last days. As a result there have been providential openings into new groups and tribes such as were never before experienced.
One of the most encouraging features of this new era which has dawned in our American Indian work is that some of the highly educated and most influential families of the larger tribes are taking their stand for the truth. As I write this, I think of Harry Sundust of the Maricopa tribe of Arizona. He is well known, respected, and greatly loved by his tribe. He and his family are leading out in presenting this message to his people. As a result, many other prominent members of the Maricopa and Pima tribes are taking their stand.
Then there is former Chief Luna of the Yaquis, with his good wife and daughters, who are now all baptized, faithful members. He has permitted us to erect a tabernacle on his grounds, and each Sabbath services are held for the Yaqui Indians. In addition, meetings are held week nights with audiences each evening ranging from two hundred to six hundred.
Among the Cherokees in Oklahoma we have as faithful members a former councilman with his wife and family. This brother has a high, influential standing among his tribe. In the Six Nations Reservation, located in Ontario, Canada, some of the best families have accepted the truth. The superintendent of the Sabbath school, her daughter, and the two deacons in the church, represent families of character and influence in their respective tribes.
A beautiful church building has been completed at Red Shirt Table at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, among the Sioux tribe. Here again some of the most substantial Indian families are accepting the truth. There is the family of John Two-bulls, and his brother and family, all of whom are standing true to the commandments of Gol and upholding the banner of Christ in the face of the most bitter opposition. Brother and Sister E. L. Marley are doing a good work among these people. They are employed by the United States Government as teachers in the Red Shirt Table Agency and surrounding territory. The work they are doing is outstanding in that they are developing an agricultural system which it is believed will eventually put the Indians on a self-supporting basis.
In the Land of Sitting Bull, not far from where the old chief lies buried, Frank Black-hoop, a full-blooded Sioux Indian with a university education and a Bachelor of Music Degree from Cornell University, is holding Bible studies with some of the most prominent families of Fort Yates and its vicinity. At a recent meeting of Indian ministers, which had representatives from a large section of North and South Dakota, Brother Blackhoop defended our message in a most remarkable and powerful way. If we had the men and the means to press forward in taking advantage of the opportunity for giving our message to the red man, great things could be accomplished.
In and near La Plant, South Dakota, we have several influential Indian families who have accepted the truth. One of these members is a chief councilor in the large Cheyenne River Reservation. On a recent visit to Alaska I found a faithful Indian, Brother Joe, at Ketchikan, who belongs to the Tsimshian tribe. His father was a Danish prince, and his mother was an Indian princess. This brother has a gold mine, and since he has been closing his mine on Sabbaths, he has prospered materially. I heard him offer an earnest prayer that God would bring the light of the gospel to his people. In Juneau I found a young Indian boy of the Tlingit tribe, by the name of Harry Scott, who is faithful in Sabbathkeeping and tithe paying and in offerings. In the face of bitter opposition from his own relatives, he is endeavoring to uphold the light of truth in his pagan home.
Elder E. A. Beavon told me recently of providential openings among Indian tribes in the northern part of British Columbia. They are a fine, clean, progressive people, and many of them live in modern bungalows. Certainly these calls for help should not remain unanswered. In Walla Walla College, Walter Miles, who canvasses in Alaska during the summer months and returns to school with a full scholarship each year, is preparing for active service. Jim Hill is an earnest Indian student in Union College. He is working hard in the engineering department of the college to help defray expenses as he studies to prepare himself for work among his people.
Recent word from Syracuse, New York, brings us the good news that the laymen of the church there have been holding meetings among the Onondago Indians. Four already have definitely taken their stand for the commandments. A fine Sabbath school has been organized, and many persons are being prepared for baptism. F. A. Stahl, former missionary among the South American Indians, and Doctor Leland are now working among the Klamath Indians of northern California and southern Oregon.
A few suggestions on the proper approach and methods to use in working for Indian people might not be amiss. In the first visit to them, do not be in a hurry. If you rush up and rush away, they will be glad to see you go. Sometimes you will have to sit down for calf an hour, and there will be almost nothing said. You will think they have lost all interest in your visit. Then, after time passes, they will become somewhat more communicative and carry on a conversation.
Do not seem too curious about how the Indians live and what they eat, their manners, habits, customs, etc. Do not have a superior attitude. If you do, you might as well not go. They are human beings, just like everyone else, and will respond to love and Christian courtesy, If you find many things that are new and strange to you the first time you visit them, do not appear to be bewildered or confused, but act as if you had known them all your life.
The first time you address a group of Indians, address them just the same as you would a group of people of any other nation, kindred, or tongue. When some of our well-meaning missionaries address a Spanish, Indian, or Portuguese audience, they spend about half the time telling that God made everybody, regardless of color, on the same footing. Why mention anything about it at all? Ignore any national characteristics. It is poor taste to mention anything or any way in which Indians are different from you. They think they are just as good as you are, and why not? In my years of work among the Spanish people, in bringing different speakers to talk in our churches, I found that too much time was spent in trying to convince the audience that we all come from Adam and Eve. They already know that, and the speaker should waste no time saying so, but come right to the point. We have a message to carry to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
Always take a great interest in the health of the people you are visiting. If you can relieve some sickness or suffering, you will find that this is the finest entering wedge among the Indian people.
Among the Indian tribes in Alaska, Canada, and the United States, many will be found who speak the English language. It is always safe to take literature along in the English language. We are sorry that there is almost no provision whatever for Adventist literature in the native languages. This must be remedied soon, for fifty thousand of these people do not understand English enough to use it. I have found that the Little Priond and the Youth's Instructor are highly appreciated by the Indians. I have also found that the Picture Rolls can be used to great advantage. All Indians are fond of pictures.
It is plain that the Spirit of God is at work among these people—the descendants of the original inhabitants of this country—and that the honest in heart will be sought out by the Great Numberer who is making up the saved among every tribe for His everlasting kingdom. When we pray for the work and workers in distant mission lands, let us also breathe a prayer for the red men in the homeland who have been so long passed by.