After breakfast I took another picture of the schoolhouse 2 from the opposite side for fear the evening light was not powerful enough. After this, at about quarter to nine, we started on our canoe 3 trip of about 35 miles. The Indian 4 sat in the bow on a piece of bark. I in the middle and Mr. Johnston 5 steering with his paddle at the stern. I twisted and turned to try and get a comfortable position for my feet and legs. I found kneeling upright to be the least cramped. For a time I sat down which of course was very comfortable but I could not paddle much in that position. At Emo 6 , 7 miles above the Manitou rapids, we stopped for dinner at a room like an oven. I met McTaggart 7 there (a Knox 8 student), at about 2 pm. We went on to Manitou Rapids 9 , landed below the Schoolhouse and were met by Mr. Wood 10 . He only had one scholar, “George 11 ,” the son of Red Hawk and the grandson of the old Chief 12 . After looking round the school for a few minutes some Indians 13 began to arrive. The old chief Great Hawk 14 came in. Red Hawk and several others (about a dozen men and two or three women) looked in the door. One with a baby in her cradle on her back 15 . Chief Great Hawk is the chief medicine man 16 and is greatly opposed to Christianity.
When Mr. Wood who has been teaching at Manitou for four years now heard that a missionary who could talk the language well was coming he was delighted. Two years ago, on his first visit, Mr. Johnston went to see the old chief and told him that he (Mr. Johnston) had to come to talk to them about their school and tell them the good news 17 about God. The old chief said he could talk about the school but he would not let them talk about God on that reserve.
Mr. Johnston said, “Well this is strange; I had travelled a good deal and seen many big men – big men like you – but never did I have any big man say what you have said to me, that I cannot talk about God. This is very strange.” The old man felt that he must do as others do, so he replied “Well, you can tell me about your good news, it cannot do me any harm.” Mr. Johnston thanked him and said he hoped that not only he but his people would listen to the good news.
When they reached the school house, it was nearly full for Mr. Johnston had told others about the service he was going to there. Old Great Hawk gave a grunt of disapproval when he saw so many there, and Mr. Johnston said he did not know how they did it here, but it was the custom of the people from where he came from to, before having a pow wow 18 , speak to God and ask his blessing. They listened to the prayer, then Mr. Johnston said that it was also their custom to hear what God had to say to them, before they began to talk amongst themselves. So he read a few verses from God’s word and then began to explain it.
Very soon the old Chief stopped him, saying “That will do. You can talk about the School but you must not talk about your God 19 .”
And turning to the people he ordered them all to “Go out, go out,” he said, and opening the door he drove them all out. Turning to Mr. Johnston he said “Goodbye.” Mr. Wood, who had been expecting so much, was heartbroken, but Mr. Johnston said, “Shut the door, let us lay the matter before God.” They did this, praying earnestly for the Chief and his people.
A little while after this the Indians began to come back in ones and twos, among them Red Hawk 20 , the Chief’s son. The Chief saw them coming and he could not stop them. However, the Chief’s influence is too strong, and this was the first and last public religious meeting. Mr. Johnston finds it better to go from house to house and talk with the Indians, reading the word of God 21 to them.
After examining the Chief’s grandson in writing, reading, and drawing, they asked me if I had any news to tell. I told them about the Spanish-American war 22 and aid, in which they were keenly interested, especially in America’s treatment of their prisoners, because they were a Christian 23 people. The President’s proclamation to return thanks to God and not to boast, allowed a few words for Christianity to be spoken. The wreck of the Burgogne 24 (which I told Mr. Johnston about) also called forth grunts and exclamations.
I could see that Mr. Johnston was by this means getting them accustomed to listen to him as a teacher. Their respect for him is growing, partly because he is descended from the Swampy Crees 25 whom they feared as the God favoured ones.
In reply to my remark that I hoped they were pleased with the progress which the children were making in the school, the old Chief said that they were not: they thought that their children ought to get on faster. But they fail to see that unless they send them regularly they cannot expect much improvement. The parents say before the children, “We can’t get them to go if they do not want to go.” 26
After this pow wow in the School house I went out to get my camera, and gave George a pin. It was a dull day. I forgot to open the diaphragm 27 of the camera as I should, but the mosquitoes were thick! The old Chief Great Hawk stood with his back towards me at first and was walking away, but Mr. Johnston coaxed him to come back and he stood for a moment, then moved.
[July 14th, 1898]