Behind The Scenes – Part 1

Native Americans

A newspaper clipping describing some of the
first missionary efforts.

At the Presbyterian Heritage Center in Montreat, the staff is very busy during this stay-at-home phase. We are preparing for Fall 2020 exhibits – researching, designing, writing, calling, emailing and more from home to line up rare illustrations, period photographs, colonial and early American newspapers, artifacts, archival materials (pamphlets, Native American language hymnals, books, maps, et al) on several displays.

This behind-the-scenes blog looks are the preparatory work on “Cultures & Conflict: Native Americans and Presbyterian Missions” from the early 17th century in New England to the Midwest and Southeastern tribes during the 18th and 19th centuries, and on to the west coast. The display will also record ongoing present-day missions. There are different viewpoints and experiences, which we will cover – some good, some not very sensitive, and some culturally destructive.

In New England and the Mid-Atlantic colonies, there were Thomas Mayhew (Martha’s Vineyard and Wampanoags), John Eliot (Algonquin), Native American Presbyterian Rev. Samuel Occom (Mohegan & Iroquois), David Brainerd (Delaware tribe and others in Connecticut, New Jersey) and more.

Osage leaders, circa 1870s.

Of course of where we are located, the exhibit will extensively work with Southeast tribes where missionaries were active from the 1740s to today – Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and others. There’s a 140-year history of Presbyterian missions to plains Indians – Oglala, Dakota, Lakota tribes from the 1880s to present day. During this 375-year history in North America, Presbyterian mission efforts included building churches, schools, medical facilities, and much more.

Come see the story of this interesting foreign mission (late home missions) to Native Americans.

Today’s post was written by the PHC Executive Director, Ron Vinson

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