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Missions to Native North Americans

image American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. North American Indian Missions Records, 1803-1883; Dakota Mission, 1844-1859. ABC 18.3.7, v.3. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) was founded in 1810 as the first organized missionary society in the United States. Missions to Native America began in 1817 with a mission station in Brainerd, Tennessee, to serve the Cherokees. Other tribes were added to the Board’s deployment up to 1836, but the work met many obstacles, including the dispersal of tribes by the United States government, and the Civil War put an end to almost all mission activity.

Houghton Library holds the collections of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Of those holdings, Reading includes a small selection of three boxes of ABCFM items related to the organization's missions to the Dakota tribe.

Records related to Native American tribes other than the Dakota tribe are not represented.

ABCFM records on missions to India, Ceylon, West Central Africa (Angola), South Africa and Rhodesia, Asiatic and European Turkey, four different regions in China, Japan, Micronesia, the Philippines, and the "Papal lands" of Mexico, Spain, and Austria are also not represented in Reading.

Selections from Harvard

Unpublished Materials

From Houghton Library, selections include materials from the Dakota Mission. Begun in 1835, the Dakota Mission served to spread Christianity among the eastern Sioux. These materials, covering the years 1844-1859 and 1882, include annual reports and school reports, correspondence from missionaries, items in the Dakota language (including the Constitution of Minnesota), and other materials that document missionary efforts to teach English to members of the tribe.