Kiowa: A Woman Missionary in Indian Territory

By Isabel Crawford | Go to book overview
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Introduction to the Bison Books Edition

"She Gave Us The Jesus Way":
Isabel Crawford, the Kiowa People, and
the Saddle Mountain Indian Baptist Church

Clyde Ellis

At the east end of the Saddle Mountain Indian Baptist Church cemetery near Mountain View, Oklahoma, there is a modest granite grave marker bearing the inscription "I Dwell Among Mine Own People." The tombstone and its message are not out of place in this isolated cemetery, where rows of stones bear witness to the power of the Christian gospel carried by missionaries to the Kiowa- Comanche-Apache Reservation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Numerous crosses, small American flags, piles of artificial flowers, and small bundles of tobacco laid on the graves confirm that this is sacred and powerful space, for it is here that part of the collective memory of the Kiowa people has been laid to rest during the last century.

But the marker bearing the inscription "I Dwell Among Mine Own People" does not memorialize a Kiowa; it celebrates the remarkable life of Isabel Crawford, a Canadian who arrived at the reservation in 1893 as a twenty-eight-year-old missionary. By the time of her departure in 1906, Crawford had not only overseen the creation of a flourishing church, she had endured a lifechanging experience. Although she lived another fiftyfive years, her work at Saddle Mountain remained the indelible moment in her life and in the lives of the Kiowa people with whom she shared thirteen extraordinary years. She never forgot them and in 1906 declared that

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