Fathers on the Frontier: French Missionaries and the Roman Catholic Priesthood in the United States, 1789-1870

By Michael Pasquier | Go to book overview

Conclusion

In 1874 Jean-Baptiste Lamy, the bishop of the Diocese of Santa Fe, sent a letter to Charles Ewing, the commissioner of the Catholic Indian Bureau based in Washington, D.C., requesting money for the evangelization of the Pueblo. His appeal came in the aftermath of President Ulysses S. Grant’s 1870 Indian Peace Policy, which stipulated that control over Native American missions be granted to “such religious denominations as had heretofore established missionaries among the Indians” of a particular tribe. A former student of Dominicans in Ohio and brigadier general in the United States Army, Ewing represented the interests of Catholic missionaries seeking government support for Indian-church affairs in the American West. A former student of Sulpicians in France and a missionary recruit of Bishop John Baptist Purcell in 1838, Lamy had spent the last twenty-three years in the deserts of New Mexico, in his words, trying to reverse the effects of “almost a hundred years” of abandonment that left the Pueblo “cut off from the balance of the world by immense distance on every side, with great danger from the neighboring savages, and also often in the midst of scandals on the part of the Spanish and Mexicans.” He complained of the encroachment of Protestant ministers into a territory conquered by Spanish Catholics during the 1530s and effectively administered by Franciscans who were committed to “the conversion of our Pueblo Indians to the Catholic faith” for the next three hundred years. And he boasted of contemporary “Pueblo Indians having

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