Father Francis M. Craft, Missionary to the Sioux

By Thomas W. Foley | Go to book overview

VIII
HUMOR AND WHIMSY

Bishop Marty once remarked that Father Craft was not flexible enough for a Jesuit vocation but was “good-natured” nonetheless.1 In support of the bishop’s observation, many entries in Craft’s journals reflect the humor he often saw in the desperate circumstances that surrounded him. One example is this lyrical account of a local wedding that ends with a novel twist. The groom was William Pamplin, a white farmer who setded in an area near Selfridge, North Dakota, currently known as Pamplin Hills. His Indian bride was the widow of Barney Lannegan, a white man who had worked on the construction of Fort Yates in 1874-75. Agent James McLaughlin officiated at the ceremony; witnesses included Dr. Caskie and the agency’s uniformed Indian police:

Mr. Pamplin will marry Mrs. Lanigan, a full-blood. Best thing he can do. “A
broth of a boy was Johnny Lanigan,” and his “widdy” seems to be a “raete and
dacint craytur.” “Long life to them,” and may Mr. Pamplin never come to grief
for disregarding the advice to “Beware of vidders.” St. Paul says “The younger
widows avoid,” but as this one is “fair and forty,” and therefore “no chicken,”
it’s all right, no doubt. “Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare,”2 and
Pamplin does well not to tie up to a copper-colored maiden, who would be
caught up by the glare of the first white-blanketed “ho-bu,”3 whose skunk
perfumed draperies, and “Itowapi kin le” [image bearing] melodies, would be
wafted towards her on Dakota’s gende zephyrs. Besides, has Mr. Pamplin not
been highly honored? Few men, living under our republican institutions, can

-59-

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Father Francis M. Craft, Missionary to the Sioux
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xv
  • I- The Formative Years 1
  • II- Path to Priesthood 6
  • III- Spotted Tail’s Quest 10
  • IV- Conspiracy on Rosebud 17
  • V- Conflicts on Standing Rock 24
  • VI- Settling in on Standing Rock 31
  • VII- Missionary Labor and Sacrifice 48
  • VIII- Humor and Whimsy 59
  • IX- The Land Boomers 67
  • X- Fort Berthold 71
  • XI- A Special Envoy 78
  • XII- Wounded Knee 87
  • XIII- Bitter Aftermath 94
  • XIV- The Origins of the Indian Sisterhood 100
  • XV- The Death of Sacred White Buffalo 107
  • XVI- Illusions of Success 114
  • XVII- A Malicious Assault 119
  • XVIII- A Strategic Retreat 127
  • XIX- Was Father Craft Insane? 137
  • XX- Homecoming 154
  • Epilogue 160
  • Notes 161
  • Bibliography 179
  • Index 185
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