Father Francis M. Craft, Missionary to the Sioux

By Thomas W. Foley | Go to book overview

XIV
THE ORIGINS
OF THE INDIAN SISTERHOOD

In the midst of the furor of events associated with Wounded Knee, Craft’s novices at Avoca, Minnesota, expressed their hopes for his recovery. Their prayers, they professed, “spared your life. We hope with all our hearts that you will get perfectly well very soon for we are indeed anxious to see our good Father Craft, who has done so much for us poor Indians. We hope you will come soon, for we are waiting patiently to see you.”1

The letter was signed by Susie Bordeaux, Claudia Crowfeather, Jane Moccasin, Mary Blackeyes, Nellie Dubray, Alice White Deer, and Ede Ms [sic]. As Craft’s and Morgan’s verbal volleys subsided, the priest turned his attention to these Native American candidates who, with Josephine Crowfeather, Annie Gaudreau, Annie Pleets and Ellen Clark, formed the nucleus of his Indian sisterhood.

For several years, dating back to Ellen Clark’s profession as a Benedictine sister in 1886, Craft had prayed and pondered over the possibility of establishing a community of Indian sisters. Journal entries in January and February 1889 record his first musings on the subject, and circumstances after Wounded Knee impelled him to implement his plan.

Agent McLaughlin, however, used Craft’s absence from Standing Rock to actively undermine the priest’s strategy to staff the Fort Berthold mission with Indian Benedictine sisters. He wrote to Herbert Welsh, a prominent reformer with the Indian Rights Association who also served on the United States Board of Indian Commissioners, characterizing Craft as “possessing very poor judgement—wild and erratic …that he meant

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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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