BY THE 1880s, the relationships between missionary societies, their missionaries, and the governments had shifted again. Aside from appointing missionaries, publishing their reports, and supplying minimal funds and publications, the missionary societies held little power over the missionaries in the last twenty years of the nineteenth century. Yet, the missionaries possessed no more freedom than they had in earlier decades. Missionaries now found themselves under the political and financial control of the Canadian and U.S. governments. The future of most mission work appeared to rest on engaging the sympathy and interest of more secular North American audiences. If they succeeded, the missionaries would regain respect and authority and also expand their influence. Greater influence would allow them to pressure the governments to keep supporting mission work.
As the nineteenth century drew to a close, missionaries faced challenges on all sides. The missionary societies continued to reduce support to missionaries as conversion rates remained static. Both the Canadian and U.S. governments, focusing on settlement and pacification of the frontiers, expected Protestant missionaries either to aid these processes or get out of the way. The missionaries now relied quite heavily on direct support from an increasingly secular audience that either had become bored by the Indian Problem or clung to the more shocking and degrading descriptions of Indians that the missionaries had presented to them. These circumstances together produced a transnational vision of the Indians and Indian policy that flowed across the border between Canada and the United States.
Beginning in the 1850s, as more whites sought land on the western frontiers of North America, the pressure to pacify the Indians increased on both the go-