A Wedding And A Death.

_Feb_. 3, 1873.–To-day William Buhkwujjenene, the Chief’s only son, was married to Philemon Atoosa. The wedding was appointed for 10 a.m., and early in the morning William was off to fetch his bride and her party, their house being about four miles off, on Sugar Island. It was long past the hour when Buhkwujjenene, Atoosa, and several other Indians came to me in a rather excited state, and Buhkwujjenene, as spokesman, explained that, although Atoosa, the father, was willing for his daughter to be married in our church, the mother and brother were opposed, and wanted the priest to marry them. I replied briefly that there were two religions, Roman Catholic and Church of England. When marriages took place between parties of different Churches, agreement must be made in which Church they would be married; this agreement had already been made in this case, banns had been published, and the bride and her father were both willing, so there was no need for any trouble. Chief Buhkwujjenene said that was enough, and he would go for the party. However, I waited on and on, and at length went over to Buhkwujjenene’s house to ascertain the cause of delay. I found that he, Atoosa, and his son, had gone over to see the priest. They soon returned, and brought word that the priest raised no objection to the marriage being performed in our Church, and had even said, “If you do what is right in the Church of England you will go to heaven the same as if you belonged to the Roman Catholic Church;” rather liberal language for a Jesuit priest.

It was now past noon, and still there came one cause of delay after another, so that was 1.45 p.m. before the party had actually assembled in the church. All passed off very well. Bride and bridegroom put their marks in the register, and then all repaired to Chief Buhkwujjenene’s dwelling. The bride wore a blue merino dress with green trimmings, a smart crimson necktie, gold brooch, chain, and locket, her hair in a net with blue ribbons. The bridesmaids were Isabel, Nancy, Sophy, and Therese Weesaw.

The feasting began at 2.30 p.m., the table very well spread–wedding-cake, wine, turkey, goose, rabbit, beef, tarts, buns, and preserves. About twenty-five sat down at a time, the bride and bridegroom at the head. Two tables were cleared before the speeches began. Chief Little Pine made a capital speech, relating the happiness of his own married days, and wishing for a like blessing on the young couple just united.

_March_ 15.–Last evening our cottage reading was at Buhkwujjenene’s. I had just given out the first hymn when a message came that I was wanted immediately at George Pine’s, for Eliza was very ill, and, they feared, dying. I got my medicines and jumped into the sleigh. George Pine had gone away last Monday beaver-hunting. Only Sarah was in the house. Eliza was lying on a couch on the floor, her head to the wall, her feet toward the stove,–Sarah sitting about two yards from her on the floor by the wall, with Eliza’s baby on her knees. The other two little children, Benjamin and Esther, were lying on some blankets, on the floor at the other side of the room. While I was taking off my cap and muffler George Angisteh bent down and looked at Eliza, and then said to Sarah, “She is dead!” He then got up quickly, and went out to summon the neighbours. In the meantime I felt her pulse and heart, but her eyes were fixed, and she evidently was dead; the women who came in tried rubbing her arms and legs, but without any effect. Gradually the room became crowded with persons, the two chiefs among the number. I gave a short address, expressed my belief that Eliza was fully prepared for death, and was now happy; and told the people her words about the eight true Christians whom she thought might be found in Garden River. I pitied, I said, the three little orphan children, and I trusted that God would care for them. I spoke to Benjamin, the eldest (six years old), and told him his mother was in heaven, and that he must try and love God, and then he would go to see her again by-and-bye.

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_March_ 18–To-day was the funeral. The church was crammed. I gave a short address after the lesson, and we sang a hymn. The coffin was opened in the church that all who wished might take a last look. This is a prevalent custom with the Indians. There was no road cut to the cemetery, so I had to go on snow-shoes, and the sleigh, with the coffin, was drawn by four men. Again at the grave I said a few words, and commended the three little orphan children to God’s care.

_May_ 28.–A very satisfactory meeting to-night. After the usual evening service was over (in the school) I asked all the people to remain, so that we might have a little talk together about the Institution which I hoped would be built during the summer. The Indians, I said, had now transferred the land to us by deed, so that there was nothing to prevent our commencing the buildings at once. It was necessary, however, to consider what children would be received into the Institution when it was completed. Many friends were ready with their money to pay for the support of pupils, but they wanted first of all to know their names and ages, and other particulars. I felt, I said, that this was an important matter, and it was time now for me to ask them whether they were willing to give up their children to be trained in our Institution. I knew that it was a great responsibility for me to undertake the charge of their children; if it were not that I was persuaded that our whole undertaking had been from first to last ordered by God, I should consider it too heavy a burden, but I was sure God would be with us and bless us–it was His work, and not mine. Chief Buhkwujjenene replied. He alluded briefly to our visit to England, spoke of the generosity of the English people in contributing, and ended by saying that he should gladly send two of his daughters to our Institution. Chief Little Pine then rose. He addressed himself specially to the women, and told them a great work had been done for their children, and they must make up their minds now to give them up. In a humourous tone, be said, all the _weaned children_ must be sent to the Institution at once, and the infants be kept until they were old enough. Their Missionary, he added, seemed to think it would be a heavy burden on him, and so indeed it would be if he were alone: but he was not alone, God would help him, and so it would be light. He concluded by urging on the people to listen to the good counsel they had received. All that had been spoken was truth–it was all truth.


Collection:
Wilson, Rev. Edward F. Missionary Work Among the Ojebway Indians. London: Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1886.

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