Tribute to Bishop Whipple by the Rev. J. J. Enmegahbowh

Gen. James Grant Wilson. Two men in this broad land of ours have won the noble title of the apostle to the Indians. It was first worn by Rev. John Elliott in the seventeenth century. The other was well known to this conference and well loved, Henry B. Whipple. This morning I received from Mrs. Whipple a letter, in which she gave me some touching details of her noble husband’s last hours and of his funeral, which more than 200 Chippewa Indians came to attend four days after his death, some coming more than a hundred miles to look once more on the beautiful face of their ever faithful friend, to whom they gave the appropriate title of “Straight Tongue.” That was the name by which Henry B. Whipple was known throughout all the Indian tribes of his diocese in Minnesota. Mrs. Whipple says the most heartrending and pathetic letters continue to come to her from Indians all over the country. May I read this one from the Chippewa Indians?

A Tribute From Indians To Bishop Whipple.

A tribute to Bishop Whipple by the Rev. J. J. Enmegahbowh (full-blooded Chippewa), ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Whipple in the early part of his episcopate:

“I write the language of my sorrowful heart. I can not say much at this time my heart is too heavy. When I heard that our bishop had died, I said, ‘No, this can not be;’ I did not think our bishop could die. But in another hour a second messenger entered my house to assure me that the loved bishop had died truly. I and my wife wept aloud in our lonely room, and then for hours spoke not to one another.

“The Indians began to come from all directions, and to ask with startled faces what it meant. I said, my friends, the best friend our people ever had in this world the great warrior, the great bishop, the great loving man has fallen. The grief was terrible to see. They could not believe it. Some went away with bitter weeping; others stole to their homes stunned to silence.

“I went to Faribault for the last time with my sorrowing people. I said to them: This time we go to Faribault with feelings unlike any that we have ever had. Before we have gone with bounding step and happy hearts. We have known that we were to look on the face of our loving bishop, the friend of our lives. It was our joy to see the face of the man who loved and sympathized with my people. Before, we have been going to get inspiration, courage, and counsel. We have gone away full of hope and courage, blessing our bishop and with our hearts ready to go on as he had bidden us.

“Our bishop was all love. He preached always, from the beginning, love, and love. My children, love the Great Spirit. Love one another. Love all other tribes. His one great aim has been to unite us by close connection in Christian fellowship.

“He is no more here to give us these lessons. His loving face is hidden from us. His voice is silenced. Silenced, do I say? Yes, and no. His voice shall sound and be forever ringing in our ears. Yes; and it shall be ringing as long as his red children live, throughout the Indian country.

“More than forty years ago, when I went with him through the forests, he carried his blanket, his robe case and other things, and many times the Indian said: We must not let him do this. He will kill himself. He can not work in this way and live. But he would smile oh, how we loved that smile, and every step he took and say: ‘Oh, this is nothing; this does not tire me;’ and his voice filled us with hope and courage.

“Our beloved bishop has stood for over forty years and defended the defenseless. He has spoken and written for the rights of his red children, and that when no man gave much thought to the forlorn outcast of the world. He alone, the first bishop who entered into the Chippewa heathen land. Today, throughout the Chippewa country, tears are blinding the eyes; hearts are heavy loaded with sorrow, and are looking upward, crying, My Father, my Father, like Elisha of old when his friend was taken away from him. In a loud voice he cried, ‘My Father, my Father.’ The double portion of Elijah’s spirit was given him. May the double portion of our departed bishop’s love be given us. His has been a long battle for us. His Indian work has been blessed in the conversion of many. He has built churches and has ordained many Indian deacons who are doing their work faithfully. How truly can he say in the language of St. Paul, ‘I have fought a good fight; I have kept the faith.’

“But we, what are we to do? What courage can we take away? We are lost children. Our hearts are lead. I bid you farewell.”

Mr. A. K. Smiley. It is not our custom to hold memorials of the dead in this conference, but I think that Bishop Whipple should be an exception. He was one of the rarest men this country ever produced, most picturesque in appearance, as well as straightforward, and noble in character.

On motion it was voted that the business committee should arrange for a suitable memorial minute in honor of Bishop Whipple. Adjourned at 12.30.

Enmegahbowh, Whipple,

Board Of Indian Commissioners. Thirty-Third Annual Report Of The Board Of Indian Commissioners. Government Printing Office. 1901.

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