THE CENTER FOR WESTERN STUDIES
Early Missionaries in Dakota Territory
Stephen Return Riggs was an American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (A.B.C.F.M.) missionary to the Santee in Dakota Territory from 1837 through the 1870's. Riggs was one of the first A.B.C.F.M. missionaries to work among the Native Americans and is largely responsible for the documentation of the Dakota language. This series of letters, written by Riggs to fellow missionary Samuel Pond, describe the limited connection between the A.B.C.F.M.and its solitary missionaries, in the beginning of its efforts among the Native Americans in Dakota Territory. This situation changed when the second generation of Riggs missionaries worked to create a concrete administrative connection with the east coast-based A.B.C.F.M..These letters are part of the Riggs Collection in the United Church of Christ Archives at the Center for Western Studies.
Lac qui parle March 26, 1839
Mr. S.W. Pond.
I have spoken to your brother once or twice on a subject which I am not certain others look at as I do. It is the propriety of his making his arrangements and shaping his studies so that ---- will be consistent at some future time, say two or three years to introduce him into the gospel ministry. My reason for encouraging him to take this course is that I think he may be more useful eventually in that sphere. All who came into the country are not going to learn the language well very soon, is another reason why I would urge him to this course. I would not have him be in haste in this matter. The probability is that in two or three years we may have some kind of an ecclesiastical body in this country--that will be time enough--There will be nothing lost by waiting--we must all learn the language better before we can do much at preaching.
Yours affy S.R. Riggs