“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Churchill in Chippewa County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)


Lac qui Parle Mission

The ABCFM Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Connor Olson, June 29, 2021
1. The ABCFM Marker
Inscription.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
- The Bible Matthew 28:18-20

Founded in 1810, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, or ABCFM, was 25 years old in 1835 when it established the Dakota Mission in Minnesota. Only five years after sending its first missionaries to India, in 1817 the ABCFM established its first mission among Native Americans, the Cherokee in Tennessee. After the Indian Removal Act of 1830, with its Indian missions in the South closing as those Nations were forcibly removed from their homelands, the ABCFM turned its attention to other tribes.

The ABCFM's selection of the eastern bands of the Dakota Nation for a mission in 1835 was strategic. With a mission to the Ojibwe in Wisconsin established in 1831, and missionaries preparing to open a station among

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the Nez Perce in Oregon (1836), the ABCFM foresaw a string of missions to the Dakota people of the Seven Council Fires spanning the continent from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Lac qui Parle, they imagined, was the door to the plains for the Gospel.

On July 9, 1835, Dr. Thomas S. Williamson, his wife Margaret, and their baby Elizabeth arrived at Lac qui Parle with their ABCFM co-workers Sarah Poage (Margaret's sister), and Alexander and Lydia Huggins with their children Amos and Jane. They came here at the invitation of Joseph Renville, an influential Dakota and French-Canadian trader who ran the fur post. Failing to win a Catholic mission, in 1835 Renville invited the ABCFM to introduce his Dakota relatives to Protestant Christianity and to the Euro-American life ways his family was adopting.

At that time, this place was still Mni Sota Makoçe, unceded Dakota land. The few non-Native people who were here, like fur traders and the missionaries, remained only at the good will of the Dakota, and with the permission of the U.S. government. When the Dakota Mission's Lac qui Parle station shut in 1854, the ABCFM closed the first chapter in the history of its longest-lived mission in North America.

"All things considered we think it is our duty to go to Lac qui Parle if we can & feel quite cheerful in going if the Lord shall open

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the way. The prospect of immediate usefulness is better there than anywhere else in the country of the Sioux or Dakota Indians as we expect to be able to commence teaching soon after our arrival some children whose parents are desirous of having them taught to read & write in English. While teaching these we will be learning the Dakota language & thus opening the way for teaching these red men in their own language.”
- Thomas S. Williamson to the Secretary of the ABCFM June 18, 1835

The 1910 100th Anniversary logo of the ABCFM featured an open Bible on top of the Keys of the Kingdom, the Gospel message loosed on earth via a sailing ship carrying missionaries overseas. The field of the logo, shaped like the Trinity, imagined the Kingdom of God on Earth filled with vines and flowers, the fruit of the Gospel: redeemed lives
June 22, 1835 letter from Lawrence Taliaferro giving permission to Williamson and Huggins to enter Indian Country to establish a mission at Lac qui Parle
Map of Hydrographical Basin of the Upper Mississippi River

Erected by Minnesota Historical Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Charity & Public WorkChurches & ReligionNative Americans. A significant historical year for this entry is 1810.
Location. 45° 1.427′ N, 95° 52.083′ W. Marker is near Churchill, Minnesota, in Chippewa County. Marker can be reached from 140th Avenue Northwest (County Road 32) near 1st Avenue West (County Road 13). Located near the corner of the chapel, Lac qui Parle Mission State Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Watson MN 56295, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dakotas at Lac qui Parle (a few steps from this marker); Missionaries at Lac qui Parle (a few steps from this marker); Williamson Cabin (a few steps from this marker); Acculturation & Autonomy (a few steps from this marker); Huggins Cabin (within shouting distance of this marker); The Dakota (within shouting distance of this marker); Riggs & Pettijohn Cabins (within shouting distance of this marker); Lac qui Parle Mission (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Churchill.
Also see . . .  The ABCFM. (Submitted on July 6, 2021, by Connor Olson of Kewaskum, Wisconsin.)

Credits. This page was last revised on July 10, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 6, 2021, by Connor Olson of Kewaskum, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 77 times since then. Photo   1. submitted on July 6, 2021, by Connor Olson of Kewaskum, Wisconsin. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. A wide shot of the marker and its surroundings. • Can you help?

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Feb. 1, 2023