“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Wittenberg in Shawano County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Bethany Indian Mission & School

Bethany Indian Mission & School Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Keith L, October 4, 2008
1. Bethany Indian Mission & School Marker
Inscription.  The Norwegian Lutheran Synod dedicated an Indian mission and boarding school on this site in 1887, the same year Congress passed the Dawes Severaty and General Allotment Act. The school boarded as many as 159 children at a time from the Indian Nations of Ho Chunk (Winnebago), Oneida, Stockbridge, Ojibwe, and Mohawk.

Of the Norwegian Lutheran immigrants who founded the mission, school superintendent Axel Jacobson wrote in 1920 "they brought with them deep religious convictions and a determination to spread this most blessed heritage to those less fortunate". Referring to nearby Native American settlements, Jacobson also wrote "it was no easy task to get a foothold among these people, as they seemed contented in the immense woods." Tribal elders eventually embraced their children learning the three R's, industrial skills for boys, and homemaking skills for girls. As for Christianity, acceptance came more slowly. A medicine man told Jacobson "you may take my children and teach them to read and write, but I will tell them about God".

While Indian children were attending Bethany and other boarding schools, the Dawes Act was
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changing the way Indian people lived. The Act enabled the granting of private land patents to Indian families whose ancestors had lived for millenia in communal societies having no individual rights to land. For the Ho Chunk of Shawano County, a result was the piece-by-piece loss of 2,329 acres of land to the local tax roles, land ultimately ending up in the hands of European settlers.

The boarding school closed in 1933. Indian children entered public schools, and their families were encouraged to join Lutheran churches where they lived. Bethany Indian Mission continued its evangelization in widely scattered sites until 1955. The remaining buildings were razed in 1962.

From the Pineries to the Present
Heritage Tourism Area

Erected 1998 by the Wisconsin Heritage Tourism Council.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionEducationNative Americans. A significant historical year for this entry is 1887.
Location. Marker has been reported missing. It was located near 44° 49.615′ N, 89° 10.648′ W. Marker was in Wittenberg, Wisconsin, in Shawano County. Marker was on West Grand Avenue (County Highway Q) 0.1 miles west of South Webb Street
Bethany Indian Mission & School Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Keith L, October 4, 2008
2. Bethany Indian Mission & School Marker
, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker was in this post office area: Wittenberg WI 54499, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 15 miles of this location, measured as the crow flies. The Homme Homes (approx. 1.3 miles away); Norrie thrived on lumber and agriculture (approx. 5.9 miles away); Rosholt Saw Mill (approx. 14.9 miles away); Rosholt (approx. 15 miles away); Rosholt War Memorial (approx. 15.1 miles away).
Also see . . .  Bethany Indian Mission. (Submitted on March 26, 2010.)
Credits. This page was last revised on March 4, 2021. It was originally submitted on March 26, 2010, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 2,162 times since then and 191 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on March 26, 2010, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 23, 2024