Testimonies and direct quotes in red…
The chief’s callers went through the camp announcing, “Come hear the Father-talker tell of the Great Spirit.”
“It was a Sunday morning, a scene I shall never forget…Indians with human scalps hanging to their belts as trophies, the men with guns and bayonets, faces smeared with the war paint… They signed for me to proceed.
…standing up with Black Beaver by my side, I opened the Bible and said to them, ‘this is the Word from the Great Spirit above to all His children,’ then waited for Black Beaver to interpret it into their language. …I read John 3:16 and this was interpreted to them and so on for two full hours I gave to them as best I could the revelation of God to man.”1– John McIntosh, Creek Indian, “Father-talker”, Baptist preacher. August, 1874.
Three years later (June of 1877) there would be another amazing gathering in this area (near present day Anadarko, Oklahoma, then known as Indian Territory). Plains Indian leaders and 1,000 of their people would gather in an open field to hear the gospel preached. Among the preachers stood John Jumper, a warrior and chief of the Seminoles, and John McIntosh, a Creek Indian Father-talker. Among the listeners stood the medicine man, Kin Cheoss, and powerful Plains Indian chiefs including Buffalo Good, Tawakoni Jim, and Tsodiako.
These men remind us of the Roman Centurions who lived during the earthly life of Christ. Centurions were hand-chosen as leaders from among all the Roman troops because they were the bravest and most highly disciplined warriors. The New Testament mentions the Centurions over twenty times, each time in an honorable light.2 The leaders of the Plains Indians were much like the Centurions in these ways: They were strong leaders and fearless warriors. Their people respected them. Their enemies feared them. These men won their leadership position by acts of bravery and warfare skill; not by inheritance. Also like the Centurions, these men gave public testimony of what they thought about Jesus Christ.
John McIntosh – The Creek Indian Father-talker
John McIntosh had hated and mocked the gospel as a young man. Now he was Christian and Baptist preacher who spent the rest of his life preaching the gospel. He had experienced Christ’ saving power. He so desired to preach the gospel among the Plains tribes that he risked his life, traveling through dangerous country, nearly dying of thirst during the long journey to find their camps.3
John Jumper – Seminole warrior and chief
John Jumper was the nephew of the Seminole war chief, Micanopy.4 Jumper “fought against the United States in the Second Seminole War” (1835-1842)5 which is known as the U.S. military’s costliest Indian war, as they lost 30 million dollars and 1,500 soldiers.6 John Jumper stood 6’4” tall, weighed 300 pounds,7 and was called “the most famous Indian in the entire Indian Territory.”8 Jumper had professed faith in Christ in 18579 and was ordained as a Baptist preacher in 1865.10 At this gathering of the Plains tribes, John Jumper stood up and spoke these words,“I have come and have brought with me our missionary [A. J. Holt], who is the Indian’s friend. He is our white Father-talker, and he will speak to you today. But before he begins, I want that we shall sing some Seminole songs, and Brother John McIntosh, an Indian Father-talker, will lead us in prayer to the Great Father.”11
After this introduction, the Father-talker preached the gospel for 6 ½ hours. The crowd listened intently as the message was interpreted into several Plains dialects. As the sermon reached the part about the crucifixion of Christ, an elder brave let out a loud shout in protest. He and the people were angry that Jesus had received such bad treatment at His death. Many responded to this gospel message, and the meetings continued for a week.
Buffalo Good – Chief of the Waco Band of the Wichita Tribe
Buffalo Good (also known as Good Buffalo, Buffalo Goad, and Coth Cho Tehat) was a chief of the Waco band of the Wichita tribe, and the son of Red Tail. He helped interpret the preaching into Comanche that day.12 Many times after this, the chief would interpret the Father-talker’s preaching into the language of his people.13 Buffalo Good professed faith in Christ and told his people this concerning the Father-talker’s preaching:“…he brings us the word of our Great Father. Now I want you all to hear it and to believe it. I want all my children [the Wacoes] to believe it and be baptized, as I expect to be myself.”14
Tawakoni Jim – Chief of 12 Plains Indian tribes
Tawakoni Jim (Sometimes spelled “Tehuacana” Jim) professed faith in Christ and was baptized in Sugar Creek. 15 Seven years later in 1884, Tawakoni Jim travelled 200 miles to attend the Choctaw/Chickasaw Baptist Association meeting in Atoka, OK. Through an interpreter, the chief spoke these parting words:“I came to hear good news. I have heard it, and my heart is glad. …We may not meet again in this world, but in a better one. …I am chief of twelve tribes, whom I will tell of your progress, and entreat them to follow your example.”16
Tawakoni Dave, assistant chief to Tawakoni Jim, professed faith in Christ and was baptized in Sugar Creek.17
Tsodiako – Chief of the Wichitas
Tsodiako (also known as Soda Arko and Sodiako), a Wichita chief, professed faith in Christ and was baptized in this gospel meeting.18
Black Beaver – Delaware Chief
Black Beaver, a chief of the Delaware tribe, was described as a “resolute, determined, and fearless warrior.”19
He “served as a Captain in 1846 during the war with Mexico, commanding a company of Delaware and Shawnee Indians.”20
Black Beaver had also worked as “a noted Rocky Mountain guide.”21 He “spoke fluent English, French, and Spanish, and about eight separate Indian languages.”22 Black Beaver, about seventy at this time, “was wise and aged and highly respected by all the Indians.”23 He had professed faith in Christ years earlier, and was baptized in Sugar Creek at the end of this meeting. He also served as a Baptist preacher. 24
Unknown to us by name, this Pawnee chief attended the Choctaw/Chickasaw Baptist Association meeting in 1884 along with Tawakoni Jim. These were his parting words at the meeting:“Brothers, the good advice you gave me at your last Council, and are giving me now, falls not unheeded upon my ears; I hear it, and it goes all through my head and senses, knocking over all ideas and superstitions, and giving me new life and hope. …I will listen to my brothers, and though the way which they point may seem hard to the old, it…opens the way for salvation of my people. …Right here my brothers of the Cherokees and Choctaws and Muscogees and Seminoles, whom I see at a great distance above me, show me the way. I am so glad that you are not so far away but what I hear what you say. I will carry your good advice home to those chiefs and men of my band who elected and sent me here, [and] I will talk to them until they understand it all. In conclusion allow me to express my thanks for the privilege of being a member of your body, where I have learned the great lesson that all Indians are, or should be, brothers.”25
Kin Cheoss – Medicine Man of the Wichitas
Kin Cheoss (also known as Kin Chess or Kin Chē-ĕss) was a medicine man of the Waco band of the Wichita tribe. All his life he had been a worshipper of the Great Spirit.26 From childhood he had known the ancient prophecy passed down from the Waco Indian fathers, that one day a white Father-talker would come and tell them about the Great Spirit. As Kin Cheoss waited for years to hear this message, he “made medicine after the custom of his people”27 hoping to bring the Father-talker more quickly. “Sometimes he would cry out in agony: ‘Come, O Great Spirit and tell us.’” 28
This day, as he first heard the gospel, Kin Cheoss felt in his heart “a great peace and a light brighter than the sun.”29 That day “the medicine man was converted. When other Indians saw this, they, too, sought the ‘Christ Way’…Fourteen of those present were baptized and many were converted to the Christian faith.” 30
There was a great change in the life of Kin Cheoss. He was baptized, and “made medicine no longer to an unknown God. He went directly to Jesus who had given him supreme peace.”31
The Gospel Message That Was Preached That Day
God, the Creator of all things, is the only true God. All men have sinned against the Creator, and the punishment for sin is eternal judgment. The Creator became flesh and walked among men. He willingly died on the cross, suffering the judgment of God for guilty sinners. He rose from the dead on the third day, and later ascended back to Heaven. There in Heaven He rules as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His name is Jesus Christ. The sinner must turn from sin and believe on Jesus Christ by faith. That is the only way sinners can be freed from sin and receive eternal life.
John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
John 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”
This is the message that many Plains warriors, chiefs, and a medicine man received as gospel truth that day. They turned from their sins to follow this Christ. When these men were baptized, they were publicly and unashamedly associating with Christ and His followers. These strong leaders and fearless warriors of the Plains testify with the Centurions that Jesus Christ is Lord. Dear friend, what do you think of Christ? – J.D.B.
Unlike the Catholics and some Protestants in history who forced religion on American Indians, the Baptists have always come peacefully and without any force. Baptists have been persecuted by Catholics and by some Protestants throughout history, but in all of history the Baptists have never persecuted anyone, including Native Americans.
- Phelps, G. Lee. Interview by Grace Kelley. “A True Story of Indian Missions.” The University of Oklahoma Libraries, University of Oklahoma, 1937. Web. Jan. 2014.[Spelling, punctuation and capitalization corrections by The Baptist Arrow, Jan. 2014] pp. 311-312
- Bible references on the Centurions: Matthew 8:5, 8, 13, 27:54; Mark 15:39, 44, 45; Luke 7:2, 6, 23:47; Acts 10:1, 22, 22:25-26, 24:23, 27:1, 6, 11, 31, 43, 28:16, 21:32, 23:17, 23:23. (KJV)
- Phelps, G. Lee. Interview by Grace Kelley. p. 307
- Fogelson, Raymond. Sturtevant, William C., Handbook of North American Indians, V. 14, Southeast (Google eBook), Government Printing Office, http://books.google.com/books?id=3JH-TPFjLk4C&source=gbs_navlinks_s (accessed Jan 8 2014)
- May, John D., “JUMPER, JOHN (ca. 1820-1896)” Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. Web. http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/j/ju002.html (accessed Jan. 8, 2014)
- Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia. History, Culture and People. p 390
- Prestridge, J.N. Modern Baptist Heroes and Martyrs. n. p. The World Press, Louisville, KY, 1911. p 315
- Holt, A. J. Pioneering in the Southwest. Nashville: Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1923.
- West, C. W. “Dub”. Missions and Missionaries of Indian Territory. Muskogee: Muscogee Publishing Company, 1990. p. 108
- Foreman, Carolyn Thomas. “John Jumper.” Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 29 No. 1 (1951) p. 142. Oklahoma Historical Society’s Chronicles of Oklahoma. (eBook) http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Chronicles/v024/v024p269.pdf (accessed Jan. 16, 2014)
- Holt, A. J. p. 121
- Ibid., p. 136
- Rister, Carl Coke. Baptist Missions Among the American Indians. Atlanta: Home Mission Board, 1944. p. 102
- The Baptist Home Mission Monthly, Volumes 5-6 October, 1884 (Google eBook), American Baptist Home Mission Society, Temple Court, NY, Vol. VI. No. 10, p 254 http://books.google.com/books?id=K9vNAAAAMAAJ (accessed Jan. 15, 2014) [spelling correction Jan 14 2014]
- Holt, A. J. p. 123
- Marcy, Randolph B. The Prairie Traveler, A Hand-book for Overland Expeditions. New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, Franklin Square, 1859. (November 26, 2007 [eBook #23066]) http://www.gutenberg.org/files/23066/23066-h/23066-h.htm (accessed Dec. 13, 2013)
- Ricky, Donald B. Indians of North Carolina: Past and Present. (Google eBook), North American Book Dist LLC, Jan 1, 1999. p. 75 http://books.google.com/books?id=qubw8ET24WoC&source=gbs_navlinks_s (accessed Dec. 18, 2013.)
- Holt, A. J. p. 140
- Ricky, Donald B. p. 75
- Holt, A. J. p. 140
- Foreman, Carolyn Thomas. “Black Beaver.” Chronicles of Oklahoma Volume 24 No. 1 (1946) p 291. Oklahoma Historical Society’s Chronicles of Oklahoma. (eBook) http://digital.library.okstate.edu/Chronicles/v024/v024p269.pdf (accessed Jan. 16, 2014)
- The Baptist Home Mission Monthly, Volumes 5-6 October, 1884 (Google eBook), American Baptist Home Mission Society, Temple Court, NY, Vol. VI. No. 10, p. 254 http://books.google.com/books?id=K9vNAAAAMAAJ (accessed Jan. 15, 2014) [spelling correction Jan 14 2014]
- “Indians of the Plains believed in a Supreme Being…sometimes called the Great Spirit…or simply Grandfather.” Horse Capture, George P., Sr. “Chapter 4: The Plains.” Indian Nations of North America. 2010. p. 144
- Prestridge, J.N. Modern Baptist Heroes and Martyrs. The World Press, Louisville, KY, 1911. p. 316
- Ibid., p. 317
- Rister, Carl Coke. p. 102
- Prestridge, J.N. p. 318
- Ceremony, Corn Dance n.d. Tawakoni Jim] Field near Group. n. d. Mooney, James (Photograph) BAE GN 01317 06254500, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution from http://sirismm.si.edu/naa/baegn/gn_01317.jpg (accessed Jan. 15, 2014)
- Portrait (Profile) of Tsodiako in Partial Native Dress JUN 1880 June, 1880. Bell, Charles Milton? (Photograph) BAE GN 01316B 06254402, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution from http://sirismm.si.edu/naa/baegn/gn_01316b.jpg (accessed Jan. 15, 2014)
- John Jumper, Principal Chief of the Seminoles. n. d., Image OHS #1660, Alice Fleet Collection, Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division. Used by permission.
- Portrait (Profile) of Good Buffalo or Buffalo Goad June 1871 June 1871. Gurney, J. & Son (Photograph) BAE GN 01311B 06253702, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution from http://sirismm.si.edu/naa/baegn/gn_01311b.jpg (accessed Jan. 15, 2014)
- Portrait (Front) of Black Beaver, Interpreter 1869 1869. Shindler, Antonio(n) Zeno (Photograph) BAE GN 00811A 06187600, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution from http://sirismm.si.edu/naa/baegn/gn_00811a.jpg (accessed Jan. 15, 2014)