Treaties Pt.6: #7 Crowfoot
contact with our native tribes shows us the mistake we have been making in
deciding that ignorance, superstition and cruelty belong to these people,
and that there is no wisdom, truth or beauty in their belief and manner of
Maclean, preface to Canadian Savage
When John Maclean entered the Methodist ministry he was appointed to
work in the Blackfoot Confederacy of southern Alberta. He did not,
however, immediately begin preaching. Instead, he initially focused on
learning the Blackfoot language, as he felt that this was essential to ministering to the people on the reserve.
On April 1, 1883 he held his first service, in Blackfoot, where he read
three chapters of the Gospel of John, and sang
lover of my soul" (a Wesleyan hymn), all in his own translation. About 40 children and a few men were
present-no women. Maclean
observed that this perhaps stemmed from some rumours that were afoot, that
since the missionaries began work their children have been dying and they
do not want the missionaries to stay."
Maclean is the author of numerous books and pamphlets, most of them
dealing with the Canadian West. His Canadian Savage Folk: The Native Tribes of
Canada reflects great respect for the culture, knowledge and beliefs of the
people he served, and at times offers scathing cynicism about the
treatment of Aboriginal peoples by white men. In spite of his substantial
and thought provoking written work, Maclean is seldom mentioned in the
writings on Methodist missionary history in Western Canada.
John. Canadian Savage Folk: The Native Tribes of Canada. Toronto: