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Heritage Trails - Presented by CKUA  Treaties Pt.6: #7 Crowfoot
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John MacleanClose 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 life.

- John Maclean, preface to Canadian Savage Folk 

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 GospAnglican Blood Missionariesel of John, and sang "Jesu, 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 "ever since the missionaries began work their children have been dying and they do not want the missionaries to stay."

John MclmapMaclean 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.

Citation Sources
Maclean, John. Canadian Savage Folk: The Native Tribes of Canada. Toronto: Briggs, 1896


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