Mary Collins (missionary)
Mary Collins (April 18, 1846 - May 25, 1920) was a missionary, writer, and proponent for Native American rights in the Dakota Territory of the United States of America. She was a prolific member of the American Missionary Association, having spent thirty-five years of her life living amongst the Sioux tribe acting as a teacher, translator, and diplomat between the Sioux and white settlers. She was a noted friend and correspondent of Sitting Bull, one of the most famous Native Americans in United States history. Despite her actions and life-long commitment to peaceful relations with the Sioux, Collins is a relatively unknown character in American History.
Mary was born in 1846 to Ephraim and Margaret Collins, in the town of Upper Alton, Illinois. Her father, a northerner and her mother, a southerner, both were children of Revolutionary War veterans. She credits her ancestry, along with the physical training of her brothers, with providing her with the "pioneer spirit" that came to define her life. At the age of two, Collins and her family moved to Keokuk, Iowa, a small town in the southeastern part of the state known for its neutrality between White and Native settlers. It was here that she would attend a mix of public and private schools on her way to receiving a Master of Arts from Ripon College in Wisconsin. Her religious training and interest in missionary work began at an early age, when she began attending church and Sabbath School. In her publication How I Became A Missionary, Collins states that she was introduced to, and trained for her future calling by her Sabbath school teacher. Physical preparations for Collins came in the form of horse riding, boating, tree-climbing, and weight lifting alongside her brothers.
Life with the Sioux
Collins was first called to missionary work in 1875 by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. She wished to work in the Micronesia island territories in the western Pacific Ocean, but she failed to pass the required medical exam due to a lung condition. She was asked instead to serve as a missionary to the Native Americans in the Dakota territory, arriving at her post on November 10, 1875. Collins was quick to adapt to the language, claiming she had no trouble in seeing the Native American side of any question. She enjoyed a relatively high status amongst the tribe due to her knowledge of medicine, which allotted her privileges that were not typically allowed. She was also a source of counsel and knowledge on domestic affairs, religious problems, and legal questions. During her time on the Reservation, she also served as a lecturer on behalf of the Native American way of life at universities, public schools, churches, and conferences.
Friendship with Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull, the tribal chief of the Lakota Sioux at the end of the 19th century, was introduced to Mary Collins sometime in 1885; four years after his defeat at The Battle of Little Bighorn. She impressed him almost immediately with her command of the Lakota language, and for this, he considered her a relative. American Historian and biographer Stanley Vestal states in his biography Sitting Bull: Champion of the Sioux that Mary Collins "knew him better than almost any other white person at the agency." Her close relationship with Sitting Bull, along with her quest for peaceful cooperation between both Natives and the expanding white settlements, led her to request Sitting Bull to stop encouraging the Ghost Dance amongst his people. This dance was seen as a threat by U.S. Army troops and policemen sent to the Dakota region. Sitting Bull and his tribe persisted, and on December 15, 1890, Sitting Bull was arrested, and subsequently shot and killed in the ensuing mayhem.
Death and legacy
In 1910, due to her failing strength, Mary Collins gave up her work in the field with the Sioux. She returned to Keokuk, Illinois to live with sister. From there, she continued to be an active member of the American Missionary Association. There is no evidence of Mary Collins ever marrying. Illness set in during the early summer of 1919, which confined Collins to her bed until her passing in 1920. Her writings, many of them in the Dakota language, remained an important part of the Dakota culture long after her death. Dr. Frank White, a representative of the American Missionary Association, paid tribute to her life by characterizing her as "pioneer in the nth power." Many of her correspondences, including her own autobiography and will, are held in the South Dakota State Historical Society.
Vestal, Stanley. Sitting Bull: Champion of the Sioux: A Biography. University of Oklahoma Press, 1957.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Collins (surname) — The surname Collins has a variety of likely origins in Britain and Ireland: Anglo Saxon: A patronymic surname based on the name Colin, an English diminutive form of Nicholas. In England, Collins usually signified son of Colin. Irish: cuilein =… … Wikipedia
Peniel Missionary Society — The Peniel Mission was an interdenominational holiness missionary organisation that was started in Los Angeles, California in 1895 by Theodore Pollock Ferguson (1853 1920) and Manie Payne Ferguson (1850 1932) as an outgrowth of their Peniel… … Wikipedia
Heaver, Willis Collins — ( 1856 19 36 ) American Pentecostalist missionary in Chile Willis Collins Hoover, the father of Pentecostal ism in Chile, was born in Freeport, Illinois, and grew up as a Methodist with strong Holiness leanings. His wife, Mary Louise Hilton … Encyclopedia of Protestantism
New England Dwight family — The New England Dwight family had many members who were military leaders, educators, jurists, authors, businessmen and clergymen. Around 1634 John Dwight came with his wife Hannah, daughter Hannah, and sons Timothy Dwight and John Dwight, from… … Wikipedia
History of the Roman Catholic Church — The History of the Catholic Church from apostolic times covers a period of nearly 2,000 years, [August Franzen, Kleine Kirchengeschichte Neubearbeitung, Herder,Freiburg,1988, p.11] making it the world s oldest and largest institution. It dates… … Wikipedia
Christianity in the 19th century — Part of a series on Christianity … Wikipedia
Roman Catholic Church — The Roman Catholic Church, officially known as the Catholic Church,  ] Norman, p. 12] Pope Benedict XVI summarized this mission as a threefold responsibility to proclaim the word of God, celebrate the sacraments, and exercise the ministry of… … Wikipedia
List of Protestant missionaries in China — Beginning in 1807, with the arrival of Robert Morrison of the London Missionary Society and ending in 1953 with the departure of Arthur and Wilda Mathews of the China Inland Mission, foreign Protestant missionaries lived and worked in China. The… … Wikipedia
Christianity — Part of a series on Christianity … Wikipedia
Christianity in the 1st century — Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant. Depicted by 19th century Danish painter Carl Heinrich Bloch is his Sermon on the Mount (c. 30) in which he Expounds on the Law. Some scholars consider this to be … Wikipedia