The Life History and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, 1847

Chapter VIII

The conversion of my mother took place during the summer, on Poutash Island, where the Indians had erected a bark chapel. For two years she lived in the enjoyment of religion. Before this chapel was ready she would call us together in the wigwam, and pray with and for us, several times a day, whether our father was at home or not. I remember well, at this moment, the language of her prayers.

She was taken sick in the winter of 1829, and was confined to her bed, most of the time, for three months; her disease was consumption. During these three, months, she enjoyed much religion; there was not a day, in which she did not speak of Jesus and his promises with the greatest confidence and delight.

When she grew worse, she called for the class leaders to pray with her. She said to her mother, whom she supposed would die first, because her hair was white, “you will still live, but I am going to die, and will see Jesus first; soon, however, you will follow me.”

The spirit of my dear mother took its flight on the 27th day of February, 1830. Just before her death, she prayed with her children; and advised us to be good Christains, to love Jesus, and meet her in heaven. She then sang her favorite hymn,

“Jesus ish pe ming kah e zhod.”

“Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone.”

This was the first hymn she had ever heard or learned; and it is on this account that I introduce and sing this sweet hymn whenever I lecture “ On the origin, history, traditions, migration, and customs, of the Ojebwa nation.” We all knelt again by her bed side, and while clapping her hands, and endeavoring to shout for joy, she swooned away in death. The last words, which she feebly uttered, were, “Jesus, Jesus.” Her spirit then fled, her lips were cold, and those warm hands that had so often and so faithfully administered comfort and relief, were now stiff. I looked around the wigwam; my father, sister, and brother sat near me, wringing their hands; they were filled with bitter grief, and appeared inconsolable. I then began to understand and appreciate fully her kindness and love. Who, who can, or will, take the place of a mother? Who will pray for us when we are sick or in distress? Her body was consigned to the grave without any parade. No church bell was tolled; but the whistling wind sounded through the woods. I have often knelt down, at the head of her grave, and wished that the time would soon arrive when it might please God to relieve me from my troubles and cares, and conduct me to the abode of my beloved parent. My sister Sarah, too, who has since died, is doubtless with my mother. O how glorious the thought, that both are now in heaven! There is one spot where none will sigh for home. The flowers that blossom there, will never fade; the crystal waters that wind along those verdant vales, will never cease to send up their heavenly music; the clusters hanging from the trees overshadowing its banks, will be immortal clusters; and the friends that meet, will meet for ever.

Little then did I think that I should have to pass through so many afflictions, and so many hardships. O my mother, I am still in a cold, uncharitable miserable world! But the thought that thou art happy and blessed, is truly sweet and encouraging! It is this fact, and my own hopes of future bliss, that buoys me up, and sustains me in the hours of conflict and despondency. Although many years have elapsed, since her death, still, I often weep with mingled joy and grief when I think of my dear mother. « Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” The gospel is the only remedy for the miseries and sins of the world.

My mother and sister’s cases are not the only ones that I could relate concerning the happy lives and deaths of those once degraded and benighted Indians. Many have already reached heaven; and many more are now rejoicing on their road thither. Who will now say that the poor Indians cannot be converted? The least that Christians could have done, was to send the gospel among them, after having dispossessed them of their lands; thus preparing them for usefulness here, and happiness hereafter. Let no one say that I am ungrateful in speaking thus. It was the duty of Christians to send us missionaries; and it is now their duty to send more of them. There are still 25,000 of my poor brethren in darkness, and without the gospel. Let the prayers of all the churches ascend to the Most High, in their behalf, that He who has power to deliver, may save the poor Indian from misery, ignorance and perdition.


Icon for the Public Domain license

This work (The Life History and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, 1847 by George Copway) is free of known copyright restrictions.