SPEECH OF PETER JONES,
A Chippewa Indian Chief, and a preacher of the Methodist church, spoken at the annual meeting of the London Tract Society on the 5th of May last.
Mr. Jones then stood forward, and was received with great encouragement. He was attired in the peculiar dress of a Chief of the Chippewa, a nation who reside upon the banks of the River Credit, in Upper Canada. It consisted of a well fitted frock of dressed buff leather, 'pinked' out down the front with little stars, and ornamented at the seams with a narrow fringe of the same material. It was confined by a party colored sash around the waist. After a short exordium in his own language, which he spoke with animation, he addressed the meeting in the following terms:-
'Fathers, brothers, and sisters: I am glad from my heart to come this day to this house, and glad to hear the good words which these good men have spoken. And while I have been looking on and listening, the meeting has struck me as being like our own councils; you are all going one path, all in so good order, and also very attentive. I shall try to say a little to you. I agree with all my heart in what that good brother has said who has just spoken. I will not talk long, for we poor Indians have a rule never to speak very long. (A laugh) While in the woods of Canada, I have seen with my own eyes some of those little books, which you make in this city (applause) and I myself am greatly pleased with some of the little books, which I received from this place. They have done my heart good when I looked upon them; but how do I rejoice when I see the people who make these good books and send them to the wilds of America. (Cheers) My brothers and sisters: the poor Indians of the Chippewa Nation are very poor indeed as to the knowledge and enjoyment of that religion and Gospel which has done your nation so much good. The Indians, of whom I form a part, are ignorant of the true and living God; that is, those of them who have not heard of the Religion of Jesus Christ. Before we heard from the good missionaries the words of Jesus, we were very little, poor, and needy. Our eyes were blind, and we could not see. There appeared to be a great wall between us; so that, while you had the very light shining upon yon on one side, we were all in darkness at the other. And while in this darkness we worshipped things which did us no good---sometimes the sun, sometimes the moon, and sometimes the Great Spirit that is thought to live in the great falls---for we believed that every particular spirits---as that there was a spirit for the deer, and another for the fish; and we offered up prayers and sacrifices to them as our necessities required. But in all this crooked way of living we had no peace to cheer us upon our way; no knowledge of heaven or hell. We thought we had souls, but that they all went to westward; and we continued in this state till seven or eight years ago, when some good missionaries came to us with the Bible in one hand, and some of these little tracts in the other. (Applause:) They told us of the Great Spirit, and of that Christ who hath died for poor Indians, as all other nations, and that if we would turn our hearts to him, he would have mercy upon us. We did so, and found their words to be true. Since then we have been happy; we feel a desire to read and learn the Gospel in our hearts, and feel all the missionaries promised to us. We therefore lost no time in calling upon the missionaries to send us teachers for our schools, and to show our children how to read the good book and these little tracts. The missionaries answered to our call, and we have now 15 schools in different parts of Upper Canada, and there are no less than 450 Indian children attending them, learning the English language. Of these 200 can read the Word of God and understand it. (Applause.) I am happy to say that God owns your labors, and blesses the Missionary and Tract Societies. I will now tell you the goodness of God in making some conversions, to my own knowledge. There was a son of a Chief who resided with us, and whose name was Chicinary, which, being translated means a 'Big Canoe.' His father lived at the back of the Lakes of Huron, and was a heathen. Big-Canoe became a convert, and about two years ago accompanied me on a journey to the part of the country where his people dwelt. We saw his father and conversed with him, and he said, I accept your words and will pray to the Great Spirit. Having stayed a day and a half, I left the settlement, but Big-Canoe remained to complete the conversion of his father. In two months afterwards I saw him again and asked how he had succeeded with his people, and he said they had all been turned to the Great Spirit, and were all worshipping him in their hearts. That he had been allowed no rest, so desirous were the people of being taught; but he told them that he himself knew little more than his A.B.C. They wished him to tell them that, but he had no book. At last he thought of going into the woods and taking the birch-bark which is perfectly white; he wrote the letters of the alphabet upon it with a piece of burned stick, and thus taught the people. (Cheers.) I will state only one case more. In coming to this country, I passed through a white settlement on my way to New York; the people were very bad and wicked. I overheard two men swearing violently; I went up to one of them and put a little tract of this Societies' called 'The Swearer's Prayer,' into his hands, and them went away. In a few days afterwards I heard from the clergyman of the place, that these men had been converted to God. (Cheers.) I will only say, in conclusion, that we are yet too ignorant to read and understand your books, but that the pictures which they contain attract the attention of the children, and thus lead their minds to the knowledge of heavenly things. This is all I have to say to you.' (Applause.)