The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Episcopal Church

The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Episcopal Church

A Chain Linking Two Traditions
Edited by L. Gordon McLester, Laurence M. Hauptman and Kenneth Hoyan House
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/02/2019
Format: Paperback 32 b&w illus., 2 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-04138-8
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


This unique collaboration by academic historians, Oneida elders, and Episcopal clergy tells the fascinating story of how the oldest Protestant mission and house of worship in the upper Midwest took root in the Oneida community. Personal bonds that developed between the Episcopal clergy and the Wisconsin Oneidas proved more important than theology in allowing the community to accept the Christian message brought by outsiders. Episcopal bishops and missionaries in Wisconsin were at times defenders of the Oneidas against outside whites attempting to get at their lands and resources. At other times, these clergy initiated projects that the Oneidas saw as beneficial—a school, a hospital, or a lace-making program for Oneida women that provided a source of income and national recognition for their artistry. The clergy incorporated the Episcopal faith into an Iroquoian cultural and religious framework—the Condolence Council ritual—that had a longstanding history among the Six Nations. In turn, the Oneidas modified the very form of the Episcopal faith by using their own language in the Gloria in Excelsis and the Te Deum as well as by employing Oneida in their singing of Christian hymns.

Christianity continues to have real meaning for many American Indians. The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Episcopal Church testifies to the power and legacy of that relationship.

Author Bio

L. Gordon McLester III is the former Secretary of the Oneida Nation of Indians of Wisconsin and Director of the Oneida Indian Historical Society. Since 1986, he has coordinated approximately fifteen conferences on Oneida history and has interviewed more than 500 elders; all of these conversations have been digitized for their use in schools and by the community at large. He is co-author of Chief Daniel Bread and the Oneida Nation of Indians of Wisconsin (2002) and co-editor of three previous books on the history of the Oneidas. McLester has also authored (with Elisabeth G. Torres) the children's book The Oneida.

Laurence M. Hauptman is SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History. He is author of numerous articles and books over the past forty years. His newest book is An Oneida Indian in Foreign Waters: The Life of Chief Chapman Scanandoah. Dr. Hauptman has testified as an expert witness before committees of both houses of Congress and in the federal courts and has served as a historical consultant for the Wisconsin Oneidas, the Cayugas, the Mashantucket Pequots, and the Senecas.

Judy Cornelius-Hawk is former Treasurer, Tribal Librarian, and member of the Land Claims Committee of the Oneida Nation of Indians of Wisconsin. She is also co-founder of the Oneida Arts program. Cornelius-Hawk is a past recipient of the Clarion Award for Women in Communication and held a D'Arcy McNickle Fellowship from the Newberry Library Center for the History of the American Indian in Chicago. She has authored articles on missionaries among the Oneidas and co-authored an article on Susan Fenimore Cooper. For more than twenty years, she served as a teacher at the Episcopal Church school and as a member of the church's Altar Guild.

Kenneth Hoyan House is Chaplain of the Wisconsin Oneida Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was born on the Wisconsin Oneida Reservation. When his uncle Robert L. Bennett served as United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the mid 1960s, House worked with him in Washington, DC. He later joined the United States Navy, where he served for twenty-eight years before his retirement and return to Wisconsin.

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents



Part I: Christianity Comes to Oneida Country

Editors' Introduction

Chapter 1: The Oneida World before Christianity (Laurence M. Hauptman)

Chapter 2: Oneidas and Missionaries, 1667–1816 (Karim Tiro)

Chapter 3: Flawed Shepherd: Eleazer Williams, John Henry Hobart, and the Episcopal Mission

to the Oneidas (Michael Oberg)


Part II: The Oneida Episcopal Mission: The First Century in Wisconsin

Editors' Introduction

Chapter 4: Another Leatherstocking Tale: Susan Fenimore Cooper, the Episcopal Church, and

the Oneidas (Laurence M. Hauptman, L. Gordon McLester III, and Judy Cornelius-Hawk)

Chapter 5: A Mission of Mutuality: The Relationship between the Oneidas and the Nashotah

House Theological Seminary (Very Rev. Steven A. Peay)

Chapter 6: Wearing Two Hats: Cornelius Hill and John Archiquette, Oneida Nation and

Episcopal Church Leaders (L. Gordon McLester III and Laurence M. Hauptman)

Chapter 7: The Episcopal Mission 1853–1909: Three Church Accounts

Ellen Saxton Goodnough: Christmas at the Oneida Episcopal Mission, 1869

Father Solomon S. Burleson describes providing medical care at Oneida

Father Frank Wesley Merrill on Missionary Sybil Carter and the Oneida

Women lace-makers, 1899


Part III: Oneida First-Person Accounts of the Episcopal Mission and Its Clergy

Editors' Introduction

Chapter 8: Six Oneidas Recount Eight WPA Oral Histories, 1938–1942, about the Episcopal

Mission (Sarah Cornelius, Guy Elm, Lena Silas, Oscar Archiquette, Pearl House, and David


Chapter 9: Ten Contemporary Oneidas Reminisce in Nine Accounts about the Holy Apostles Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Mission

     Kenneth Hoyan House: Reverend Christian puts me on the Straight Path

     Blanche Powless: The Episcopal Mission School

     Kathy Powless Hughes: My father Deacon Edmund Powless

     Sister Theresa and Mother Superior Alicia: Oneidas in the Order of the

     Teachers of the Children of God: Two Nuns reflect on their service to the

     Episcopal Church

     Pearl Schuyler McLester: Reminiscences of the Oneida Episcopal Mission

     Deacon Deborah Heckel: Father R. Dewey Silas

     Judy Cornelius: As I remember: The women of the Church of the Holy Apostles

     Betty McLester and Judy Skenandore: Oneida lacemaking: then and now

     L. Gordon McLester III: The Oneida Indian Hymn Singers


Part IV: Conclusion

Chapter 10: Putting Oneida Episcopal History in Perspective (Christopher Vecsey)

Chapter 11: The Wisconsin Oneidas and the Episcopal Church: Then and Now


Appendix: Episcopal Priests and Bishops Who Have Served the Oneidas in Wisconsin