19th Century, Civics, Culture, education, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Minnesota Historical Society Created 1849

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The territorial legislature convenes and, as one of its first acts, establishes the Minnesota Historical Society.
“Write your history as you go along, and you will confer a favor upon the future inhabitants of Minnesota, for which they will be ever grateful.” ~The Rev. Edward D. Neill at one of the Society’s first meetings.*

Jesus, I wonder if Rev. Neill had an inkling of the gravity of what he was saying? We often do not know which words of ours will impact another. Yet I agree so strongly with him that we have been shown favor!

Why do You allow us to access Your nature of being present at all times to participate in Your work of healing Minnesota? You are so different from every object of worship and our human style of leadership! Even our best leaders can act out of pride; and the greatest out of a need for recognition.

Lord, will You acknowledge the present leaders of Minnesota so that they do not need the accolades of men? Lord, will You forgive all leaders past of seeking the approval of people rather than Your pleasure? And by this I don’t mean merely political leaders, chiefs of tribes, captains of industry, or spiritual leaders! I mean ALL who have had influence.

To the future generations of Minnesotans, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!” James 2:12,13

*Minnesota Historical Society

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19th Century, Emigration, farming, History, Immigration, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans

Settlement in Minnesota 1849 to 1860

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The number of non-Indian people in Minnesota jumps from 3,814 in 1849 to 172,072 in 1860, a 4,500 percent increase! The newcomers break sod, start businesses, plot towns, look for jobs, and dream of getting rich.

Pent-up demand for good agricultural land is the primary reason. Iowa and Wisconsin had been heavily settled and had both passed from territorial to statehood status by 1848. It had been dangerous and illegal to settle on land in most of Minnesota before treaties with the Dakota and the Ojibwe were signed. But after several treaties were ratified in the 1850s, the floodgates of migration burst open.*

When we move, we make assessments of our new neighbors and neighborhood. They, in return, watch us move into their neighborhood, and may ‘size us up’ by our friendliness, possessions, (or lack of possessions), our physical appearance, etc. These assessments, I believe, are instincts designed for our survival, but must be tempered or they can morph into prejudice.

Lord, what were the judgments of these ‘new neighbors’ in Minnesota? Will You forgive us the inheritance of those who knowingly moved into the state illegally? Will You forgive the betrayals committed between settler and tribe, and their counter-betrayals? Will You break the power of the derogatory words and names given among these groups? Will You break the vows made in anger, envy, revenge, arrogance, unforgiveness, fear, and unbelief of each group towards its real or supposed nemesis?

Lord, what were the judgments of these ‘new neighbors’ in Minnesota? Will You forgive us the inheritance of those who knowingly moved into the state illegally? Will You forgive the betrayals committed between settler and tribe, and their counter-betrayals? Will You break the power of the derogatory words and names given among these groups? Will You break the vows made in anger, envy, revenge, arrogance, unforgiveness, fear, and unbelief of each group towards its real or supposed nemesis?

Thinking about the impact of these past separations on the present, will You forgive the heart behind the relocation of Native Americans? Will you free us from the bondages and entanglements within poorly made treaties? Will You bring Your heart of restoration to Minnesota? Will You bring to light a new kind of history in Minnesota? Will You write a history that remembers the good, the pleasing, the fair, the gracious, the restored relationship on our hearts? Will you give us Your eyes to see our neighbors’ inherent value?

*mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

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19th Century, education, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Saint Paul’s 1st Public School 1847

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New Englander Harriet Bishop arrives in St. Paul and opens the town’s first public school. In a log cabin that had once been a blacksmith’s shop, students sit on wooden benches while chickens wander in and out.*

Thanks for Harriet Bishop and her desire to make education ‘public’. There were few opportunities for female teachers in New England, and she relished the adventure of moving west into unfamiliar territory.  She credits Harriet Newell and Ann Bishop, missionaries to Burma, as her inspiration.

The first school house, which she opened in a former blacksmith shop on July 19, 1847, was a “mud walled log hovel… covered with bark and chinked with mud” at what is now St. Peter Street and Kellogg Boulevard in the relatively isolated fur trading post of Saint Paul. Of the seven students in her first class, only two were caucasian. She had to rely on a student who was fluent in French, Dakota, and English to translate for her classes (which she taught in English). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Bishop

It’s astounding to think that most schools in our nation were private or parochial at the time. Public schools were often for the benefit of Protestants and the poor, whose communities did not have the resources or organizational structure to support them. How far we have come from this log cabin filled with students and wandering chickens!

However, presently we fail future generations because learning is disconnected from the Omniscient One. We have generations leading lives filled with facts, technology, and the benefits of science, but detached from meaning or a reason for being. This state was made by our Loving God, but even Your presence in school is an affront to the humanistic underpinnings of our current system of education! Will you forgive us this offense? Will You forgive our education system, legal system, and hearts where we have blocked You, and therefore any real sense of Divine Purpose, from our lives!

Today I remember the risk of Harriet Bishop, and her heart to see all children learn! Perhaps her home culture did not value her, but we thank You for incredible contributions to our state! Will You bless her, and all like her, who bravely risk the frontiers of our educational system?

Will You forgive any arrogance and academic pride of our forbearers, as You forgive us those same separations in the present? Will You bless future schools of Minnesota with wonder and awe of knowledge beyond our reach? May we remember the Infinite One who perceives the oceans of information beyond our drop in the bucket! May we receive Your forbearing spirit for each other, and a willingness to honor each other in Minnesota’s classrooms regardless of our faith in God or man?

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19th Century, Business, Culture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, Transportation

Red River Oxcart Trade 1840 to 1850

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Métis families (formed by marriages between whites and Indians) take their furs from the Red River Valley to St. Paul in oxcarts. Long caravans of up to 200 carts travel from as far away as Winnipeg, Canada, making St. Paul one of the leading fur markets in the country from the 1840s to the 1860s.*

My first question, Lord, is who are the Metis people? Doing what any modern American would do when faced with something they haven’t encountered before I went straight to wikipedia, and found the following excerpt below.

“The Métis are the descendants of Indigenous Cree or Anishinaabe women who married French or Scottish fur traders during the early colonial period. They have a specific, unique culture. Most are found among the Michif-speaking peoples of the Red River region in modern ManitobaNorth Dakota, and Minnesota.[1] The Red River peoples are part of the same ethnic group as many of the Canadian Métis peoples. There is also a broader but limited use of the term to describe any people who descend from the united culture created by the intermarriage of various French and British fur traders and various Algonquian, Cree and other Native American groups intermarrying during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. This use would exclude from Métis people-hood those whose ancestries became mixed between these different ethnic groups in other settings or more recently than about 1870.”

So now I have a place to begin my prayer; with at least an inkling of a back story of the Metis. God, I don’t really feel too prayerful tonight, but I’m willing to wait with You and see where it goes. Ok?

To begin, thank You that the Metis are Your people, and included in Your family. Thanks that You have watched over and led them for generations before their participation in the fur trade took place. Today I give your gratitude for the this era of the oxcart trail!

Next, I thank You that Metis marriages became an intersection between Scotch, Irish, French, Cree, Anishinaabe, and perhaps more nations of people! My late aunt, Ingrid Trobisch, an author and marriage counselor once told me, “Interracial marriages may be doubly difficult, but they are also doubly blessed.” I  commend  and honor these marriages that forged a new and unique culture from their culture of origin to You Good Father! Will you bless the Metis and all their future generations with the same forbearing spirit?

How interesting that, again, a people group becomes synonymous with a form of transportation: the Sami people of Finland the reindeer, the Arabs the horse, the Peruvians the llama, and the Metis the oxcart. All through history You have given us gifts and innovative thoughts that improve our lives. Thank You for these gifts. Will You bless those who rode these caravans, and continue to provide for their needs in the present and future? Will You cause us to pause as we drive I-94 west of Minneapolis, and remember who those who first blazed this road; the Metis?

Lord, I ponder what those in the future will think about us when the car is an antiquated beast. Will our interstates lead them somewhere, or will they cease to have purpose ? Will we be associated with our vehicles? In any case, I ask that You bless the future forms of transportation that may be discovered here in Minnesota, and that they would be inhabited by people who drive them to intersect with their neighbors as the Metis did.

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm .  The current URL is www.dipity.com/Minnesota/History/Minnesota-History/ and only works if typed, not pasted, in browser. It is worth the effort!

 

 

 

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19th Century, Business, Culture, Economics, History, Intercession, Jesus, Leadership, Minnesota, State Government

American Fur Company 1833

 

 

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Young Henry Sibley takes over the American Fur Company post at Mendota in 1834 and stays on to be a leader in building Minnesota. He will become Minnesota’s first territorial delegate to Congress and its first state governor–an indivisible part of the state’s history for more than 50 years.*

 

 

Thank you for the life of Henry Sibley, and his leadership role in this state. You have seen Sibley’s work and heart, will You guide this prayer? Will You give insight into the ramifications of this new role for Sibley as head of this important company so long ago?

 

I do not know how conscientious or just he was, or if he favored the American Fur Company in his civil leadership roles. Lord, I just want to acknowledge that when I have power, it is tempting to favor those with whom I have the strongest trust and relationship. Will You forgive me this sin?

Forgive any favoritism, or judgments against those favored by Henry Sibley, the American Fur Company, and the government of Minnesota? Will You forgive us as Minnesotans’ from our savior-complex? Sometimes we shield those we favor from learning by the cause and effect of their actions. God, these are some contemporary examples of our civic favoritism: >“This company (or bank) is too big to fail.” >”We need a new Vikings stadium.” >”Our state can pay for equality of outcomes.” You are the Savior of Minnesota! Cleanse us from 1833 to now of our favoritism.

Why is this offensive to You, Just One? Is it because misuse of authority exhibits the limitations of our trust for our fellow man, or their Maker? Do we deny those around us that they also have Your inalienable right of choice?

Of course, there are times when you authorize and condone our exercise of judgment on behalf of others. For example, a mother must choose, moment by moment, what is best for the care of her newborn child. Yet if this same woman were to be constantly advising her adult child, it would be a sick relationship, and probably feel quite smothering.

In the same way, will You bless the future of all leaders of this state with Your proper balance of authority? May they be blessed with strength balanced by tenderness! May they neither fear the loneliness of leadership, nor the humility that nurtures future leaders. Amen!

 

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Welcome!

In the summer of 2010, I was invited to be support person for a friend’s counseling session. Discovering an area of unresolved pain, the counselor suggested that my friend recount and forgive the exact words and phrases used by his father to control or manipulate him, and his gut responses to them. My friend chose to do so, releasing his dad with great specificity for these long past offenses, and acknowledging his own choice to respond with hatred. Imagine his shock when moments after this prayer, his estranged father calls him up to invite him to a baseball game?! We were all in awe of the moment!

For weeks after this amazing session, I wrestled with God about it — at first on a personal level, but as time passed I found it meshing with my lifelong interest in history. A larger picture began to take shape.

Over and over I prayed, “If this principle works on an individual basis, can it work on a larger one: families, cultures, tribes, states or nations? If it does, who will confess the sins and separations of the past? What right does one have to confess conflicts of another?” His still quiet answer came over time, “Come and see. Watch history with me.”

So here I am. I am on a journey to watch and pray through a timeline of some major events of my home state, Minnesota, from about 1650 to the present. I move forward, wanting to practice looking at the past as the Master sees it; through the merciful lens of the Eternal Now.

I want to encourage site visitors to view the past in terms of how we as a people have broken with the Lord, often through our dealings with one another — and to acknowledge those points of separation, live more freely in the present, and pass blessings to future generations of Minnesotans instead of curses.

I am deeply indebted to the wonderful and comprehensive work of the Minnesota Historical Society. When I discovered their timeline tool* at http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm, I was inspired to meditate on Minnesota’s history. The timeline provided an essential framework for the ideas and expressions posted here.

Welcome to all, from curious to serious, who want to encounter some significant stories and events of Minnesota history as they occurred in the past, impact the present, and inform the future!

– James Orvis

*(NOTE – the timeline tool may not be currently available. I will update the timeline link if a new address exists.)

 

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