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Dakota Cross-Bearer: The Life and World of a Native American Bishop Paperback – April 1, 2004
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"Mary E. Cochran's "Dakota Cross-Bearer demonstrates the best elements of good historic biography...[and] has made a major contribution to our understanding of religion and Native American identity."
""Dakota Cross-Bearer" offers a view like no other into the life of an unusual but no less dedicated man of the cloth and faith."--"The Midwest Book Review"
"Reading the account will bring tears for this is a very readable biography, written with all the suspense and emotion found in good fiction, but seldom in nonfiction."--"Roundup Magazine"
"Cochran's prose reads well and Jones's inspirational life makes a compelling subject. .the book provides an engaging account of a Christian Dakota negotiating twentieth-century America."--Todd M. Kerstetter, "Nebraska History"
"Mary E. Cochran's "Dakota Cross-Bearer" demonstrates the best elements of good historic biography . . . [and] has made a major contribution to our understanding of religion and Native American identity."-"North Dakota History,"
From the Inside Flap
Dakota Cross-Bearer is the story of a remarkable man, Harold S. Jones, a Dakota Indian who rose through the ranks of the Episcopal Church to become the first Native American bishop of a Christian church. Born in 1909 and raised on the Santee Reservation in Nebraska, Jones lost his parents at an early age and was adopted by his grandparents, who brought him up as a Christian. Each year his family attended the Niobrara Convocation, a large gathering of Episcopalians drawn from all of the Siouan communities. Jones attended Seabury-Western Seminary in Illinois. After graduating he was assigned to a variety of Native American missions across the northern plains, including those at Wounded Knee, Oglala, and the Cheyenne River Reservation as well as the Navajoland mission in the southwest. Despite encountering discrimination from within the Episcopal Church throughout his career, in 1971 he was elected suffragan bishop of the diocese of South Dakota.
Jones's biography sheds light on the importance of Christianity for the Dakotas and other Native American peoples during the twentieth century. His story yields interesting insights into the history of twentieth-century missionary activity among Native Americans and illuminates instances of conflict and discrimination within the Episcopal Church, the processes of clerical training and testing, and the demands of constant relocation.
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Some may prefer "Bury My Heart" over Mary Cochran's book, because of Brown's righteous and radical anger, absent from Cochran's voice.
Like Brown's account, this story speaks sorrowfully of the shameful history of betrayal of Native Americans, even by the church. It touched me deeply because it recounts the the open-mindedness of many Lakotah people toward the god of the Europeans who were displacing, impoverishing, and trying to stamp out the cultures of tribes throughout the west. While many missionaries in this account had benevolent intentions, the fruit of their labors was a mixed blessing at best.
Mary and her husband, The Rt. Rev. David Cochran (former bishop in the Dakotas) were entrusted with the story of the Lakotah people and prejudice in the church from Bishop Harold Jones' point of view. His lack of rancor in living through many insults and challenges is a powerful witness to the best in the Christian faith tradition, and even more so, the best in his tribal traditions. The picture of life on the Lakotah reservations during the early 20th century was fascinating. For example, Lakota women took the lead consistently in raising the funds necessary to start new churches. They had almost no money and were phenomenally ingenious!
I will never stop grieving what happened to the native peoples of the west as my people invaded their homeland. Bishop Jones' spirit will help me live with it.