As We Commemorate Indigenous People’s Day

I found the following essay by Dee Seton Barber, ETS’s daughter, in my filing cabinet today. It was also discovered by David L. Witt at the Academy for the Love of Learning in 2017.  Having unearthed it again, I would like to share a portion of it.

Seton’s Relationship with Native Americans and First People

Seton was a man whom although his skin and upbringing was white, his soul was as theirs, his lifetime action strong proof of this mutual recognition.

From the 1880’s, he went among the people, not to change them, but to learn from them. He respected their culture and their wisdom. He learned their speech and sign, their songs and stories. When invited to council he listened as the wise ones spoke.

He shared their understanding that the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds were each a part of the same whole. He knew that the First People cared for the land with respect. That in their wisdom they took only what they needed to provide for themselves and their children; that they would always be free and the land unharmed, down all through the generations.

He learned to respect their bravery, honor, and strength. He too became wise in the ways of the woods and in the ways of the spirit. He was not a stranger but a welcome friend in the sweat lodge, a council, or alone by a small fire on a hill, listening for guidance from the Great Mystery. He heard the Voices and knew of Vision.

In his youth (in Manitoba), he first learned about the wisdom of the people. He sought to expand his knowledge and learned many things from the Ojibwa, the Sioux, the Cree, the Blackfoot, and the Six Nations at their invitation. He lived with the Crow, the Lakota, the Cheyenne, the Navajo and Pueblo peoples. He knew the Cherokee, the Omaha, and the Kiowa. All his life he shared a deep, mutual respect with the First Peoples, the Native Americans.

He opposed the traders who brought the poison of alcohol to the people. He spoke against governments that were determined to change the people, kill the buffalo, dishonor treaties. He despised missionaries who imposed their beliefs without recognizing the wisdom of the old ways.

He was tortured with the thought that all of the teachings of the elders would be lost, and the European settlers would destroy the heart and soul of the people, as he knew them a century ago. Not only taking their lands but also their traditional ways of living.

He was an advocate for native rights in a time when the West was being destroyed by the greed and avarice of the settlers. H sincerely believed that the highest duty was to provide for and protect the community, not gain or hold riches, but to share and be responsible for the welfare of all.

Answer to Q #25 – Where did ETS go for a hernia surgery in 1883?

Since 1876, Seton suffered from a hernia injury. In 1883, he learned that there was a physician in Chicago performing hernia operations.  He signed a release form stating that he understood the procedure was experimental and that there was great risk of him dying. Additionally, he agreed to allow medical students observe the procedure in a classroom setting. All went well, and he returned to Manitoba with new physical strength and confidence.

A Poem: CHURCHES by Loren Baum Hintz


Loren Hintz became woodcrafter as a teenager and spent three summers at the College of Indian Wisdom 1933 – 1935. He was a dancer, writer, actor, and loved life.  He was a pilot during WWII and on April 21, 1945, at age 27, his plane was shot down in Italy.

This poem, from Loren’s book of poems Youth Dreams (1937), is offered here to commemorate his short life on the anniversary of his death. The poem is published with permission from Gretchen Hintz Wronka, his daughter and in memory of memory of Martin Hintz, his son.  Thanks to Pam Percy for contacting the Institute and letting us know about Loren.

CHURCHESMt. Thompson-Seton, Czech Republic

Man has built mighty cathedrals, 
Cathedrals with painted windows, 
   marble pillars built with the costliest of stone–
Cathedrals decorated by master artists
   with paintings and with statuary,
And are very beautiful,
   these man made temples of worship to G_d.
And man has said, the only way to worship 
   is in a temple built with gold.

But G_d has built a mightier cathedral,
   a cathedral older than man,–
A temple such as man would not think of building,
Such as he could not build, if he would. 

G_d’s temple is the out-of-doors.
It is all nature:
The great forests, the mighty mountains,
   the rivers, lakes, the ocean,
           and all of life.

If G-D made all of this,
Would it not be better to worship in His temple
Than in the small, insignificant structures
   built by man?