Posts Tagged ‘Oakerhater’

Saint O-kuh-ha-tuh part 2

October 8, 2022
Oakerhater at Fort Marion

In October 1879, David Pendleton Oakerhater, as he was then known, left New York for a time to assist Pratt in enlisting children from Indian Territory (Oklahoma today) for his former jailer’s new school in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 1880 after returning from this mission, Oakerhater’s wife Nomee (Thunder Woman) died in childbirth in Paris Hill. The next year, their young son Pawwahnee died. Both were buried in the church cemetery. She had earlier bore him three daughters, all of whom had died. Along the way, he had taken a second wife Nanessan (Taking Off Dress) while married to Nomee but had divorced her by 1878. The daughter born to them had died as had his other children.

In May of 1881, Pratt petitioned the Office of Indian Affairs for the money to transport Oakerhater back to Indian Territory from where he had been taken prisoner. The government had paid the travel expenses of the other Fort Marion prisoners to return home after their incarceration was completed but the Episcopal sponsors had paid the travel expenses for the four who went to New York State. Now it was time for the government to return them to Indian Territory. Oakerhater’s reason for returning was to build Episcopal churches at the Indian agencies.

He married again in 1882 to Nahepo (Smoking Woman aka Susie Anna Bent) who took the name Susie Pendleton. Both of their children died young. She died in 1890 at 23 years of age.

In 1887, Oakerhater worked at the Episcopal mission in Bridgeport and in 1889 at the Whirlwind Mission near Fay, seventeen miles west of Watonga. Many of the Whirlwind students suffered from poverty, trachoma, and conjunctivitis. After tribal lands were broken up by the Dawes Act, families often tented near the reservation schools to be near their children and to provide a safer environment. His school and mission were under constant pressure. Locals wanting to exploit the Indians saw his mission and school as a threat and others at the national level deplored the poor conditions there.

He remarried again in 1898, this time to Minnie White Buffalo, who was 20 years younger than him. She brought with her a son from a previous marriage named Bear Raising Mischief.

Oakerhater retired with a pension in 1918 but continued to preach, serving as an Cheyenne chief and holy man. After a brief stop in Clinton, he moved to Watonga, where he lived until he died in 1931. Some of Oakerhater’s works would live on after him.

<end of part two>