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SADDLE MOUNTAIN MISSION

On April 9, 1896, a thirty-one year old Baptist missionary from Canada named Isabel Crawford arrived at Saddle Mountain to establish a Baptist mission station. Working with Lucius Aitsan, a Carlisle-educated Kiowa, and his wife Mabel, Crawford was later remembered by one Kiowa man as "a brave and courageous little woman." The congregation built and paid for a handsome chapel that it dedicated in 1903 and also ran a day school. The mission was also the site of a large (and still active) cemetery. Like neighboring Baptist missions, Saddle Mountain elected its own deacons and gave them unusual latitude in the affairs of the church. This shortly led to clashes with Baptist officials who opposed the Saddle Mountain practice of administering communion without an ordained, white minister. The dispute eventually led to Crawford's forced transfer from Oklahoma in 1906. At her death in 1961 her body was returned to Oklahoma and buried at the head of the Saddle Mountain cemetery under a marker reading "I Dwell Among Mine Own People." Saddle Mountain was notable for the number of Kiowa missionaries and pastors it produced, including George Hunt, Ioleta McElhaney, and Sherman Chaddlesone. A dwindling congregation led to the church's closing in 1963, and the building and land were sold to local whites. In 1963 the building was moved to a privately held amusement park in Cache where it remains.

SEE ALSO: AMERICAN INDIANS AND CHRISTIANITY, RELIGION.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hugh D. Corwin, "Saddle Mountain Mission and Church," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 36 (Summer 1958). Isabel Crawford, Kiowa: The Story of a Woman Missionary in Indian Territory (1915; reprint ed., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998). Luke Eric Lassiter, Clyde Ellis, and Ralph Kotay, The Jesus Road: Kiowas, Christianity, and Indian Hymns (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2002). Salvatore Mondello, "Isabel Crawford: The Making of a Missionary," Foundations 21 (October-December 1978). Salvatore Mondello, "Isabel Crawford and the Kiowa Indians." Foundations 22 (January-March 1979). Salvatore Mondello, "Isabel Crawford: Champion of the American Indians," Foundations 22 (April-June 1979).

Clyde Ellis

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