Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions

Bureau Of Catholic Indian Missions

Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions

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The Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions was a Roman Catholic institution created in 1874 by J. Roosevelt Bayley, Archbishop of Baltimore, for the protection and promotion of Catholic mission interests among Native Americans in the United States.


In 1872, the Catholic bishops of Oregon and Washington Territory sent Father Jean-Baptiste Brouillet to Washington as their representative to settle claims against the United States. However, the effort grew quickly to represent all U.S. Catholic dioceses with claims related to past mission work among Native Americans. Late in the following year, Archbishop Bayley appointed General Charles Ewing as Catholic Commissioner of Indian Missions to represent the dioceses, which was an appointment Brouillet and the Northwest bishops had requested nine years earlier.

Prominent among the Catholic claims were the allotment of only seven Indian reservations under the Peace Policy of President Ulysses S. Grant. Based on the past work by Catholic missionaries among those tribes, the Catholic dioceses had expected allotments to 38 of the 73 reservations. Beginning in 1869, Grant had crafted a policy of close church-state collaboration through the Board of Indian Commissioners as a means to maintain peace with the tribes and to fight the corruption in government that was rampant within the Office of Indian Affairs. In force to 1881, the policy's implementation gave Catholic missionaries exclusive religious domain to...
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