THE DREAM OF YELLOW FACE
By President Edward J. Wood
President of the Alberta Temple
About the year 1910, a very fine looking Indian, calling himself Yellow Face, called in Cardeton, and said he had with him 20 families of the Cree nation from Eastern Canada, and that they were wandering over the country to find a good trapping country. As they liked the look of this corner of Alberta, they requested permission to camp on some of the vacant lands in our vicinity.
Yellow Face had fairly well educated young men in his company who could talk pretty good English. These acted as interpreters. They had a written language the characters resembling very much the characters seen on the facsimile cuts shown in the Pearl of Great Price. Yellow Face had rather sharp features, a well-shaped forehead, with deep-set eyes. His color was a lighter brown than that of our Blood Indians, he was nearly six feet tall, was very dignified and seemed highly intelligent.
We directed him and his company to the west section where there were lands with many lakes and plenty of grass for their horses. In a few days, Yellow Face sent word to me that they preferred the upper parts of the Cochrane Ranch lands, and that his company had encamped on the Belly River near the bridge, waiting to hear from me as to their trapping on our Church lands. I sent word that if they would go on the hay lands and do some work in grubbing out a lot of low willows, they might earn a little money that way and also earn the right to do sonic trapping; to which proposal they willingly assented.
They wasted no time, and soon went to the store at Mountain View, a town five miles from their camp, and brought some fine muskrat hides to sell and also some finely beaded moccasins, well tanned rugs, and Indian curios. They did a lot of buying and selling in the Mountain View stores and some trading in Cardston during the trapping season.
While in Mountain View, they seemed very curious about our meetings and asked to attend public services, and also ward reunions of any kind; but while in attendance they would talk very little. When the season was about over for trapping, they came and very politely said Goodbye, and seemed to appreciate our allowing them to use the Church lands.
They came back the next year, and again the third year, and traded and acted much as they did before and never seemed to wish to get acquainted with us, until one day near the close of the season, Yellow Face and his Council of Chiefs, comprising the head of each family, making 20 Chiefs, sent to Mountain View for the Church Chief Bishop to come at once to their camp and meet with their Council.
The Bishop went and found them all seated around the edge of the tent, and wondered what they might desire of him. When the Bishop entered, Yellow Face stood up and asked the Bishop to stand in the center of the circle and address them. The Bishop hardly knew what to say, but tried to explain, through their interpreter, the first principles of the Gospel, and other truths he thought they would understand about our revealed Gospel. He spoke over half an hour, and realized they did not seem much interested, so he sat down and talked briefly on local matters, invited them to come to Mountain View to the meetings, and left feeling he had not made much of an impression.
About a week after, they sent for him to come among them again and talk to them once more. He wondered more than ever at their inviting him to talk to them so soon for he knew he had done very little good before. But as he entered the tent he noticed a fine looking Indian woman, whom Yellow Face introduced as his daughter.
The Bishop states that as soon as he saw this woman, the feeling came upon him to talk on the Book of Mormon. Before he began to speak to the assembled Indians, Yellow Face asked him if he had anything new to tell them, saying that they did not care to hear again what he had told them before. When he said he would tell then about a book, every eye was on him and the young woman seemed very nearly white. They all paid marked attention as he spoke and interrupted so frequently through the interpreter, that it was difficult for him to finish. They were much enthused, and pointed for him to be seated where Yellow Face had been sitting, then Yellow Face in his dignified way said he would now tell his story. As he did so every eye was upon him:
“The year before our tribe first came here, I was taken very sick. Some of my Indian friends who had been dead for many years came and told me that I would soon be better, but would get sick again someday, and that I would die, but my family must not think I was dead and bury me, for I was not to be buried until my body was cold all over.
When I woke up, I called my family together and also the Counsel of Five Chiefs (of which I was a member) for our tribe that then lived in Manitoba was large, and I told them of my dream, and they laughed at me and did not believe it. But, nevertheless, I feared my dream was true.
Time went on, and one day sometime afterward, I was taken very sick, and I at once feared my dream would come true, so I warned my family not to be in a hurry to bury me, even though I died, until they were sure that I was cold all over.
I got weaker and weaker until I left my body, and I went away among a lot of Indians that I knew were dead, some I knew and some I did not know, as they had been dead so long. But they were not dead at all, and told me to die was only to leave the body for your people to take care of, and to come where they were.
As for me, they said that I had to go back and use my body again for several years. THEY SAID I WAS TO GO AMONG THE WHITE PEOPLE UNTIL I FOUND A BOOK THAT TOLD OP THE HISTORYOF THESE DEAD INDIANS WHO WERE NOT DEAD.
I asked them how I would know the people who had the book that would tell my live Indian friends all about who they were and about their dead relatives; and they gave me these five keys:
1. They will let you camp on their own lands, and trap and hunt.
2. They will treat you like one of them in your business dealings with them.
3. They will invite you to their meetings and ask you to speak.
4. They will invite you to sit with them at their tables to eat.
5. They will visit you in your camp, and their men will not bother your women nor molest any of you.
When you find this kind of people, have them meet in your Council, and have them tell you what they believe, and they will tell you about this book.
I then woke up and found my wife and my friends had about decided to bury me as I had been dead several days and was cold all over, except a small place over my heart, but when I came back to life and told them where I had been and that our Indian relatives were not dead at all, they wondered at me. And when I told them that I would pick about 20 families and travel until I found the Book, they again wondered, but as they all believed in a God, they said they would follow me.
So in due time we formed our company and started. We made many camps, and traveled many seasons. But there are not many people who are true friends of the Indian; and it was hard to find a people who answered to the five keys until we landed among you.”
Yellow Face had grown quite eloquent in telling of his wonderful experience among the dead-yet-living Indians, as he termed them, and before he sat down, he asked for the Book. The Bishop went and got a Book of Mormon and gave it to him. He took it as though it had always belonged to him, and said to the Bishop that it was his Book because it was the history of his people, both of the dead and of the living.
After this very interesting experience of the Bishop, I met Yellow Face at the home of the Bishop and he told us of how he had watched us and of his sitting by my side at a certain reunion of the ward the year before, and of how he had taken note of our treatment of him, and of his great surprise when I told him his company could camp on the Church lands, and of his object in camping on the main road, so that all of our people going to and from several of our main wards, had to pass through this Indian village, and of his coming the three times—a year apart—as he wanted to see if we would change in our treatment of his company. He also told us of many principles of religion that he said his tribe believed in, which were very interesting to us.
He then took the Book of Mormon, calling it their long lost Book, and wrapped it among their valuables, which they always carry in a separate buckskin sack, and hang it apart from any other belongings on a tripod in front of the head Chief’s lodge. These articles are held sacred by the tribe and are exhibited only on rare occasions.
Yellow Face and his company now seemed satisfied, and having no further desire to stay among us, soon left. We heard many times afterward of how they would camp along the highways, and Yellow Face would take his own interpreter and call upon a family, and would hand “His Book” to the family and ask them to read it for him. We heard of this being done and the Book being read to him by many people who wondered at what the book contained, and seemed quite interested when he would tell them it was the history of his people.