The Whipple collection represents a certain period of time where dramatic changes and rapid transitions were happening, impacting Native peoples. The repercussions of those impacts are still being experienced by our people today.
-Dwight Gourneau, Turtle Mountain
Episcopalian missionary Henry Whipple moved to Minnesota in 1859, at a time when many European settlers were moving into the newly formed state. The influx of new arrivals resulted in massive changes for the region's American Indian people, such as loss of homelands through treaties, and attempts to extinguish cultural and religious practices.
Whipple and his family collected hundreds of Indian-made objects, some as gifts, others as purchases. The pieces testify to Bishop Whipple's interest in and influence on Indian culture and illuminate the complexity and enduring legacy of his personal relationships with Indian people.
Whipple amassed his Indian art collection over forty years; as the head of the Episcopal Diocese in Minnesota, he had many collecting opportunities. It was his responsibility to visit each parish at least once a year to officiate over baptisms, marriages, and church consecrations. Current research indicates similar objects were offered at the missions as church tithes and ongoing study continues to reveal more about the origins of these collections.
In Honor of the People website is a critical first step toward a virtual reunification of Whipple objects held in multiple institutions. Phase I brings together nearly 500 objects from the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society. We look forward to future submissions from individuals, libraries, and museums around the world.