Episcopalian missionary Henry Whipple moved to Minnesota in 1859, at a time when many European settlers were moving into the newly formed state. This influx of new arrivals resulted in great changes for the region's Native people-loss of homelands through treaties and attempts to extinguish cultural and religious practices. Whipple dedicated his life to defending American Indians. But like most reformers of his time, he mistakenly believed that Indians had to adopt European customs in order to survive. Although he had genuine respect for Indians and their culture, he was nonetheless committed to converting them to his own Christian faith.
Henry Whipple married Cornelia Wright in 1843, they had six children together. Cornelia died after a train accident in 1890. Six years later he married Evangeline Marrs Simpson. Both of the bishop's wives developed close relationships with Dakota and Ojibwe women, as shown by the many gifts they received during their travels.
After 1862, Henry Whipple gained national prominence as an advocate for Indians. As an advisor to four presidents over 40 years, Whipple's opinion carried considerable weight in the eastern states, often more than in Minnesota. Elected to various government commissions for Indian affairs from the 1860s to 1901, Whipple fought for Indian rights during treaty negotiations. However, his reformer opinions sometimes found little favor with his fellow commissioners.
Whipple maintained close relationships with people from all walks of life, whether Christian or not. He died in 1901 after 42 years at the head of the Episcopalian diocese of Minnesota, and his life is documented in the autobiography "Life and Shadows of a Long Episcopate". Henry Whipple is buried beneath the altar of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour in Faribault, Minnesota.