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Memorable Manitobans: Luther L. Schuetze (1891-1979)

Missionary.

Born at Joinville Station, Brazil to German settlers on 17 March 1891, he studied at the Lutheran Seminary in Wiesbaden, Germany. He married Augusta Hoffman at Castle Rock, Washington on 20 August 1921 and they had ten children, six boys and four girls. Schuetze was ordained by the United Church of Canada in 1949. He died in Penticton, British Columbia on 21 December 1979.

In 1926, he arrived at the United Church mission at Little Grand Rapids (on the upper Berens River of Manitoba) where he served from 1927 until 1938. He worked for five years to establish trust and acceptance among the people and soon after that Methodist church membership rose, from ten in 1928 to 135 by 1935.

Schuetze was a dedicated and sincere man whose long tenure among the Ojibwe people in this community speaks to his commitment. His genuine affection for the people along with his wide range of useful skills (including the ability to manage dangerous horses and to extract peoples’ aching teeth using pliers) and his willingness to be open minded ensured the loyalty of community members. On his arrival at Little Grand Rapids the congregation membership had dropped to zero after a preceding missionary had caused offence, kicking in a sacred drum which he considered to be an evil and pagan device. Schuetze later discussed his own emerging understanding and tolerance of drum dances at Little Grand Rapids. It was through respect and kindness that he was able to resuscitate his mission.

One of Schuetze’s proudest achievements was his conversion of Machkajence (John Duck), a powerful shaman at Little Grand Rapids who conducted wábano (medicine lodge) and shaking tent ceremonies. Steadfastly resisting Christianity, Machkajence practiced his ceremonies until he gave his big drum to Schuetze in 1938.

At the request of Rev. John Niddrie, who was retiring from his nineteen-year tenure at Berens River, Schuetze took over that mission in 1938. In 1942 he moved south to serve the Methodist Church in Ranier, Oregon. Schuetze returned to Canada in 1945, serving in British Columbia at Bella Coola (1945-53), Keremeos (1953-61), and Penticton (1961-64). He also served as Chairman of the Kamloops-Okanagan Presbytery and a Commissioner to the General Council.

His personal papers are held by the United Church Archives (Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario).

More information:

Biographical File of Luther Scheutze, Victoria University Archives, Toronto.

Mission to Little Grand Rapids: Life with the Anishinabe, 1927-1938 by Luther L. Schuetze. Vancouver: Creative Connections Publishing (2001).

“I Will Fear No Evil”: Ojibwa-Missionary Encounters With Christianity Along the Berens River, 1875-1940 by Susan Elaine Gray. Calgary: University of Calgary Press (2006).

Sources:

This profile was prepared by Susan Elaine Gray.

Page revised: 11 June 2009

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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