An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Bedell, Harriet

(Mar. 19, 1875-Jan. 8, 1969). Missionary among indigenous peoples. She was born in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from the State Normal School in Buffalo in 1894. She taught in the Buffalo public schools, and then studied at the New York Training School for Deaconesses. In Dec. 1907, she began working as a missionary teacher among the Cheyenne Indians at Whirlwind Mission, Oklahoma. She provided Christian education and rudimentary medical care. In 1916 the Board of Missions transferred her to the Indian School in Nenana, Alaska. This school was accessible only by the Yukon River, which was frozen eight months of the year. The next year Bedell was transferred to Tanana, Alaska, as the sole missionary, teaching and nursing the entire community. On Sept. 14, 1922, during the General Convention, she was set apart as a deaconess by Bishop Peter Rowe of Alaska at St Mark's Church, Portland, Oregon. In 1931, when the Alaskan budget was cut, she reopened the Church's work among the Mikasuki Indians in Florida. She created a ministry of economic empowerment, education, and health care for Indians of the Everglades. Though she officially retired in 1943, she continued diocesan missionary work until her death at Davenport, Florida.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.