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Stephen Return Riggs

RIGGS, Stephen Return, missionary, born in Steubenville, Ohio, 23 March, 1812: died in Beloit, Wisconsin, 24 August, 1883. He was graduated at Jefferson college, Pennsylvania, in 1834, and after spending a year in Western theological seminary at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Chillicothe. Having been sent out as a missionary by the American board, he proceeded to Lake Harriet mission, near Fort Shelling in 1837. Here he spent several months in studying the Dakota language, and subsequently joined the mission at Lac-qui-parle, where, in 1839, he entertained John C. Fremont and Jean Nicollet (q. v.). In 1843 he opened a new mission station at Traverse des Sioux, and was in charge of it until December, 1846, when he returned to Lac-qui-parle, and remained there until 1854. In that year he removed to Hazelwood station, near the mouth of Yellow Medicine river, and built a boarding-school for Dakota children. Here, assisted after 1858 by his son, Alfred, he labored until the summer of 1862, when his work was interrupted by the Indian insurrection of that year. (See LITTLE CROW.) Mr. Riggs and his family left their home on 19 August, and, after travelling several days and after many hair-breadth escapes, succeeded in reaching a place of safety. Hastening to St. Paul, Dr. Riggs offered his services to Governor Ramsey, of Minnesota, who commissioned him chaplain of the military expedition that was sent out to protect the frontier and punish the hostile Indians. After the campaign closed, Dr. Riggs employed his summers in visiting mission stations, and his winters in completing the translation of the Bible into the Dakota language, which was published before his death. Nearly fifty books, consisting of translations and original writings in connection with Dakota history, customs and language, represent the literary work of his lifetime. He received the degree of D. D. from Beloit college in 1873 and that of LL.D. from Jefferson. He also wrote "The Dakota First Reading-Book," with Gideon H. Pond (Cincinnati, 1839); " Wowapi Mitawi, Tamakece Kagu: My Own Book" (Boston, 1842); "Dakota Tawoonspe, or Dakota Lessons" (Louisville, 1850) ; and "Dakota Vocabulary" (New York, 1852); and edited "A Grammar and Dictionary of the Dakota Language, collected by the Members of the Dakota Mission" (Washington, 1852, being vol. iv. of "Smithsonian Contributions ; revised ed., 1883) ; "Tahkoo Wakan, or the Gospel among the Dakotas" (1869) ; " The Bible in Dakota," with Dr. J. S. Williamson" (1879); and "Forty Years among the Sioux" (1880). He also edited, with Reverend J. P. Williamson, "Hymns in the Dakota Language" (New York, 1869).

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