Whiteshield, Harvey (Heskovetseso) (1860-1941)

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Harvey (Heskovetseo) Whiteshield was an early mission worker in the General Conference Mennonite mission to the Southern Cheyenne people in what is now Oklahoma. His Cheyenne name was Heskovetseso (Little Porcupine).

Educated in English at the Carlisle Institute in Pennsylvania, he collaborated with missionary Rodolphe Petter on the initial linguistic work committing the Cheyenne language to writing. By 1894 Whiteshield was teaching a Cheyenne reading class along with Petter. In 1904 Whiteshield's translation of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and some Bible portions, edited by Rodolphe Petter and Bertha Kinsinger [Vetter], were published.

Whiteshield also served as a paid mission worker ("native helper," lay evangelists) in the Oklahoma Indigenous churches beginning in 1892 in the Cantonment area. By the 1930s, Whiteshield and John Heap of Birds were promoting hymns with traditional Cheyenne music as well as Cheyenne words. This was the first major effort to incorporate Cheyenne culture into the Christian community. Until then, Cheyenne Mennonite churches had been singing Cheyenne translations of English or German hymns. In the 1970s, some of these Cheyenne spiritual songs were recorded and given musical notation by David Graber. One song composed by Whiteshield was included in Graber’s book.

In his theology as well as his music, Whiteshield also attempted to build bridges between the biblical story and Cheyenne culture. At a native helpers’ conference in 1930, he made a presentation on the meaning of the blood in the atonement, comparing its significance in Jewish, Christian, and traditional Indian religions.

See also Hymnology.


Barrett, Lois. The Vision and the Reality: The Story of Home Missions in the General Conference Mennonite Church. Newton, KS: Faith and Life, 1983: 25, 30-31, 60, 70.

Graber, David, ed. Tsese-Ma’ Heone-Nemeototse (Cheyenne Spiritual Songs). Newton, KS, 1982.

Missionary News and Notes, 5, no. 4 (December 1930): 3.

Petter, Rodolphe. “Some Reminiscences of Past Years in My Mission Service among the Cheyenne." The Mennonite 51, no. 44 (10 November 1936): 3.

Whiteshield, Harvey translator, with Rodolphe Petter and Bertha Kinsinger. Pilgrim’s Progress. Berne, IN: Witness Print, 1904.

Author(s) Lois Barrett
Date Published 1989

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MLA style

Barrett, Lois. "Whiteshield, Harvey (Heskovetseso) (1860-1941)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 21 May 2024. https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Whiteshield,_Harvey_(Heskovetseso)_(1860-1941)&oldid=174613.

APA style

Barrett, Lois. (1989). Whiteshield, Harvey (Heskovetseso) (1860-1941). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 21 May 2024, from https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Whiteshield,_Harvey_(Heskovetseso)_(1860-1941)&oldid=174613.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 929-930. All rights reserved.

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