This Chapel is named for Saint David Pendleton “Oakerhater,” a Cheyenne warrior who in 1875, was taken prisoner by the U.S. Army, and sent to a military prison in St. Augustine, Florida. While in prison, he became a follower of the way of Jesus and was baptized in 1878. He was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church and returned to his people near Watonga, Oklahoma in 1881. He told his people: “You all know me. You remember when I led you out to war, I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all he tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace.”
His ministry was well received and one of his first converts was the tribe’s chief, Whirlwind. Oakerhater helped his people through many painful years, often struggling against oppression from the government and apathy in the larger Church; yet, his faithfulness never wavered.
Even when he retired, he continued to serve as a Cheyenne peace chief and “holy man,” preaching and performing baptisms, marriages, and funerals, and training lay readers. He continued the work of pastoral care among his people until his death on August 31, 1931.
Oakerhater was a man of reconciliation. We hope to be a place and a people of reconciliation too, where the traditions of Oakerhater’s people are respected and honored.