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Aunt Fanny, a 100-year old Hoopa Indian woman, accepted Christ in about 1920 when a Mexican-American Pentecostal evangelist, A. C. Valdez, visited the Hoopa Indian Reservation in northern California. She was among the earliest Native American Pentecostals, and was almost certainly the oldest.
Aunt Fanny had long been revered in Native American circles. Born in about 1820, she recounted the sacred stories of her ancestors. She herself had lived longer than most everyone else. She remembered, as a girl, seeing the first white men come to her small village. She initially thought they were creatures sent from the Thunder Sky by the Great Spirit. Afterward, she witnessed white soldiers massacre many Native Americans in her village. She survived the massacre and forgave the white men who killed her people.
Sometime later, Aunt Fanny’s husband was hunting with a white man and saved him from being killed by a bear. He shot the bear through its heart with a flint-pointed arrow. The man, grateful for his life, gave a gun to Aunt Fanny’s husband. The gun made him the envy of others in the tribe. Aunt Fanny also learned to chew and smoke “pedro” tobacco from the white men. She became an addict.
When Aunt Fanny accepted Christ at her advanced age, others in the tribe took notice. Before her conversion, she was badly stooped over and was partly paralyzed in her mouth and an arm. After she accepted Christ, she was healed and could stand straight and would regularly walk 8 to 10 miles each day. She received widespread attention in the secular press because of her age. Numerous articles about Aunt Fanny appeared in newspapers across the United States throughout the 1920s. She shared her Christian testimony wherever she went, according to these press reports.
According to a lengthy 1925 article in the Times Standard newspaper published in Eureka, California, Aunt Fanny walked between five and eight miles to attend services at the Hoopa Pentecostal mission. The mission (now known as Hoopa Assembly of God) affiliated with the Assemblies of God in 1927. The article also noted that Aunt Fanny was able to overcome her tobacco addiction shortly after converting to Christ. The article reported: “Aunt Fanny . . . believes devoutly in healing, and attributes the fact that she is now able to stand straighter than in former years to Divine healing."
J. D. Wells, an early Assemblies of God missionary to Native Americans, shared Aunt Fanny’s story with readers of the February 8, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. He wrote, “Every one on the reservation welcomes Fanny for a stay at the home, as they feel that God will bless their household while she is present, and this seems to be the truth.”
Read the article, "A Veteran Enters the Lord’s Army," by J. D. Wells, on pages 10-11 of the February 8, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:
• "The Need of the Hour," by Flem Van Meter
• "Divine Healing," by J. N. Hoover
And many more!
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.