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Cornelius Kuipers (1898-1989) | Heritage Hall, Hekman Library

Name: Cornelius Kuipers (1898-1989)

Historical Note:

Cornelius Kuipers’ name has become synonymous with missionary to Indians.  Since 1927, his ministry as lay-missionary and later as ordained minister has been among the Zuni and Navajo Indians of the Southwest. Before his ordination, he served at Zuni as principal and acting missionary. Ordination (according to Church Order Article 8, which provides for ordination under special circumstances) took place September 17, 1950, in the Peoria Christian Reformed Church.

During his ministry in Zuni, Cornelius Kuipers studied and wrote four books on Zuni culture. He earned a master’s degree in psychology from the University of New Mexico.

When he moved to Brigham Young City, his work among Native Americans continued but it now involved Navajos, especially Navajo students. The Friendship Letters in the collection are the products of this period.

Cornelius married Lois Nelson; they had four children. Lois died in 1945. In 1947, he married Martha Vos who had served two terms as a teacher in the Zuni Mission School. One daughter was added to the Cornelius Kuiper family.

After retirement, Kuipers continued to fill Indian assignments. He lived in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1985.

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