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Oregon missions and travels over the Rocky Mountains, in 1845-46 Smet, Pierre-Jean de, 1801-1873 1847

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OREGON  MISSIONS.      it msm
uTid Travels over me
ml§4i 4fl»9  1
J U L 1 L i   1     u l
"Published by   RdwcLrd  I)u Jz tqajx
IN   1845-46.
Of the Society of Jesus.
From the distant solitudes of the Rocky Mountains,
in the midst of my missions among the Children of the
Forests, I had the honor of addressing to you most of
, the letters contained in this Volume. I may, therefore,
I feel, take the liberty of inscribing it to you, not only
as a token of veneration for the distinguished qualities
and eminent abilities which mark your character and
add lustre to your dignity, but, likewise, as a tribute of
personal friendship and esteem, with which I am allowed
to subscribe myself,
Your humble servant,
P. J. DE SMET, S. J.
New-York, April 19th, 1847.
The contents of the present volume, from the pen of
the celebrated Missionary of the Rocky Mountains, will
be found, by the reader, to be fraught with extraordinary
interest. The manners and customs of the North
American Indians—their traditions, their superstitions,
their docility in admitting the maxims of the gospel,
and the edifying lives of thousands who have received
the grace of baptism and instruction, are described with
a freshness of coloring, and an exactness of detail, that
will render them invaluable not only to our own times,
but, especially, to posterity. He travels through those
vast and unexplored deserts, not merely as a missionary, filled with the zeal which characterized the
apostles of the primitive Society to which he belongs,
but with the eye of a poet, and an imagination glowing
with a bright yet calm enthusiasm. Hence the exquisite descriptions of scenery, of incidents, of events;
descriptions which breathe the spirit of a mind imbued
with the loftiest conceptions of nature, and chastened
with the sacred influences of faith. XII.
The reverend author having, before his recent d^
parture for his native land, left the supervision of this
work to my care, I feel bound, in justice to his modesty,
to state, that the Introduction, taken from the Catholic
Almanac, is not from his pen: and he is not, therefore,
accountable for the epithets of praise (so eminently deserved, and yet so repugnant to his humility,) which,
through it, are occasionally coupled with his name.
The lithographic sketches that accompany this Volume, are copied from the original drawings of the
Reverend Father Point, S. J.; drawings of such exquisite perfection, that they would do honor to any
master : and the more admirable, from the circumstance
of their having been executed with the pen, in the midst
of the privations and difficulties of his remote and
arduous missions.
In conclusion, I cannot but express the pleasure,
instruction, and edification, I have derived from the
careful perusal of these beautiful letters: and I feel
convinced that they will prove, to all who read them,
a source of interest and delight which few volumes of
the same dimensions can open to the intellectual and
Christian reader. C. C. P.
New-York, August 1st, 1847.   OREGON MISSIONS.
The political discussion, which has been going
on for years between the British government
and that of the United States, in regard to the
boundary which defines their respective portions of the Oregon territory, has turned upon
this distant region a large share of public attention, and has won for it an interest which will
increase in proportion to the advances of civilization and commerce within its borders. But
it becomes an object of much deeper interest in
the eyes of the philanthropist and Christian,
when we look to the efforts which have been
made, and which are still continued, in order to
diffuse the blessings of religious truth among
its benighted inhabitants. To the Catholic,
especially, does this remote country present the
most pleasing scenes for contemplation, and by
this reason we have been induced to lay before
the reader, .a brief account of its discovery and
settlement, and of the missions undertaken for
the spiritual welfare of its inhabitants.
Oregon territory is that important part of
North America which extends from the 42d to
the 50th degree of N. latitude, and from the
Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It is
bounded on the north by the Russian possessions, and on the south by California; forming
a kind of parallelogram, about seven hundred
and fifty miles in length and five hundred in
breadth, and containing 375,000 square miles.
There appears no reason to doubt of the
Spaniards having been the first to visit this
country. The documents we possess, and the
tradition of the natives, concur to render this
opinion incontestible. According to them a
vessel made its appearance south of the Columbia river before 1792, and there is still living
among them a woman whose father was one of
the crew attached to the vessel, and whose
mother belonged to the tribe of the Kilamukes.
When we add to this that crucifixes have been OREGON     MISSIONS,
found in their hands transmitted to them from
their ancestors, that the island of Vancouver
still exhibits the ruins of colonial habitations,
that the strait which separates it from the
mainland bears the name of Juan Fuca, and
that tfee country itself is contiguous to California, where the Spanish missionaries had
penetrated nearly two hundred years before, we
cannot but look upon the Spaniards as the discoverers of Oregon.
After the voyage of Captain Cook in 1790, by
which it was ascertained that the sea along the
N. W. coast of America abounded in otters, this
region was visited by vessels from almost every
part of the world. The people of the United
States were not behind others in enterprise ; in
1792, Captain Gray sailed up an unknown river
of that country, to the distance of eighteen
miles, and the stream has since retained the
name of Columbia, from the ship which he commanded. In leaving the river, Captain Gray
passed the vessel of Captain Vancouver, who
also navigated the Columbia river about one
hundred miles, to the point which bears his
name. In 1793 the country was visited by Sir
Alexander McKenzie, after discovering the
river which retains his name.   In 1804, Messrs 18
Lewis and Clark were commissioned by the
United States to explore the sources of the
Columbia, and they descended the river as far
as Gray's Bay. A few years after, in 1810, Mr.
Astor fitted out two expeditions to Oregon, for
the purpose of securing the interest of the fur-
trade in those parts. The party that had embarked by water arrived first, and erected a fort
called Astoria, about nine miles from the mouth
of the Columbia. The company of the North-
West (English) also considered the fur-trade of
Oregon as well worthy of attention, and they
immediately despatched an agent by land for
the purpose of securing it; but he arrived at
Astoria several months after the first expeditions from the United States.
During the war of 1812, a British vessel
sailed to the Columbia, in order to take possses-
sion of Astoria and its treasure ; but the captain
was cruelly disappointed in discovering that the
place was already held by an agent of the
North-West Company, who had purchased it in
anticipation of the future war with the United
States. The Canadians who had settled there
under its original owners, were employed by
the new proprietors, and their numbers increase
ed in proportion as the Company extended its *-
operations. In this way the country was visited in every direction, and many of the Indian
tribes heard from them of the Catholic religion
and the worship of the true God. In 1821, the
North-West and Hudson Bay Companies united
their interests, and gave a new impulse to the
fur-trade. Mr. John McLaughlin, who went to
i| Oregon in 1824, was chiefly instrumental in
promoting the prosperity of the country. He
added to the business posts, and gave employment to a greater number of Canadians and
Iroquois. They commenced at the same time
the cultivation of wheat. One of the settlers
having undertaken, in 1829, to till the soil in the
valley of Willamette, his example was soon followed by others, and the colony became so
numerous that in 1834 an application was made
to Dr. Provencher, Vicar Apostolic of Hudson
Bay, to procure a clergyman for the service of
the people. The colonists, however, did not
succeed in obtaining a favorable answer to
their petition, until the following year, when
two clergymen were appointed for the mission;
but, owing to the arrival of a Methodist preacher and of an Episcopalian minister in Oregon,
the former in 1834, and the latter in 1837, the
departure of the Catholic clergymen was con- OREGON     MISSIONS,
siderably delayed. Rev. Mr. Demers went as
far as the Red River in 1837, and arrangements
having been made for himself and fellow-la*
borer to pass into Oregon the following year.
Rev. F. N. Blanchet left Canada at the appointed time, and joined his companion at Red Rivei\
whence they both started on the 10th of July,
and after a perilous journey of between four
and five thousand miles, and the loss of twelve
of their fellow-travellers in the rapids of Columbia River, they arrived at Port Vancouver, the
24th of November, of the same year. On their
route the two missionaries were treated with
the utmost courtesy by the traders whom they
met, and at Vancouver they were received with
every demonstration of respect by James Douglass, Esq., who commanded that post during the
absence of Mr. McLaughlin in England. On
seeing the missionaries at length among them,
the Canadians wept for joy, and the savages assembled from a distance of one hundred miles,
to behold the black gowns of whom so much had
been said.
Before we follow the ministers of God in
their apostolic labors, we shall allude as briefly
as possible to the aspect of the country, to the
difficulties and dangers it presents to the mis*- OREGON     MISSIONS.
.sionary, and to Uncommercial and agricultural
We shall observe, in the first place, that the
Columbia River stretches from its mouth about
290 miles to the east, as far as Fort Walla
Walla; it then takes a northerly direction 150
miles, to Fort Okanagan; thence it extends 170
miles easterly to Colville. Fort Vancouver, the
principal post in Oregon, is situated in 45° 36'
N. latitude, about one hundred miles from the
mouth of the Columbia, and on its western
bank, in ascending the river. The Willamette
is a tributary of the Columbia, falling into it
four miles below Vancouver on the opposite
side. Twenty miles up the stream is a cascade
of about twenty-five feet, and thirty miles fur-
there is a Canadian establishment, which in 1838
numbered twenty-six Catholic families, besides
the settlers from the United States. The residence of the Methodist minister was ten miles
higher up. The River Cowlitz falls into the
Columbia thirty miles below Vancouver, on the
same side. Forty-five miles from its mouth is
seen the establishment which bears its name.
Four Catholic families resided here on the
arrival of the missionaries.   From this place to 20 OREGON     MISSIONS.
Nesqualyat the southern extremity of Puget.
Sound, the distance is nearly seventy miles, and
it is equally far from the latter point to the
island of Whitby. Two days' journey further
north will bring you to the River Frazer, on
which Fort Langley is situated. This river
falls into Puget Sound or the Gulf of Georgia.
The mission of St. Mary's among the Flat-
heads is ten days' journey from Colville, towards the south-east, and about five hundred
miles from Vancouver. The most distant to
which Mr. Demers has penetrated as yet, is
Bear Lake in New Caledonia, seven hundred
miles from Vancouver. The reader may form
some idea of the almost insurmountable difficulties to be encountered by our two missionaries,
in visiting their various posts, so widely distant
from each other, especially in a country overrun
in every direction by lofty mountains. These
mountains generally extend from north to south.
From the Valley of Willamette are seen three
elevated peaks, which have the form of a cone,
and are covered with perpetual snow ; hence
called Snowy Mountains. One of them Mt. St.
Helena, stands opposite Cowlitz to the east, and
for some years past has been noted for its vol- OREGON     MISS IONS.
canic eruptions.* Besides the rivers we have
mentioned, there are several others, the principal of which are the Glamet, Umpqua, and the
Chikeeles. The Columbia is navigable as far
as the cascade, fifty-four miles above Vancouver.
The immense valleys in Oregon Territory,
covered with extensive and fertile prairies, follow the course of the mountains from north to
south, and are crossed in different directions by
rivulets bordered with trees. They easily yield
to the plough, and though the first crop is not
very abundant, the second is generally sufficient
to repay the labor of tillage. The soil is for
the most part fertile, particularly in the south.
Every kind of grain is successfully cultivated
near Cowlitz, Vancouver, in the Willamette
Valley, and further south. The same may be
said of the neighborhood of Fort Walla Walla,
Colville ; the mission of St. Mary's ; the mission
of the Sacred Heart, of St. Ignatius, and St.
Francis Borgia, among the Pend-d'oreilles; of
St. Francis Regis, in the valley to Colville; of
the Assumption and the Holy Heart of Mary,
* Mt. St. Helena was measured by Captain Wilkes, and was
made 9,550 feet. 22 OREGON     MISSIONS
among the S&alsi.   Other districts that are not
tillable, afford an excellent pasture for cattle.
As to the climate of Oregon, it is not so
severe as might be supposed from its elevated
latitude* The snow never falls to a greater
depth than three or fotir inches in the lower
portions of the territory, and seldom remains
long on the ground. When the snows, after
having accumulated on the mountains and their
vicinity in consequence of-extreme cold, begin to
melt, and the heavy rains supervene, the plains
around are covered with water, and sometimes
considerable damage is caused by the inunda*
tion. The rains commence in October, and
continue until March with little interruption.
The very cold weather lasts only for a few
weeks. In the month of June the Columbia
always overflows its banks, from the thaw
which takes place on the mountains, and every
four or five years its waters rise to an extraordinary height, and do much injury in the vicinity of Vancouver.
Until the year 1830, the Territory of Oregon
was thickly settled by numerous tribes of
Indians ; but at that period the country bordering on the Columbia was visited by a fatal
scourge which carried off nearly two-thirds of OREGON     MISSIONS
the inhabitants. It showed itself in the form of
an infectious fever, which threw the individual
into a state of tremor, and produced such a
burning heat throughout the body, that the
patient would sometimes cast himself into the
Water to obtain relief. The population of entire villages was cut off by this terrible pestilence. Other villages were burnt in order to
arrest the infection which would have arisen
from the pile of dead bodies that were left un-
buried. During this fearful visitation, which
attacked the colonists as well as the natives,
Dr. McLaughlin displayed the most heroic phi-
lanthrophy, in his laborious attention to the
sick and the dying. The Indians superstitiously
attributed this scourge to a quarrel between
some agents of the Hudson Bay Company and
an American captain, which led the latter to
throw a species of charm into the river by way
of revenge. The fever, however, made its appearance annually, though in a less malignant
form ; and the inhabitants have discovered both
its preventive and its remedy. The smallpox is
the principal disease that alarms the natives;
they are in continual dread of it, and imagining
that they have a short time to live, they no
longer build the large and convenient cabins to
♦ *JJ&tffi?.L^5s"
which they were formerly accustomed. ^Notwithstanding the ravages above-mentioned, the
population of Oregon amounts to nearly 110,Q00
souls, residing chiefly in the north. This part
of the country, fortunately, escaped the diseases
which decimated the inhabitants of Willamette
and the Columbia, and still rages from time to
time in the south.
The tribes of this territory differ much in
character arid personal appearance. The savages who frequent the coast, especially towards
the north, are of a much more barbarous and
ferocious temperament than those of the interior; nor are they less dissimilar in their
manners, customs, language, and external features. The tribes and languages are almost as
numerous as the localities. From twenty-five
to thirty different idioms have been distinguished among them, a circumstance which increases
in no small degree the labors of the missionary.
In the interior of the country, the natives are of
a mild and sociable disposition, though proud
and vindictive ; intelligent though inclined to
indolence. Their belief in the immortality of
the soul consists in admitting a future existence,
happy or unhappy, that is, a state of plenty or
want,  according to the merits or demerits of OREGON     MISSIONS.
every individual. The morals of this savage
race can scarcely be termed corrupt, considering their very limited means of " enlightenment."
They have distinct ideas of right and wrong,
and recognise many leading principles of the
natural law. Theft, adultery, homicide, and
lying, are condemned as criminal, and if polygamy is tolerated, it is not approved; it is principally confined to the chiefs, by way of maintaining peace with the neighboring nations.
Laxity of morals is far short of what might be
supposed inevitable, in their rude and uneducated state. Modesty, indeed, would require more ;
but its rules are for the most part respected.
But little intercourse is carried on among young
persons of different sex, and even in regard to
matrimonial unions, the engagement is arranged by the parents of the parties. When a man
of comfortable means takes to himself a wife,
he is obliged to compensate the parents of the
latter by considerable presents. But upon the
death of the woman, these presents may be reclaimed. If in consequence of harsh treatment
she puts an end [to her existence, the circumstance reflects disgrace upon the husband, who
is compelled, in this case, to propitiate her
parents by additional gifts. m
e  savages is
Most of the work among thes
performed by slaves, who are well treated, except in case of old age or other inability, when
they are left to perish of want. Besides those
who are born in this unhappy state, there are
others who become so, by the fortunes of war.
All prisoners are considered slaves by their
conquerors, though, in general, only their children experience this hard lot. Wars are sometimes engaged in for the express purpose of ac*
quiring slaves, which is considered a great
advantage among the savages. The white
population have little to fear from their attacks,
except on the northern coast, where life is far
from being safe, and where the natives, in some
cases anthropophagi, do not hesitate to feast
upon the flesh of their prisoners.
Throughout the whole country, the habitations of the Indians are rather huts than houses*
from fifteen to twenty-five feet long, proportion-
ably wide, and verging into a conical form.
Cross pieces of wood are suspended in the interior for the purpose of drying their salmon
and other articles of food. Fire is kindled on
the ground in the centre of the cabin, the smoke
escaping through the roof above. The dress of
the Indians is not more  recherche than their OREGON     MISSIONS
4V   I
dwellings. Formerly, they clothed themselves
very comfortably and neatly, with the furs
which they possessed, but since the trade in
skins has become so extensive, the natives of
Oregon are much worse provided for in this
respect, and the poor can scarcely protect themselves against the severity of the seasons. To
this circumstance, in part, is attributed the decrease of the population, which has been observed within a few years past. Hunting and
fishing are the resources on which the Indian
depends for subsistence. His principal food is
salmon, sturgeon, and other kinds of fish, with
the ducks, wild turkeys and hares, in which the
country abounds. The fruits of spontaneous
growth, and particularly the root of the cammas,
also afford them nourishment.
Among the aborigines of Oregon there is no
trace of any religious worship. They have a
belief which consists in certain obscure traditions ;# but no external forms of religion are
visible among them.    The juggler exercises his
* The Chinook and Kil'amuke tribes on the coast call their
most powerful god by the name of Ikani, and to him they
ascribe the creation of all things. The god who made the
Columbia river and the fish in it they call Italupus.—Exjpl.
Exp., vol. v., p. 119.
ss 26
profession, though it is almost universally done
in behalf of the sick, for the purpose of curing
them. If he fail in his attempt, he is suspected
of having used some evil influence, and is made
to pay the forfeit of his supposed offence.
Though nearly all these tribes, of whom we are
speaking, possess no particular form of worship,
they are naturally predisposed in favor of the
Christian religion, especially those who live in
the interior. We shall find the most ample evidence of this in the sequel of our narrative. §
At the period when the two Catholic missionaries arrived in Oregon territory, the Hudson
Bay Company possessed frojjp. ten to twelve
establishments for the fur-trade, in each of
which there was a certain number of Canadians professing our holy faith, and in addition
to these there were twenty-six Catholic families
at Willamette, and four at Cowlitz. It is easy
to imagine to how many dangers they had been
exposed of losing their faith, deprived as they
were* of religious instruction and of every external incentive to the practice of piety, and
surrounded by individuals who were not inactive in their efforts to withdraw them from
the fold of Catholicity.
The Methodist missionaries had already form- OREGON     MISSIONS.
ed two establishments, one in the Willamette,
where they had a school, and another about fifty
miles from the cascade. An Anglican minister,
who resided at Vancouver two years, left it before the arrival of the Catholic clergy. The
Presbyterians had a missionary post at Walla
Walla, and among the Nez-perc6s, and in 1839
they established a third station on the river
Spokane, a few days' journey south of Colville.
In 1840, the Rev. Mr. Lee brought with him
fellow-laborers for the vineyard, with their
wives and children, and a number of husbandmen and mechanics. It was a real colony.
The preachers stationed themselves at the most
important posts, as at Willamette Falls, the
Clatsops below fort George, and Nisqualy, and
thence visited the other settlements: they even
penetrated as far as Whitby. Nothing short of
the most arduous toil and constant vigilance on
the part of the Catholic clergymen, could have
withdrawn so many individuals from the danger
of spiritual seduction. Our two missionaries
were indefatigable in their exertions, almost
always journeying from one post to another, to
begin or to consolidate the good work they had
in view. 30
Vancouver was the first place that experienced the happy influence of their apostolical
zeal. Many of the settlers had lost sight of the
religious principles they had imbibed in their
youth, and their wives were either pagans in
belief, or, if baptized, but superficially acquainted with the nature of that holy rite. In this
state of things, which had given rise to many
disorders, the missionaries found it necessary to
spend several months at Vancouver, and to
labor with united energies in instructing the
people, baptizing children, performing marriages, and inspiring a greater respect for the
Christian virtues. With this view they remained at Vancouver until the month of January, 1839, when Mr. Blanchet visited the Canadians at Willamette. It would be difficult to
describe the joy which his arrival awakened
among them. They had already erected a
chapel seventy feet in length, which was dedicated by the missionary under the invocation of
St. Paul. His ministry at this place was attended with the most signal success. Men,
women and children, all seemed to appreciate
the presence of one who had come, as a messenger from Heaven, to diffuse among them the 1
consolations of religion. Before his departure,
Mr. Blanchet rehabilitated a good number of
marriages, and baptized seventy-four persons.
In April he started for Cowlitz, where he remained until the latter end of June. Here also
his efforts were most successful. He had the
happiness of instructing twelve savages of
Puget sound, who had come from a distance of
nearly one hundred miles in order to see and
hear him. It was on this occasion he conceived
the idea of the Catholic ladder, a form of instruction which represents on paper the various
truths and mysteries of religion in their chronological order, and which has proved vastly
beneficial in imparting catechetical instruction
among the natives of Oregon. These twelve
Indians having remained at Cowlitz long enough
to acquire a knowledge of the principal mysteries of our faith, and to understand the use of
the ladder which Mr. Blanchet gave them, set
aboutinstructing their tribe as soon as they returned home, and not without considerable success ; for Mr. Blanchet, the following year, met,
in the vicinity of Whitby island, with several
Indians who had never seen a priest, and yet
were acquainted with the sign of the cross, and
knew several pious canticles.
—* 32
While Mr. Blanchet was at Cowlitz,# his fellow-laborer visited Nisqualy, where he found
the savages in the best dispositions. Having
but a short time, however, to pass among them,
he merely laid the foundation of a more important mission, and returned to Vancouver by
the month of June,—the time when the agents
from New Caledonia, Upper Columbia, and
other different posts assemble there to deposite
their furs. After spending a month at Vancouver, availing himself of the favorable opportunity for instruction which the concourse of
visiters afforded, he set out for Upper Columbia,
where he visited Walla Walla, Okanagan and
Colville, baptizing all the children that were
brought to him in the course of his journey.
He spent three months in this excursion, during
which Mr. Blanchet attended to the wants of
the faithful  at  Vancouver,   Willamette,   and
* Speaking of the farm belonging to the Hudson Bay Company at Cowlitz, Capt. Wilkes says: j The grounds appear well
prepared, and were covered with a luxuriant crop of wheat,
(May, 1841). At the farther end of the prairie was to be seen
a settlement, with its orchards, &c., and between the trees, the
chapel and parsonage of the Catholic mission gave an air of
civilization to the whole. The degree of progress resembles that
of a settlement of several years' standing in our western states,"
&c.—Explor. Exped., vol. iv., p. 315. OREGON     MISSIONS.
Cowlitz. Though these stations afforded ample
occupation for a missionary, Mr. B. paid another
visit to Nisqualy, where he was again met by a
considerable number of savages from Puget
sound, who hastened to Nisqualy as soon as
they heard of his arrival, and listened with joy
and profit to the words of life.
In October the two missionaries met at Vancouver, which was their place of residence
through the courtesy of James Douglas, Esq.,
and on the 10th of the same month they again
separated, Mr. Blanchet starting for Willamette,
and Mr. Demers for Cowlitz. Their object was
to spend the winter months at these points in
the further instruction of their flocks. During
the first year they baptized three hundred and
nine persons. The following spring Mr. Demers
visited the Chinouks, a tribe living below fort
George. From the Chinouks he repaired to
Vancouver, to meet the concourse of traders
who assemble there in the month of June, after
which he set out for his stations at Walla Walla,
Okanagan and Colville, as he had done the preceding year. About this time Father De Smet,
S. J., was sent on a visit by his superior to the
Flathead Indians, who had implored this favor
by repeated deputations from their country to 34
the bishop of St. Louis. He found, to his great
surprise, that Oregon already possessed two
Catholic missionaries; he wrote to Mr. Demers,
informing him that he would return to St.
Louis, according to the order of his superiors,
to procure further aid for the promising missions of the Rocky Mountains.
Mr. Blanchet having visited the people at
Nisqualy, was soon called away by a special
embassy from the Indians of Puget sound, who
requested his ministry. It was on this occasion
at Whitby that he met with the savages already
acquainted with certain practices of the Catholic church, though they had never seen a missionary.* His labors among the Indians at this
place were most consoling. A large cross was
erected as a rallying-point, many children were
* Of the Catholic mission at Penn's cove, between WThitby's
Island and the main, Mr. Wilkes says: | It (the island) is in
possession of the Sacket tribe, who have here a permanent settlement, consisting of large and well-built lodges of timber and
planks. . . This whole tribe are Catholics, and have much
affection and reverence for their instructors." After speaking of
the good feeling promoted among the Indians by the Catholic
clergymen, he continues: | Besides inculcating good morals and
peace, the priests are inducing the Indians to cultivate the soil,
and there was an enclosure of some three or four acres, in which
potatoes and beans were growing." OREGON     MISSIONS.
baptized, and two tribes, who were at war with
each other, were reconciled. The Catholic ladder was passed from one nation to another, and
all prayed to be instructed still more fully in
the truths of salvation. After baptizing one
hundred and four persons, the missionaries returned to Vancouver, and thence repaired to
their respective stations during the winter season. A wide field was here opened to their
zeal, not only among the catechumens who
solicited baptism, but among the settlers, who
were anxious to repair by their fervor the
neglect of former years. In the summer of
1840 the Columbia was visited by Captain
Belcher, from England, for the purpose of sur-
veying the river.
In the spring of 1841, Mr. Demers, after
giving the usual mission at Vancouver, went to
Nisqualy, and with the aid of Indian guides
penetrated as far as Fort Langley on the river
Fraser. Here he was surrounded by an immense number of savages, to whom he announced without delay the tidings of salvation.
His appeal was not in vain, all permitting their
children to be baptized, and soliciting the residence of a priest among them. Seven hundred
children received, on this occasion, the sacra- 36 OREGON     MISSIONS.
ment of regeneration. While Mr. Demers was
thus occupied in gathering the first fruits of the
mission at Puget sound, Mr. Blanchet was
equally engaged at Willamette, Vancouver,
Cowlitz and the Cascades. At the last mentioned place several children were baptized,
and a number of adults instructed in the faith.
During the year 1841, Oregon Territory was
visited by two expeditions, one from England
under Sir George Simpson, and the other from
the U. States, under the command of Captain
* " We stopped for a few hours at the Catholic mission," says
Capt. Wilkes, "to call upon the Rev. Mr. Bachelet (Blanchet),
to whom I had a note of introduction from Dr. McLaughlin ; he
received me with great kindness. Mr. B. is here settled among
his flock, and is doing great good to the settlers in ministering to
their temporal as well as spiritual wants. . . . Mr. Drayton,
Michael, and myself, dined with Mr. B. on oatmeal porridge,
venison, strawberries and cream. His hospitality was tendered
with good and kind feelings, and with a gentlemanly deportment
that spoke much in his favor, and made us regret to leave his
company so soon." Mr. Wilkes represents the missions here and
the farms of the Canadians, in a thriving state. He has incorrectly given the name Bachelet to Mr. Blanchet, superior of the
Oregon mission, who was recently consecrated vicar-apostolic of
that country.—Explor. Exp., vol. 4, p. 350.
Of the Methodist mission at Willamette, Mr. Wilkes says *
" About all the premises of this mission there was an evident OREGON     MISSIONS.
Faithful to his word, Father De Smet returned among the Flatheads in the autumn of the
same year, accompanied by the Rev. Fathers
Point and Mengarini, and three lay brothers.
The mission of St. Mary's was at once established, and the most abundant harvest collected,
(see Indian sketches). About the same time
Messrs. Blanchet and Demers retired to their
usual winter stations, where they had the pleasure of learning that two other missionaries,
Messrs. John B. Bolduc and Ant. Langlois had
want of the attention required to keep things in repair, and an
absence of neatness that I regretted much to witness. We had
the expectation of getting a sight of the Indians on whom they
were inculcating good habits, and teaching the word of God: but
with the exception of four Indian servants, we saw none since
leaving the Catholic mission."—Ibid. p. 351, 2. At this latter
mission he numbers four or five hundred natives. The Methodists had a school of twenty pupils at some distance.
Near Port Orchard the chapel of the Catholic mission is 172
feet long by 72 wide. " Many of the natives," says Mr. Wilkes,
" are capable of saying their prayers and telling their beads, and
some were met with who could sing some Catholic hymns in
their own language."
Of the Protestant missions at Clatsop, Capt. Wilkes observes :
" There appeared to me to be little opportunity for exercising
their ministerial calling, though I understood afterwards that at
particular seasons a number of Indians collectea1 to hear them."
-Vol. iv., p. 322.
3 38
set out from Canada to join them in their labor
of love. During the winter, Mr. Blanchet narrowly escaped a watery grave, in ascending the
river Willamette on a visit to his friend Mr.
Demers. In the spring of 1842, Father De
Smet unexpectedly made his appearance at
Vancouver, after a providential escape from
shipwreck, in descending the river Columbia.
Fortunately he had left the barge in which his
fellow-travellers and his baggage were; and
by this means he was saved, while his effects
and five of his companions were swallowed up
in the rapids.
The three missionaries met together, first at
Willamette, and then at Vancouver, and formed
their plans for a concert of action in the great
work of evangelizing the natives of Oregon.
The Indians of New Caledonia had repeatedly
asked for Catholic missionaries, and Mr. Demers
started for that country. Having embarked in
a boat of the Hudson Bay Company, he reached
his destination after a travel of two months.
The journey, though fatiguing, was most consoling in its results. He was received by the
savages with open arms, and it is impossible to
describe the ardor with which they drank in
the words of heavenly life as they fell from his *yi
lips. The Indians in this region appear to be
no less predisposed to receive the truths of
Christianity than the Flatheads, who have
evinced a peculiar propensity to virtue.
While Mr. Demers was so successfully occupied   among  the   tribes of  New  Caledonia,
Father De Smet was bending his steps back to
St. Louis, to procure additional laborers for the
mission.   Two clergymen, the Rev. Fathers De
Vos and Hoeken, with three lay brothers, were
immediately sent out, but they did not reach
their destination until the autumn of 1843.   Mr.
De Smet was at the same time despatched to
Europe, to make further provision for the conversion and civilization of Oregon.   In this way
Mr. Blanchet found himself charged with the
care of all the stations, except those among the
Flatheads, and upper Indians of the Columbia,
and was continually moving about to meet the
wants of  the various missions.   Fortunately
Messrs. Langlois and Bolduc, after a journey of
one year since their departure from Canada,
arrived at Willamette on* the 16th of September.   They at once set themselves to work, Mr.
Langlois remaining at Willamette during the,
winter season, while Mr. Blanchet was at Van- 40
couver, and Mr. Bolduc at  Cowlitz.    In the
spring of 1843, Mr. Demers returned from New
Caledonia, much exhausted by the labors he had
undergone, and the privations he had suffered
during his journey; but these causes were not
capable  of  diminishing his  missionary ardor.
His fellow-laborers   and himself found  ample
occupation, during the summer months, at the
three principal stations, and in fact such was
the call upon their services at these posts, and
in the vicinity, in consequence of the increasing
numbers of their flock, that they were unable
to  visit  the  more   distant   points,  and   were
obliged to defer to a later period the execution
of their design, for some time contemplated, of
forming a mission at Whitby.
In addition to his numerous cares, Mr. Blanchet undertook the erection of an academy at
Willamette, for which funds had been given by
a Mr. Joseph Laroque of Paris, and which is
called St.  Joseph's College, in honor of that
A teacher of French, and another of the
English language, were employed in the institution, which was opened in the month of October,
and numbered from the very commencement OREGON     MISSIONS.
twenty-eight boarders. Rev. Mr. Langlois,
who attended to the Willamette mission, also
superintended the Academy.
About a year after, a public examination of
the students was held, and the inhabitants who
attended, appeared much gratified at the progress made by the pupils in the study of French
and English, in writing, arithmetic, and other
In the spring of 1844, Mr. Blanchet withdrew
Mr. Demers from Cowlitz and placed him at
the Falls or Oregon City, an important post,
which contained already sixty houses. The
parsonage where Mr. Demers resided could not
be rented at less than ten dollars a month. Mr*
Bolduc remained at Cowlitz, and Mr. Blanchet
went from one station to another, to ascertain and
provide for the wants of the different localities.
During the vacation of the college Mr. Blanchet remained at Willamette, to replace Mr.
Langlois, who had set out upon a visit to the
Jesuit fathers, among the Flatheads, with a
view to obtain some assistance for his school.
Mr. Demers was at this time at Vancouver.
The missionaries, not aware of Mr. De Smet's
voyage to Europe, had been long and anxiously
awaiting his arrival in Oregon.    About fifteen *P^4V
months had elapsed since his departure for the
east, and the vessel of the Hudson Bay Company, which had reached Oregon in the spring,
brought no intelligence respecting his movements. Under these circumstances, Mr. Blanchet and his companions began to be alarmed,
when, in the midst of their apprehensions, the
indefatible Jesuit made his appearance suddenly at Vancouver, about the beginning of August.
On the 9th of January, he had left Belgium,
with four priests. Rev. Fathers Accolti, Nobili,
Ravalli, and Vercruysse and Huybrechts a lay
brother, and six religious ladies of Notre Dame
of Namur, and after doubling Cape Horn the
vessel touched at Valparaiso and Lima, for the
purpose of obtaining some information regarding the entrance of the Columbia River and to
leave a part of a cargo. Not having received
a satisfactory answer to their inquiries, they set
out again for the north, and continued their
course until they found themselves in latitude
46° 19', and longitude 123° 54'. Here the captain passed three days in discovering the mouth
of the river, which was at length made known to
him by the sight of a vessel going out. Though
it was growing dark, he immediately despatched
an officer towards the sail to make inquiries con- 1
cerning the mode of entering the Columbia; but
he did not return with the required information, and the captain, being thrown upon his
own resources, at once made preparations for
entering the river, and proceeded from east to
west through a channel altogether unknown to
him. It was the 31st of July, feast of St.
Ignatius of Loyola. As he advanced, by the
soundings, he found that the vessel was in very
shallow water, having only two and a half feet
under her keel, although at a considerable distance from the mainland. At this moment, the
safety of the vessel and crew seemed hopeless;
but while shipwreck was staring them in the
face, they fell unexpectedly into deeper soundings ; the bar-was crossed, and two hours after,
the vessel anchored off Fort George or Astoria.*
* On the bar of the Columbia River occurred the wreck of the
Peacock, one of the vessels attached to the Exploring Expedition.
A thrilling account of this event is given in Capt. Wilkes* Narrative. Of the bar itself he says: " Mere description can give
little idea of the terrors of the bar of the Columbia ; all who have
seen it have spoken of the wildness of the scene, and the incessant roar of the waters, representing it as one of the most fearful
sights that can possibly meet the eye of the sailor. The difficulty
of its channel, the distance of the leading sailing marks, their uncertainty to one unacquainted with them, the want of .knowledge
of the strength and direction of the currents, with the necessity of
~=*= 44
Mr. Blanchet and the people of Willamette no
sooner heard of Mr. De Smet's arrival at Van
couver than they hastened to meet him. The
good father and the colony that accompanied
him, were received with every demonstration of
civility by Dr. McLaughlin and Mr. Douglas,
who also tendered one of the company's boats
to convey the missionary band to Willamette.
Their journey to this place was a real triumph,
such was the joy and excitement produced
among the inhabitants by the accession of these
new laborers to the vineyard. The sisters Notre
Dame soon occupied the building which had
been undertaken for their purposes, and in the
month of December it was opened as a boarding academy for girls. Father De Smet, about
the same time, directed his course towards the
Flatheads, Father Devos having come to supply
his place in the south. The labors of the
Jesuits among the tribes of the north have been
crowned with the most abundant success. In
1842, a new mission, the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
was founded about eight days' journey south of
St.  Mary's.    In addition to the increased re-
approaching close to unseen dangers, the transition from clear to
turbid water, all cause doubt and mistrust. Under such feelings,
I must confess that I felt myself laboring."—Vol. iv., p. 293. OREGON     MISSIONS.
sources which the mission received in 1844, we
must mention also the arrival of two other
Jesuit Fathers and one lay brother, who went
to Oregon, by the way of the Rocky Mountains.
Such was the state of the country, and such
the progress of religion among the natives and *
colonists, when Mr. Blanchet received letters
from Canada in November last, informing him
that, upon the application of the Fifth Provincial
Council of Baltimore, he had been appointed
Vicar Apostolic of Oregon Territory, and that
bulls to that effect, dated the 1st December, 1843,
had been despatched to him. He was immediately solicited by his fellow-laborers to accept
the charge, and at first determined to go to California for the ceremony of consecration. But
desirous of obtaining a further reinforcement for
his extensive mission, he concluded to visit
Europe. Having appointed Rev. Mr. Demers
his Vicar General and administrator of the
Vicariate during his absence, he left Vancouver
towards the end of November, arrived on the
22d of May at London, and thence embarking
for this country the 4th of June, in the Cunard
line of steamers, he reached Canada on the
24th of the same month, after a journey of more
than 22,000 miles.   Mr. Blanchet recently re-
ceived the episcopal consecration in Montreal,
and has gone to Europe on business connected
with his mission. Six thousand savages
brought within the fold of the Christian church,
form, indeed, but a small number among the
•100,000 who inhabit that immense region ; but
this success, achieved in a few years, by a missionary force so limited, and compelled to grapple with so many difficulties, is a bright and
consoling evidence of what can and will be
accomplished by those who have been commissioned to I go and teach all nations."
On the 1st of December, 1843, his Holiness,
Gregory XVI, erected Oregon Territory into an
Apostolic Vicariate, and the Rev. Francis N.
Blanchet, was appointed to the episcopal charge
of this extensive mission. His consecration
took place in Montreal, C. E., about the middle
of the year 1844. He immediately repaired to
Europe, with a view to increase the resources
of his mission, and to devise means for promoting the interests of religion in Oregon. At
his request, and by a recent act of the Holy
See, the Territory of Oregon, from the 42d to
the 54th degree of N. latitude, has been divided
into eight diocesses, viz: Oregon City, Nes-
qualy, Vancouver's Island, and Princess Char- OREGON     MISSIONS.
lotte, on the coast, and Walla Walla, Fort Hall,
Colville, and New Caledonia, in the interior.
These diocesses form an ecclesiastical province,
of which Oregon City is the Metropolitan See.
For the present, only three bishops are appointed for the province, viz : those of. Oregon City,
Walla Walla, and Vancouver's Island, who will
have a provisional jurisdiction over the other
diocesses. The episcopal districts of Vancouver's Island, Princess Charlotte, and New Caledonia, are not included within the territory belonging to the United States. The Rt. Rev.
Modest Demers, one of the missionaries that
visited Oregon in 1838, has been charged with
the See of Vancouver's Island, and the administration of the two other districts in the British,
portion of the territory. The region ^yithin the
limits of the United States embraces the five,
other diocesses above-mentioned,
This district is under the jurisdiction of th«*
Rt. Rev. F. N. Blanchet, who has als^ ^e ac^
ministration of Nesqualy,
This diocess is under the cha^e rf tlie Rt 48
Rev. Magloire Blanchet, who was consecrated
in Montreal, on the 27th of September, 1846.
He has also the present administration of Fort
Hall and Colville.
The following clergymen are engaged in the
missions of Oregon:—
Jl       Rev. Accolti, Michael,
De Smet, Peter J.,
De Vos, Peter,
Hoecken, Adrian.
Toset, Joseph,
Mengarini, Gregory,
Nobili, John,
Point", Nicholas,
Ravalli, Anthony,
Vercruysse, Aloysius,
Langlois, Anthony,
Bolduc, John Baptist,
Who are all, with the exception of the last
two, members of the Society of Jesus.
Archbishop Blanchet lately embarked from
Europe, on his way to Oregon, with ten secular
priests and two regulars, three lay brothers of
the Society of Jesus, and seven female religious, for the wants of the mission. The total
number of clergymen is twenty-six.
Our information is not sufficiently detailed, to
allow us to present the religious statistics of the
different diocesses into which Oregon has been
divided. We can onlv state in general, that
since the year 1845, several new stations have
been formed, new churches erected, and a
large number of the aborigines of various tribes
converted to the true faith.
The state of religion is as follows: there are
eighteen chapels, viz.: five in the Willamette
Valley; St. Paul's Cathedral; St. Mary's at the
Convent of the Sisters; St. Francis Xaverius'
Chajfel; the new church in the Prairie; St.
John's Church in Oregon City; one at Vancouver ; one at Cowlitz; one at Whitby;
four in New Caledonia, to wit: at Stuart's
Lake, at Fort Alexandria, at the Rapids, and
at the Upper Lake ; St. Mary's Church among
the Flatheads; the Church of the Sacred Heart
among the Pointed-Hearts; the Church of St.
Ignatius among the Pend-d'oreilles of the Bay;
the Chapel of St. Paul among the Kettle-Fall
Tribe near Colville. The following are stations
of 1846, where chapels are to be erected, to wit:
St. Francis Borgia among the Upper Kalispels ;
St. Francis Regis in Colville Valley; St. Peter's
at the great Lakes of the Columbia; the As-
tii 50
sumption among the Flatbow Indians ; the Holy
Heart of Mary among the Koetenais.
jgThe institutions that have been commenced
in Oregon, consist: 1st, of the school of St.
Mary's among the Flatheads; 2d, of a college
at St. Paul's, Willamette; and 3d, of an academy for girls at the same place, under the
charge of six sisters of Notre Dame. Other
establishments are soon to be commenced.
The total number of Indians in the territory
is about 110,000, of whom upwards of 6,000
have been converted to the true faith. The
number of Catholics among the Canadians and
settlers amounts to about 1,500. OREGON     MISSIONS.
No. I.
To Mr. Cayenne.
■ ••     ■ •   •       Cowlitz, 15th Feb., 1844.
Sir,—Nearly a year has elapsed since I had
the satisfaction of addressing you. During that
period, I have made many new excursions, of
which I now intend giving you an account.
From the observations made by the first
English navigators who visited the coasts of
America towards the north of the Columbia
River, it appears that the territory bearing the
same name, was formerly discovered and peopled by Spaniards. Even at the present day,
we find ruins of birch edifices, constructed for
the purpose of drawing the savage nations to
the knowledge of the gospel. Among the
natives, relics have been found attesting this
fact; a certain tribe has possessed for ages a
brazen crucifix, bearing the appearance of great
antiquity, when, how, and by whom it was
brought thither, none can tell.   It is probable it
II 52
may have been introduced at that period, when
the Spaniards seized on California, and formed
a settlement on Vancouver's Island, separated
from Terra Firma by the Strait of Juan de
Fuca. Gray discovered the Columbia River;
Vancouver ascended it to the point whereon is
built the fort that bears his name, and took
possession of the surrounding country.
The vast territory extending between the
Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean is divided into two zones, differing in their climate,
soil and productions. The line of separation
runs parallel to the coasts of the South Sea,
from which it is distant about 200 miles. Less
woody than the regions of the West, the eastern
part rises into table-land, which forms the basis
of the Mounts Hood, St. Helena, Reignier, and
Baker. The summits of these mountains rise
to the height of 15 or 16,000 feet, and are
crowned with eternal snow. Last year, Mounts
St. Helena and Baker became volcanoes. The
latter, within the last few months, has undergone considerable changes on the side where
the crater was formed.
In the oriental zone the climate is dry and
salubrious; in winter as well as summer, rain
is very rare.    Snow never covers the  earth OREGON     MISSIONS.
more than a foot deep ; no marshy land is to be
found; and the air being neither foggy nor
misty eVery species of fever is totally unknown.
In the inferior part, from October to March, the
rains are continual; thick clouds envelope the
atmosphere, and hide the sun for entire weeks.
When the vapours no longer obscure the air, a
mild and vivifying heat is diffused around.
This winter has been quite remarkable by the
small quantity of rain. During the greater part
of February and the beginning of March, the
weather was delightful, we could have imagined ourselves in May. The grass was verdant
in the meadows, and strawberries were in full
In March, rain seldom falls; a glowing sun
reanimates nature, which soon appears in her
gayest attire. Wheat sown in autumn surpasses in April, that which we are accustomed
to behold in Canada in the month of June.
During summer the weather is clear and
sultry, sometimes, however, thick clouds gather
around, and appear as if they would burst in
torrents over our heads, but they are soon dissipated without thunder, and without shedding on
the earth a drop of that moisture which she
seems to require to perfect her harvest. 54
In June, the rivers, swollen by the melted
snow, inundate the plains, and increase the
stagnant water formed by the rains of winter.
The vapors arising from the influence of a^
meridian sun, cause fever and ague, which are
more frequent when the rivers overflow their
banks. This malady reigns throughout the
country from the end of August to the middle
of October, and persons once attacked generally
suffer from its baneful effects for several years;
and as I have not escaped this year, I have
every reason to dread a recurrence in the
future. You could scarcely credit the relation
of the terrible ravages which this epidemic
causes among the numerous tribes inhabiting
the shores of the Columbia. Entire camps
have been swept away by this fatal scourge.
When the savages find themselves attacked by
it, they hasten to plunge into the cold rivers,
and die immediately. The whites with proper
attention baffle the distemper.
I informed you last year, that I intended opening a mission at Puget Sound; and hoped, if
possible, to reach Vancouver's Island ; this project has been executed, and I will now give
you a few details.
To attain this^object, I thought it better not OREGON     MISSIONS.
to go alone on the island; no priest had as yet
trodden the soil, and the savages were  little
familiarized with   the whites.     Happily, the
Hon. Hudson Bay Company was about constructing a fort at the southern extremity of the
island.    Mr. Douglas, the director of this expedition, generously invited me to take my passage on board his vessel.    Most willingly did I
accept the kind offer, and quitted Cowlitz 7th of
March, for Shwally.    The Steamboat Beaver
awaited us some days; for, having several preparations to make, we did not get on board before
the morning of the 13th.    After having pursued
our course during the day, towards evening we
cast anchor in still water, at a place named
Pointe Perdrix, formed by a projection of the
Isle   Whitby.     Fishing  lines were soon prepared, and we had the satisfaction of procuring
an  excellent  dinner  for the  next  day.     We
caught a quantity of beautiful fish, not unlike
the cod of Canada, some of them were four feet
in length.
The waters of Puget Bay are richly stocked;
salmon abound, and form one of the principal
resources of the natives. In July, August and
September, more are taken than can be consumed.    A small fish, peculiar to the north- &H
western coast is here found; it comes up the
rivers in spring, and contains such a quantity of
oil, that when dried and lit by the tail it burns
like a candle. From this fish the savages extract excellent oil, which they use for seasoning
their food. Early on the 14th we raised anchor
and directed our course towards Juan de Fuca
Strait. We landed, and after having visited a
small camp of savages, belonging to the Tribe
of Klalanes, we bore away for the southern
point of Vancouver's Island, whither we arrived
about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. At first, only
two canoes were perceived; but, after a discharge of cannon, we saw the natives issuing
from their haunts and surrounding the steamboat. Next morning, the pirogues (Indian
boats) came from every side. I went on shore
with the commander of the expedition and the
captain of the vessel ; having received unequivocal proofs of the good-will of the Indians, I
visited their village situated six miles from the
port, at the extremity of the bay.
Like the surrounding tribes, this one possessed a little fortress, formed by stakes enclosing
about 150 square feet. The inhabitants endeavor to secure themselves in this manner
from the incursions of the Toungletats, a power-
ful and warlike tribe ; one part of which encamps, on Vancouver's Island, the other on the
continent, north of Fraz^er's River. These
ferocious enemies enter the villages by night,
massacre all the men, and carry off the women
and children whom they reduce to slavery. On
my arrival, all the tribe, men, women and
children, assembled to shake hands with me;
a ceremony which these savages never omit.
They repaired to the great lodge belonging to
their chief, where I spoke to them concerning
the existence of a God,the Creator of all things ;
of the recompense promised to good actions,
and the eternal chastisements which await the
commission of crime. My instructions were
often interrupted by the harangues of my auditors. The following one may prove interesting :
I Chief, listen to my words; ten years ago, I
heard that there was a Master above, who
hated evil j and that among the French, men
were to be found who taught the knowledge
of this Master. I also heard that men of this
description would come to our home. Since
that time, my heart, which was formerly very
wicked, has become good; I no longer do evil;
and since you are come, all hearts are filled
with joy." 58 OREGON    MISSIONS.
Another day, whilst I was speaking of baptism, and recounting to them that several
nations had caused their children to be baptized,
a man arose and said: " Thy words are good,
but we have been told that all who were baptized among the Kwaitlens, and the Kawitskins
(near Frazer River), died immediately; however, since thou sayest it is a good thing, we
believe thee. If the sacred water will cause us
to see the Great Master after death, baptize
all our camp; perform this charity, for they
nearly all die." I promised, I would return the
following Sunday, and confer the sacrament.
My arrival being noised abroad, several
neighboring nations came hither in crowds.
Saturday, the 18th, was employed in constructing a kind of repository, whereon to celebrate
mass the ensuing morn. Mr. Douglas gave me
several of his men to aid in the work. Branches
of fir-trees formed the sides of this rustic
chapel; and the awning of the boat, its canopy.
Early Sunday morning, more than twelve hundred savages, belonging to the three great
tribes, Kawitskins, Klalams, and Isanisks, were
assembled in this modest sanctuary. Our commander neglected nothing that could render the
ceremony imposing;   he gave  me  liberty to
mmmmmmmmmmm^^m OREGON    MISSIONS.
choose onboard, all that could serve for its decoration. He assisted at the mass with some
Canadians, with two Catholic ladies. It was in
the midst of this numerous assembly, that, for
the first time, the sacred mysteries were celebrated ; may the blood of the Spotless Lamb,
fertilize this barren land, and cause it to produce an abundant harvest. This being the day
fixed for the baptism of the children, I repaired
to the principal village accompanied by all who
had assisted at the divine service. On arriving,
I was again compelled to present my hand to
about 600 persons. The children were arranged along the sea-coast; I distributed to each a
small piece of paper with a name written thereon ; and immediately commenced the ceremony ^
It was about ten o'clock in the morning, and I
did not finish before night, the new Christians
numbered 102. Though much exhausted, I
was obliged to walk two leagues to rejoin the
According to the plan traced out for our
voyage, we were to remain here but a few
days ; and then continue our course from fort to
fort, until we arrived at the Russian establishment at Sitka, but the little vessel bearing the
provisions, came not.   This delay grieved me 60
much, for the grand vicar had communicated to
me his intention of establishing at the beginning of summer, a mission in Whitby Isle, and
also of employing me in this work of zeal.
Fearing I would not return in time if I delayed
my departure, I resolved immediately to retrace
my steps. I purchased a canoe, and engaged
the chief of the Isanisks and ten of his men to
conduct me direct to Whitby Isle. I quitted
Vancouver the 24th of March, bearing with me
the most lively sentiments of gratitude towards
the commander of the expedition and Captain
Brotchie, for all their kind and delicate attentions. The sea was calm, but the atmosphere
clouded ; luckily, I took with me a compass,
otherwise I should have strayed from my course,
having twenty-seven miles to traverse. The
first day we reached a little island between the
extremity of Vancouver and the continent where
we passed the night. My Indians, having shot
a sea-wolf, made a great feast. You would
scarcely believe how much a savage can
devour at a repast; but if he is voracious in
time of plenty, he knows how to fast several
successive days without enduring much fatigue.
The 25th there arose a strong north-westerly
breeze.    The rowers, before quitting the coast, *mmm
ascended a hill to ascertain if the sea was
much agitated in the middle of the strait; they
were some time before they could decide the
point; at last they declared, that with the aid
of a sail, we might brave the danger. A mast
was prepared, a blanket affixed to it, and thus
equipped we confided ourselves to the mercy of
the waves. Towards three o'clock we landed
at the isle of Whitby; not, however, without
experiencing some danger.
A great number of savage Klalams and
Skadjats came to meet us; I knew, by reputation, the chief of the Skadjats, and asked to see
him. They replied that he had left two days
previously, to meet me at Vancouver's island.
His two sons presented themselves; one of
them, pressing my hand, said, " My father,
Netlan, is not here, he is gone to Ramoon (this
is the name of the southern point of Vancouver's island); when he learns thou art here he
will soon return. He will be delighted if thou
wilt remain among us, for he is tired saying
'Mass' every Sunday, and preaching to these
people." Later, I was informed that his Mass
consisted in explaining to the savages of his
tribe the chronological history of religion
(traced on a map), in teaching them to make
■   ; '       4 I       W. 62 OREGON     MISSIONS,
numberless signs of the cross, and singing a few
canticles with the Kyrie Eleison.
I pitched my tent near the cross planted by
Mr. Blanchet when he first landed in the island,
in 1840. The next morning all the camp of the
Skadjats surrounded me to hear the word of
God. You may form some idea of the population of this tribe when I tell you, that I gave
my hand to a file of 650 persons, besides 150
others who had passed the night near my tent
not included in this number: and nearly all the
old men and women, besides the children, had
remained in their huts. After the instruction,
several canticles were chanted in such full
chorus that the sound was deafening.
Several parents had begged me to baptize
their children. I repaired to the village and requested to see all the children, under seven,
who had not received the grace of regeneration.
Not one was forgotten ; there were 150 present.
The ceremony took place in a little meadow,
surrounded by lofty and antique fir-trees. It
was not 12 o'clock when I began the administration of the sacrament, and I did not finish
before sun-set. The day was most beautiful,
but the ardent rays of the sun, joined to the
want of a substantial breakfast, caused me to
suffer much by a violent headache. The 27th,
the chief of the Skadjats declared to me that I
ought not to be lodged in a cotton house (under
a tent); | for this reason," added he, " to-morrow thou must tell me in what place we shall
construct thee an abode, and thou wilt see how
powerful is the effect of my words when I speak
to my people." Beholding the good-will of the
chief, I pointed out a little eminence. Immediately afterward I saw two hundred workmen,
some having hatchets to fell the trees, others
preparing to remove them; four of the most
skilful undertook the arrangement of the edifice. In two days all was terminated, and I
found myself installed in a house 28 feet long
by 25 in width. The wood was rough, the roof
covered with cedar-bark, and the interior overlaid with rush mats. During the week I gave
them several instructions, and taught them
some canticles—for without singing, the best
things are of little value ; noise is essential to
their enjoyment.
I had terminated the exercises of the mission,
when several savages arrived from the continent ; as soon as they perceived me, they cast
themselves on their knees, exclaiming, " Priest,
priest, during four days we have travelled to 64
behold thee, we have walked night and day,
and have scarcely tasted any food ; now that
we -see thee our hearts are joyful, take pity on
us ; we have learned that there is a Master on
high, but we know not how to speak to him.
Come with us, thou wilt baptize our children as
thou didst those of the Skadjats." I was moved
by these words, and would willingly have followed them to their forests, but it was impossible to do so, my intended arrival having been
announced at Skwally. I quitted these good
Indians the 3d April; during my abode among
them I experienced nothing but consolations
which surpassed all my expectations.
By this relation you will perceive, sir, that
the savages of Puget Bay show much zeal for
religion, yet they do not understand the full extent of the term. If to be a Christian it were
but necessary to know some prayers, and sing
canticles, there is not one among them who
would not adopt the title; but a capital point
still to be gained is, a reformation of morals.
As soon as we touch this chord, their ardor is
changed into indifference. In vain the chieftains harangue their inferiors; how can they
expect to make any impression where they are
themselves the more guilty ! OREGON     MISSIONS.
1 do not mistrust Divine Providence, but I
may say, without exposing myself to illusion,
that our best hopes are centred in the tribes inhabiting the coasts of the ocean, or which are
settled at the mouth of the numerous tributaries.
Sir, I have the honor to remain,
Your very humble and obedient
servant in Jesus Christ,
I    I J. B. Z. BOLDUC,
Apostolical Missionary. 66
No. II.
A. M. D. G.
Sainte Marie dn Willamette,
9th October, 1844.
My Dear Brother,—On the 28th July, after a
tedious navigation of nearly eight months, we
came in sight of the Oregon Territory. Oh !
with what transports of delight we hailed these
long-desired shores. What heartfelt thanksgivings- burst from every tongue. All, with one
accord, entoned that magnificent hymn of praise,
the " Te Deum." But these moments of happiness were not of long duration ; they were succeeded by others, of deep anxiety, as the remembrance of the perils yet to be encountered
flashed upon our minds. We were approaching
the " Columbia." The entrance into this river
is difficult and dangerous, even for seamen provided with good charts ; and our captain, unable
to procure any, was, we know, entirely unacquainted with the rocks and breakers, which,
at this season, render it almost impracticable.
We soon   perceived   Cape   Disappointment,
which seems to point out to travellers the course OREGON     MISSIONS.
they are to pursue. It was growing late, and
the captain resolved to steer out into the open
sea, to avoid the danger of running aground
during the night. As the vessel moved slowly
onward, leaving the shore in the distance, we
stood upon deck, contemplating from afar the
high mountains and vast forests of Oregon.
Here and there we could distinguish the clouds
of smoke curling upwards from the huts of our
poor Indians. This aspect filled my very soul
with indescribable emotions. It would be necessary to be placed in the same position, to
understand fully what were then our feelings.
Our hearts palpitated with joy as we gazed on
those boundless regions, over which were scattered so many abandoned souls—the young, the
aged—dying in the shades of infidelity, for want
of missionaries; an evil which we were about
to alleviate, if not for all, at least for a great
The 29th all the fathers celebrated the Holy
Sacrifice, wishing to offer a last violence to
heaven, and force, as it were, a benediction on
our mission. The morning was dark and
gloomy : so were our spirits. About 10 o'clock
the sky cleared, and allowed us to approach,
with caution, the vast and fearful mouth of the
= 68
Columbia. We soon discovered immense breakers, several miles in extent—the infallible sign
of a sand bank. The shoals crossed the river,
and seemed to oppose an invincible barrier to
our entrance. This sight filled us with consternation. We felt that to attempt a passage
would be exposing ourselves to an almost certain death. What was to be done ? What become of us ? How extricate ourselves from so
perilous a situation ?
On the 30th our captain, from the topmast,
caught the glimpse of a vessel, slowly rounding
the Cape, on its way out of the river. This
cheering sight was in a moment snatched from
our eager view by an intervening rock, under
the shade of which it cast anchor, to await a
favourable wind. Its appearance, however, led
us to conclude that the passage of the river
was yet practicable, and we hoped to be directed by its course. About 3 o'clock the captain
sent the lieutenant, with three sailors, to sound
the breakers, and seek a favorable opening for
our entrance on the morrow, which happened
to be the 31st July, feast of the great " Loyola."
This auspicious coincidence re-animated our
hopes, and. roused our drooping courage. |Eull
of confidence in the powerful protection of our OREGON      MISSIONS.
glorious founder, we prostrated ourselves, and
fervently implored him not to abandon us in our
extreme need. This duty accomplished, we
hastened on deck, to await the return of the
shallop. It was not until 11 o'clock that their
little vessel came alongside the " Indefatigable."
No one dared interrogate the sailors, for their
dejected countenances foreboded discouraging
tidings. However, the lieutenant assured the
captain that he had found no obstacle, and that
he had passed the bar the preceding night, at
11 o'clock, with five fathoms (30 feet) of water.
Immediately were the sails unfurled, and the
" Indefatigable" slowly resumed her majestic
course, under the favor of a rising breeze. The
sky was serene, the sun shone with unwonted
brilliancy. For a long time we had not beheld
so lovely a day ; nothing but the safe entrance
into the river was wanting, to render this the
most beautiful day of our voyage. As we ap-*
proached, we re-doubled our prayers. All appeared recollected, and prepared for every
event. Presently our wary captain gave orders
to sound. A hardy sailor fastened himself to
the side of the vessel, and lowered the plummet.
Soon was head the cry, " Seven fathoms." At
intervals the cry was repeated: " Six fathoms,"
# 70
" Five fathoms." It may be imagined how our
hearts palpitated at each reiteration. But when
we heard the thrilling cry of I Three fathoms," all
hope vanished. At. one moment it was thought
the vessel would be dashed against the reefs.
The lieutenant said to the captain, " We are between life and death; but we must advance."
The Lord had not resolved on our destruction, but
He wished to test the faith of his servants. In a
few moments the tidings of four fathoms roused
our sinking spirits : we breathed once more, but
the danger yet impended over us ; we had still
to sail two miles amidst these fearful breakers.
A second time is heard the chilling cry of " Three
fathoms!" "We have mistaken our route," exclaimed the lieutenant. " Bah !" exclaimed the
captain, " do you not see that the Indefatigable
passes over every thing jj Keep on." Heaven
was for us ; otherwise, neither the skill of our
captain, nor the sailors' activity, could have rescued!! us from inevitable death. We were
amidst the southern channel, which no vessel
had ever crossed. A few moments after we
learned that our escape had been miraculous."
Our vessel had, at first, taken the right course
for entering the river, but, not far from its
mouth, the Columbia divides into two branches,
i ■
forming, as it were, two channels. The northern, near Cape Disappointment, is the one we
should have followed; the southern is not frequented, owing to the tremendous breakers that
obstruct its entrance, over which we had passed,
the first, and probably the last. We also learned, that the deputy of Fort Astoria, having descried our vessel two days before, hastened, with
some savages, to the extremity of the cape, and
endeavored, by means of large fires, hoisted
flags, and the firing of guns, to warn us of
danger. We had, indeed, perceived these signals, but without suspecting they were intended
for us. God, no doubt, wished to show us that
he is sufficiently powerful to expose us to peril,
and to withdraw us from it unharmed. Glory
to His holy name ! glory, also, to St. Ignatius,
who so visibly protected his children on this, his
festal day.
About 4|, a canoe approached us : it contained Clatsop Indians, commanded by an American
resident of the coast. The whoop of these wild
men of the forest much astonished our fathers,
and the sisters of Notre Dame. The only word
we could distinguish was | Catche," which they
vociferated countless times. Our captain made
them a sign to approach, and permitted them to
■ i 72
come on board. The American immediately accosted me, and spoke of our perilous situation,
saying, that he would have come to our aid, but
his Indians refused to brave the danger. The
Indians, on their side, endeavored by signs to
make us comprehend how great had been their
terror, for, at every moment, they expected to
see our vessel dashed into a thousand pieces.
They had wept for us, convinced, that without
the intervention of the | Great Spirit," we could
never have escaped the dangers. Verily, these
brave savages were not mistaken. All who
know the history of our passage affirm the same ;
they cease not to congratulate us on so miraculous an escape.
The second visit we received, was from some
Tchinouks, a small tribe, inhabiting the immense
forests of the northern shore. The Clatsops,
whose number amounts to not more than one
hundred and fifty men, occupy the southern
shore. The Tchinouks inhabit three villages
beyond the forest. The men wrap themselves
in blankets when they appear before the
" whites," and are excessively vain of their collars and ear-rings. Their disposition is extremely sociable, and we found it necessary to be on
the reserve, to prevent their too great familiari- OREGON     MISSIONS.
ty. They are content, provided they be not
driven away, and they require no further attention paid them. They are of a peaceable temper, and, as their wants are easily supplied, they
lead an inactive and indolent life. Fishing and
the chase form their sole occupation. j3ame
abounds in their forests, and their rivers are
teeming with salmon. After providing for their
daily wants, they spend entire hours motionless,
basking in the sun; it is needless to add, they
live in the most profound ignorance of religion.
These are the Indians who have the custom of
flattening their children's heads.
The following morning we perceived a small
skiff making its way towards us. It belonged
to Mr. Burney, the gentleman who, in our recent
' danger, had acted so friendly a part. He accosted us with the utmost kindness, and invited
us to return with him to Fort Astoria, of which
he is the Superintendant, that his wife and
children might have the pleasure of seeing us.
Persuaded, that after so tedious a voyage, the
visit would be agreeable to all parties, I readily
consented. Whilst this hospitable family were
preparing dinner we made a little excursion
into the neighboring forest. We were in admiration of the immense height  and prodigious 74
bulk of the fir trees, many of which were
two hundred feet high, and four and a half in
diameter. We beheld one which measured
forty-two feet in circumference.
After a ramble of two hours, Mr. Burney reconducted us to the fort.
In a second promenade several of our company greatly admired the tombs of the savage-
The deceased is placed in a sort of oanoe, or
hollow trunk of a tree ; the body is then covered with mats or skins ; and the savage entombing consists in thus suspending the corpse to the
branches of trees, or exposing it on the banks of
the river. In one place we saw about twelve
of these sepulchres ; they are ordinarily found
in places of difficult access, the better to secure
them from the rapine of wild beasts. Not far
from this cemetery one of our fathers, more
curious than the others, wandered a little distance into the woods; he speedily hastened
back, apparently in a panic, saying that he had
seen the muzzle of a bear, which did not look
very tame.
I set out for Fort Vancouver the 2d August,
wishing to reach there before my companions,
that I might inform the Rev. Mr. Blanchet of
our happy arrival.   As to our fathers, the re- OREGON     MISSIONS. 75
mainder of their voyage may be summed up in
few words. On the 3d and 4th their vessel was
almost stationary, for want of a favorable wind.
At a glance, their three days' voyage might be
measured. Towards evening a gentle breeze
sprung up, and thus permitted them to pursue
their course. In a few hours they passed the
rocks, extending the distance of six leagues.
They were then enabled to keep the centre of
the river, where the numerous windings of the
stream compelled them to make continual
In this place the river is most magnificent:
the smooth polished surface of the waters—the
rapid current, almost concealed from view by
the contraction of its rocky bed—the sullen
I roaring of the waterfalls and cascades—produce
upon the mind an effect of sublimity and
grandeur not to be described. One is never
weary admiring the richness, beauty, and variety of these solitary regions. The shores on
either side are bordered by lofty forests, and
crowned with thickly-wooded forests. It is
more especially in the forest that the grand, the
picturesque, the sublime, the beautiful, form the
most singular and fantastic combinations. From
the loftiest giants of the forest down to the hum-
mmm 76
blest shrubs, all excite the spectator's astonishment. The parasites form a characteristic feature of these woodlands. They cling to the
tree, climb it to a certain height, and then,
letting their tops fall to the earth, again take
root—again shoot up—push from branch to
branch—from tree to tree, in every direction—
until tangled, twisted, and knotted in every possible form, they festoon the whole forest with drapery in which a ground-work of the richest verdure is diversified with garlands of the most varied and many-colored flowers. In ascending the
Columbia we meet, from time to time, with bays
of considerable extent, interspersed with handsome little islands, which, thrown, as it were,
like groups of flowers and verdure, present a
charming spectacle. Here the painter should
go to study his art—here would he find the loveliest scenery, the most varied and brilliant coloring. At every step the scene becomes more
ravishing; the perspective more noble and majestic. In no other part of the world is nature
so great a coquette as here.
At length, on the 5th August, the vessel arrived at Fort Vancouver, about 7 o'clock in the
evening. The governor, an excellent and truly
pious man, together with his lady, and the most OREGON     MISSIONS.
respectable personages of the place, were assembled on the shore to receive us. As soon as
the ship had cast anchor we landed, and hastened to the fort, where we were received and
treated with all possible cordiality. Here we
were obliged to tarry eight days, for the Rev.
Mr. Blanchet, who did not arrive till the 12th,
not having received my letter, informing him of
our arrival. No sooner was he aware of it than
he hastened to join us, bringing with him a considerable number of parishioners. He had
travelled the entire night and day, and we were
delighted to meet this indefatigable clergyman.
Though so comfortably situated at the fort, yet
we were anxious to arrive as soon as possible at
the place destined us by Divine Providence. The
pious religious likewise sighed after their convent home of Willamette. Monsieur Blanchet
accordingly made the necessary arrangement
for our departure, and we left Fort Vancouver
on the 14th.
An affecting adieu awaited us. Our worthy
captain stood upon the shore. The emotion
was sensibly felt by each one of us. For eight
months we had shared the same dangers, and
so often stood together, gazing in the very face
of death: could we  then restrain the parting
m PV
tear, which seemed to gush from the fountain of
the heart, as we remembered his kindness.
Our little squadron consisted of four canoes,
manned by the parishioners of Mr. Blanchet,
and our own sloop. We sailed up the river,
and soon entered the Willamette, whose waters
flow into the Columbia.
As night approached we moored our vessels
and encamped upon the shore. There, grouped
around the fire, we partook of our evening meal.
The night was calm and serene—all nature
was hushed in profound silence—all invited us
to repose ; but the swarms of musquetoes with
which these woods abound, prevented our slumber. The religious, to whom we had yielded
the tent, suffered equally with those who had
nothing but the star-spangled canopy of heaven
above them. You will not, consequently, be
surprised, that the night appeared somewhat
long, and that the morning's dawn found us on
foot. It was the festival of the glorious Assumption of the Mother of God, which, in these
regions, is usually solemnized on the following
Sunday. Aided by the religious, I erected a
small altar. Mr. Blanchet offered the Holy
Sacrifice, at which all communicated.
Finally, the 17th, about 11 o'clock, we came
in sight of our dear mission of Willamette.
Mr. Blanchet charged himself with the transportation of our baggage. A cart was procured to conduct the religious to their dwelling,
which is about five miles from the river. In
two hours we were all assembled in the chapel
of Willamette, to adore and thank our Divine
Saviour, by the solemn chanting of the Te
Deum, in which all hearts and lips joined with
lively emotion.
Early in the morning of Sunday, the 18th,
the day on which the Assumption is celebrated
here, we saw the Canadian cavaliers arriving in
crowds with their wives and children, whom
they had brought from great distances, to assist
at the solemn services of the church.
At 9 o'clock all were arranged in perfect
order in the church; the men on one side, the
women on the other. The Rev. Mr. Blanchet
celebrated the August Sacrifice, assisted by
twenty acolytes. The piety of his parishioners
contributed much to our edification.
On arriving at the mission of St. Paul, of
Willamette, we proceeded at once to the residence of the Very Rev. Mr. Blanchet, who received us with the greatest kindness, and immediately placed at our disposal everything on
i—-—i 80
the place. My first care was, to seek some
convenient locality where, according to the plan
of our Very Rev. Father General, a mother mission could be established. For this purpose I
made several unsuccessful excursions into the
adjacent country. The most eligible situations
were already occupied. The Methodists, indeed, offered to sell me their Academy, which is
a sufficiently large and handsome house, but
entirely destitute of wood and arable land. In
this perplexity Mr. Blanchet relieved me? by a
generous and disinterested offer. He proposed
to examine the property belonging to the mission, and take such portions of it as I should
judge most proper for our projected establishment. We accordingly set out on this new excursion ; but we had scarcely proceeded two
miles when we came to a point uniting every
desirable advantage. Picture to yourself an
immense plain extending as far as the eye
can reach ; on one side the siuowy crests of the
gigantic Hood, Jefferson, and St. Helena (the
three highest peaks of Oregon), towering majestically upwards, and losing themselves in the
clouds; on the east a long range of distant hills,
their blue-tinged summits melting, as it were,
into the deep azure of the sky; on the west the OREGON     MISSIONS.
limpid waters of two small lakes,  on whose
beautiful shores the beaver, the otter, and the
musk-rat, sport in careless security, heedless of
our presence.    The elevation on which we were
standing,   gradually   sloping   downward,   and
forming a charming amphitheatre, extended to
the borders of one of the lakes.    I hesitated not
a moment in selecting this spot for the mother
mission.    The sweet recollections of our first
establishment on the Missouri returned to my
mind; and the remembrance of the rapid progress of the Mission of St. Stanislaus, near St.
Ferdinand, whose  branches now  extend over
the greater part of Missouri, Ohio, Louisiana,
reaching even the Rocky Mountains, and penetrating to the eastern boundary of America, led
me to breathe a fervent prayer, that here, also,
might be formed a station, whence the torch of
faith would diffuse its cheering light among the
benighted  tribes  of  this   immense   Territory.
We have also a fine view of the Willamette
River, which, in this place,  makes  a  sudden
bend, continuing its cqprs^ amidst dense forests,
which promise an almost inexhaustible supply
of materials for the construction of our mission
house.    In no part of this region have I met
with a more luxuriant growth of pine, fir, elm, 82 OREGON     MISSIONS.
oak, buttonball, and yew trees. The intervening country is beautifully diversified with
shadowy groves and smiling plains, whose rich
soil yields abundant harvests, sufficient for the
maintenance of a large establishment. Besides
these advantages, there are a number of springs,
on one side of the hill, one of which is not more
than 100 feet from the house, and it will probably be of great use hereafter. Having now
made choice of the locality, we commenced
without delay the erection of the buildings*
The first thing to be done was to clear the
ground by cutting away the under-brush and
isolated trees, after which, with the aid of the
inhabitants, we constructed three wooden buildings, covered by a single roof of 90 feet; these
were to serve as workshops for the brother
blacksmith, carpenter, etc.
Besides these, a house, 45 by 35 feet, is now
under way. It is to be two stories, and will
be the dwelling-house of the missionaries.
We arrived in the Oregon Territory during
the prevalence of a iseq^e (bloody flux) which
was considered contagious, though the physicians attributed it to the unwholesome properties of the river-water. Numbers of savages
fell victims to it, especially among the Tchi-
nouks, and the Indians of the Cascades, large
parties of whom encamped along the banks of
the river, on their way to Vancouver, to obtain
the aid of a physician. Those who could not
proceed were abandoned by their friends; and
it was truly painful to see these poor creatures
stretched out, and expiring on the sand.   The
J. o
greater part of our sailors, and three of the
sisters, were attacked by the pestilence; the
Rev. Father Accolti also experienced its terrible
effects; for myself, I was obliged to keep my
bed during 15 long days, and to observe a rigorous diet. But the captain of our vessel was
the greatest sufferer. The disease attacked
him so violently, that I seriously fear he will
never again return to the cherished family—the
affectionate wife and children of whom he used
daily to speak with so much tenderness. He
was a worthy man—an experienced and skilful
navigator; I esteemed him highly, although I
could not forbear blaming him for the little
courage he had shown in repressing the profane
language of one of the passengers, who, from
the time of his embarkation until we landed him
at Fort Vancouver, had never ceased to offend
our ears by his horrid oaths. The Almighty has
denounced his curse against the blasphemer5 84
and sooner or later it will fall upon him. Poor
" Indefatigable," I tremble for thy fate. f| ', -:
The winter was rapidly approaching, and,
notwithstanding my weak state, I could not resist my pressing desire to visit, once more, my
dear Indians of the mountains, who, on their
side, await my return with the greatest impatience, as I Was informed by the Rev. F. Men-
garini, who had come to meet me. To-day I
shall have the happiness to set out for the Rocky
I am, &c,
# P. J. DE SMET./
P. S.—On the 9th September the good sisters commenced instructing the women and
children, who were preparing for their first communion. As their house was not yet habitable,
they were obliged to give their instructions in
the open air. In three days' time they had already 19 pupils, from 16 to 60 years of age, all
of whom came from a distance, bringing with
them provisions for several days, and sleeping
in the woods, exposed to all the inclemencies of
the weather. It is easy to conceive by this how
eager these poor people are for instruction.
Each day the sisters devote six hours to teach-* OREGON     MISSIONS.
ing them the usual prayers, and manner of
making the sign of the cross. On one occasion,
it was discovered that a woman had remained
two days without food; the dogs had devoured
her little provision, and, lest she should miss the
instruction, she was unwilling to go home for
another supply.
24th.—The convent having as yet neither
doors nor sashes, owing to the scarcity of mechanics, some of these good Sisters were seen
endeavoring to handle the plane, others glazing,
painting the windows and doors, &c. They
were the more ardently desirous for the completion of their new habitation, as already thirty
Canadian pupils had been offered them; and
thus would they be enabled to procure the
means of giving a gratuitous support and protection to the hapless orphans of the forests.
These poor children, rescued from their destitute condition, and placed under the benign care
of the kind Sisters, would enjoy the blessings of
a Christian education, and become, one day, co-
operators in the mission. But, to effect this, and
to realize the cheering hopes it holds forth, funds
must be raised to provide the necessary clothing
for the orphans, as the profits arising from the
school will not be more than sufficient to defray
the expenses of their board.    I here give you the
brilliant prospectus of their Academy.   Per quarter, lOOlbs flour, 25lbs pork, or 36 of beef, 1 sack
of potatoes, 4lbs hogs' lard, 3 gallons peas, 3 doz.
eggs, 1 gallon salt, 4lbs candles, lib tea, 4lbs rice.
The Sisters took possession of their convent in
the month of October; a few days after, their
chapel was solemnly consecrated by the Rev.
Mr. Blanchet; and they have since enjoyed the
happiness of assisting every day at the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass, offered up at their simple
altar by one of the missionaries, stationed at St.
Francis Xavier.    They have also twice had the
consolation of presenting at the table of the
Lord the little band of fervent neophytes, whom
they had prepared with so much care, for this
solemn action.    This success, in so short a time,
has induced us to conceive the project of founding another house of this order in the village of
Cuhute.     Monsieur Blanchet  and Father De
Vos think, that the departure of the Protestant
ministers, on account of their fruitless labors,
renders this an auspicious moment for the establishment of a religious house.    The station
of Willamette would furnish occupation sufficient for twelve Sisters, but unfortunately they
are but six in number. OREGON     MISSIONS.
We learn with pleasure that it is the intention of Monseigneur Blanchet to visit Europe
immediately after his consecration, in order to
obtain, if possible, twelve more of these zealous
and devoted religious, for the mission. God
grant he may succeed; and that the want of
pecuniary means may not oppose an insurmountable obstacle to the generous sacrifice,
which, we are all well-assured, the pious Sisters
of the Congregation of Notre Dame are disposed
to make again in our behalf. 88
No. III.
A. M. D. G.
At the Foot of the Great Glaeiere, one of the Upper
Sources of the Athabasca River, May, 6th, 1846.
Monseigneur,—I am late, but not forgetful of
my duty and promises, for I will remember the
many obligations I have contracted, and the
happy hours I passed, when travelling in your
paternity's company. I now come to redeem
them, by troubling you with a dozen Rocky
Mountain letters, including a narrative of my
last year's excursions and missions among several Indian tribes ; of what I have seen and
heard; and of what happened, as I was travelling
along. I hope my letters may be consoling to
you, and serve as a proof that the work of God
is progressing among the long-benighted children of the Oregon desert, and among the lonely tribes on the northern waters of the great
Mackenzie River. Four priests from Red River
will soon find ample employment in the dreary
regions of the Hudson Bay Territory. How
lamentable it is, that the great western desert
alone, extending from the States to the eastern OREGON     MISSIONS.
base of the Rocky Mountains, and south to the
Mexican lines, should be lying waste. This
would, indeed, present an extensive field to the
zeal of Catholic missionaries; and, from my
personal observations, and those of all the
priests who have passed this desert, their efforts
would be crowned with the greatest success.
Indians are, in general, carelessly judged and
little known in the civilized world ; people will
form their opinions from what they see among
the Indians on the frontiers, where the " fire
water," and all the degrading vices of the
whites have caused the greatest havoc. The
farther one penetrates into the desert the better
he finds the aborigines ; and, in general, I found
them most willing and anxious to receive religious instruction, and to hear the good tidings
of salvation.
A bishop, and two or three priests, who
would make it their business to visit the different tribes of this vast land, remaining among
each of the tribes a reasonable and sufficient
time to instruct the Indians, would most certainly meet with the most abundant harvest; the
scalping-knife might thus soon be laid aside,
and where the Indian war-whoop has for centuries resounded, might be heard in its stead, 90
the canticles and praises of the true and only
living God. The idea of collecting and settling
these wandering nations, would, in my humble
opinion, be impossible, or, at least, a very slow
work. The Indians might be made good Christians, and still continue, at the same time, to
lead a hunter's life, as long as buffalo and deer
will supply their wants.
1§§ Nothing, but the interest I feel for these poor
people, and the assurance I have that they will
find a patron and friend in your paternity, make
me bold enough to make an appeal to you in
their favor, so that a speedy remedy may be
applied to the existing and most distressing
want of this large district of the United States.
Thousands of whites are well cared for and are
straying from the true path—the Indians have
likewise souls to be saved, redeemed by the
Saviour's precious blood, and thousands of these
bereft children are most anxious to enjoy the
salutary blessings with which their white brethren are favored.
I remain, with the greatest esteem and respect, recommending myself at the same time to
your holy sacrifices and prayers.
Your very humble and obedient servant in
Christ. I     M  P. I. DE SMET, S. J. OREGON     MISSIONS.
No. IV.
A. M. D. a
St. Francis Xavier, Willamette,
June 20th, 1845.
Right Rev. Bishop,
SiRj-rJn the beginning of February, I set out to
visit our different settlements and stations, and
to form new ones among the neighboring tribes
of our reductions. The entire surface of this
region was then covered with snow, five feet
deep ; and I was compelled to go from the Bay
of Pends-d'oreilles to the Horse Plain, in a bark
canoe, a distance of 250 miles.
I was among my dear Flatheads and Pends-
d'oreilles (ear-rings) of the mountains, during
the Paschal time, and had the great consolation
of finding them replete with #zeal and fervor in
fulfilling the duties of true children of prayer.
The solemn feast of Easter, all the Flatheads at
St. Mary's devoutly approached the most blessed sacrament during my mass ; and about three-
hundred Pends-d'oreilles, (the greater number
adults), belonging to the station of St. Francis 92
Borgia, presented themselves at the baptismal
font. Five chiefs were among the number ; the
most distinguished are Stiettiedloodsho, or chieftain of the Tribe Valiant; Selpisto, the head
chieftain, and Chalax, that is to say the White
Robe, surnamed the Juggler or great medicine
man. The word medicine man, in their language,
is synonymous with juggler.
How consoling it is to pour the regenerating
waters of baptism on the furrowed and scarified
brows of these desert warriors,—to behold
these children of the plains and forests emerg-!
ing from that profound ignorance and superstition in which they have been for so many ages
deeply and darkly enveloped ; to see them embrace the faith and all its sacred practices, with
an eagerness, an attention, a zeal, worthy the
pristine Christians,
' Were I to give you the history of these chiefs,
I should greatly exceed the limits I have pro-
posed. Suffice it to say, that these heroes of
the Rocky Mountains have been for years the
terror of their enemies. Chalax had acquired
great celebrity as a juggler, and in predicting
future events ; if we may credit the Kalispels
and the whites who have travelled in company
with him, these prophecies have been verified.
#=<<=   OREGON     MISSIONS.
He indicated the day, the place, and the number
of Blackfeet who would attack their camp.
Having interrogated him relative to this affair,
he, with great simplicity and candor, replied:
" I am called the Great Doctor, yet, never have
I given myself up to the practices of juggling,
nor condescended to exercise its deceptions. I
derive all my strength from prayer ; when in a
hostile country, I address myself to the Master
of life, and offer Him my heart and soul, entreating him to protect us against our enemies.
A voice had already warned me of coming
danger; I then recommend prudence and
vigilance throughout the camp; for the monitory voice has never deceived me. I have now
a favor to request: the mysterious voice calls
me by the name of Chalax, and, if you will
permit, I desire to bear that name until my
death." I willingly consented, and then explained to him the ceremony of the White Garment he was about to receive, in the holy sacrament of baptism. To the name of Chalax I
affixed that of the Prince of the Apostles. This
is the same chief, who on my first visit to the
mountains, aided by only sixty men, sustained
during five days, an obstinate struggle against
200 lodges of Blackfeet, whom he put to flight,
5* 94
leaving on the ground eighty men, whilst
among the Flatheads only one man was wounded.    He died three months after.
With regret I parted from these good Indians,
and my beloved brothers in Jesus Christ, the
Rev. Fathers Mengarini, Zerbinati, and four
coadjutor brothers ; who are laboring with indefatigable zeal in this portion of our Lord's
As the snow was fast disappearing, the Kalis-
pels of the bay were awaiting my arrival. I
re-entered my fragile canoe, guided by two
Indians, and made all possible haste to descend
Clarke's River. You may judge of its impetuosity when I inform you, that we were sixteen
days ascending the river, and but four in descending the same. On returning to the bay,
accompanied by Rev. Father Hocken and several chiefs, my first care was to examine the
lands belonging to this portion of the Tribe of
Kalispels, and select a fit site for erecting the
new establishment of St. Ignatius. We found
a vast and beautiful prairie, three miles in extent, surrounded by cedar and pine, in the
neighborhood of the cavern of New Manrese,
and its quarries, and a fall of water more than
two hundred feet,  presenting every advantage
for the erection of mills. I felled the first tree,
and after having taken all necessary measures
to expedite the work, I departed for Walla
Walla, where I embarked in a small boat and
descended the Columbia, as far as Fort Vancouver. The melting of the snow had occasioned a considerable freshet, and our descent
was very rapid. The place was indicated to
me where a few months previously, four travellers from the United States had miserably perished, victims of their own temerity and presumption. When advised to pvovide themselves
with a guide, they answered they had no need
of any; and when warned that the river was
dangerous and deceptive, the pilot, with a scoffing boast, replied, " I am capable of guiding my
barge, were it even across the infernal gulf."
The monitor wished them a fortunate voyage,
but at the same time trembled for their fate,
saying: " This pilot is not a native Indian, he
is not an Iroquois, nor even a Canadian." The
turbulent stream soon engulfed its presumptuous
and daring victims. They steered out into the
midst of the river, and in an instant the canoe
was borne along with the rapidity of lightning,
leaving in its train a thick foam, caused by the
violent plying of oars.   Approaching the rapids, 96
they fearlessly hurried onward—alas, their fate
was soon to be decided/ Drawn by the eddy
into the centre of a whirlpool, vainly they
struggled to extricate themselves—they beheld
the dread abyss yawning to receive its prey !
Yet, an instant, the ill-fated barge twirled upon
the surface, and then sank, amidst the despairing shrieks of the helpless crew, which the
roaring waves rendered the more appalling,
whilst the dismal sounds re-echoing from shore
to shore, proclaimed the new disaster of the
"Columbia." Soon the waters resumed their
wonted course, and left no trace of the sad!
catastrophe. This fatal spot might appropriately
be designated, Presumptive's Rapids ; doubtless,
it will be a lesson to future boasters, not to
venture, without pilot or guide, upon this formidable tributary of the western ocean.
After a prosperous voyage of five days, I debarked at Vancouver, where I had the happiness
of meeting Father Nobili, who, during eight
months, had applied himself to study the Indian
language, while he exercised his sacred ministry among the Catholics of the fort and the
Indians of the neighborhood. More than a
tenth of the latter had been swept off by a
mortal disease; happily, they all had the con- OREGON     MISSIONS.
solation of receiving baptism before they ex-
Father Nobili accompanied me in a Tchi-
nouk canoe, up the beautiful River of Multono-
mah or Willamette, a distance of about sixty
miles, as far as the village of Champois, three
miles from our residence of St. Francis Xavier.
On our arrival all the fathers came to meet us,
and great was our delight in being again reunited after a long winter season. The Italian
fathers had applied themselves chiefly to the
study of languages. Father Ravalli, being
skilled in medicine, rendered considerable services to the inhabitants of St. Paul's Mission ;
for every dwelling contained several sick. Father Vercruysse, at the request of Right. Rev.
Bishop Blanchet, opened a mission among the
Canadians who were distant from St. Paul's,
and he succeeded in causing them to contribute
to the erection of a new church, in a central
location. Father De Vos is the only one of our
fathers of Willamette who speaks English. He
devotes his whole attention to the Americans,
whose number already exceeds 4,000. There are
several Catholic families, and our dissenting brethren seem well disposed; many among them
are eager to be instructed in the Catholic faith. OREGON     MISSIONS.
1    ;|||
Nowhere does religion make greater progress,
or present brighter prospects for the future, than
in Oregon Territory. The Very Rev. Mr. Demers, Vicar General and Administrator of the
diocess in the absence of the bishop, is preparing to build a brick cathedral. There is now
being built, under his superintendence, a fine
church at the Falls of Willamette, where, three
years ago, was commenced the first town of
Oregon. This rising village numbers more than
100 houses. Several lots have been selected
for a convent and two schools. A Catholic
church has been erected at Vancouver.
, The Convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame is
fast progressing, and it will be the finest building of Willamette. The church is eighty feet
long, and proportionably wide ; it is under the
invocation of the Blessed Virgin. The religious
have already fifty boarders. The Bishop's College, under the management of the Very Rev.
Mr. Bolduc, is very prosperous. The number
of pupils has augmented; forty young men,
chiefly Metis, are receiving a Christian education. Some years ago, a church was erected at
Cowlitz, and the inhabitants are now preparing
to construct a convent under the direction of
Rev. Mr. Langlois. OREGON     MISSIONS.
Our residence of St. Francis Xavier is completed ; it will hereafter serve for a novitiate
and seminary, to prepare young men for the
Measures, which I trust will be realized, have
been taken by our fathers for visiting, during
this year, the numerous tribes inhabiting the
Pacific coast north and south of the Columbia;
where, already, the visits of the bishop and his
grand vicar have been so productive of favorable results. The 17th Feb., 1842, Bishop
Blanchet thus wrote to the Bishop of Quebec:
" God has deigned to bless our labors, and to
fructify the divine word. The adorable name
of Jesus has been announced to new nations of
the north. Mr. Demers bent his steps to Fort
Langley on Frazer's River, in which place he
administered baptism to upwards of 700 children. Many of them already enjoy the precious fruits of regenerating grace.
In my preceding letters, I gave you the details
of our missions among the mountains of the
higher Oregon ; of the conversion of two tribes,
the Flatheads and the Cozurs-dAlene or Pointed
Hearts; of the first communion of the latter,
and conversion of several Kalispels of the Bay,
on the solemn festival of Christmas.    From 100
1839, when the mission was established, to July,
1845, the reverend Canadian missionaries baptized 3,000 persons. The number of Catholics
residing at the different stations of the Hon.
Hudson Bay Co. in Oregon, together with the
colonists of the same nation, amounts to several hundreds. By adding to these 2857 baptized since 1841 in the different mountain
missions, it gives us a total of more than 6,000
Catholics in Oregon. The diminutive grain of
mustard is fast extending far and wide its
branches, over this once sterile and neglected
region. In the month of June, Father Nobili,
accompanied by a brother novice, left Willamette to visit the tribes of New Caledonia.
The Very Rev. Mr. Demers saw the following
named tribes: Kameloups, the Atnans or Shou-
wapemot, the Porteurs or Ltavten, which names
vary according to the different places where the
tents are pitched. They affix the word ten
which signifies people, i. e., Stelaoten, Nashko-
ten, Tchilkoten, Nazeteoten. Rev. Mr. Demers
had the consolation of baptizing 436 children
among these tribes.
Such has since been the fervor and zeal of
these poor Indians ; who, though deprived of a
priest, have built three churches, hoping that a OREGON     MISSIONS.
nepapayajttok, or father would  settle  among
Many Catholics reside in the different forts
of this country. The honorable gentlemen of
the Hudson Bay Co., although Protestants, were
strongly interested in favor of these savages,
and did all in their power to facilitate the introduction of a clergyman into this portion of their
I have the honor to be, with the most profound respect and esteem, Monseigneur, your
most humble and obedient servant in Jesus
P. J. DE SMET, S. J.
,-agg ae        L_e^_^v
1 il-       i 102
No. V.
A. M. D. G.
Kalispel Bay, Aug. 7th, 1845.
Monseigneur,—A few days after the departure
of Father Nobili, who obtained a place in a
barge belonging to the Hon. Hudson Bay Co., I
started from St. Francis Xavier's with eleven
horses laden with ploughs, spades, pickaxes,
scythes, and carpenters' implements. My companions were the good Brother McGil, and two
metis or mongrels. We encountered many
obstacles and difficulties among the mountains,
owing to the cascades formed by the water,
which, at this season, descends on every side in
torrents, and with irresistible fury upon the
rocks, over which we were compelled to cross.
In the narrow valleys between these mountains,
the rhododendron displays all its strength and
beauty; it rises to the height of fifteen or
twenty feet. Entire groves are | formed by
thousands of these shrubs, whose clustering
branches entwine themselves in beautiful green
arches, adorned with innumerable bouquets of
splendid flowers, varying their hues from the
pure white, to the deepened tint of the crimsoned rose.
Our path was strewed with the whitened
bones of horses and oxen, melancholy testimonies of the miseries endured by other travellers
through these regions.   We passed the foot of
Mt. Hood, the most elevated of this stupendous
chain.   It is covered with snow, and rises 16,000
feet above the level of the sea.   Capt. Wyeth,
on beholding this ridge from the summit of the
Blue   Mountains,   thus   speaks   of  it   in his
journal:—" The traveller on advancing westerly, even at the distance of 160 miles, beholds
the peaks of the Cascade Mountains.   Several
of them rise 16,000 feet above the level of the
sea.    Every other natural wonder seems to
dwindle, as it were, into insignificance when
compared to this."   From one single spot I contemplated seven of these majestic summits extending from north to south, whose dazzling
white and conic form resemble a sugar loaf &;)
We were twenty days going from Willamette
to Walla Walla, across desert and undulating
lands, abounding in absinthium or wormwood,
cactus, tufted grass, and several species of such /li
plants and herbs as are chiefly found in a sterile
and sandy soil.
Game is scarce in these latitudes; however,
we found large partridges and pheasants,
aquatic fowls, small birds of various kinds,
hares and rabbits. Salamanders swarm in
sandy places, and armadilloes are not rare in
the vicinity of the great Dalles. Fort Walla
Walla is situated in latitude 46° 2', and longitude 119° 30'. The sandy neighborhood of this
settlement likens it to a little Arabia. The
River Walla Walla pours its waters a mile distant from the fort. The lowlands, when watered, are tolerably fertile, and produce maize,
wheat, potatoes, and pulse of every kind.
Cows and hogs are easily raised, and horses
abound in this part of the country.
Having already spoken to you of the desert
Nez-Perce and Spokane, I have nothing further
to add relative to this dreary region. On advancing easterly towards the Blue Mountains,
we find beautiful and fertile plains, interspersed
with limpid and wholesome streams. The valleys are picturesque, covered with luxuriant
prairies, and forests of pine and fir. The Nez-
Perce Kayuses inhabit these delightful pastures.
They are the most wealthy tribes in Oregon;
even some private families possess 1500 horses.
The savages   successfully  cultivate   potatoes,
pease, corn, and several kinds of vegetables and
fruits.   No situation affords finer grazing for
cattle; even in winter they find an abundance,
nor do they need shelter from the inclemency of
the weather.    Snow is never seen, and the
rains are neither destructive nor superabundant.
About the middle of July, I arrived safely
with all my effects, at the Bay of Kalispels.   In
my absence the number of neophytes had considerably increased.   On the feast of the Ascension, Father Hocken had the happiness of baptizing more than one hundred adults.   Since my
departure in the spring, our little colony has
built four houses, prepared materials for constructing a small church, and enclosed a field of
300 acres.    More than four hundred Kalispels,
computing adults and children have been baptized.    They are all animated with fervor and
zeal; they make use of the hatchet and plough,
being resolved to abandon an itinerant life for a
permanent abode.   The beautiful falls of the
Columbia, called the Chaudieres, in the vicinity
of Fort Colville, are distant two days' journey
from our new residence of St. Ignatius.
From eight to nine hundred savages were
S3S- 106
there assembled for the salmon fishery. I repaired thither in time to spend with them the
nine days preceding the feast of our holy
founder. Within the last four years, considerable numbers of these Indians were visited by
the | black-gowns," who administered the sacrament of baptism. I was received by my dear
Indians with filial joy and tenderness. I caused
my little chapel of boughs to be placed on an
eminence in the midst of the Indians' huts, where
it might not inaptly be compared to the pelican
of the wilderness surrounded by her young,
seeking with avidity the divine word, and sheltering themselves under the protection of their
fostering mother. I gave three instructions
daily; the Indians assisted at them with great
assiduity and attention.
Last year, the feast of St. Ignatius proved
for me a day of danger, trial, and uneasiness. I
love to recall it to my mind, for it terminated
joyfully, and so gloriously, that I know my companions can never forget it, and they will
return lasting thanks to the Almighty, for the
display of His mercy. Without a chart or any
knowledge of the mouth of the Columbia, we
traversed, as if borne on angels' wings, this
formidable river.   This year, I passed the feast OREGON     MISSIONS.
of St. Ignatius amidst many occupations, but
they were of such a nature as to console the
missionary's heart, and repay him a hundredfold, for the trifling privations, pains, and fatigues he endures.
More than one hundred children were presented for baptism, and eleven old men borne
to me on skins, seemed only awaiting the regenerating waters, to depart home and repose in
the bosom of their divine Saviour. The eldest
among them, apparently about one hundred,
and blind, addressed me in the following
pathetic words:—My life has been long on
earth, and my tears have not ceased to flow;
even now I daily weep, for I have beheld all my
children and early associates disappear. I find
myself isolated among my own nation, as if I
were in a stranger land, thoughts of the past
alone occupy me, and they are of a mournful
and bitter nature. Sometimes I •find consolation in remembering that I have avoided the
company of the wicked. Never have I shared
in their thefts, battles or murders. This blessed
day, joy has penetrated the inmost recesses of
my soul; the Great Spirit has taken pity on me,
I have received baptism, I return him thanks
for this favor, and offer him my heart and life. 108
A solemn mass was celebrated, during which
the Indians chanted canticles in praise of God.
The ceremonies of baptism followed, and all
terminated in the most perfect order, to the
great delight and gratification of the savages.
It was indeed a most imposing spectacle, all
around contributed to heighten the effect. The
noble, and gigantic rock, the distant roar of the
cataracts breaking in on the religious silence of
that solitude, situated on an eminence overlooking the powerful Oregon River, and on the spot
where the impetuous waters freeing themselves
from their limits, rush in fury, and dash over a
pile of rocks, casting upwards a thousand jets
d'eau, whose transparent columns reflect, in
varied colors, the rays of the dazzling sun.
There were besides the Shuyelphi or Chau-
diere Indians, the Sinpoils the Zingomenes and
several Kalispels, accompanied me in the
capacity of singers and catechists.
I gave the name of St. Paul to the Shuyelphi
nation, and placed under the care of St. Peter
the tribe inhabiting the shores of the great
Columbia lakes, whither Father Hocken is
about to repair, to continue instructing and
baptizing their adults. My presence among the
Indians did not interrupt their fine and abun- OREGON     MISSIONS.
dant fishery. An enormous basket was fastened
to a projecting rock, and the finest fish of the
Columbia, as if by fascination, cast themselves
by dozens into the snare. Seven or eight times
during the day, these baskets were examined,
and each time were found to contain about 250
salmon. The Indians, meanwhile, were seen on
every projecting rock, piercing the fish with the
greatest dexterity.
They who know not this territory may accuse
me of exaggeration, when I affirm, that it would
be as easy to count the pebbles so profusely
scattered on the shores, as to sum up the
number of different kinds of fish, which this
western river furnishes for man's support; as the
buffalo of the north, and deer from north to east
of the mountains, furnish daily food for the inhabitants of those regions, so do these fish
supply the wants of the western tribes. One
may form some idea of the quantity of salmon
and other fish, by remarking, that at the time
they ascend the rivers, all the tribes inhabiting
the shores, choose a favorable location, and not
only do they find abundant nutriment during
the season, but, if diligent, they dry, and also
pulverize and mix with oil a sufficient quantity
for the rest of the year.   Incalculable shoals of
6 no
salmon ascend to the river's source, and there
die in shallow water. Great quantities of trout
and carp follow them, and regale themselves on
the spawn deposited by the salmon in holes and
still water. The following spring the young
salmon descend towards the sea, and I have
been told, (I cannot vouch for the authenticity,)
that they never return until the fourth year.
Six different species are found in the Columbia
'.' .1 left Chaudiere or Kettle Falls, August 4th,
accompanied by several of the nation of the
Crees to examine the lands they have selected
for the site of a village. The ground is rich
and well suited for all agricultural purposes.
Several buildings were commenced; I gave the
name of St. Francis Regis to this new station'
where a great number of the mixed race and
beaver hunters have resolved to settle, with
their families. The 6th I traversed the high
mountains of the Kalispels, and towards evening
reached the establishment of St. Ignatius. The
Rev. Fathers Hocken and Ravalli, with two lay
brothers, superintend this interesting little settlement. These fathers likewise visit the different
neighboring tribes, such as the Zingomenes,
Sinpoils, Okinaganes, the stations of St. Francis OREGON     MISSIONS.
Regis, of St. Peter, and that of St. Paul, the
Flatbows, and the Koetenays.    I purpose visiting
these two tribes, who have never yet had the
consolation   of   beholding a   " black   gown"
among them.     All these tribes  comprehend,
on an average, about five hundred souls.
I am, with profound respect and esteem,
Your lordship's most obedient servant,
.":••',".       1       .-  P. J. DE SMET, S.J. Station of the Assumption, Arcs-a-plats,
August 17th, 1845.
Monseigneur,—The 9th of August I continued
my route towards the country of the Arcs-a-
plats. The roads were still inundated by the
great freshet. I preferred ascending the Clark
or Flathead River, in my bark canoe, and sent
my horses across the forests bordering the river,
to await me at the great lake of the Kalispels.
I had here a very agreeable and unexpected interview ; as we approached the forests, several
horsemen issued forth in tattered garments.
The foremost gentleman saluted me by name,
with all the familiarity of an old acquaintance.
I returned the gracious salutation, desiring to
know whom I had the honor of addressing. A
small river separated us, and, with a smile, he
said, "Wait until I reach the opposite shore, and
then you will recognise me."    He is not a OREGON     MISSIONS*
beaver hunter, said I to myself; yet under this
tattered garb and slouched hat, I could not
easily descry one of the principal members of the
Hon. Hudson Bay Co., the worthy and respectable Mr. Ogden. I had the honor and good
fortune of making a voyage with him, and in
his own barge, from Colville to Fort Vancouver,
in 1842 ; and no one could desire more agreeable
society. It would be necessary for you to traverse the desert, to feel yourself insulated,
remote from brethren, friends, to conceive the
consolation and joy of such an rencounter.
Mr. Ogden left England in the month of
April last, accompanied by two distinguished
officers. It was a source of great pleasure to
receive recent news from Europe. The Oregon
question appeared to me somewhat alarming.
It was neither curiosity nor pleasure that induced these two officers to cross so many desolate regions, and hasten their course towards
the mouth of the Columbia. They were invested with orders from their government to take
possession of "Cape Disappointment," to hoist
the English standard, and erect a fortress for
the purpose of securing the entrance of the
river, In case of war. In the Oregon question,
" John Bull," without much talk, attains his 114
end, and secures the most important part of the
country; whereas "Uncle Sam," displodes a
volley of words, inveighs and storms! Many
years have been passed in debates and useless
contention, without one single practical effort to
secure his real or pretended rights. The poor
Indians of Oregon, who alone have a right to
the country, are not consulted. Their future
destiny will be, undoubtedly, like that of so
many other unfortunate tribes, who, after having lived peaceably by hunting and fishing,
during several generations, will finally disappear, victims of vice and malady, under the
rapacious influence of modern civilization.
The route from the great Kalispel lake to the
Arcs-a-plats, or Flatbow country, is across dense
forests, and much obstructed by fallen trees,
morasses, frightful sloughs, from which the poor
horses with much difficulty extricate themselves ; but, having finally surmounted all
these obstacles, we contemplate from an eminence a smiling and accessible valley, whose
mellow and abundant verdure is nourished by
two lovely lakes, where the graceful river of the
Arcs-a-plats or McGilvray, winds in such fantastic beauty, that it serves to make the weary
traveller not only forget his past dangers, but OREGON     MISSIONS.
amply compensates him for the fatigues of a
long and tiresome journey.
This section of the valley of Arcs-a-plats
greatly resembles the two valleys of the Pointed
Hearts; same fertility of soil, lakes, pastures,
willow and pine groves; elevated mountains
covered to the very summit with dense forests
of trees, low lands, in which the towering cedar
displays all its majesty and splendid foliage;
and, as Racine says:—
" Elevent aux cieux
Leurs fronts audacieux ! "
The river is, in this place, deep and tranquil;
moving along with a tardy pace until aroused
from its inertness by the universal thaw; it
then descends with such astounding impetuosity
that it destroys the banks, and in its furious
course, uproots and bears along trees, fragments
of rocks, &c, which vainly oppose its passage.
In a few days the entire valley is overflowed^
and it presents to view immense lakes and morasses, separated by borders of trees. Thus
does the kind providence of God, assist his poor
creatures who inhabit these regions, by the
liberality with which he ministers to their
wants. ..
These lakes and morasses, formed in the
spring, are filled with fish ; they remain there
inclosed as in natural reservoirs, for the use of
the inhabitants. The fish swarm in such abundance that the Indians have no other labor than
to take them from the water and prepare them
for the boiler. Such an existence is, however,
precarious; the savages, who are not of a provident nature, are obliged to go afterwards in
quest of roots, grain, berries and fruits ; such as
the thorny bush which bears a sweet, pleasant,
blackberry; the rose-buds, mountain cherry,
cormier or service berry, various sorts of gooseberries and currants of excellent flavor ; raspberries, the hawthorn berry, the wappato, (sa-
gitta-folia,) a very nourishing, bulbous root; the
bitter root, whose appellation sufficiently denotes its peculiar quality, is, however, very
healthy; it grows in light, dry, sandy soil, as
also the caious or biscuit root. The former is
of a thin and cylindrical form; the latter,
though farinaceous and insipid, is a substitute
for bread; it resembles a small white radish;
the watery potatoe, oval and greenish, is prepared like our ordinary potatoe, but greatly inferior to it; the small onion; the sweet onion,
which bears a lovely flower resembling the OREGON.   MISSIONS.
tulip.    Strawberries are common and delicious.
To this catalogue I could add a number of de-
testible fruits and roots which serve as nutriment for the Indians, but at which a civilized
stomach would revolt and nauseate.    I cannot
pass over in silence the camash root, and the
peculiar manner in which it is prepared.    It is
'abundant, and, I may say, is the queen root of
this clime.    It is a small, white, vapid onion,
when removed from the   earth,  but becomes
black and sweet when prepared for food.    The
women  arm   themselves with   long,   crooked
sticks, to go in search of the camash.    After
having procured  a certain quantity of these
roots, by dint of long and painful labor, they
make an excavation in the earth from twelve
to fifteen inches deep, and of proportional diameter,   to contain the roots.    They cover the
bottom wjth closely-cemented pavement, which
they make red hot bv means of a fire.   After
naving carefully withdrawn all the coals, they
cover the stones with grass or wet hay; then
place a layer of camash, another of wet hay, a
third of bark overlaid with mould, whereon is
kept a glowing fire for fifty, sixty, and sometimes   seventy  hours.    The camash thus  acquires a consistency equal to that of the jujube.
6* 118
It is sometimes made into loaves of various dimensions.    It is excellent, especially when boiled with meat; if kept dry, it can be preserved a^
long time.
As soon as their provisions are exhausted the
Indians scour the plains, forests, and mountains,
in quest of game. If they are unsuccessful in
the chase, their hunger becomes so extreme,
that they are reduced to subsist on moss, which
is more abundant than the camash. It is a
parasite £>f the pine, a tree common in these
latitudes, and hangs from its boughs in great
quantities; it appears more suitable for mattresses, than for the sustenance of human life.
When they have procured a great quantity,
they pick out all heterogeneous substance, and
prepare it as they do the camash; it becomes
compact, and is, in my opinion, a most miserable
food, which, in a brief space, reduces those who
live on it to a pitiable state of emaciation.
Such are the Arcs-a-plats. They know
neither industry, art, nor science ; the words
mine and thine are scarcely known among them.
They enjoy, in common, the means of existence
spontaneously granted them by Nature ; and as
they are strangely improvident, they often pass
from the greatest abundance to extreme scarci-
ty. They feast welt? one day, and the following is passed in total abstinence. The two
extremes are equally pernicious. Their cadaverous figure sufficiently demonstrates what I
here advance. I arrived among the Arcs-a-
' plats in time to witness the grand fish festival,
which is yearly celebrated; the men only have
the privilege of assisting thereat. Around a
fire fifty feet long, partially overlaid with stones
of the size of a turkey's egg, eighty men range
themselves; each man is provided with an
osier vessel, cemented with gum and filled with
water and fish. The hall where this extraordinary feast is celebrated is constructed of rush
mats, and has three apertures, one at either extremity for the entrance of guests; the middle
one serves for transporting the fish. All preparations being completed, and each man at his
post, the chief, after a short harangue of encouragement to his people, finishes by a prayer
of supplication to the " Great Spirit," of whom
he demands an abundant draught. He gives
the signal to commence, and each one armed
with two sticks flattened at the extremity,
makes use of them instead of tongs, to draw the
stones from the embers, and put them in his
kettle.   This process is twice renewed, and in 120
the space of five minutes the fish are cooked.
Finally, they squat around the fire in the most
profound silence to enjoy the repast, each trembling lest a bone be disjointed or broken,—an
indispensable condition (a sine qud non) of a
plentiful fishery. A single bone broken would be
regarded as ominous, and the unlucky culprit
banished the society of his comrades, lest his
presence should entail on them some dread evil.
A species of sturgeon which measures from six
to ten, and sometimes twelve feet in length, is
taken by the dart in the great lake ot Arcs-a-plats.
Since my arrival among the Indians, the
feast of the glorious Assumption of the Blessed
Virgin Mary has ever been to me a day of
great consolation. I had time to prepare for
the celebration of this solemn festival. Thanks
bo to the instructions and counsels of a brave
Canadian, Mr. Berland, who for a long time has
resided among them in the quality of trader, I
iound the little tribe of Arcs-a-plats docile,
and in the best disposition to embrace the
faith. They had already been instructed in
the principal mysteries ■% of religion. They
sang canticles in the French and Indian
tongues. They number about ninety families.
I celebrated the first Mass ever offered in their OREGON     MISSIONS.
land ; after which ten adults already advanced
in age and ninety children received baptism.
The former were very attentive to all my instructions. In the afternoon, the erection of the
cross was as solemn as circumstances would admit. There was a grand salute of ninety guns,
and at the foot of the lowly standard of the God-
Saviour, the entire tribe made a tender of their
hearts to Him, with the promise of inviolable
attachment to all the duties of true children of prayer, availing themselves of this
occasion to renounce the remains of their ancient juggling and superstition. The cross
was elevated on the border of a lake, and the
station received the beautiful name of the Assumption. Under the auspices of this good
Mother, in whose honor they have for many
years sung canticles, we hope that religion will
take deep root and flourish amidst this tribe,
where union, innocence, and simplicity, reign
in full vigor. They ardently desire to be taught
agriculture, the advantages of which I have explained, and promised to procure the necessary
seed and implements of husbandry.
I have the honor to be, monseigneur, your
most humble and obedient servant in Jesus
No. VII.
A. M. D. G,
Ford of Flat-Bow River, Sept. 2d, 1845.
Monseigneur, — The Flat-bows and Koetenays
now form one tribe, divided into two branches.
They are known throughout the country by the
appellation of the Skalzi.—Advancing towards
the territory of the Koetenays we were enchanted by the beautiful and diversified scenery. We
sometimes traversed undulatory woods of pine
and cedar, from which the light of day is partially excluded. We next entered sombre forests,
where, axe in hand, we were forced to cut our
way and wind about to avoid hosts of trees that
had been levelled by the autumnal blasts and
storms. Some of these forests are so dense that,
at the distance of twelve feet, I could not distinguish my guide. The most certain way of
extricating one's-self from these labyrinths, is
to trust to the horse's sagacity, which, if left
unguided, will follow the track of other animals.
This expedient has saved me a hundred times. OREGON     MISSIONS.
I cannot refrain from communicating to your
lordship the gloomy and harrowing thoughts
which imagination conjures up in these dismal
regions. The most fearful apprehensions dismay
the bravest heart and cause an involuntary
shudder, as some dire apparition of a bear or
panther stalks in fancy before the mind, whilst
groping our way amidst these dark and frightful haunts, from which there is no egress. We
caught a transitory glimpse of many charming
spots covered with vegetation as we pursued
our winding path near the river, wherever it
deviated from its natural course. At a place
called the Portage, the river crosses a defile of
mountains, or rather of precipitous and frightful
rocks; and the traveller is compelled, for the
distance of eight miles, to risk his life at every
step, and brave obstacles that appear, at first
sight, insuperable.
Whatever can be imagined appalling seems
here combined to terrify the heart—livid gashes
of ravines and precipices, giant peaks and
ridges of varied hue, inaccessible pinnacles, fearful and unfathomable chasms filled with the
sound of ever-precipitating waters, long, sloping
and narrow banks, which must be alternately
ascended, and many times have I been obliged •f
to take the attitude of a quadruped and walk
upon my hands ; often during this perilous passage did I return fervent thanks to the Almighty
for his protection from impending danger. Amid
these stern, heaven-built walls of rocks, the
water has forced its way in varied forms, and
we find cataracts and whirlpools engulfing crags
and trees, beneath their angry sway. Whilst
the eye rests with pleasure on the rich and
russet hues of distant slopes, upland turf and
rock-hung flower—the ear is stunned by the confused sounds of murmuring rills, rushing streams,
impetuous falls, and roaring torrents.
An extensive plain at the base of the Portage
mountain presents every advantage for the foundation of a city. The mountains surrounding
this agreeable site are majestic and picturesque.
They forcibly recalled to my memory the noble
Mapocho Mountains that encompass the beautiful capital of Chili (Santiago). Innumerable
little rills, oozing from the mountain's stony bosom, diffuse a transparent haze over the valleys
and lower slopes. The fine river Des Chutes
comes roaring down and crosses the plain before
it joins its waters to the McGilvray, which
tranquilly pursues its course. The quarries and
forests appear inexhaustible ; and having re- OREGON     MISSIONS.
marked large pieces of coal along the river, I am
convinced that this fossil could be abundantly
procured. What would this now solitary and
desolate land become, under the fostering hand
of civilization ? Indeed, the entire tract of the
Skalzi seems awaiting the benign influence of
a civilized people. Great quantities of lead are
found on the surface of the earth ; and from the
appearance of its superior quality, we are led
to believe there may be some mixture of silver.
Poor, unfortunate Indians ! they trample on
treasures, unconscious of their worth, and content themselves with the fishery and chase.
When these resources fail, they subsist upon
roots and herbs ; whilst they eye, with tranquil
surprise, the white man examining the shining
pebbles of their territory. Ah!, they would
tremble, indeed, could they learn the history of
those numerous and ill-fated tribes that have
been swept from their land, to make place for
Christians who have made the poor Indians
the victims of their rapacity. After a few days'
journey we arrived at the Prairie du Tabac,
the usual abode of the Koetenays. Their camp-
is situated in an immense and delightful valley,
bounded by two eminences, which, from their
gentle and   regular   declivity,   covered   with 126
smooth pebbles, appear to have originally
bounded an extensive lake.
On my arrival, I found about thirty lodges of
Koetenays; hunger had forced many families
to cross the great mountain. They came in
quest of the buffalo, elk, antelope, and stag. I
Was received with every demonstration of joy
and filial affection by those who remained in the
lodges. They hailed me with a long and boisterous discharge of musketry. Several showed me
their journal, consisting of a square stick on
which they had notched the number of days and
weeks elapsed since I abode with them in the
neighborhood of the great lake Teteplatte.
They had computed forty-one months and some
Mr. Berland had exerted his zeal to maintain
the Koetenays and their brethren in the good dispositions in which I had the consolation of finding them. Since my last visit they have followed, to the very letter, all they remembered of
my recommendations. I was obliged to decide
some controversial points, which they had misinterpreted or misapprehended. They habitually
assembled for morning and evening prayer, continued the practice of singing canticles, and
faithfully observed the Sabbath precept. OREGON     MISSIONS.
On the feast of the Holy Heart of Mary I sang
High Mass, thus taking spiritual possession of
this land, which was now for the first time trodden by a minister of the Most High. I administered the Sacrament of Baptism to one hundred
and five persons, among whom were twenty
adults. An imposing ceremony terminated the
exercises of the day. Amidst a general salute
from the camp, a large cross was elevated. The
chiefs, at the head of their tribe, advanced and
prostrated themselves before that sacred ensign,
which speaks so eloquently of the love of a Man-
God, who came to redeem a fallen race. At the
foot of that sacred emblem, they loudly offered
their hearts to him who has declared himself
our Master, and the Divine Pastor of souls.
This station bears the name of the Holy Heart
of Mary. One of our Fathers will soon visit the
two branches of this tribe.
Though these poor people were much in want
of food, they pressed me to remain some days
amongst them, whilst they listened with avidity
to my instructions relative to their future conduct. After my departure they divided into
small bands to go in search of provisions among
the defiles of the mountains.
The 30th August I bade adieu to the Koete- I ii
1 [i
nays. Two young men of their tribe offered to
conduct me to the country of the Black-feet, and
a third Indian, an expert hunter and good interpreter, completed the number of my little escort.
I then journeyed on towards the sources of the
Columbia.—The country we traversed was highly picturesque and agreeably diversified by
beautiful prairies, from which poured forth spicy
odors of fl )wt r, and shrub, and fresh spirit-elating breezes, smiling valleys and lakes, surrounded by_ hoary and solemn pines, gracefully waving their flexible branches. We also crossed
magnificent dark Alpine forests, where the sound
of the axe has never resounded; they are watered by streams which impetuously rush over
savage crags and precipices from the range of
mountains on the right. This stupendous chain
appears like some impregnable barrier of colossal firmness.
I am, with every sentiment of the most profound respect, your lordship's humble and obedient servant in Jesus Christ,
tt   ' "   .'      1     P. J.. DE SMET, S. J.-'r Head of the Columbia,
'.   -j.- September 9th, 1845.
All hail! Majestic Rock—the home,
Where many a wand'rer yet shall come,
Where God himself from his own heart,
Shall health, and peace, and joy impart.
Monseigneur,—The 4th September,
noon, I found myself at the source of the Columbia. I contemplated with admiration those
rugged and gigantic mountains where the Great
River escapes—majestic, but impetuous even at
its source; and in its vagrant course it is undoubtedly the most dangerous river on the western side of the American hemisphere. Two
small lakes from four to six miles in length,
formed by a number of springs and streams, are
the reservoirs of its first waters.
I pitched my tent on the banks of the first
fork that brings in its feeble tribute, and which
we behold rushing with impetuosity over the
inaccessible rocks that present themselves on OREGON     MISSIONS.
the right. What sublime rocks ! How varied
in shape and figure ! The fantastic in every
form, the attractive, the ludicrous,' and the
sublime, present themselves simultaneously to
the view ; and by borrowing ever so little the.
aid of the imagination, we behold rising before
our astonished eyes, castles of by-gone chivalry,
with their many-embattled towers—fortresses,,
surrounded by their walls and bulwarks—
palaces with their domes—and, in fine, cathedrals with their lofty spires.
On arriving at the two lakes, I saw them covered with swarms of aquatic birds—coots, ducks,
water-fowl, cormorants, bustards, cranes, and
swans ; whilst beneath the tranquil water lay
shoals of salmon in a state of exhaustion. At
the entrance of the second lake, in a rather
shallow and narrow place, I saw them pass in
great numbers, cut and mutilated, after their
long watery pilgrimage among the rapids,
cataracts, valleys, and falls ; they continue this
uninterrupted procession during weeks and
jl Perhaps I shall scarcely be believed when I
affirm that the salmon fish are quarrelsome. :||
witnessed with surprise the sharp and vengeful
bites they mutually inflicted.   These two lakes OREGON     MISSIONS.
form an immense tomb, for they there die in
such numbers as frequently to infect the whole
surrounding atmosphere.
In the absence of man, the grey and black
bear, the wolf, the eagle, and vulture assemble
in crowds, at this season of the year. They fish
their prey on the banks of the river, and at the
entrance of the lakes ;—claws, teeth and bills
serving them instead of hooks and darts. From
thence, when the snow begins to fall, the bears,
plump and fat, resume the road back to their
dens in the thick of the forests, and hollows of
rocks, there to pass the four sad wintry months
, in complete indolence, with no other pastime or
occupation, than that of sucking their four
If we may credit the Indians, each paw occupies the bear for one moon, (a month,) and the
task accomplished, he turns on the other side,
and begins to suck the second, and so on with
the rest.
I will here mention, en passant, all the hunters
and Indians remark that it is a very uncommon
incident for a female bear to be killed when
with young, and, notwithstanding, they are
killed in all seasons of the year. Where they
go—what becomes of them during the period 132
they carry their young—is a problem yet to be
solved by our mountain hunters.
When emigration, accompanied by industry,
the arts and sciences, shall have penetrated into
the numberless valleys of the Rocky Mountains,
the source of the Columbia will prove a very important point. The climate is delightful; the
extremes of heat and cold are seldom known.
The snow disappears as fast as it falls; the
laborious hand that would till these valleys,
would be repaid a hundred fold. Innumerable
herds could graze throughout the year in these
meadows, where the sources and streams nurture a perpetual freshness and abundance. The
hillocks and declivities of the mountains are
generally studded with inexhaustible forests, in
which the larch tree, pine of different species,
cedar and cypress abound.
In the plain between the two lakes, are beautiful springs, whose waters have re-united and
formed a massive rock of soft sandy stone, which
has the appearance of an immense congealed or
petrified cascade. Their waters are soft and
pellucid; and of the same temperature as the
milk just drawn from the cow. The description
given by Chandler of the famous fountain of
Pambouk Kalesi, on the ancient Hieropolis of
Asia Minor, in the valley of Meander, and of
which Malte Brun makes mention, might be
literally applied to the warm springs at the
source of the Columbia. The prospect unfolded
to our view was so wonderful, that an attempt
to give even a faint idea of it, would savor of
romance, without going beyond the limits of
We contemplated with an admiring gaze, this
vast slope, which, from a distance, had the appearance of chalk, and when nearer, extends
like an immense concreted cascade, its undulating surface resembling a body of water suddenly checked or indurated in its rapid course.
The first lake of the Columbia is two miles
and a half distant from the River des Arcs-a-
plats, and receives a portion of its waters during
the great spring freshet. They are separated
by a bottom land. The advantages Nature seems
to have bestowed on the source of the Columbia,
will render its geographical position very important at some future day. The magic hand
of civilized man would transform it into a ter-
restial paradise.
The Canadian ! Into what part of the desert
has he not penetrated ? The monarch who rules
at the source of the Columbia is an honest emi-
7 134
grant from St. Martin, in the district of Montreal, who has resided for twenty-six years in
this desert. The skins of the rein and moose
deer are the materials of which his portable
palace is composed ; and to use his own expressions, he embarks on horseback with his wife
and seven children, and lands wherever he
pleases. Here, no one disputes his right, and
Polk and Peel, who are now contending for the
possession of his dominions, are as unknown to
our carbineer, as the two greatest powers of the
moon. His sceptre is a beaver trap—his law
a carbine—the one on his back, the other on
his arm, he reviews his numerous furry subjects
the beaver, otter, muskrat, marten, fox, bear,
wolf, sheep, and white goat of the mountains,
the black-tailed roe-buck, as well as its red-
tailed relative, the stag, the rein and moose deer;
some of which respect his sceptre-—others submit
to his law. He exacts and receives from them
the tribute of flesh and skins. Encircled by so
much grandeur, undisturbed proprietor of all
the sky-ward palaces, the strong holds, the very
last refuge which Nature has reared to preserve
alive liberty in the earth—solitary lord of these
majestic mountains, that elevate their icy sum-?
mits even to the clouds,—Morigeau (our Can- OREGON     MISSIONS.
adian) does not forget his duty as a Christian.
Each day, morning and evening, he may be seen
devoutly reciting his prayers, midst his little
|ft Many years had Morigeau ardently desired
to see a priest; and when he learned that I was
about to visit the source of the Columbia, he
repaired thither in all haste to procure for his
wife and children the -signal grace of baptism.
The feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin,
this favor was conferred on them, and also on
the children of three Indian families, who accompany him in his migrations. This was a
solemn day for the desert! The august sacrifice
of Mass was offered; Morigeau devoutly approached the Holy Table;—at the foot of the
humble altar he received the nuptial benediction; and the mother, surrounded by her children and six little Indians, was regenerated in
the holy waters of baptism. In memory of so
many benefits, a large cross was erected in the
plain, which, from that time, is called the Plain
of the Nativity.
I cannot leave my good Canadian without
making an honorable mention of his royal
cuisine a la sauvage. The* first dish he presented
me contained two paws of a bear.   In Africa, Sbttr
this ragout might have given some alarm; in
effect, it bears a striking resemblance to the feet
of a certain race. A roast porcupine next made
its appearance, accompanied by a moose's
muzzle ; the latter I found delicious. Finally,
the great kettle containing a sort of hotch-potch,
or salmagundi, was placed in the midst of the
guests, and each one helped himself according
to his taste.
Some remains of beef, buffalo, venison, beavers' tails, hare, partridges, &c, made an agreeable, substantial, famous soup.
I am, monseigneur, your most humble and
obedient servant in Jesus Christ,        |p :
:m: § P. J. DE SMET, S. J.
'■''"SBSHflSP Poplars and birch trees ever quivering played,
And nodding cedars formed a vagrant shade;
On whose high branches, waving with the storm.
The birds of broadest wings their mansion form ;
The jay, the magpie, the loquacious crow,
And soar aloft and skim the deeps below.
Here limpid fountains from the clefts distil,
And every fountain forms a noisy rill,
In mazy windings wand'ring down the hill."
Monseigneur,—We bade adieu to the
family on the 9th, and to their companions
of the chase, the Sioushwaps. We quitted
the upper valley of the Columbia by a small
footpath, which soon conducted us to a narrow
mountain defile, where the light of day vanished
from view, amidst the huge, bold barriers of
colossal rocks. The grand, the sublime, the
beautiful, here form the most singular and fan- 138
tastic combinations. Though gray is the prevailing color, we find an immense rock of porphyry, or white-veined granite. Here and there,
from the fissures of the rock, or wherever there
is a handful of dust, the heavy and immortal
pine enroots itself, adding its gloomy verdure to
the variegated hues of the torpid rocks. These
circuitous paths often present the most ravishing and picturesque vistas; surrounded by colossal walls, the greatest diversity and most beautiful scenery in nature is spread out before
the eye, where the plush and cedar rise majestically in these venerable woods, the graceful
poplar waves on high its emerald plumes, and
fights its battles with the howling storm, whilst
over the precipitous and jagged rocks, the
scarcely-waving pine fills the brown shade with
religious awe. The birch springs from an earth
carpetted with moss, and shines like magnificent
silver columns, supporting diadems of golden
autumnal leaves, amidst the redolent purple-
berried juniper and azure turpentines, of these
humid dells and forests.
After a day's journey through these primeval
scenes, we reached the banks of the river Arcs-
a-plats, where innumerable torrents rash headlong, with a thousand mazes from the moun-
_v -=   - - OREGON    MISSIONS* 139
tain's brow, and in their union form this noble
river. From afar is heard the deafening and
continuous sound of its own dashes, as it traverses a rocky bed with extraordinary rapidity.
We crossed the river in order to attempt the
passage of another defile, still more wonderful,
where the waters of the Vermillion have forced
an opening. Here,- everything strikes the eye ;
all is wild sublimity, in this profound but turbulent solitude. Projecting mountains rise like
holy towers where man might commune with
the sky;—terrible precipices hang in fragments
overhead—the astounding noise of the deep-
tongued waves, in their unconfined flow, resembles that of the angry tempest, sweeping wild and
free, like the spirit of liberty. Now the breaking waves play low upon the rock-ribbed beach,
and madly plunge into an abyss—anon it returns foaming to its sedgy bed, apparently
sporting with the sedges for diversion—falling
from slope to slope, from cascade to cascade,
passing in its course a long train of rapids—
now concealing itself under the tufted foliage of
cedar and pine—again pouring its brilliant and
crystalline waters into a capacious basin, as if to
take breath before  quitting  the javine,   and
— mmsm
finally precipitating its wandering course with
renovated vigor.
From this almost impenetrable forest issues a
harmonious sound. 'T is the whistling or lowing
of the noble stag, calling its companion. The
moose, the most vigilant of animals, gives the
signal of alarm. He has heard the cracking
branch—he has inhaled the hunter's deadly
breath; a confused noise is heard from the
mountain; the sportsman raises his eager eye
to its summit, and scans a flock of rein-deer
perched upon the snow; they are started at the
approach of man ; in a instant they are lost
among the inaccessible pinnacles, the
I Palaces where Nature thrones
Sublimity in icy halls."
We often catch a glimpse of the graceful forms
and nimble feats of the roe-bucks, as they caper
and gallop, or tarry an instant to look around,
with their lancet ears distended to catch every
sound; these wild, forest stragglers resume
their course, and finally penetrate into the
sombre forest. Flocks of wild goats gambol
carelessly and tranquilly beside herds of mountain sheep above overhanging precipices and
peaked rocks, chequered by patches of snow,
far beyond the reach of human footsteps.
A monstrous animal, the grey bear, which
replaces on our mountains the African lion, is
not content with growling and menacing the
intrepid venturer, who dares infringe on his
cavernous dominions, but grinds his teeth, expressive of his rage. Suddenly, a well-aimed
gun-shot forces him to make a lowly reference ;
the formidable beast rolls in the dust, biting the
sand saturated with his blood, and expires.
The ordinary music of the desert is, the shrill
cry of the panther, and the howling of the wolf.
The diminutive mountain hare, six inches high,
and whose biography has not yet found a place
in natural history, amuses itself amidst the
stony rubbish, and exhibits wonderful activity; whilst his neighbor, the lubberly porcupine, clambers up, seats himself upon a
branching cypress and gnaws the bark. He
views the eager huntsman with a careless and
indifferent air, unconscious that his tender flesh
is regarded as a most delicious morsel. The industrious beaver, like a wary sentinel, warns his
family of man's approach by striking the water
with his tail. The muskrat, or musquash, plunges
immediately into the water. The otter quits
his sports and slides upon his belly among the
reeds—the timid squirrel leaps from bough to
. 142
bough, until it reaches the topmost shade of the
cypress; the marten jumps from tree to tree, and
buries itself in the foliage—the whistler and
weasel repair to their respective domicils:—
a precipitous flight alone saves the fox his rich
silvery pelisse—the badger, or the ground-hog,
too remote from his dwelling, digs the sandy
soil, and buries himself alive, to avoid pursuit—j
his magnificent skin is destined to adorn the loins
of an Indian—it requires the joint efforts of two
men to force him from his hiding place, and to
kill him.
The evening previous to our egression from
the blind mazes of this tangled wood, our eyes
were recreated by a ravishing scene. When it
presents itself after a disastrous combat, the
spectacle consoles the afflicted heart of the savage warrior. From the mountain's top we
contemplated the " dance of the manitous or
spirits, and the glorious entrance of departed
champions into the country of souls." Vast
columns of light varying in splendor, appeared
to divert and balance themselves in the heavens:
—some of perpendicular form; others resembling undultatory waves ; now concealing, now
exhibiting themselves under diversified aspects
until the entire hemisphere seemed brilliantly OREGON     MISS IONfl.
illuminated. All these masses united at the
zenith, and then separated under a variety of
Mysterious, solemn, cold and clear*
Their steps majestic rise,
Like barriers round this earthly sphere,
Like gates of Paradise.
Well may imagination faint
Before your sacred blaze,
And baffled science fail to paint
The source of heaven-lit rays.
The aurora borealis, is a phenomenon which
-1 always contemplate with mingled admiration
and pleasure. All that is seen, all that is heard
in this unfathomable solitude, is both agreeable
and instructive. It strikes, captivates, and elevates the mind towards the Author of nature.
Mirabilia opera Domini!
After much fatigue, labor, and admiration, on
the 15th we traversed the high lands separating
the waters of Oregon from those of the south
branch of the Sascatshawin, or the ancient
Bourbon river, so called before the Canadian
conquest by the British. It is the largest tribu=
tary of the Winnepeg, which flows into Hudson's
Bay by the River Nelson, 58 deg. north latitude. 144
1 if'
If UlU
The Christian's standard, the cross, has been
reared at the source of these two rivers: may it
be a sign of salvation and peace to all the scattered and itinerant tribes east and west of these
gigantic and lurid mountains.
On the cypress which serves for constructing
the cross, the eagle, emblem of the Indian
warrior, perches himself. The huntsman aims
—the noble bird lies prostrate, and even in his
fall, seems to retain his kingly pride. It so forcibly recalls to memory the beautiful lines of
the illustrious Campbell, that I quote them in
full:— | • :§'"../'';-'
Fallen as he is, the king of birds still seems
Like royalty in ruins.    Though his eyes
Are shut, that looked undazzled on the sun,
He was the sultan of the sky, and earth
Paid tribute to his eyrie.   It was perched
Higher than human conqueror ever built
His bannered fort.   *       *       *       *
*       *   He cloved the adverse storm
And cuffed it with his wings.   He stopped his flight
As easily as the Arab reins his steed,
And stood at pleasure 'neath heaven's zenith, like
A lamp suspended from its azure dome;
Whilst underneath him the world's mountains lay
Like mole-hills, and her streams like lucid threads.
We breakfasted on the bank of a limpid lake
at the base of the " Cross of Peace," from whence I have the honor of dating my letter, and of
giving you the renewed assurance of my profound respect and veneration; recommending
to your fervent prayers, in a special marfner, this
vast desert, which contains so many precious
souls still buried in the shades of death.
Monseigneur, your very humble and devoted
servant in Jesus Christ,
' -    '381 '.m P. J. DE SMET, S. J. Camp of theAssiniboins, Sept. 26th, 1845,
Here bloomy meads with vivid greens are crown'd,
And glowing violets throw sweet odors round."
Monseigneur,—By a steep declivity we entered
a rich valley, agreeably diversified by enamelled
meads, magnificent forests, and lakes—in which
the salmon-trout so abound, that in a few
minutes we procured sufficient for an excellent
repast. The valley is bounded on either side by
a succession of picturesque rocks, whose lofty
summits, rising in the form of pyramids, lose
themselves in the clouds. The far-famed Egyptian monuments of Cheops and Cephren dwindle
into nought before this gigantic architectural
cliff of nature. The natural pyramids of the
Rocky mountains seem to deride the artificial
skill of man; they serve as a resting place for
the clouds that come hither to seek repose, and
to encircle their giant brows.   The Lord's omni- OREGON     MISSIONS,
potent hand has laid the foundations—he has
permitted the elements to form them, and in
every age they proclaim His power and glory !
We emerged from this delightful valley, on
the 18th of September, after a three days' excursion, and recommenced our mountainous
peregrination, which presented nothing but obstacles and contusions, both to men and horses.
For the space of six hours we were compelled
to trace our route across fragments of broken
rocks, through an extensive and parched forest,
,and where millions of half-consumed trees lay
extended in every direction. Not a trace of
vegetation remained, and never had I contemplated so dismal and destructive a conflagration !
We reached the River des Arcs or Askow, in
the evening, and pitched our solitary tent upon
the shore. Here we discovered some vestiges
of a savage party. Five days previous, nine
lodges of Indians had encamped upon the very
spot. We made a careful search, and my
guides imagined they were the formidable
Black-feet! We, the same day, saw two smokes
at the extremity of the plain over which
these barbarians had travelled. My companions
seemed to hesitate, as we drew near the vicinity 148
of these fearful Black-feet. They recounted to
me their inauspicious dreams, and wished to
deter me from proceeding. One said: "J saw
myself devoured by a wild bear ; " another, "J
saw ravens and vultures, (ill-omened birds,)
hovering over the head of our father ;" a third
saw a bloody spectacle. I gave them, in my
turn, the history of one of my sentries, the archetype  of vigilance, courage and simplicity.
1 Midst the dark horrors of the sable night
(No idle dream I tell nor fancy's strain)
Thrice rose the red man's shade upon my sight,
Thrice vanished into dusky air again.
With courage high my panting bosom swells,
Onward I rushed upon the threatening foe,
When, hark! Horrific rise the spectre's yells
He points the steel and aims the fatal blow;
Guard, sentinel! to arms ! to arms ! to arms!
Indians !  Indians ! my voice swelled loud and deep:
The camp is roused at dread of my alarms,
They wake and find—that I am sound asleep !
They were greatly amused at the recital of
his imaginary fancies, and seemed to understand how little import I attached to such
visions. | Happen what may," said they, N we
shall never quit our father until we seen him in
a place of safety." This was precisely what I
desired.   I could not, however, deceive myself. OREGON     MISSIONS.
I had finally entered a land, the theatre of so
many sanguinary scenes. I was now on the
very confines of these barbarous people, from
which, possibly, I should I never return ! It not
unfrequently happens, that, in their unbridled
fury when they hear some relative has been
killed, the Black-feet despatch the first stranger
they meet, scalp him—and then abandon to the
wolves and dogs, the palpitating limbs of the
unfortunate victim of their vengeance, hatred,
and superstition. I declare to you, I was beset
> by a thousand disquietudes concerning the fate
that awaited me. Poor nature ! this timid and
fragile metis homo is sometimes terrified. He
would wish to look back and listen to dreams.
My longing desires repeated incessantly—Advance ! I placed my whole confidence in God—
the prayers of so many fervent souls encouraged
and re-animated me; I resolved not to be deterred by an uncertain danger. The Lord can,
when he pleases, mollify these pitiless and ferocious hearts. The salvation of souls is at
stake, and the preservation of the mission of St.
Mary's depends on my proceeding; for there, the
incursions of the Black-feet are very frequent.
What consideration could deter me from a pro-
ject which my heart had cherished, since my
first visit among the mountains ?
The 19th and 20th, we followed the tracks
of our unknown predecessors, and they appeared more and more recent. I despatched
my two guides to reconnoitre, and ascertain
whom we were so closely pursuing.—One of
them returned the same evening, with the news
that he had found a small camp of Assiniboins
of the forest; that they had been well received;
that a disease reigned in the camp, of which two
had lately died, and that they expressed great
desire to see the Black-gown. The following
morning we joined them, and journeyed several
days in company.
The Assiniboins of the forest do not amount
to more than fifty lodges or families, divided into
several bands. Thev are seldom seen in the
plains; the forest is their element, and they are
renowned huntsmen and warriors. They travel
over the mountains and through the woods, over
the different forks and branches of the sources
of the Sascatshawin aud Athabaska. Agriculture is unknown to this tribe ; they subsist exclusively on small animals, such as big-horns,
goats, bucks; but especially on the porcupine,
which swarms in his region.    When pressed by
,J  .^Mm   OREGON      MISSIONS.
hunger, they have recourse to roots, seeds, and
the inner bark of the cypress tree. They own few
horses, and perform all their journeys on foot.
Their hunters set out early in the morning,
kill all the game they meet, and suspend it to the
trees, as they pass along,—their poor wives, or
rather their slaves, often bearing two children
on their backs, and dragging several more after
them, tardily follow their husbands, and collect
what game the latter have killed.    They had a
long file of famished dogs, loaded with their
little provisions, etc.    Every family has a band
of six to twelve of these animals, and each dog
carries from 30 to 35 lbs. weight.    They are the
most wretched animals in existence ; from their
tender-hearted masters and mistresses they receive more bastinados than morsels, consequently they are the most adroit and incorrigible
rogues to be found in the forest.   Every evening
we find it necessary to hang all our property
upon the trees, beyond the reach of these voracious dogs.   We  are even  compelled to barricade ourselves within our tents at night, and
surround them with boughs of trees ; for, whatever is of leather, or whatever has pertained to
a living being, these crafty rogues bear away,
and devour.    You will say I have little charity 152
It    ■
for these poor brutes—but be not astonished.
One fine evening, having neglected the ordinary
precaution of blocking up the entrance of my
tent, I next morning found myself without shoes
—with a collarless cassock—and minus one leg
to my culottes de peau ! ! ! One of the chiefs of
this little camp recounted to me, that last
winter, one of his nation, having been reduced
to extreme famine, (and such cases are not rare,)
had eaten successively, his wife and four children. The monster then fled into the desert,
and he has never been heard of since.
The Oregon missionary, Rev. Mr. Bolduc, related in his journal, that at Akena, one of
the Gambia Isles, he saw an old dame, who,
having had eight husbands, had eaten three of
them, during a time of famine ! ! I add this last
fact to give you a reverse to the above horrible
The Assiniboins have the reputation of being
irascible, jealous, and fond of babbling; in consequence of these bad qualities, battles and
murders are not vjnfrequent among them, and of
course continual divisions. Every evening I
gave them instruction, by means of an interpreter. They, appeared docile, though somewhat
timorous: for they had frequently been visited OREGON     MISSIONS.
by persons who defamed both priests and religion. I rendered all the little services in my
power to their invalids, baptked six children
and an old man who expired two days after, he
was interred with all the funeral ceremonies and
prayers of the church.
Cleanliness is a virtue which has no place
in the Indian catalogue of domestic or personal
duties. The Assiniboins are filthy beyond conception; they surpass all their neigbours in
this unenvied qualification. They are devoured by vermin, which they, in turn, consume.
A savage, whom I playfully reprehended for
his cruelty to these little invertebral insects,
answered me: " He bit me the first, I have a
a right to be revenged." Through complacency,
I overcame natural disgust, and assisted at their
porcupine feast. I beheld the Indians carve
the meat on their leathern shirts, highly polished with grease—filthy, and swarming with
vermin, they had disrobed themselves, for the
purpose of providing a table-cloth ! — They
dried their hands in their hair—this is their only
towel—and as the porcupine has naturally a
strong and offensive odor, one can hardly endure
the fragrance of those who feast upon its flesh
and besmear themselves with its oil. 54
A good old woman, whose face was anointed
with blood, (the Indians' mourning weeds,) presented me a wooden platter filled with soup;
the horn spoon destined for my use was dirty
and covered with grease ; she had the complaisance to apply it to the broad side of her tongue,
before putting it into my unsavory broth.
If a bit of dried meat, or any other provision
is in need of being cleansed, the dainty cook
fills her mouth with water and spirts it with
her whole force upon the fated object. A certain
dish, which is considered a prime delicacy among
the Indians, is prepared in a most singular
manner, and they are entitled to a patent for the
happy faculty of invention. The whole process
belongs exclusively to the female department.
They commence by rubbing their hands with
grease, and collecting in them the blood of the
animal, which they boil with water; finally, they
fill the kettle with fat and hashed meat. But—
hashed with the teeth ! Often half a dozen old
women are occupied in this minting operation
during hours ; mouthful after mouthful is masticated, and thus passes from the mouth into the
cauldron, to compose the choice ragout of the
Rocky mountains. Add to this, by way of an
exquisite   desert, an immense dish  of crusts, OREGON      MISSIONS
composed of pulverized ants, grass-hoppers and
locusts, that had been dried in the sun, and you
mav then be able to form some idea of Indian
The American porcupine, the Hystrix dorsata,
is called by modern Zoologists, the Prickly Beaver. In fact there is great similarity between
the two species in size and form, and both inhabit the same region. The porcupine, like the
beaver, has a double peltry or fur; the first is
long and soft; the second, is still softer, and
greatly resembles down or felt. They both
have two long sharp, strong tusks, at the extremity of the jaw-bone. The Flat-heads
affirm that the porcupine and beaver are
brothers, and relate that anciently they abode
together; but that, having frequently been discovered by their enemies, through the indolence,
idleness and extreme aversion of the porcupines
for the water, the beavers met in council and
unanimously agreed upon a separation. The
latter availed themselves of a fine day and invited their spiny brethren to accompany them
in a long ramble, among the cypress and juniper
of the forest. The indolent and heedless porcupines, having copiously regaled themselves with
the savory buds of the one, and the tender rind
II it
of the other, extended their weary limbs upon
the verdant moss, and were soon lost in profound
sleep. This was the anticipated moment for
the wily beavers to bid a final adieu to their
porcupine relatives.
The Assiniboins inhabiting the plains are far
more numerous than their mountain brethren.
They number about six hundred lodges; they
own a greater number of horses, and the men,
in general, are more robust, and of a commands
ing stature. They are more expert in thieving,
are greater topers, and are perpetually at war.
They hunt the buffalo in the great plains bet-
tween the Sascatshawin, the Red river, Missouri,
and Yellow Stone.
IU The Crows, Black-feet, Arikaras and Sioux
are their most inveterate enemies.—They speak
nearly the same language as the Sioux, and
have the same origin.
I have the honor to be, with the most profound respect and veneration, monseigneur,
your very humble and very obedient servant in
Christ Jesus,
No. XL
A. M. D. G.
Fort of the Mountains, October 5,1845.
Monseigneur,—The last few days we journeyed
' with the little Assiniboin camp, the aspect of
the country offered nothing very interesting.
We passed from valley to valley between two
high chains of adamantine mountains, whose
slopes are, here and there, ornamented with
mounds of perpetual snow. A beautiful crystalline fountain issues from the centre of a perpendicular rock about five hundred feet high,
and then pours its waters over the plain in foam
and mist.
The 29th we separated from the Assiniboins;
the path conducted us through a thick forest of
cypress; I am told this is the last—Deo Gratias !
These belts of tall firs are very numerous, and
form great obstacles and barriers to land communications between the east and west of the
mountains,   I have a little word of advice to
8 Wt 158
I S S I 0 N S .
give all who wish to visit these latitudes. At
the entrance of each thick forest, one should
render himself as slender, as short, and as contracted as possible, imitating the different evolutions in all encounters of an intoxicated cavalier, but with skill and presence of mind. I
mean to say, he should know how to balance
himself—cling to the saddle in every form, to
avoid the numerous branches that intercept his
passage, ever ready to tear him into pieces,
and flay his face and hands. Notwithstanding
these precautions, it is rare to escape without
paying tribute in some manner to the ungracious forest. I one day found myself in a
singular and critical position: in attempting to
pass under a tree that inclined across the path,
I perceived a small branch in form of a hook,
which threatened me. The first impulse was
to extend myself upon the neck of my horse.
Unavailing precaution ! It caught me by the
collar of my surtout, the horse still continuing
his pace.-—Behold me suspended in the air—
struggling like a fish at the end of a hook.
Several respectable pieces of my coat floated,
in all probability, a long time in the forest, as
an undeniable proof of my having paid toll in
passing through it.    A crushed and torn hat—■ >
an eye black and blue—two deep scratches on
the cheek, would, in a civilized country* have
given me the appearance rather of a bully issuing from the Black Forest, than a missionary.
To render a bad forest superlatively so, a
great fall of snow is necessary. This special
favor was lavished upon us in this last passage. Wo to the first pedestrians! The
branches groan under the burden of their wintry
shroud, and seem to present the motto: "Si tan-
gas frangas I" and assuredly, at each rubbing
of the hat, the least touching of the arm or leg,
a deluge of snow showers down upon the
shivering cavalier and horse. Immediately the
branch rises proudly as if in derision. On such
occasions, there is nothing better to be done
than to form a rear guard, and walk in the track
of the predecessor.
In pursuing our route, the 27th, on one of the
branches of the river " a la Biche," (Red Deer
on the maps), we remarked several sulphurous
fountains, which furnish great quantities of sulphur, and a coal mine, apparently very abundant.
I here beg the favor of a short digression from
my subject.    Coal abounds east of the Rocky 160
Mountains, on the borders of the Missouri and
Yellow Rock, on the Sascatshawin and Atha-
baska. Saltpetre is found in abundance, and
iron is not scarce in many parts of the mountains. I have already spoken of lead in the
country of the "Koetenays," the name of the
river at the copper mine in the north, indicates
its riches ; bars of this precious metal are discovered among the rocks bordering the river.
Rock salt is found in powder, and very plentiful
in the Pays Serpent.
The valley is picturesque and variegated;
flocks of sheep and goats contribute to beautify
the scenery. We find many tracks of the bears
and buffaloes; on seeing the latter my party
became animated; for the buffaloes' flesh is,
without contradiction, the most delicate of these
regions. One is never tired of it. Hitherto,
the animals of the mountains had abundantly
satisfied our necessities, for the huntsmen killed
no less than eighteen pieces, without counting
the fowl and fish which are so plentiful in this
country. The same evening the remainder of
our provisions was consumed, and a buffalo
chase was proposed for the following day. One
of the sportsmen set out early, and at breakfast
time we perceived him coming, with a round OREGON     MISSIONS
fat cow; immediately the ribs, tripes, etc.,
honored the fire with their presence. The rest
of the day was spent in seeking fresh provisions.
The 30th, we continued our route through the
valley, where a rivulet of clear water meanders. It is similar to all the other valleys west
of the* mountains, agreeably diversified with
meadows, lakes, and forests—the valley widens
in proportion as one descends—the rocky banks
disappear—the mountains decrease, and appear
insensibly to commingle with one another.
Some are covered with forests even to their
tops, others present cones, elevated ramparts,
covered with rich verdure.
The 4th October, after having traversed the
great chain of mountains nineteen days in pursuit of the Black-Feet, we entered the vast
plain, this ocean of prairies, inhabited by a
multitude of roving savages, buried in the deepest superstition. The Black-Feet, Crows, Serpents, (Arikaras,) Assiniboins of the plains, the
Sheyennes, Camanehes, Sioux, Omahas, Ottos,
Pawnees, Kants, Saucs, Ajouas, etc., etc., are
without pastors ! We hope that Divine Providence has not deferred the epoch when the
darkness now overwhelming these immense regions will give place to the beneficial light of tSmtt
the gospel;—that worthy and zealous pastors
will come to guide in the way of salvation these
poor and unhappy children of the desert, who,
during so many ages, have groaned under the
dominion of' the devil, and among whom the
war-song and the cry of carnage never ceased
to resound. There, we hope, will reign fai their
turn, peace and Christian charity, and the fragrance of divine love and praise ascend to the
only true God.
The worthy Bishop of Juliopolis has established his See on the Red river, a tributary of
the Winnepeg, amidst the possessions of the
Anglo-Indians. Already two of his zealous
missionaries, Rev. Messrs. Thibault and Bou-
rassa, have penetrated to the very foot of the
Rocky Mountains, whilst other indefatigable
priests have been employed, for many years, in
extending the kingdom of God in this immense
diocess. The population of Red River is about
5,500 souls, of whom 3,175 are Catholics. There
are 730 houses inhabited. I had the honor of
receiving a letter from the Rev. Mr. Thibault
on my arrival in this latitude.   He says :
"From the month of March to September
last, I have labored among the mountain
nations ; they are well disposed to embrace the
TTTiiif^'i ii OREGON     MISSIONS.
faith. I cannot give you a better idea of these
people than by comparing them to the Flat-
heads. I have baptized more than five hundred
children and adults in the course of this mission.
As soon as I find the opportunity of a water
conveyance, I shall continue my labors among
these good savages, and extend my route as far
as McKenzie's river. A rich harvest would be
there found for many laborers in the sacred
ministry, for this nation is populous and occupies
a vast extent of country, without including
several other nations I visited this summer.
* Come, then, to us,' said they, ' we, also, shall be
happy to learn the joyful news you have
brought our brethren of the mountains ; we are
to be pitied, not knowing the word of the Great
Spirit; be, therefore, charitable to us—come,
teach us the way of salvation—we will listen
to it.'
m " My fellow-laborer, Bourassa, set out in September, to announce the Gospel to the Indians
residing near the river de la Paix."
From Lake St. Anne, or Manitou, the ordinary residence of these two gentlemen, they extend their apostolic course to the different tribes
on the rivers Athabaska and McKenzie, Peace
river, and Slave lake. 11 s
Within the limits, as far as they have tra-,
veiled, are found the Black-Feet, Crees, Assiniboins of the forest, of the mountains, Beaver
Hunters, Flat-side Dogs, Slaves, and Deer-Skins.
(It is by these names that the different Indians
are known among the whites and travellers.)
The great Indian district of the United States
is (if I may say so) the only one deprived of spiritual succor and the means of salvation. It
contains several hundred thousand savages.
This vast territory is bounded on the north-west
by the Anglo-Indian possessions'—east by the
Western States—south by Texas and Mexico—
west by the Rocky Mountains. It contains
many forts or trading houses, in which the
greater number of persons employed are Canadian Catholics or French Creoles. The principal of these forts are, Fort des Corbeaux, or
Alexander, on the Yellow Stone, Fort la
Ramee, on a branch of the river Platte, Fort
Osage, on the river of the same name—Fort
Pied-noir, or Lewis, at the mouth of the river
Maria, Fort Union near the mouth of the
Yellow Rock, Fort Berthold, Fort Mandan or
Clark near the mouth of the Little \ Missouri, Fort Pierre, Fort Look-out and Fort Vermillion at the mouth of this river, the other trad- OREGON     MISSIONS.
ing houses among the Pottowatomies of Council Bluffs and of Belle-vue for the Ottos and
Pawnees. The great depository which furnishes
these Forts and receives all the peltry and buffalo hides, is kept at St. Louis.
Monseigneur Lor as, Bishop of Dubuque, has
sent two priests among the Sioux, on the river
St. Pierre, a tributary of the Mississippi.
The Society of Jesus has a mission among the
Pottowatomies on Sugar Creek, a tributary of
the Osage river. The Ladies of the Sacred
Heart have an establishment here. During
the summer of 1841, the late distinguished Madame de Galitzin, provincial of the Order in
America, visited this section of the country for
the purpose of founding, among these rude savages, a house of education, in which the hapless
children of the desert now enjoy the benefit of
being instructed in the Christian faith, of being
formed to habits of industry and cleanliness,
and acquiring a knowledge of those branches
of education suited to their condition.—These
two missions are located near the frontiers of
the States, and are the only ones in this immense territory.
The upper Missouri, and all its branches as far
,as the Rocky Mountains, are without spiritual as-
8# It   [Pplif
sistance. Wherever the priest has passed in
traversing the desert, he has been received with
open arms among the tribes that rove over this
country—alas ! so long a time forgotten and neglected !
The evening of 4th October, I arrived at the
Fort des Montagnes, belonging to the Hon.
Hudson Bay Company, without having accomplished the object of my travels and my desires,
namely, meeting the Black-feet. The respectable and worthy commander of the Fort, Mr.
Harriot, an Englishman by birth, is among the
most amiable gentlemen I have ever had the
pleasure of meeting. He invited, and received
into his hospitable Fort the poor missionary, a
Catholic and stranger, with a politeness and
cordiality truly fraternal. These qualities characterize all the gentlemen of the Hudson Bay
Company, and although Mr. Harriot is a Protestant, he encouraged me to visit the Black-feet,
who would soon arrive at the Fort, promising
me to use all his influence with these barbarians to obtain me a friendly reception. He has
resided many years among them, nevertheless
he did not conceal from me that I should soon
be exposed to great dangers. " We are in the
hands of God—may His holy will be done."  Fort of the Mountains,
% ;| October 30th, 1845.       ^
Monseigneur,—A band of about twenty Crees,
encamped near the Fort, came to shake hands
cordially with me on my arrival. The joy my
presence seemed to occasion them, proved that
I was not the first priest they had seen. Moreover, the greater number wore medals and
crosses. They informed me that they too had
been so fortunate as to have a Black-Gown,
(Rev. Mr. Thibault,) who taught them to know
and serve the Great Spirit—and baptized all
their little children, with the exception of three,
who were absent on the occasion. These children were brought to me—I administered baptism
to them, and at the same time to one of my
guides, a Koetenay. During their stay at the
Fort, I gave them instructions every evening.
Two  Crees, of the same band  and family,
father and son, had been killed in a quarrel two OREGON    MISSION S.
years since. The presence of the offending
party for the first time since the perpetration of
the murder, rekindled in the others that spirit of
rancor and revenge so natural to an Indian's
breast, and there was every reason to apprehend fatal consequences from the old feud.
With the approbation of Mr. Harriot, I assembled them all in the Fort; the governor
himself had the kindness to be my interpreter.
He made a long discourse on the obligation and
necessity of their coming to a sincere reconciliation ; the matter was discussed in form, each
Indian giving his opinion in turn, with a good
sense and moderation that surprised me. I had
the pleasure and satisfaction of seeing the
calumet passed around the assembly. This is
the solemn pledge of peace—the token of Indian
brotherhood—the most formal declaration of the
entire forgetfulness and sincere pardon of an
The Cree nation is considered very powerful,
and numbers more than six hundred wigwams.
This tribe is one of the most formidable enemies
of the Black-Feet, and continually encroaches
upon the territory of its adversaries. The preceding year they carried off more than six hundred horses.   The actual limit of the country 170
they traverse extends from the bases of the
Rocky Mountains, between the two forks of the
Sascatshawin, some distance beyond the Red
River. Their turbulent and warlike spirit, and
rapacity for plunder, especially for horses, are
among the great obstacles which retard the
conversion of the larger portion of this tribe.
The example of their brethren, who listen
with docility to the exhortations of their zealous
and indefatigable missionary will, we trust,
produce fruit in due time, and be imitated by
the entire nation.
To give you an idea of their military discipline, and of the profound superstition in which
these unfortunate people are still immersed, I
will relate to you some of their proceedings.
The Crees were meditating a deadly stroke
upon the Black-Feet, and for this purpose they
collected all their ready forces, amounting to
more than eight hundred warriors. Before setting out in quest of the enemy, every species of
juggling and witchcraft imaginable was resorted
to, in order to secure the success of the expedition. It was decided that a young girl, with a
bandage over her eyes, should be placed at the
head of the Indian army, and thus blindfold,
serve as a guide to the combatants.   In case OREGON     MISSIONS.
of success, the heroine was destined to become
the bride of the most valiant. According to the
Oracle, none but the great chief himself had the
privilege of shoeing or unshoeing her.
This concluded, they began their march, intoxicated with confidence and presumption, following this extraordinary guide over hills and
valleys, ravines, marshes, and swamps. One
day she would direct her steps towards the north,
the next to the south or west—the point of the
compass mattered naught—the Manitou of war
was supposed to guide her, and day after day
the infatuated Crees continued to follow the
steps of the blindfolded Indian. They had already penetrated far into the plain, when they
were discovered by a party of seven Black-feet.
The latter might easily have escaped under
favor of the night, but the Partisan, or Black-
foot Chieftain, a man of undaunted courage, determined to oppose this formidable force. With
the aid of their poniards they made themselves
a hollow, in which they took shelter.
The following morning, at day-break, the eight
hundred champions surrounded their feeble prey.
The first who pressed forward to dislodge them
were driven back several times, with the loss of
seven men and fifteen wounded.   The failure of 172
ammunition at length put the Black-feet at the
mercy of the Crees, by whom they were cut
into pieces. The first engagement threw the
victorious party into consternation, for they too,
numbered seven killed and fifteen wounded.
They removed the bandage from the young
heroine's eyes, and the Manitous whom they had
thought so propitious, being now judged unfavorable to their warlike projects, the warriors
hastily dispersed, taking the nearest road back
to their respective homes.
The Crees have a rather singular custom
among them, and one contrary to the practice
of other nations. They stain the faces of the
warriors who fall in combat, clothe them in
their richest ornaments, and thus expose them
in places conspicuous to their enemies. They
place near them their guns, bows and arrows,
to show that in their death there was no cause
for compassion ; and this they do purposely that
they may be cut into pieces—an opportunity
which an enemy never suffers to escape, and
which a Cree warrior regards as the height of
his wishes. Other nations, on the contrary,
carry off and conceal their dead, to save them
from the rapacity and insults of their enemies,
and to be cut into pieces, even after death, is OREGON    MISSIONS.
considered a great dishonor among them.—The
Crees and Sauteux are allies, and considerably
intermixed by reciprocal marriages. The latter
form the most numerous and widely-diffused
nation of these parts.—They are to be met with
from the confines of Lower Canada even to the
foot of the Rocky Mountains.
This is also the nation of medicine, par excellence :—for all pretend to be jugglers, and sell
their medicines and quackery at a high price.
In consequence of this attachment to their old,
superstitious practices, and the great profits
they derive from them, the seeds of the Divine
Word has hitherto fallen upon an unprofitable
soil. An adroit impostor who has been baptized,
and who is, moreover, a great medicine man
among them, has contributed not a little to keep
his nation in an obstinate ignorance, which
makes them prefer the shades of paganism to
the beneficial light of the gospel. Falling one
day into a species of lethargy, it was thought
that he had expired—but recovering after a
short time, he assembled his band, and told
them the following story:
"Immediately after my death I repaired to
the heaven of the white men, or Christians,
where the Great Spirit and Jesus Christ dwell, 174
but they refused to admit me on account of my
red skin. I then went to the country where the
souls of my ancestors are, and there, too, I was
refused admittance on account of my baptism. I
am, therefore, come back to this earth, to renounce the promises I made in baptism and
resume my medicine bag, hoping to expiate
my former error by my sincere attachment to
jugglery, and thus render myself once more
worthy of the beautiful and spacious plains of
that happy and delightful abode, where reigns
everlasting spring, and numberless flocks and
herds afford an abundant and everlasting subsistence to all the inhabitants of the Indian
This extravagant report which has been circulated throughout the whole tribe and among
the neighboring people, has greatly contributed
to attach them to their old customs and superstitions,—and make them turn a deaf ear to the
instructions of their worthy missionary.
The Rev. Mr. Belcourt has, notwithstanding,
succeeded in converting a considerable number,
whom he has persuaded to renounce the illusions of their brethren, and united in a village
at St. Paul des Sauteux, where they persevere
fervently in all the practices of religion.   The OREGON     MISSIONS.
number of faithful, in this spot, increases every
At length, on the 25th October, thirteen Black-
Feet arrived at the Fort. They saluted me with
a politeness truly a la sauvage, rough and cordial, at the same time. The old chief embraced
me quite tenderly when he learned the object
of my journey. He was distinguished from his
companions by his dress—being decorated from
head to foot with eagles' plumes, and wearing
a large breast-plate in form of medallion, figured
with blue, as a mark of distinction. He was
profuse in attention to me, making me sit beside
him whenever I went to visit them in their
apartment—shaking me affectionately by the
hand and amicably rubbing my cheeks with his
scarlet-painted nose. He cordially invited me
to his country, offering to be my guide and to
introduce me to his people. The difference of
physiognomy existing between the Indians inhabiting the plains east of the mountains and
those near the upper waters of the Columbia,
is as great as the stupendous rocks that separate them. The latter are remarkable for
their mildness, serenity and affability, while
'cruelty, craft—the word blood, in fine, may be
read in every feature of the Black-Foot Indian. if
11 111
Scarcely could an innocent hand be found in
the whole nation. The Lord, however, is all
powerful—" from stones he can raise up children unto Abraham," and, full of confidence in
the treasures of His holy grace and mercies, I
purpose to visit them. The essential point and
my greatest perplexity is, to find a good and
faithful interpreter; the only one now at the
Fort is a suspicious and dangerous man: all
his employers speak ill of him—he makes fine
promises. In the alternative of either renouncing my project or being of some utility to tho&e
poor, unfortunate Indians, I accept his services.
May he be faithful to his engagement!
I have the honor to be, monseigneur, your
very humble and very obedient servant in Jesus
-'%•       P. J. DE SMET, S. J. OREGON     MISSIONS.
A. M. D. G.
Fort of the Mountains,
October 30th, 1845.
The year 1845 will be a memorable epoch in
the sad annals of the Black-Feet nation. It has
been a year of disasters. In two skirmishes with
the Black-Feet and Kalispels, they lost twenty-
one warriors. The Crees have carried off a
great number of their horses, and twenty-seven
scalps. The Crows have struck them a mortal
blow—-fifty families, the entire band of the petite
Robe, were lately massacred, and one hundred
and sixty women and children have been led
into captivity.
What a dreadful state for these unfortunate
beings. In the first excitement, numbers of the
captives were sacrificed by the Crow squaws to
the manes of their husbands, brothers, fathers,
or children. The survivors were condemned to
slavery. The smallpox shortly after made its
appearance in the conquerors' camp, and spread 178
rapidly from lodge to lodge. The Black-Feet
had suffered from this scourge a few years previous, and thousands had fallen victims to it.
The Crows, therefore, interrogated their captives to know by what means they had escaped
death. A dark spirit of vengeance seized the
latter; they counselled cold baths as the only
efficacious remedy, to stop the progress of the
disease. The sick immediately plunged into the
water, and mothers went to the river to bathe
their little children. Some plunged into their
graves ; others gave up their last sigh while
endeavoring to reach the shore—and disconsolate mothers returned to their cabins with dead
or expiring infants in their arms. Cries of despair succeeded to the shouts of victory—desolation and mourning replaced the fanatic, barbarous joy of the Crows. Death visited every
tent of the victorious camp !
The tradition of man's creation and future
immortality exists among most of the Indian
tribes ; I have had the opportunity of visiting
and questioning them on the subject. Those
who live by fishery, suppose their Heaven to be
full of lakes and rivers, abounding in fish, whose
enchanted shores and verdant islands produce
fruits of every kind. OREGON     MISSIONS.
I encamped on the banks of two lakes to the
east of the Rocky Mountains, which the Black-
Feet call the lake of men and the lake of women.
According to their traditions, from the first of
these issued a band of young men, handsome
and vigorous, but poor and naked. From the
second an equal number of ingenious and industrious young women, who constructed and
made themselves clothing. They lived a long
time separate and unknown to each other, until
the great Manitou Wizakeschak, or the old man,
' (still invoked by the Black-Feet,) visited them ;
he taught them to slay animals in the chase,
but they were yet ignorant of the art of dressing skins. Wizakeschak conducted them to the
dwelling of the young women, who received
their guests with dances and cries of joy. Shoes,
leggins, shirts, and robes, garnished with porcupine quills, were presented them. Each young
woman selected her guest, and presented him
with a dish of seeds and roots ; the men, desiring
to contribute to the entertainment, sought the
chase, and returned loaded with game. The
women liked the meat, and admired the strength,
skill, and bravery of the hunters. The men
were equally delighted with the beauty of their
trappings, and admired the industry of the wo- 180
men. Both parties began to think they were
necessary to each other, and Wizakeschak presided at the solemn compact in which it was
agreed that the men should become the protectors of the women, and provide all necessaries
for their support: whilst all other family cares
should devolve upon the women.
The Black-Feet squaws often bitterly complain of the astonishing folly of their mothers
in accepting such a proposition; declaring, if
the compact were yet to be made, they would
arrange it in a very different manner.
The Black-Foot heaven is a country composed of sandy hills, which they call Espatchekie,
whither the soul goes after death, and where
they will find again all the animals they have
killed, and all the horses they have stolen. The
buffalo, hind, and stag, abound there. In speaking of the departed, a Black-Foot never says,
such a one is dead, but Espatchekie etape—-to
the Sand hills he is gone !
Fort Auguste, on the Saschatshawin,
December 31st, 1846.
Monseigneur,—I arranged   with   the   thirteen
Black-Feet of whom I spoke in my last, that OREGON    MISSIONS.
.  .
they should precede me among their people, to
pave the way, as it were, and prepare their
minds to receive me.—Everything seemed propitious, and accordingly, on the 31st of October,
I took leave of the friendly Mr. Harriot. I was
accompanied by my interpreter, and a young
Metif of the Cree nation, who had charge of
the horses. Notwithstanding his good resolutions, my interpreter did not long leave me in
doubt of his true character. The wolf cannot
remain concealed beneath the sheep's clothing.
He became sullen and peevish, always choos-
' ing to halt in those places where the poor beasts
of burden could find nothing to eat, after their
long day's journey. The farther we penetrated
into the desert, the more and more sulky he
became. It was impossible to draw from him
a single pleasant word, and his incoherent mut-
terings and allusions became subjects of serious
apprehension. Thus passed ten sorrowful days ;
my last two nights had been nights of anxiety
and watching ; when fortunately, I encountered
a Canadian, on whom I prevailed to remain
with me some time. The following day my
interpreter disappeared. Although my situation was extremely precarious in this dangerous desert without interpreter, without guide,
9 yet I could not but feel relieved of a heavy burden by the departure of this sullen and gloomy
fellow. Had it not been for my opportune meeting with the Canadian, it is probable I should
not have escaped his deep laid scheme against
me.     '      '   ■ 4-My■ -v     • - -
Friends and travellers in the desert, beware
of choosing for your guide, or placing your dependence on a morose Metif, especially if he
has been for some time a resident among the
savages ; for such men usually possess all the
faults of the white man joined to the cunning
of the Indian. I determined to continue my
route in search of a Canadian interpreter, whom
we understood was some distance in advance
of us on the same road. For eight successive
days we wandered on in that labyrinth of valleys, but in vain ; although in the heart of their
territory, neither the Canadian nor the Black-
Feet were to be found. Large marauding parties of the Crees were beating the country at
that time, and it appeared evident from the
tracks, that they had carried everything before
them. It snowed without intermission during
four days;—our poor horses were nearly exhausted—my wallet contained nothing but crumbs
-the   passage  from the east to the western
^'-.-•-■--■^—■-_-	 OREGON     MISSIONS.
side of the mountains was become impracticable, and I had no alternative, but to repair to
one of the forts of tne Hudson Bay Company,
and beg hospitality during the inclement season.
The entire region in the vicinity of the first
eastern chain of the Rocky Mountains, serving
as their base for thirty or sixty miles, is extremely fertile, abounding in forests, plains,
prairies, lakes, streams, and mineral springs.
The rivers and streams are innumerable, and
on every side offer situations favorable for the
, construction of mills. The northern and southern branches of the Sascatshawin water the
district I have traversed, for a distance of about
three hundred miles. Forests of pine, cypress,
thorn, poplar and aspen trees, as well as others
of different kinds, occupy a large portion of it,
covering the declivities of the mountains, and
banks of the rivers.
These, ordinarily, take their rise in the
highest chains, whence they issue in every direction like so many veins. The beds and sides
of these rivers are pebbly, and their courses rapid,
but as they recede from the mountains they
widen, and the currents lose something of their
impetuosity. Their waters are usually very
clear.   In this climate wens are not unfrequent. 184
The country would be capable of supporting a
large population, and the soil is favorable for
the produce of barley, corn, potatoes, and beans,
which grow here as well as in the more southern countries.
Are these vast and innumerable fields of hay
forever destined to be consumed by fire, or
perish in the autumnal snows? How long shall
these superb forests be the haunts of wild
beasts ? And these inexhaustible quarries, these
abundant mines of coal, lead, sulphur, iron, copper, and saltpetre—can it be that they are
doomed to remain for ever inactive ? Not so—
the day will come when some laboring hand
will give them value : a strong, active, and
enterprising people are destined to fill this spacious void.—The wild beasts will, ere long, give
place to our domestic animals; flocks and herds
will graze in the beautiful meadows that border
the numberless mountains, hills, valleys, and
plains of this extensive region. A large portion
of the surface of the country is covered with
artificial lakes, formed by the beavers. On our
way, we had frequently occasion to remark,
with wonder and admiration, the extent and
height of their ingeniously constructed dams
and solid lodges.    These are remains of the ad- OREGON     MISSIONS.
mirable little republics, concerning which so
many wonders have justly been recorded. Not
more than half a century ago, such was the
number of beavers in this region, that a good
hunter could kill a hundred in a month's space.
I reached Fort Augustus or Edmondton towards the close of the year. Its respectable
Commandant, the worthy Mr. Rowan, received
me with all the tenderness of a father, and
together with his inestimable family, showed
me every kindness and attention. Never shall
I have it in my power to cancel the debt of
gratitude I owe them.—May heaven protect and
repay them with its choice blessings; such is
the most sincere prayer of a poor priest, who
will ever remember them.
I must await a more favorable moment for
visiting the Black-Feet. The skirmishing parties appear to be still scouring the country. The
tidings which reach us concerning them tell
only of plunder and bloodshed. Meanwhile, I
have the honor of being, with profound respect
and esteem, Monseigneur, your very humble and
obedient servant in Jesus Christ,
P. J. SMET. S. J% Fort Jasper, April 16th, 1846.
Monseigneur,—Fort Edmondton or Auguste
is the great emporium of the Hudson Bay Company in the districts of Upper Sascatshawin and
Athabasca: Forts Jasper, Assiniboine, Little
Slave Lake, on the river Athabasca, Forts des
Montagnes, Pitt, Carrollton, Cumberland, on the
Sascatshawin, depend on it. The respectable
and worthy Mr. Rowan, Governor of this immense district, unites, to all the amiable and
polite qualities of a perfect gentleman, those of
a sincere and hospitable friend; his goodness
and paternal tenderness render him a true patriarch amidst his charming and numerous family. He is esteemed and venerated by all the
surrounding tribes, and though advanced in age,
he possesses extraordinary activity.
The number of servants at Edmondton, including children, is about eighty.   They form a OREGON     MISSIONS*
well-regulated family. Besides a large garden,
a field of potatoes and wheat, belonging to the
establishment, the lakes, forests, and plains of
the neighborhood furnish provisions in abundance. On my arrival at the Fort, the ice-house
contained thirty thousand white fish, each
weighing four pounds, and five hundred buffaloes, the ordinary amount of the winter provisions. Such is the quantity of aquatic birds
in the season, that sportmen often send to the
Fort carts full of fowls. Eggs are picked up
by thousands in the straw and reeds of the
The greater number of those employed being
Catholics, I found sufficient occupation. Every
morning I catechized the children, and gave an
instruction; in the evening, after the labors of
the day, I recited the prayers for the honorable
Commander and his servants. I must acknowledge, to the credit of the inhabitants of Edmondton, that their assiduity and attention to religious duties, and the kindness and respectful regard evinced for me, were a source of great
consolation during my sojourn of two months
among them. May God, who has granted them
so liberally and plentifully the dews of the earth,
enrich them likewise with those of Heaven; 188
such is the most sincere wish and prayer of a
friend who will never forget them.
I visited Lake St. Anne, the ordinary residence of Messrs. Thibault and Bourassa; the
latter gentleman was absent. The distance
from the fort to the lake is about fifty miles.
I mentioned this interesting mission in my preceding letters, and I will now say a word relative to the country.—The surface of this region
is flat for the most part, undulating in some
places—diversified with forests and meadows,
and lakes teeming with fish. In Lake St. Anne
alone were caught, last autumn, more than
seventy thousand white fish, the most delicious
of the kind; they are taken with the line at
every season of the year.
Notwithstanding the rigor and duration of
the winter in this northern region, the earth in
general appears fertile; vegetation is so forward in the spring and summer, that potatoes,
wheat and barley, together with other vegetables of Canada, come to maturity. Lake Saint
Anne forms one of a chain of lakes ; I counted
eleven of them, which flow into the Sascatshawin by the small river E sturgeons, or Sturgeon.
Innumerable republics of beavers formerly existed there ; each lake, each march, each river,
bears, even to this day, proofs of their labors.
What I here say of beavers is applicable to
almost all the Hudson territory.    When the
reindeer, buffalo, and  moose   abounded,  the
Crees were then peaceful possessors ;—animals
have disappeared, and with them the ancient
lords of the country. Scarcely do we meet with
a solitary hut—but now and then the tracks of
some large  animal.    Seventeen  families  of
Metifs, descendants of English Canadians and
savages, have assembled and settled around
their missionaries.   The Crees have gained the
buffalo plains, and they contend for them with
the Black-Feet, whose mortal foes they have
In proportion as the rigors of winter began to
give place to the cheering dawn of spring, simultaneously did my pulse beat to approach near
-the mountain, there to await a favorable opportunity to cross it, so that I might arrive as early
as possible at the mission of St. Ignatius.
The 12th of March, I bade farewell to the
respectable Rowan family, and to all the servants of the Fort. I was accompanied by three
brave Metifs, whom Mr. Thibault was so kind
as to procure me.   At this season, the whole
country lies buried in snow, and voyages are
9* h     [Hgn
*. ^t                                     jjffH
j   ;|;          J||
If   i
made in sledges drawn by dogs. Our provisions and baggage were conveyed in two of
these sledges; the third, drawn by four dogs,
was reserved for me. I found this mode of
travelling quite a novelty; and on the glittering
ice of the rivers and lakes, it was particularly
convenient and agreeable. The third day we
encamped near Lake de l'Aigle Noir, which
abounds in white fish; on the sixth, we arrived
at Fort Assiniboine, built in a meadow on the
river Athabasca, where it is two hundred and
thirty-three fathoms broad, which breadth it
seems to preserve more or less until it leaves
the Rocky Mountains, its current is extremely
rapid. In the spring it can be descended in
three days from Fort Jasper to Fort Assiniboine
a distance of m<£re than three hundred miles.
With our sledges we were nine days accomplishing the journey. The bed of the river is
studded with islands, which, by their various
positions and features, render the prospect very
agreeable. Its shores are covered with thick
forests of pine intersecting rocks and high hills
which embellish and give a touch of the picturesque to the general monotony of the desert.
The principal branches  are the Pembina,
which measures four hundred and sixty-four
feet across—the river des Avirons, one hundred
and twenty-eight feet; the river Des Gens Li-
bres, the branch McCloud, and river Baptist Ber-
land, are about eighty fathoms wide at their
mouth. The rivers Du Vieux, du Milieu, des
Prairies, and des Roches, form beautiful currents. Lake Jasper, eight miles in length, is
situated at the base of the first great mountain
chain. The fort of the same name, and the second lake, are twenty miles higher, and in the
heart of the mountains. The rivers Violin and
Medicine on the southern side, and the Assiniboine on the northern, must be crossed to arrive
there, and to reach the height of land at the
du Committees Punch Bowl, we cross the rivers
Maline, Gens de Colets, Miette and Trou,
which we ascended to its source. The river
Medicine mingles its waters with those of the
Sascatshawin; the Assiniboine and Gents de
Colets with those of the Boucane, a tributary of
a la Paix. The waters of the Miette, have their
source at the same height, with some branches
of the river Frazer, which crosses New Caledonia.
Some years since, the valleys and high forests
of Athabasca were exclusively appropriated to
the chase by   the Assiniboines of the forests; 192
the scarcity of game forced them to quit their
land—since their departure the animals have
increased in an astonishing manner.   In various
places on the river, we saw ravages of the beavers
which I should have taken for recent encampments of savages, so great a quantity of felled
trees was there.    Many wandering families of
the carrier tribe and Achiganes or Sock Indians
of New Caledonia, compelled by hunger, have
quitted their country, traversed the east of the
mountains, and now cross the valleys of this
region in quest of food.    They nourish themselves with roots, and whatever they can catch,
many of them have their teeth worn  to the
gums by the earth and sand they swallow with
their nourishment.    In winter they fare well:
for then the moose, elk and reindeer are plentiful. The reindeer feed on a kind of white moss,
and the paunch is considered delicious when
the food is half digested.    By way of a dainty
morsel, the Indians pluck out the eyes of fish
with the end of the fingers and swallow them
raw, likewise the tripes with their whole contents, without further ceremony than placing
them an instant on the coals, from thence into
the omnibus or general reservoir, without even
undergoing the operation of the jaws.   OREGON    MIS SIGNS.
The Montagnees Indians inhabit the lower
part of Athabasca, also the great lake of this
name. The elk is very common, and the reindeer are found in large bands; the chase of the
latter is both easy and singular. They regularly
bend their course northward in autumn, and return towards the south in the spring. The Indians know their usual crossing-places over the
lakes and rivers—and when the herd (often
many hundreds in number) are in the water,
and approach the opposite shore, the huntsmen
leave their concealment, jump into their light
canoes, and yell with all their strength to make
them return to the centre ; there they harass
them, continually driving them from the shore,
until the poor animals become exhausted; then
begins the work of carnage; they are killed
without difficulty by daggers and darts, and it
rarely happens that one effects his escape. They
cover their huts and dress themselves with the
skins of the reindeer. Lakes and marshes being
so numerous in this country, swans, geese, bustards, and ducks of various species, come hither
in thousands during the spring and autumn.
The savages travel over these marshy places in
Rackets in quest of eggs, on which they mostly
subsist during this season.    Often squares of 194
several acres are found covered with nests.
White fish, carp, trout, and unknown fish, abound
in all these lakes and rivers. ' '>
Two missionaries, a Father of the order of Ob-
lats of Marseilles and a Canadian priest, are on
the way, with the intention of. penetrating into
the interior of the country. The reception given to Mr. Thibault last summer by the Montagnees, leaves little doubt of the happy results
of this praiseworthy and holy enterprise. On
the banks of the Jasper, we met an old Iroquois
called Louis Kwaragkwante, or the travelling
sun, accompanied by his family, thirty-six in
number. He has been forty years absent from
his country, during which he has never seen a
priest—has dwelt in the forest of Athabasca on
Peace river and subsisted by hunting and fishing. TJae good old man was overwhelmed with
joy, and the children experienced a similar feeling with their father. I will give you the old
man's words in English, on learning that I was
a priest: "How glad I am to have come here,
for I have not seen a priest for many years. Today I behold a priest, as I #d in my own country—my heart rejoices—wherever you go I
shall follow you with my children—all will hear
the word of prayer—all will have the happiness OREGON     MISSIONS.
to receive baptism.—Therefore my heart rejoices and is happy." The little Iroquois camp
immediately set out to follow me to Fort Jasper.
Most of them know their prayers in Iroquois.
I remained fifteen days at the Fort, instructing
them in the duties of religion—after Mass, on
Sunday, all were regenerated in the waters of
baptism, and seven marriages renewed and
blessed. The number of baptized amounted to
forty-four; among whom was the lady of Mr.
Frazer, (Superintendent of the Fort), and four
, of his children and two servants.
I have the honor to be, with the most profound
respect and high regard, Monseigneur, your
very humble and obedient servant in Jesus
P. J. DE SMET, S. J. Foot of the Great Glaciere, at the Mouth of the Athabasca,
May 6th, 1845.
Monseigneur—Provisions becoming scarce at
the Fort, at the moment when we had with us
a considerable number of Iroquois from the
surrounding country, who were resolved to remain until my departure, in order to assist at
the instructions, we should have found ourselves in an embarrassing situation had not Mr.
Frazer come to our relief, by proposing that we
should leave the Fort and accompany himself
and family to the Lake of Islands, where we
could subsist partly on fish. As the distance
was not great, we accepted this invitation, and
set out to the number of fifty-four persons, and
twenty dogs. I count the latter, because we
were as much obliged to provide for them, as
for ourselves. A little note of the game killed
by our hunters during the twenty-six days of OREGON     MISSIONS.
our abode at this place, will perhaps afford you
some interest; at least, it will make you acquainted with the animals of the country, and
prove that the mountaineers of Athabasca are
blessed with good appetites. Animals killed—
twelve moose deer, two reindeer, thirty large
mountain sheep or big horn, two porcupines,
two hundred and ten hares, one beaver, two
muskrats, twenty-four bustards, one hundred
and fifteen ducks, twenty-one pheasants, one
snipe, one eagle, one owl; add to this from
thirty to fifty fine white fish every day and
twenty trout, and then judge whether or not
our people had reason to complain; yet we
heard them constantly saying ; " How hard living is here ? The country is miserably poor—
we are obliged to fast." * ■ -
As the time approached at which I was to
leave my new children in Christ, they earnestly
begged leave to honor me, before my departure,
with a little ceremony to prove their attachment, and that their children might always
remember him who had first put them in the
way of life. Each one discharged his musket
in the direction of the highest mountain, a large
rock jutting out in the form of a sugar loaf,
and with three loud hurrahs gave it my name. 198
This mountain is more than 14,000 feet high,
and is covered with perpetual snow.
On the 25th April, I bade farewell to my kind
friend Mr. Frazer, and his amiable children,
who had treated me with every mark of attention and kindness.
All the men in the camp insisted on honoring
me with an escort, and accompanied me a distance of ten miles. Here we separated, each
one affectionately pressed my hand—mutual
good wishes were exchanged—tears flowed on
both sides—and I was left with my companions
in one of those wild ravines where nothing
meets the eye, but ranges of gloomy mountains
rising on all sides, like so many impassable
Upper Athabasca is, unquestionably, the
most elevated part of North America. All its
mountains are prodigious, and their rocky an^
snow-capt summits seem to lose themselves in
the clouds. At this season, immense masses of
snow often become loosened and roll down the
mountains' sides with a terrific noise, that resounds throughout these quiet solitudes like
distant thunder—so irresistible is the velocity
of their descent, that they frequently carry with
them enormous fragments of rock, and force a OREGON     MISSIONS.
passage through the dense forests which cover
the base of the mountain. At each hour, the
noise of ten avalanches descending at once,
breaks upon the ear ; on every side we see them
precipitated with a frightful rapidity.
From these mountains, the majestic river of
the north, the upper branch of the Sascatshawin,
the two great forks of the McKenzie, the Athabasca and Peace rivers, the Columbia, and
Frazer at the west, derive the greater part of
their waters.
In the neighborhood of the Miette river, we
fell in with one of those poor families of Por-
teurs or " Itoaten," of New Caledonia, of whom
I spoke to you in a former letter; they saw us
from the summit of the mountaSi that overlooks the valley through which we were passing, and perceiving we were whites, hastened
down to meet us. They appeared overjoyed at
seeing us, particularly when they discovered
that I was a Black-gown; they crowded around
me, and begged me to baptize them with an
earnestness that affected me to tears, though I
was able to grant this favor to only two of their
smallest children, the others required instruction,
but there was no interpreter. I exhorted them
to return soon to their own country, where they 200
would find a Black-gown (Father Nobili) who
would instruct them. They made the sign of
the cross, recited* some prayers in their own
language, and sang several hymns with great
apparent devotion. The condition of these
people seemed very wretched; they had no
clothes but a few rags and some pieces of skins,
and yet, notwithstanding their extreme poverty,
they laid at my feet the mountain sheep they
had just killed.
The history of a poor young woman, one of
their number, deserves to be recorded, as it
affords a lively picture of the dangers and afflictions to which these unfortunate people are
often exposed. When she was about fifteen
years of age, her father, mother, and brothers,
together with another family of her nation, were
surprised in the wood by a party of Assiniboine
warriors, and massacred without mercy. At
the time of this horrid scene, the young girl
was in another part of the forest with her two
sisters, both younger than herself; they succeeded in concealing themselves, and thus escaped falling into the bands of the assassins.
The hapless orphan wandered about the desert
for two years, without meeting any human
being, subsisting on roots, wild fruits, and porcu- OREGON     MISSIONS.
pines. In winter she sheltered herself in the
abandoned den of a bear. The sisters left her
at the end of the first year, since which they
have never been heard of. At length, after
three years, she was fortunately found by a
good Canadian, who took her home, provided
her with comfortable food and clothing, and six
months after restored her to her tribe.
We resumed our journey the following day,
and arrived about nightfall on the banks of
the Athabaska, at the spot called the " Great
.Crossing." Here we deviated from the course
of that river, and entered the valley de la
Fourche du Trou.
As we approached the highlands the snow
became much deeper. On the 1st of May, we
reached the great Bature, which has all the
appearance of a lake just drained of its waters.
Here we pitched our tent to await the arrival
of the people from Columbia, who always pass
by this route on the way to Canada and York
Factory. Not far from the place of our encampment, we found a new object of surprise
and admiration. An immense mountain of
pure ice, 1,500 feet high, enclosed between two
enormous rocks. So great is the transparency
of this beautiful ice, that we can easily distin- J§
guish objects in it to the depth of more than
six feet. One would say, by its appearance, that in some sudden and extraordinary
swell of the river, immense icebergs had been
forced between these rocks, and had there piled
themselves on one another, so as to form this
magnificent glacier. What gives some color
of probability to this conjecture is, that on the
other side of the glacier, there is a large lake
of considerable elevation. From the base of
this gigantic iceberg, the river Trou takes its
rise.   -   :J|:   . Mf-   • . ■■•.   '       .  . - -\.;'
The people of Columbia have just arrived.
I must therefore take this present opportunity,
the only one I shall have for a long time, of
sending you my letters, and before closing this,
permit me again to recommend myself and all
my missions to your holy sacrifices and fervent
Meantime, I have the honor to be, with the
most sincere respect and esteem, Monseigneur,
your very humble and obedient servant in Jesus
No. XVI.
A. M. D. G.
Boat Encampment on the Columbia,)
May 10th, 1846.        $
Very Rev. and Dear Father Provincial :—By
my last letter to the distinguished Prelate of
New-York, in which I gave my different missionary excursions during 1845-^46 among
several tribes of the Rocky Mountains, you
have learned that I had arrived at the base of
the Great Glacier, the source of the river du
Trou, which is a tributary of the Athabaska, or
Elk river. I will now give to your reverence
the continuation of my arduous and difficult
journey across the main chain of the Rocky
Mountains, and down the Columbia, on my return to my dear brethren in Oregon.
Towards the evening of the 6th of May, we
discovered, at the distance of about three miles,
the approach of two men in snow shoes, who
soon joined us.   They proved to be the fore- 204
runners of the English Company which, in the
spring of each year, go from Fort Vancouver
to York Factory, situated at the mouth of the
river Nelson, near the fifty-eighth degree north
latitude. In the morning my little train was
early ready; we proceeded, and after a march
of eight miles we fell in with the gentlemen of
the Hudson Bay Company. The time of our
reunion was short, but interesting and joyful.
The great melting of the snow had already
begun, and we were obliged to be on the alert
to cross in due time, the now swelling rapids"
and rivers. The news between travellers, who
meet in the mountains is quickly conveyed to
one another. The leaders of the company were
my old friends, Mr. Ermatinger, of the Honorable
Hudson Bay Company, and two distinguished
officers of the English army, Captains Ward and
Vavasseur, whom I had the honor of entertaining last year at the Great Kalispel lake. Capt.
Ward is the gentleman who had the kindness to
take charge of my letters for the States and for
Fifteen Indians of the Kettle-Fall tribe accompanied him. Many of them had scaled the
mountains with one hundred and fifty pounds
weight upon their backs.    The worthy Capt, OREGON     MISSIONS
Ward spoke many things in praise of them. He
admired their honesty and civility, and above
all, their sincere piety and great regularity in
their religious duties; every morning and evening, they were seen retiring a short distance
from the camp, to sing one or two hymns, and
join in common prayer. "I hope," added the
Captain, "I shall never forget the example,
which these poor, but good savages, have given
me. During the time that they were with me,
I was much struck by their becoming deportment, and I have never seen more sincere piety
than they exhibited."  ,.
The gentlemen of the English Company were
now at the end of their chief difficulties and
troubles. They gladly threw away their snow
shoes to take horses for four days; at Fort Jasper they were to enter skiffs, to go to Fort
Assiniboine, on the river Athabasca. For myself, I had to try the snow shoes for the first
time in my life ; by means of them, I had to ascend those frightful ramparts, the barriers of
snow, which separate the Atlantic world from
the Pacific Ocean. I have, in my previous
letters, already told you, that this is probably
the most elevated point of the Rocky Mountains,
where five  great rivers derive their sources,
10 206
viz.: the north-branch of the Sascatshawin,
flowing into Lake Winnepeg, the Athabasca
and Peace rivers, uniting and flowing into Great
Slave Lake, which is discharged into the Northern Ocean, by the Mackenzie, the most solitary
of rivers. From the bosom of these mountains
the Columbia and Frazer rivers derive water
from a thousand fountains and streams.
We had now seventy miles to travel in snow
shoes, in order to reach the boat encampment
on the banks of the Columbia. We proposed
to accomplish this in two days and a half. The
most worthy and excellent Messrs. Rowan and
Harriot, whose kindness at the Rocky Mountain
House and Fort Augustus I shall ever acknowledge, were of opinion, that it was absolutely
impossible for me to accomplish the journey, on
account of my heavy mould, and they wished to
dissuade me from attempting it. However, I
thought I could remedy the inconvenience of
my surplus stock, by a vigorous fast of thirty
days, which I cheerfully underwent. I found
myself much lighter indeed, and started off
somewhat encouraged, over snow sixteen feet
deep. We went in single file—alternately ascending and descending — sometimes across
plains piled up with avalanches — sometimes OREGON     MISSIONS.
over lakes and rapids buried deeply under the
snow—now, on the side of a deep mountain—
then across a forest of cypress trees, of which we
could only see the tops. I cannot tell you the
number of my summersets. I continually found
myself embarrassed by my snow shoes, or
entangled in some branch of a tree. When
falling, I spread my arms before me, as one
naturally would do, to break the violence of the
fall; and upon deep snow the danger is not
great,—though I was often half buried, when I
required the assistance of my companions,
which was always tendered with great kindness
and good humor.
We made thirty miles the first day, and then
made preparations to encamp. Some pine trees
were cut down and stripped of their branches,
and these being laid on the snow, furnished us
with a bed, whilst a fire was lighted on a floor
of green logs. To sleep thus—under the beautiful canopy of the starry heavens—in the midst
of lofty and steep mountains—among sweet
murmuring rills and roaring torrents—may
appear strange to you, and to all lovers of
rooms, rendered comfortable by stoves and
feathers; but you may think differently after
having come and breathed the pure air of the 208
mountains, where in return, coughs and colds
are unknown. Come and make the trial, and you
will say that it is easy to forget the fatigues of
a long march, and find contentment and joy
men upon the spread branches of pines, on
which, after the Indian fashion, we extended
ourselves and slept, wrapped up in buffalo
robes. |p ': ■■.:■':.::■, ::..-.:.■ ■ ••   ■    - -     u
The next morning we commenced the descent of what is called the Great Western Slope.
This took us five hours. The whole slope is
covered with gigantic cedars, and with pine
trees of different species. Wo to the man,
who happens to have a heavy body, or to make
a false step. I say this from experience ; for
many times I found myself twenty or thirty feet
from the point of my departure—happy indeed
if, in the fall, I did not violently strike my head
against the trunk of some great tree.
At the foot of the mountain an obstacle of a
new kind presented itself. All the barriers of
snow, the innumerable banks, which had
stopped the water of the streams, lakes, and
torrents, were broken up during the night, and
swelled considerably the Great Portage river.
It meanders so remarkably in this straight valley,
down which we travelled for a day and a half, OREGON     MISSIONS.
that we were compelled to cross the said river
not less than forty times, with the water frequently up to our shoulders. So great is its
impetuosity, that we were obliged mutually to
support ourselves, to prevent being carried
away by the current. We marched in our wet
clothes during the rest of our sad route. The
long soaking, joined to my great fatigue,
swelled my limbs. All the nails of my feet
came off, and the blood stained my moccasins
or Indian shoes. Four times I found my
strength gone, and I should certainly have
perished in that frightful region, if the courage
and strength of my companions had not
roused and aided me in my distress.
We saw May-poles all along the old encampments of the Portage. Each traveller who
passes there for the first time, selects his own.
A young Canadian, with much kindness, dedicated one to me, which was at least one hundred
and twenty feet in height, and which reared its
lofty head above all the neighboring trees. Did
I deserve it ? He stripped it of all its branches,
ojily leaving at the top a little crown; at the
bottom my name and the date of the transit
were written. Moose, reindeer, and mountain
goats are frequently found in this region. 210
We next passed through a thick and mountainous forest, where hoary pines lay prosr
trate by thousands—and where many a giant
tree, in its full vigor, had been levelled to the
ground by the raging tempest. On issuing from
the forest, an extensive march presented itself,
through which we had to plod, up to the knees
in mud and water; this trouble was trifling compared to the past, and we were still more encouraged at the sight of a beautiful and verdant
plain, where four reindeer were seen carousing,
bouncing, and jumping in the midst of plenty.
No doubt they, as well as ourselves, had issued
forth from the snowy and icy cliffs, and felt
light-hearted and joyful at the delightful prospect of mountain and plain at this season of
the year. On approaching, a dozen guns were
at once levelled against the innocent and timid
creatures. I was pleased to observe, by the
wonderful rapidity with which they used their
legs, that no one had injured their noble and
beautiful frames. *
Towards the middle of the day we arrived at
the Boat Encampment, on the bank of the Columbia, at the mouth of the Portage river.
Those who have passed the Rocky Mountains
at fifty three degrees of north latitude, during OREGON     MISSIONS.
the great melting of the snows, know whether or
not we merit the title of good travellers. It
required all my strength to accomplish it, and
I confess that I would not dare undertake it
, After so many labors and dangers, we deserved a repast. Happily, we found at the encampment all the ingredients that were necessary
for a feast—a bag of flour, a large ham, part of
a reindeer, cheese, sugar, and tea in abundance,
which the gentlemen of the English Gompany
had charitably left behind. While some were
employed refitting the barge, others prepared
the dinner; and in about an hour we found ourselves snugly seated and stretched out around
the kettles and roasts, laughing and joking
about the summersets on the mountains, and
the accidents on the Portage. I need not tell
you, that they described me as the most clumsy
and awkward traveller in the band.
Three beautiful rivers unite at this place:
the Columbia, coming from the south-east—the
Portage river, from the north-east, and the
Canoe river from the north-west. We were
surrounded by a great number of magnificent
mountains, covered with perpetual snow, and
rising   from twelve   to sixteen thousand feet  OREGON     MISSIONS.
A. M. D. G.
St. Paul's Station, near Colville, )
May, 29th, 1846. J
Very Rev. and Dear Father Provincial—The
Columbia at the Boat Encampment is 3,600 feet
above the level of the sea. Having finished our
meal, we launched thfe barge and rapidly descended the river, which was now swollen many
feet above its usual level. Did not more serious
avocations call him away, an admirer of
Nature would willingly linger in a region like
this. The volcanic and basaltic islands—the
range of picturesque mountains, whose bases
came to bathe in the river, whilst their summits
seemed to be struggling, in the giant efforts of
the avalanche, to throw off the winding-sheet
of winter, in order to give place to the new and
beautiful verdure of the month of May, with its
smiling   and   varied  flowers — the   thousand
fountains which we could at one view behold,
10* 214
leaping out with soothing music from the shelves
of perpendicular rocks bordering the river—all
lent their aid to increase the beauty of the
scenery of Nature, which, in this region of the
Columbia, seems to have put forth all her energy
to display her grandeur and magnificence.
After some hours of descent we came to
Martin's rapid, where a Canadian, so called,
together with his son, found a watery grave.
Its roar is deafening, and the agitation of the
water resembles that of a raging sea-storm.
The whole bed of the river is here strewed with
immense fragments of rocks. Guided by an
expert Iroquois pilot, and aided with ten oars,
the boat darted over its boisterous surface,
dancing-like and leaping from wave to wave,
with the rapidity of lightning.
At sunset we were at the Dalle of the Dead.
(Dalle is an old French word, meaning a trough,
and the name is given by the Canadian voya-
geurs to all contracted running waters, hemmed
in by walls of rocks.) Here, in 1838, twelve
unfortunate travellers were buried in the river.
The waters are compressed between a range of
perpendicular rocks, presenting innumerable
crags, fissures and cliffs, through which the
Columbia   leaps with   irrestible   impetuosity, OREGON     MISSIONS.
forming, as it dashes along, frightful whirlpools, where every passing object is swallowed
and disappears. By means of two long ropes
we dropped down our boat through the Dalle,
and encamped for the night at its outlet.
On the 11th we continued our route at early
dawn—the mountain scenery was hidden from
our view wrapped up in dense mist and fog,
which were seen ascending in dense pillars,
adding to the forming clouds above, till the
whole sky was overcast.   Occasionally, as if
to break upon the unusual monotony, would a
fallow or reindeer be observed on the margin of
the stream, or peeping with uplifted ears from a
thicket, as the strange sound of oars, or the
Canadian song, came stealing louder and
louder upon them in their quiet abode:—off they
bounded, affrighted at the sight of men, so hateful, it appears, to the wild and timid creatures
of the forest. In the evening we encamped at
the entrance of the Upper Lake.
This beautiful sheet of crystalline water,
whilst the rising sun was tinting the tops of a
thousand hills around, came most refreshing
to the eye. It is about thirty miles long, by
four or five wide. Its borders are embellished
by overhanging precipices and majestic peaks, 216
which, rearing their white heads above the
clouds, look down like venerable monarch^ of
the desert upon the great forests of pines and
cedar surrounding the lake. The two highest
peaks are called St. Peter and St. Paul. ^
Twenty Indian families, belonging to the
station of St. Peter, were found encamped on
the borders of the lake. I gladly accepted their
invitation to visit them. It was the meeting of
a father with his children, after ten months of
absence and dangers. I dare say the joy was
mutually sincere. The greater part of the tribe
had been converted during the past year, at
Kettle Falls. These families were absent at
that time. I passed, therefore, several days
among them, to instruct them in the duties and
practices of religion. They then received baptism, with all the marks of sincere piety and
gratitude. Gregory, the name of their chief,
who had not ceased to exhort his people by
word and example, had the happiness to receive
baptism in 1838, from the hands of the Rev.
Mr., now Archbishop, Blanchet. The worthy
and respectable chief was now at the height of
his joy, in seeing at last all his children brought
under the standard of Jesus Christ. The tribe
of ^these lake Indians are a part of the Kettle OREGON    MISSIONS.
Fall nation. They are very poor, and subsist
principally on fish and wild roots. As soon as
we shall have more means at our disposal, we
will supply them with implements of husbandry
and with various seeds and roots, which I have
no doubt, will thrive well in their country ; this
will be a great assistance to these destitute
people. The second lake is about six miles
distant from the first. It is of about the same
length, but less wide. We passed under a perpendicular rock, where we beheld an innumerable number of arrows sticking out of the fissures. The Indians, when they ascend the lake,
have a custom of lodging each an arrow into
these crevices. The origin and cause of the
custom is unknown to me.
The mouth of the river McGilvray or Flat-
Bow, is near the outlet of the Lower Lake. It
presents a beautiful situation for the establishment of a future Reduction or Mission, and I
have already marked out a site for the construction of a church. About twenty miles lower,
we passed the Flat-Head or Clark's river, which
contributes largely to the Columbia. These
two beautiful rivers derive a great portion of
their waters from the same chain of the Rocky
Mountains, from which a great number of the 218
forks of the south branch of the Sascatshawin
and of the Missouri are supplied. For a distance of about thirty miles from their junction
with the Columbia, are they obstructed by insurmountable falls and rapids. Among the
many lakes connected with the Flat-Head river,
three are very conspicuous, and measure from
thirty to forty miles in length, and from four to
six in width. The Flat-Head lake receives a
broad and beautiful stream, extending upwards
of a hundred miles in a north-western direction,
through a most delightful valley, and is supplied by considerable torrents, coming from a
great cluster of mountains, connected immediately with the main chain, in which a great
number of lakes lie imbedded. Clark's fork
passed through Lake Kalispel. Lake Roothaan
is situated in the Pend-d'oreille and Flat-Bow
mountains, and discharges itself by the Black-
gown river into the Clark, twenty miles below
the Kalispel Lake. The St. Mary's, or Bitter-
root river, from the south-east, is the greatest
tributary of Clark's fork, and the chief residence
of the Flat-Heads. All these waters contain
an abundance of fish, especially trout. The
geography of the head of Clark's Fork, is little
known, as appears from the maps, the south- OREGON     MISSIONS.
east branch on the Saint Mary's river being
only a small tributary compared to the mai 1
stream, coming from the north-west, and passing
through the great Flat-Head lake.
Our barge was in great danger in the Dalle,
some miles above Colville. I had left it, to go
on foot, to avoid the dangerous passage. The
young boatmen, notwithstanding my remonstrances, thought they could pass in safety. A
whirlpool suddenly arrested their course, and
threatened to bury them beneath its angry
waters. Their redoubled efforts proved ineffectual—I saw them borne on with an irresistible force to the engulfing centre—the bow
of the boat descended already into the abyss
and filled! I was on my knees upon the rock
which overhung this frightful spectacle, surrounded by several Indians—we implored the
aid of Heaven in favor of our poor comrades—
they seemed to be evidently lost—when the
whirlpool filled, and threw them from its bosom,
as if reluctantly yielding up the prey which it
had so tenaciously held. We all gave heartfelt
thanks to Almighty God for having delivered
them from a danger so imminent.
From the outlet of the Lower Lake of the
Columbia to Fort Colville, the aspect of the
m 220
country is highly picturesque and interesting.
The whole section, on both sides of the river,
is well supplied with rivulets and streams.
The soil is rather light, but it affords fine grazing; the mountains are not high—the forests
are open—-tbe bottom lands present here and
there beautiful groves—the surface of the soil
yields an abundant and luxuriant grass.
Towards the end of the month of May I arrived at Fort Colville. I found the nation of
Shuyelphi or Kettle Fall already baptized by the
Rev. Father Hoecken, who had continued to
instruct them after my departure in the month
of August of last year. They had built, to my
great surprise, a small frame church, so much
the more beautiful and agreeable to my eyes,
as being their first attempt at architecture, and
the exclusive work of the Indians. With a
laudable pride they conducted me, as in triumph,
to the humble and new temple of the Lord,
and in favor of that good people, and for their
perseverance in the faith, I there offered the
august Sacrifice of the Altar.
The arrival of the good Father Nobili at
Colville filled us with great joy and consolation.
He had made missionary excursions over thcfc
greatest portion of New Caledonia.    Every-
where the Indian tribes received him with open
arms, and took great care to bring their little
children to be baptized. I add to this an extract from his letter, which will give you an
outline of his journey and the number of baptisms he performed. Having made a retreat of
eight days in the Reduction of St. Ignatius, and
after a month of repose and preparation for a
second expedition, he returned with renewed
zeal and fervor to his dear Caledonians, accompanied by several laborers, and supplied with a
dozen horses, loaded with implements of agriculture and carpentry.
As a token of my sincere gratitude, and to
let you know that we have friends and benefactors in Oregon, I must here state to your
Reverence, that Father Nobili and myself were
mo^t hospitably entertained during our stay at
Fort Colville. The kindness of the Honorable
Mr. Lewes and family I shall never forget. The
attention shown Father Nobili, in the trading
posts of New Caledonia is beyond all praise. Truly and deservedly has Commodore Wilkes stated,
"That the liberality and hospitality of all the
gentlemen of the Honorable Hudson Bay Company are proverbial." Indeed, we experience
this and participate of it on all occasions*  OREGON     MISSIONS.
A. M. D. G.
Fort Colville, June 1st, 1846.
Rev. Father,—While I remained at Fort Vancouver, I baptized upwards of sixty persons,
during a dangerous sickness which raged in the
country. The majority of those who received
baptism, died with all the marks of sincere
conversion. On the 27th of July, I baptized
nine children at Fort Okinagane—the children
of the chief of the Sioushwaps were of the
number. He appeared full of joy at seeing a
Black-gown direct his course towards their
country. On the 29th I left Okinagane, and
followed the company. Every night I prayed
with the whites and Indians. On the road three
old men came to me, and earnestly begged me
to " take pi y on them, and prepare them for
heaven /" Having instructed them in the duties
and principles of religion, and the necessity of
baptism, I administered to them, and to forty- 224
six children of the same tribe, what seemed to
be the height of their desires, the holy Sacrament of regeneration.
On the 11th of August, a tribe of Indians,
residing about the Upper Lake on Thompson's
River, came to meet me. They exhibited towards me all the marks of sincere and filial
attachment. They followed me several days to
hear my instructions, and only departed after
having exacted a promise that I would return
in the course of the following autumn or winter,
and make known to them the glad tidings of
At the Fort of the Sioushwaps, I received a
visit from all the chiefs, who congratulated me
on my happy arrival amongst them. They
raised a great cabin to serve as a church, and
as a place to teach them during my stay. I
baptized twelve of their children. I was obliged,
when the Salmon fishing commenced, to separate for some months from these dear Indians,
and continue my route to New Caledonia.
I arrived at Fort Alexandria on the 25th.
All the tribes I met manifested towards me the
same emotions of joy and friendship. To my
surprise I found at the Fort a frame church. I
returned in the fall and remained there a month, OREGON     MISSIONS.
engaged in all the exercises of our holy ministry. The Canadians performed their religious
duties—I joined several in marriage, and administered to many the Holy Communion.
Twenty-four children and forty-seven adults
received baptism.
On the 2d of September, I ascended the river
Frazer, and after a dangerous trip, arrived, on
the 12th, at Fort George ; where the same joy
and affection on the part of the Indians attended
me. Fifty Indians had come down from the
Rocky Mountains, and patiently awaited my
arrival for nineteen days, in order to have the
consolation of witnessing the ceremony of baptism. I baptized twelve of their children, and
twenty-seven others, of whom six were adults
advanced in age. I performed there the ceremonies of the planting of the Cross.
On the 14th, the Feast of the Exaltation of
the Holy Cross, I ascended the river Nesqually,
and on the 24th, arrived at the Fort of Lake
Stuart. I spent eleven days in giving instructions to the Indians, and had the happiness of
abolishing the custom of burning the dead, and
that of inflicting torments upon the bodies of
the surviving wives or husbands. They solemnly renounced all their juggling and idola- 226
tries. Their great medicine-hall, where they
used to practise their superstitious rites, was
changed into a church. It was blessed and dedicated to God under the patronage of St. Francis
Xavier. The planting of the Cross was
solemnly performed with all the ceremonies
proper to such occasions. Sixteen children and
five old men received baptism.
The 24th Oct., I visited the village of the
Chilcotins. This mission lasted twelve days*
during which time I baptized eighteen children
and twenty-four adults, and performed eight marriages. I blessed here the first cemetery, and
buried, with all the ceremonies of the ritual, an
Indian woman, the first converted to Christianity.
I next visited two other villages of the same tribe
—in the first I baptized twenty persons, of whom
three were adults. In the second, two chiefs with
thirty of their nation received baptism, and two
were united in matrimony. Poligamy prevailed
everywhere, and everywhere I succeeded in
abolishing it. In a neighboring tribe I baptized fifty-seven persons, of whom thirty-one
were adults.   I also celebrated nine marriages.
After my return to the Sioushwaps, I baptized forty-one persons, of whom eleven were
adults.   I visited five more villages among the OREGON     MISSIONS.
neighboring tribes, amongst whom I baptized
about two hundred persons. I performed the
ceremony of tha planting of the Cross, in eight
different places, and founded four frame churches
which were constructed by the savages.
On an average, each village or tribe consists
of about two hundred souls.
In the neighborhood of Fort Alexandria the
number of souls amounts to 1255
About Fort George, 343
In the neighborhood of Frazer's Lake, 258
Stuart's Lake, 211
McLeod's Lake, 80
Fort Rabine,
Bear Lake,
Total number of souls, 4138
Population on Thompson's river, or on the
land of the Sioushwaps or Atnass.
The number of Sioushwaps, so called, is      583
"        of Okinaganes, 685
Population on the North Branch, 525
on Lake Superior, 322
at the Fountain of Frazer Lake, 1127
Number of Knife Indians, 1530
Total number of souls, 4772
I remain, reverend Father, yours, &c,
J. NuiJlLl, &• J. Fort Walla-Walla, )
                                                           July 18th, 1846. $
Very Rev. and Dear Father Provincial,—I
accepted the kind offer of Mr. Lewes, and took
my seat in one of the barges of the Hudson Bay
Company, on its way to Fort Vancouver. We
stopped at Fort Okinagane, where I administered baptism to forty-three persons, chiefly children. Our passage was very pleasant and
agreeable. I have little to add to what I have
already stated in my preceding letters of last
year, respecting our residence at Saint Francis
Xavier's, and the other Catholic establishments
in the Willamette Valley and vicinity. St. James'
Church at Vancouver, St. John's in Oregon
City, St. Mary's at the Convent, and St. Francis
Xavier's chapel have all been opened for divine
service. The new church among the Canadians, and the Cathedral, were fast progressing.
The number of children in the Sisters' school OREGON     MISSIONS.
had greatly increased, and a change for the better already taken place among the little metis
girls confided to their care.   Sister Loyola, the
Superior, appeared delighted with their present
conduct.   Two Protestant families, among the
most respectable in Oregon, Dr. Long and lady
and Judge Burnet and family, were received
into the bosom of the Catholic Church, in Oregon
City.    Archbishop Blanchet  and companions
were anxiously expected ; may the Lord speed
them, and grant them a happy passage on the
boisterous ocean—a route which, it   appears,
they have selected in order to reach their destined new homes.   0, how large is the vineyard !—the Island of Vancouver alone contains
upwards of twenty thousand Indians, ready to
receive   our missionaries—and   an   extensive
field awaits the laborers, among the numerous
nations of the north-west coast.  The visits paid
to these various tribes, by the  Black-gowns,
and the affection and kindness with which they
are received by the Indians, leave little doubt
of the ultimate success of their holy enterprise.
In order to return to the upper Missions, I
started in the beginning of July, from Fort
Vancouver, two days after the brigade of the
Hudson Bay Company had left it.   An acci-
11 230
dent by the way, fortunately not attended with
more serious consequences, here occurred to me.
A powder-horn exploded near me accidentally,
scorching me severely, and completely stripping
the skin from my nose, cheeks and lips—leaving me to all appearance, after all my travels,
a raw-faced mountaineer. I procured an Indian canoe, well-mounted, and soon found myself during a thunder storm, in the great gap
of the Cascade Mountains, through which the
mighty Columbia winds its way. The sublime
and the romantic appear to have made a grand
effort for a magnificent display in this spot. On
both sides of the stream perpendicular walls of
rock rise in majestic boldness—small rills and
rivulets, innumerable crystalline streams pursue
their way ; murmuring down on the steep declivities, they rush and leap from cascade to
cascade, after a thousand gambols, adding, at
last, their foaming tribute to the turbulent and
powerful stream. The imposing mass of waters
has here forced its way between a chain of
volcanic, towering mountains, advancing headlong with an irresistible impetuosity, over rocky
reefs, and prostrate ruins, for a distance of
about four miles; forming the dangerous, and
indeed   the last  remarkable   obstruction—the OREGON     MISSIONS.
great cascades of the Columbia. There is an
interesting, and very plausible Indian account
of the formation of these far-famed cascades*
on which so much has been said and written, so
many conjectures regarding earth-slides, sinks,
or swells, caused by subterraneous volcanic
agents. "Our grandfathers," said an Indian
to me, "remember the time when the waters
passed here quietly, and without obstruction,
under a long range of towering and projecting
rocks, which, unable to bear their weight any
longer, crumbled down, thus stopping up and
raising the bed of the river ; here it overflowed
the great forests of cedar and pine, which are
still to be seen above the cascades." Indeed,
the traveller beholds with astonishment, a great
number of huge trunks of trees, still standing
upright in water about twenty feet deep. No
person, in my opinion, can from a just idea of
the cause that produced these remarkable
changes, without admitting the Indian narrative.
My baggage was soon conveyed to the up*
per end of the portage. The distance from
the cascades to the dalles is about forty-five
miles, and is without any obstacle. The mountain scenery on both sides of tha river, with its 232
clusters of shrubs, cedars, and pines, is truly
delightful, heightened occasionally by the sight
of the snow-capped Mounts Hood and St.
Helena. A favorable breeze made us unfurl
two blankets for the want of sails, and as we
were gliding rapidly up the stream, we observed
several islands of volcanic formation, where the
Indians deposit their dead on scaffolds, or in little
huts made of pieces of split cedar, frequently
covered with mats and boards; great care is
taken to hinder birds of prey, or the rapacious
wolves, with their hyena stomachs and plundering propensities, from breaking in upon the
abode of the dead.
The third day we arrived at the great dalles.
Indians flock thither from different quarters of
the interior, to attend, at this season of the year,
to the salmon fisheries. This is their glorious
time for rejoicing, gambling, and feasting ; the
long lent is passed ; they have at last assembled
in the midst of abundance—all that the eye can
see, or the nose smell, is fish, and nothing but
fish. Piles of them are lying everywhere on
the rocks, the Indian huts abound with them,
and the dogs are dragging and fighting over the
offal in all directions. Not less than eight
hundred Indians were present on this occasion.
One who has seen them five years ago, poor and
almost naked, and who beholds then now, discovers with a peculiar feeling of humor and
delight, the entire change in their external appearance, a complete metamorphosis, as Ovid
would say. Their dresses are of the most grotesque character, regardless alike of their appropriateness to sex or condition of life. A
masquerade character, as we understand it, will
at least exhibit unity of design ; but this Indian
masquerade sets all unities at defiance. A
stout, swarthy Indian, steps proudly by you, apparently conscious of the dignity conferred on
him by his new acquisitions—a roundabout
much too small for him, a pair of tights with
straps, with an intervening space showing the
absence of linen, form his body dress, while an
old fashioned lady's night-cap with large frills,
and if he be rich enough, a sailor's glazed cap
carefully balanced above it, constitute his head
dress; a pair, and sometimes half a pair of
brogans, complete the ludicrous appearance of
this Indian dandy. Some appear parading thro'
the camp in the full dress of a wagoner, others
in a mixture composed of the sailor's, the wagoner's, and the lawyer's, arranged according to
fancy; but the favorite article of ornamental 234
dress appears to be the night-cap with its large
frills; some again with only one article of dress.
I have seen an old Indian showing off a pair of
boots to the best advantage, as they formed the
only article of his wardrobe then on his person.
Indian squaws are seen attired in long calico
gowns, little improved by the copious addition of
fish oil, with which the taste or negligence of the
present owners besmeared them ; occasionally,
if they can afford it, to this is superadded a vest,
a flannel or great-coat. The dalles at present,
form a kind of masquerading thoroughfare, where
emigrants and Indians meet, it appears, for the
purpose of affording mutual aid. When the
Oregon emigrants arrive here, they are generally in want of provisions, horses,, canoes, and
guides—these wants the Indians supply, receiving in exchange the old travelling clothes of the
doctors, lawyers, farmers, Germans, Frenchmen,
Spaniards, &c, that pass through the dalles on
their westward route. Hence the motley collection of pants, coats, boots, of every form and
size, comforters, caps and hats of every fashion.
Here I overtook Messrs. Lewes and Manson,
who kindly offered me a place in one of the
barges of the Company, which I gladly accepted
—the transportation of their boats and goods OREGON    MISSIONS.
had taken up a whole day. From the great
dalles to the upper sources of the Columbia, great
cafe and attention are to be had in its navigation, for it presents a constant succession of
rapids, falls, cascades, and dalles. Men of great
experience are here employed as pilots, and
notwithstanding their skill and pree&®tioia, no
river probably on the globe, frequented as much*
could tell of more disastrous accidents.
At the dalles you e&ter a barren region
where drift wood m brought imto every encampment by the Indians, for which they
gladly receive a piece of tobacco in ret&ra.
In the absence of the isavages, the tombs
of the dead are sometimes shamefully pit*
laged by civilized Christian travellers, taking
away the very boards that cover the dead
bodies, and thus leave them the prey of vultures
and crows.
Indians linger on the Columbia as long as a
salmon can be caught. Unconscious of the
approaching winter, they do not lay in sufficient
stock of provisions, and till late in the fall they
may be seen picking up the dead and dying
fishes which float in great numbers on the
surface. In the immediate neighborhood of a
camp the air is infected with  the scent   of 236
salmon in a state of putrefaction; they are suspended on trees, or on scaffolds, and to this unwholesome and detestable food has the improvident Indian recourse, when the days of his
long lent commence.    . .„.-■
You can scarcely form an idea of the deplorable condition of the poor petty tribes, scattered
along the banks of the Columbia, of which the
numbers visibly diminish from year to year.
Imagine their dwellings, a few poor huts, constructed of rush, bark, bushes, or of pine
branches, sometimes covered with skins or
rags—around these miserable habitations lie
scattered in profusion the bones of animals,
and the offal of fishes of every tribe, amidst
accumulated filth of every description. In the
interior, you find roots piled up in a corner,
skins hanging from cross poles, and fish boiling
over the fire, a few dying embers ; an axe to
cut wood being seldom found among them. The
whole stock of kitchen utensils, drinking vessels,
dishes, etc., are comprised in something like a
fish-kettle, made of osier, and besmeared with
gum—to boil this kettle stones are heated red
hot and thrown into it. But the mess cooked
in this way, can you guess what it is ? No, not
in twenty trials—it is impossible to divine what
i i
the ingredients are that compose this outlandish
soup !
But to pass from the material to the personal;
what strange figures ! faces thickly covered
with grease and dirt—heads that have never
felt a comb—hands ! but such hands ! a veritable pair of "jack of all trades," fulfilling in
rapid succession, the varied functions of the
comb, the pocket-handkerckief, the knife, fork,
and spoon—while eating, the process is loudly
indicated by the crackling and discordant
sounds that issue from the nose, mouth, throat,
etc., a sight, the bare recollection of which is
enough to sicken any person. Thus you can
form some idea of their personal miseries—miseries, alas! that faintly image another species
infinitely more saddening ; for what shall I say
in attempting to describe their moral condition ?
There prevails among the greater part of them,
a kind of superstitious idolatry, (called medicine
or juggling), that pays homage to the vilest
animals ; a degeneracy of morals which knows
no stronger tie in conjugal obligations, than the
caprice of the moment—a vehement, inordinate
passion for gambling, that is prolonged to the
time of repose—a laziness which nothing can
induce them to shake off but the love of play,
11* 238
or the pressing claim of hunger—they are in
fine, addicted to the vilest habits of gluttony,
dissimulation, etc. Such is the wretched condition of the poor savage tribes along the Columbia. But amidst all this misery, there is
fortunately one redeeming feature, a constant
desire to discover some power superior to man ;
this disposition renders them attentive to the
least word that seems to convey the slightest
knowledge of a Supreme Being, and hence the
facility with which they believe anything that
at all resembles the Word of God.
Very reverend and dear Father, your humble
and obedient servant,
M£^    : t   P. J. DE SMET, S. J. -. Very Rev. and Dear Father Provincial,—The
eighth day after my departure from Fort Vancouver, I landed safely at Walla Walla, with
the goods destined for the different missions.
In a few days all was ready, and having thanked
the good and kind-hearted Mr. McBride, thfc
Superintendent of the Fort, who had rendered
me evely assistance in his power, we soon found
ourselves on the way to the mountains leading
a band of pack mules and horses over a sandy
dry plain, covered with bunch grass and wormwood. We made about sixteen miles and encamped for the night, in a beautiful little meadow, watered by the Walla Walla river, where
WB found abundance of grass for our animals—
these were soon unloaded and left free to graze 240
at leisure ; we next made a fire, put on the
camp-kettle, stretched the bed, consisting of a
buffalo-robe, and smoked together the friendly
Indian pipe, whilst supper was preparing. We
found ourselves at home and perfectly at ease
in less than a quarter of an hour. The evening
was clear and beautiful—-not a cloud—our
sleep, sound and refreshing, prepared us for an
early start at dawn of day. We had a day's
march, with pack animals, over an undulating
plain, before we could reach the crossing of
the Nez-perce or Lewis fork, whose source
is in the angle of the Rocky and Snowy Mountains, between the 42d and 44th degrees, near
the sources of the western Rio Colorado, the
Platte, the Yellow Stone, and the Missouri
rivers: its western course till it reaches the
Blue Mountains, and hence its northern direction till it joins the Columbia, together with its
principal tributaries, are sufficiently known to
you, and have been amply described already.
We found about a dozen Indian lodges called
the Palooses, a portion of the Sapetan or Nez-
perce tribe. We procured from the Indians
here some fresh salmon, for which we made
them ample return in powder and lead. But as
the grass was withered and scanty,   and the
pilfering dispositions of these Indians rather
doubtful, we resolved on proceeding eight or
ten miles farther, and encamped late in the
evening on the Pavilion river. The Nez-perce
and Spokane plain is at least a thousand feet
elevated above the bed of the river. It is dry,
stony, undulating, covered with bunch and nutritious grass, with prickly pear and wormwood.
The basaltic and volcanic formations which extend through the whole of this region, are really
wonderful. We frequently passed ponds and
small lakes embedded between walls of basaltic
rocks—immense ranges of dark shining pillars,
as if forced from the bosom of the plain, extend
for some miles, resembling, not unfrequently,
forts and ancient ruined cities and castles. We
encamped several times near small but beautiful
lakes, where ducks and geese, with their young
broods, were swimming in great numbers. The
Indians frequent these regions in search of the
bitter and camash roots, very abundant here.
In every one of their old encampments we observed great quantities of prairie-turtle shells,
a proof of their being numerous and serving as
food for the savages. Pheasants or quails were
very abundant — we daily killed what we
wanted for our meals* 242
On the fifth day of our departure from Walla
Walla, we reached the Spokane river, and found
a good fording for our animals. You will see
with pleasure the chart I have made of the
head waters of this river, which, though beautiful and interesting, is yet, like all the other
rivers in Oregon, almost an unbroken succession
of rapids, falls, and cascades, and of course ill-
adapted in its present condition to the purposes
of navigation. The two upper valleys 6f the
Coeur d'Alene are beautiful, and of a rich
mould; they are watered by two deep forks,
running into the Cceur d'Alene lake, a fine sheet
of water, of about thirty miles in length by four
or five broad, from which the river Spokane derives its source. I called the two upper forks
the St. Joseph's and the St. Ignatius. They are
formed by innumerable torrents, descending
from the Pointed-Heart mountains, a chain of
the Rocky Mountains. The two upper valleys
are about sixty or eighty miles long, and four or
eight miles broad. I counted upwards of forty
little lakes in them. The whole neighborhood
of the Spokane river affords very abundant grazing, and in many sections is tolerably well timbered with pines of different species. OREGON     MISSIONS.
On leaving the river we ascended by a steep
Indian path. A few miles'ride across a pine
forest brings you to a beautiful valley, leading
to Colville, agreeably diversified by plains and
forests, hemmed in by high wooded mountains,
and by huge picturesque rocks towering their
lofty heads over all the rest. Fountains and
rivulets are here very numerous. After about
thirty miles, we arrived at the foot of the
Kalispel Mountain, in the neighborhood of St.
Francis Regis, where already about seventy
metis or half-breeds have collected to settle
permanently. Several of them accompanied
me across the mountain, the height of which is
about five thousand feet above the level of the
plain. Its access is very easy on the western
side; on the eastern, the narrow path winds its
snake-like course through a steep and dense
forest.—After a march of about eight hours we
arrived at the beautiful Kalispel Bay, on the
margin of lake De Boey, almost in sight of the
Reduction of St. Ignatius.—My letter to Mrs. P.,
which I insert here will make you acquainted
with the whole history of that mission.
I remain, with the profoundest respect and esteem,   Very   Rev.   Father   Provincial, your
humble and obedient servant,
•    'i--,A. M. D. G.  -- ■■  •■
ft| Ignatius, July 25th, 1846.
Madam,—I am, indeed, ashamed at not having
been able sooner to answer the letters which
you had the kindness to write me on the 2d of
September and the 7th of December, 1844. They
reached the Rocky Mountains only the year
after, while I was engaged in a distant mission
among the Indians, so that I received them only
in the month of July, 1846. If it had been in
my power to forward you an answer before this
moment, my heart assures me that I would have
done it without delay, for I must tell you here,
that the debt of gratitude which my poor Indians and myself owe you is very great; and I
felt impatient to inform you, that we have already begun to pray for you, for your dear and
amiable children, and for your intentions. I
have given directions to the Indians of these
different tribes, viz., the Flat-Heads, the Pends
r="==i OREGON     "MISSIONS.
d'Oreilles, and the Cosur d'Alenes, to recite,
every Week, the Rosary for one of their great
benefactresses, meaning yourself. Now, you
cannot but be aware, that, among the Indians,
the beads are recited in each family, so
that I am already assured, and I have
the consolation of saying to you, that many
thousand pairs of beads have already been
offered up to God and his august mother for
you. Those good Indians—those children of
the forest—so dear to my heart, will continue to
display their gratitude till I tell them to cease,
and that will not be very soon. What confidence have I not in the prayers of those Indians,
whose merit is known only to God ! Oh ! if it
is true that the prayer of him who possesses the
innocence, the simplicity, and the faith of a
child, pierces the clouds—is all-powerful, and is
certainly heard—then be assured that in these
new missions, in which the finger of God has
been so visibly manifested, these virtues reign
pre-eminently, and that the prayer of the Indian
will also be heard in your behalf! How happy
should I be, my dear, excellent Madam, could
I give you to understand how great, how sweet,
how enrapturing is their devotion to the august
mother of God!   The name of Mary, which 246
pronounced in the Indian language, is something
so sweet and endearing, delights and charms
them. The hearts of these good children ^f the
forest melt, and seem to overflow, when they
sing the praises of her whom they, as well as
we, call their mother. Oh! I feel confident,
knowing, as I do, their dispositions, that they
have a distinguished place in the heart of that
Holy Virgin ; and that, through the intercession
of Mary, invoked by so many fervent souls, you
will obtain from God whatever you ask; for I
am too well acquainted with your piety to think
that you would ask anything that was not calculated to promote the glory of God, the sancti-
fication of your own soul, and that of your children.
Permit me, now, to say a few words concerning the Indians and myself, since the time I had
the honor of conversing with you in B , in the
spring of 1843. On the 6th of November of the
following year, the Rev. Father A. Hoecken came
to meet me, accompanied by several Indians of
the tribe of Pends d'Oreilles of the Bay, among
whom I had determined, two years before, to
open a mission. They displayed every mark of
friendship and joy at my return among them ;
they conducted me in triumph to their camp, OREGON     MISSIONS*
and received me there amidst volleys of musketry and the sounding of trumpets. It Would
be impossible to describe the feelings of my
heart at thus meeting with the first band of my
dear neophytes and children in God, and to represent to you the real joy which animated
them on this occasion. How much had we not
to communicate to each other! I gave them
some little and to them interesting details of
the vast countries through which I had travelled in order to promote the interest and welfare of the Indians, since I bade them farewell,
that is, within fifteen months. I had crossed
the great American desert, and passed through
so many warlike, nomadical nations, extending
from the Pacific Ocean to the frontier of the
the State of Missouri. I had travelled over
the United States from New Orleans to Boston
—crossed the Atlantic—seen a great part of
Ireland and England—the whole of Belgium,
Holland and France. From Marseilles I had
passed by Genoa, the city of palaces, Leghorn,
and Civitta Vecchia, to visit the Capital of the
Christian world. From Rome I had gone to
Anvers, and then, sailing round Cape Horn,
touching at Chili and Peru, and having twice
crossed the Equator, I had at length disembark- j
ed at Fort Vancouver, on the Columbia, and
had the happiness to embrace, on the 6th of
November, my dear neophytes, who had prayed
so fervently for me, that, during all these long
voyages, by sea and land, parsing through so
many different climates, and ar. all seasons of
the year, I had not been troubled either by sickness or any untoward accident. Glory to God
for so special a protection, and a thousand
thanks to the good Indians who, from the
moment of my departure until my return, had
not ceased to invoke, morning and evening, the
blessing and assistance of Heaven on its un-
worthy servant.
The details which the young missionary
gave me respecting their present dispositions, are too interesting to be here omitted;
and I give them in proof of the divine grace
over the hearts of this well-disposed people.
All that I had recommended to them in the
visits I paid them in 1841-42, had been strictly
complied with. " The first thing," says Father
Adrien Hoecken in a letter home. " which struck
me on my arrival among them, was a truly
brotherly love and perfect union, which animated the whole tribe,  and seemed to make OREGON     MISSIONS.
them but one family. They manifest great
love, obedience and respect for their chiefs, and
what is still more admirable, they all, as the
chiefs themselves declare, speak and desire but
one and the same thing. These chiefs are as
much the real fathers of their people as is a
good Superior the father of a religious community. The chiefs among the Kalispels speak
calmly, but never in vain ; the instant they intimate their wish to one of their followers, he sets
to work to accomplish it.    Is any one involved
in difficulties—is he in want or sickness,—or
does he wish to undertake a journey, whether
long or short—he consults his chief, and shapes
his conduct in accordance with the advice he
receives. Even with regard to marriage, the
Indians consult their chiefs, who sanction, or
postpone it, or disapprove of it, according as
they deem it conducive, or otherwise, to the
happiness of the parties. The chief, in quality
of father, endeavors to provide for the support
of his people. It is he, consequently, who regulates hunting, fishing, and the gathering of roots
and fruit. All the game and fish are brought
to his lodge, and divided into as many shares as
there are families. The distribution is made
I with rigid impartiality.   The old, the infirm, the 250
widow, all receive their share equally with the
hunter. Is not this something like the return of
the golden age—those happy times when every
thing was held in common and all had, as the
apostle informs us, but one heart and one soul?
Complaints, murmurings and backbiting are
here unknown; blasphemy has never been
uttered by an Indian : there are not even wo^is
in his language to express it." On the arrival
of the Black-gown, the great chiefs explained to
him, with patriarchal simplicity, their manner
of life. " We are ignorant," he added, | but now
that we have the happiness to have a Black*
gown among us, we will listen to his voice and
obey it; whatever changes he may deem necessary to make, we will cheerfully submit,"
The Black-gown confirmed and approved all
the good practices and customs he found established in this little corner of the world,* where,
notwithstanding their poverty, the Indians
all seemed contented and happy. It is really
affecting to hear them speak of the darkness in
which they had been buried; and to see them
now exulting in the light of the gospel, and the
knowledge of the Christian virtues, which they
cherish, and by which their hearts seein to be
inflamed. Their whole ambition consists in listen- OREG ON     MISSIONS.
ing with docility to the word of God, and in being
able thoroughly to understand and recite their
prayers. Piety is what a young man seeks in
her who is to be his future wife—and what a
young woman desires to find in him who is to
become her husband. In their leisure hours
they surround, and, if I may be allowed the expression, besiege their missionary. To the day
they would add the night, if he could bear the
fatigue, in speaking of heavenly things. Pride
and human respect, are absolutely unknown to
them. How often have we npt seen gray-headed old men and even chiefs, sit down by the
side of children ten or eleven years old, who
would teach them their prayers, and explain to
them the figures of the Catholic Ladder, with all
the gravity becoming a teacher; and give to
the explanation, for one or two hours, all the
attention of obedient pupils. In seasons of
scarcity, when the fishing or hunting has failed,
or in other misfortunes, they manifest no signs
of impatience. They are quiet and resigned receiving them as punishments for their sins;
whSe their success they attribute to the bounty
of God, and render to Him all the glory of it.
The usual place of residence of the Kalispels
=—that in which the Reduction of St. Ignatius is 252
now established—is an extensive prairie, called
the Bay of the Kalispels, thirty or forty miles
above the mouth of Clark or Flat-Head River.
A beautiful grotto exists in the neighborhood of
the mission, which I have named the grotto of
Manresa, in honor of our Holy Founder. It is
very large, and might, at a small expense, be
fitted up for a church. May the Indians gather
in crowds into this new Manresa, and after the
example of their patron, St. Ignatius, be penetrated with a feeling sense of heavenly things,
and inflamed with the love of God !
I shall always remember with pleasure the
winter of 1844-45, which I had the happiness of
spending among these good Indians. The place
for wintering was well chosen, picturesque,
agreeable, and convenient. The camp was
placed near a beautiful waterfall, caused by
Clark river's being blocked up by an immense
rock, through which the waters, forcing narrow
passages, precipitate themselves. A dense and
interminable forest protected us from the north
winds, and a countless number of dead trees
standing on all sides, furnished us with abundant fuel for our fires during the inclement season. We were encircled by ranges of lofty
mountains, whose snow-clad summits reflected   OREGON     MISSIONS.
in the sun, their brightness on all the surrounding country.
The place for wintering being determined, the
first care of the Indians was to erect the house
of prayer. While the men cut down saplings,
the women brought bark and mats to cover
them. In two days this humble house of the
Lord was completed—huj&ble and poor indeed,
but truly the house of prayer, to which pure,
simple, innocent souls repaired, to offer to the
Great Spirit their vows, and the tribute of their
affegjions. Here the missionaries continued with
care and diligence, their instructions preparatory
to baptism. How consoling was it to see ourselves surrounded by this fervent band, who
had renounced the chase of the buffalo—a
pleasure so attracting to an Indian—and had
come from various parts of the country to place
themselves under our direction, in the well-
founded hope of being speedily regenerated in
the saving waters of baptism. They had already learned their prayers, and all those things
which it was necessary they should practise.
They applied with ardor to become acquainted
with the nature and obligations of the Sacrament of regeneration, and the dispositions re-
squired for its worthy reception.
12 254
The great festival of Christmas, the day on
which the little band was to be added to the
number of the true children of God, will never
be effaced from the memory of our good Indians.
The manner in which we celebrated midnight
mass, may give you an idea of our festival.
The signal for rising, which was to be given a
few minutes before midnight, was the firing of
a pistol, announcing to the Indians that the
house of prayer would soon be open. This was
followed by a general discharge of guns, in
honor of the birth of the Infant Saviour, and
three hundred voices rose spontaneously frorn
the midst of the forest, and entoned in the language of the Pends d'Oreilles, the beautiful
canticle: " Du Dieu puissant tout annonce la
gloire."—" The Almighty's glory all things proclaim." In a moment a multitude of adorers
were seen wending their way to the humble
temple of the Lord—resembling indeed, the
manger in which the Messiah was born. On
that night, which all at once became bright as
day, they experienced, I know not what, that
which made them exclaim aloud," Oh God! I give
Thee my heart." Oh! I trust that the happy
impression which this unwonted spectacle made
upon their hearts, will never be effaced.   Of
what was our little church of the wilderness
constructed?    I  have   already  told  you—of
posts fresh cut in the woods, covered over with
mats and bark; these were its only materials.
On the eve, the church was embellished with
garlands and wreaths of green boughs; forming,
as it were, a frame for the images which represent the affecting mysteries of Christmas night.
The interior was ornamented with pine branches.     The altar was neatly decorated, bespangled with stars of various brightness, and
covered with a profusion of ribbons—things exceedingly attractive to the eye of an Indian. At
midnight I celebrated a solemn Mass, the Indians sang several canticles  suitable   to the
occasion.   That peace announced in the first
verse of the   Angelic  hymn—"The Gloria,—
Peace on  earth to men of good will," was, I
venture to say, literally fulfilled to the Indians
of the forest.   A grand banquet,  according to
Indian custom, followed the first Mass.   Some
choice pieces of the animals slain in the chase
had been set apart for the occasion.   I ordered
half a sack of flour, and a large boiler of sweetened coffee to be added.   The union, the contentment, the joy, and charity, which pervaded 256
the whole assembly, might well be compared to
the agape o£ the primitive Christians.
After the second High Mass, all the adults,
with the chiefs at their head, presented themselves in the church to receive baptism, the
fulfilment of their longing desires. The old
man and woman whom I baptized two years
before, were sponsors for all. The men were
placed on the one side, according to the custom
of Paraguay, and the women oijl the other. I
was assisted during the ceremony, by Father
Hoecken, their worthy and zealous missionary.
Everything was done in order and with propriety. Permit me to repeat here that I should
be delighted couid I but communicate to the
zealous and fervent, those pleasurable feelings
—that overflowing of the heart, which one experiences on such occasions. Here, indeed, th^
Indian missionary enjoys his greatest consolations : here he obtains his strength, his courage,
his zeal to labor to bring men to the knowledge
of the true God, in spite of the poverty, the privations of every description, and the dangers
with which he has to contend. Yes, surely,
even in this life is the promise of the Saviour
fulfilled with regard to   him,   "Ye   shall re- OREGON     MISSIONS.
ceive a hundred fold." The trifling things of the.
world he abandons, are nothing to be compared
with the blessings he finds in the wilderness. The
priest does not address in vain to the Inpflians,
those beautiful words of the Roman ritual;
" Receive this white garment, etc.," " Receive
this burning taper, etc." He may be c&rtain
that the greater number of his catechumens
will wear that spotless garment—will preserve
their baptismal innocence, to the hour of their
death. When I have afterwards asked them, if
they have not offended God ? if their conscience
does not reproach them with some fault ? how
often have I received this tombing and consoling
answer: " Oh, Father ! in baptism I renounced
sin, I try to avoid sin, the very thought of
offending God, frightens me !" The ceremonies
of baptism were closed by a second instruction, and by the distribution of beads which the
Indians are accustomed to say evely evening in
public* .• ^
About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the solemn
benediction of the blessed sacrament was given
for the first time, immediately after which, upwards of fifty couples, many of whom were
eighty years old, came forward to renew before
the Church, their marriage promises. I could not 258
help shedding tears of joy at witnessing this
truly primitive simplicity, and the love and
affection with which they pledged again their
faith to each other. The last instruction was
then given, and thanks were returned to God for
all the blessings he had vouchsafed to shower
upon them, on this ever-memor able day. The
recitation of prayers and the chanting of hymns
were heard in all the lodges of the camp, till
the night was far advanced.
Fathers Mengarini and Serbinati, (the last-
mentioned Father has since died), had the consolation to see the whole tribe of the Flat-Heads,
among whom they had been laboring, approach
the Holy Table on this day.. Twelve youngo
Indians, taught by Father Mengarini, performed
with accuracy, several pieces of music during
the midnight Mass. Fathers Point and Joset
had, also, the consolation of admitting for the
first time, nearly the entire tribe of the Coeur
d'Alenes, on this auspicious day, to the Holy
Communion. Father Point has given the particulars of this first communion in a letter,
which has been published, and which you have,
no doubt, read with pleasure. The Christmas
of 1844 was, therefore, a great and glorious day
in the Rocky Mountains.   OREGON      MISSIONS.
I will close this already lengthy letter with a
few words more concerning the Pends d'Oreilles
of the Bay. Early in the spring of 1845, they
began to build upon the spot selected for the
Reduction of St. Ignatius, and to open fields.
On Ascension day of the same year, Father
Hoecken administered baptism to upwards of a
hundred adults. At my last visit, which I paid
them in July last, they had already put up
fourteen log houses, besides a large barn, had
the timber prepared for a church, and had upwards of three hundred acres in grain, enclosed
by a substantial fence. *The whole village, men,
women, and children, had worked most cheerfully. I counted thirty head of horned cattle—
the squaws had learned to milk the cows and
to churn; they had a few hogs and some domestic fowls. The number of Christians had doubled since Christmas, 1844.
A flour and saw mill, a few more ploughs,
with other agricultural implements, and carpenter's tools, were much wanted in the village of
St. Ignatius. All is to be commenced among
these poor, good Indians, and to us they look
for means and supplies, which we readily
grant as far as we are able. Already was an
appeal  made to  the generous  and   charitable 260
Christians, and it is consoling for me to say,
that appeal found an echo in the hearts of the
friends of the Indians, which enabled us to enlarge our missionary operations, and I may add,
that the grateful prayer of the Indians is daily
ascending to the throne of the Almighty, to implore the blessings of Heaven on their benefactors. In 1845 and '46, several stations were
formed, and the extensive mission of New Caledonia was commenced. fiS
I remain, with profound respect and esteem^
madam, your very humble and obedient servant,
I                         P..J. DE SMET, S. J. OREGON      MISSIONS.
No. XXI.
A. M. D. G.
Valley of St. Mary's, Aug. 10,1846.
Very Rev. and Dear Father Provincial, — On
the 27th July, I bade farewell to Father Hoecken
and his interesting little flock, consisting of
about five hundred Indians. I was accompanied by two Kalispels, and some of the Coeur
d'Alenes, who came to meet me. We had
beautiful weather, and a path remarkably free
from those obstructions so annoying to travellers in the mountains. Towards the middle of
our day's journey, we reached a beautiful lake
surrounded by hills, and a thick forest of larch.
I have named it the Lake de Nef, as a token of
gratitude towards one of the greatest benefactors of the mission. It discharges itself through
a narrow passage, forming a beautiful rapid,
called the Tournhout-torrent, at the termination 262
of which it joins its limpid waters to those of
the river Spokane.
Next day the sun rose majestically, and
everything gave promise of an agreeable day,
but these fine appearances were gradually lost
behind a thick bank of ominous clouds* which,
shortly after overspreading the sky, poured
down such torrents of rain, that everything on
us was drenched as completely as if we had waded through a river. At the foot of the great
rapids, we crossed the river Spokane, and continued our route over an extensive plain, agree-
ably interspersed with thick groves of pine/
when towards sunset we encamped close by a
refreshing fountain.
A few words descriptive of our encampments
during wet weather^ may not be out of place.
The tent erected in haste—saddles, bridles, baggage, etc., thrown into some sheltered spot—
large heaps of larch branches or brushwood are
cut down, and spread over the spot of ground-
destined for our repose—provision of as much
dry wood as can be collected is now brought
forth for the whole night; on this occasion we
made a fire large enough to roast an ox. These
preparations completed, our meal (dinner and
supper the same time) consisting of flour, camash OREGON  'MISSIONS.
roots, and some buffalo tallow, is thrown into
a large kettle nearly filled with water. The
great heat obliging the cook to stand at a respectable distance from the fire, a long pole
serves as a ladle to stir about the contents until the mixture has acquired the proper density,
when a vigorous attack is made upon it after a
singular fashion indeed. On the present occasion we were six in number, trusting to a single
spoon, but necessity soon supplied the deficiency. Two of the company used pieces of bark ;
two others, strips of leather ; and the fifth, a
small turtle-shell. Grace being said, a circle is
formed round the kettle, and the instruments
plunge and replunge into it with as much regularity and address, as a number of smiths'
hammers plying at the anvils—a few moments,
and the contents of the large kettle are gone,
leaving not a vestige behind. We found this
repast delicious, thanks to our keen appetites.
Making due allowance for the tastes of others,
" de gustibus enim nil disputandum," I confess I
have never enjoyed a feast more heartily, than
such as I have now described, prepared in the
open air, after the Indian fashion. All the refined inventions of the art culinary, as sauces,
pickles, preserves, pies, etc., designed to quicken
* 264
or restore weak appetites, are here utterly useless. Loss of appetite, which among the wealthy forms the reigning complaint," furnishing
abundant employment to apothecaries and doctors, is here unheard of. If these patients
would have the courage to abandon for a time
their high living, and traverse the wilds of
this region on horseback, breakfasting at daybreak, and dining at sunset, after a ride of forty
miles, I venture to predict that they will not
need any refined incitements to relish as I did
a simple dish prepared by the Indians. Having
dried our blankets and said night prayers, our
repose was not the less sound for having fared
so simply, or lain upon a rough couch of brushwood. We started early the next morning, and
about mid-day arrived at the mission of the
Sacred Heart, where I was received with the
greatest cordiality by Fathers Joset and Point,
with B. B. Magri and Lyons. All the Coeur
d'Alenes of the neighborhood came to welcome
me. The fervor and piety of these poor Indians
filed me with great joy and consolation, especially when I considered how great the change
wrought in them since their conversion to Christianity. The details of this conversion have, I
believe, been published by Father Pointy and OREGON      MISSIONS.
by the way, I may remark here, that some incidents connected with my previous mission to
this country, are inserted in this letter. TV-
these details I may add, that these Indians previous to their conversion, were shunned by the
other tribes, on account, it is said, of their great
power in juggling and other idolatrous prac-
llces. Indeed, they were addicted to superstitions the most absurd, blindly offering adoration
to the vilest beasts, and tltfc most common objects. Now, they are the first to scoff at
these ridiculous practices, adding at the same
time, with much feeling and veneration, " God
has had pity on us—He has opened our eyes-
He is infinitely good to us." A single instance
will serve to give you some idea of the objects
of their worship, and the facility with which they
adopt their manitous or divinities. They related
to me, that the first white man they saw in their
counti*y, wore a calico shirt spotted all over
with black and white, which to them appeared
like the smallpox, he also wore a white coverlet. The Coeur d'Alenes imagined that the spotted shirt was the great manitou himself—th6
great master of that alarming disease, the
smallpox—andi that the white coverlet was
the  great  manitou of the snow; that if they 266
could obtain possession of these, and pay
them divine honors, their nation would never
afterwards be visited by that dreadful scourge ;
and their winter hunts be rendered successful by an abundant fall of snow. They accordingly offered him in exchange for these,
several of their best horses. The bargain was
eagerly closed by the white man. The spotted
shirt and the white coverlet became thenceforward, objects of great veneration for many
years. On grand solemnities, the two manitous
were carried in procession to a lofty eminence,
usually consecrated to the performance of their
superstitious rites. They were then respectfully
spread on the grass: the great medicine-pipe
offered to them, with as much veneration, as is
customary with the Indians, in presenting it to
the sun, the fire, the earth, and the water. The
whole band of jugglers, or medicine-men, then
entoned canticles of adoration to them. The
service was generally terminated with a grand
dance, in which the performers exhibited the
most hideous contortions and extravagant
gestures, accompanied with a most unearthly
The term medicine is commonly employed by
the whites, to express whatever regards the
juggling, idolatrous practices of the savages ;
probably, because the Indian feeling his ignorance of the proper remedies in sickness, and
almost wholly dependent upon chance for his
subsistence, merely demands of his manitous
some relief in these distressing situations. This
something that the Indians call Power, is at times
limited, say they, to the procuring of only one
object, as the cure of some disease. Some other
Power, again, is not so limited, it extends to
many objects, as success in hunting, fishing,
waging war, and avenging injuries. All this,
however, varies according to the degree of confidence reposed in it by the individual, the number of his passions or the intensity of his malice.
Some of the Powers are looked upon even by
the savages themselves, as wicked in the extreme, the sole object of such Powers is to do
evil. Moreover it is not at all times granted,
even when those professing to be most powerful medicine-men, earnestly desire it. It comes
only during sleep, in a fainting fit, during a
loud clap of thunder, or in the delirious excitement of some passion ; but never without some
definite purpose, as to foment dissensions, or exasperate to deeds of violence, or to obtain some
corporal advantage; favors which are always 268
purchased at the expense of the soul. Much
exaggeration is, of course, clearly characteristic
of those misnamed |f effects of preternatural
power. Most of those that came under my notice, and which the Indians attributed to preternatural agency, were the effects of causes purely
natural. Notwithstanding these deplorable disorders of the soul, it is my greatest consolation
to reflect, that these superstitious practices, in
consequence of the many palpable contradictions
they admit, become a spiritual malady, the least
difficult to cure.
On the 5th of August, I left the Mission of
the "Sacred Heart of Jesus," accompanied by
the Rev. Father Point. Three Indian families,
desirous of visiting St. Mary's, served us for
guides. Our journey for some days, lay along
the serpentine course of the river St. Ignatius,
in the valley of the North. The soil of this
valley is for the most part rich, and well adapted to cultivation, but subject to frequent inundations. Grain and potatos are here cultivated
by the Indians with great success. Father
Joset, assisted by the savages, has already enclosed and prepared for cultivation, a large
field, capable of affording sustenance to several
Indian families.   Our hopes, then, of  seeing
these poor Indians furnished with a plentifl#y
supply of provisions, and their wandering habits
thereby checked, will with the blessing of God,
be realized at no very distant day. To attain
the desirable object of uniting them in villages,
and thus forming them to habits of industry,
we need, however, more means than we possess at present—we are very much in want of
seeds of various kinds, and of agricultural implements.
®efore arriving at the snow-capped chain of
mountains, which separates the Coeur d'Alenes
from the Flat-Heads, we wound our way for
two days, through forests almost impenetrable,
and over immense beds of rock, always following the course of the river, except where its
tortuous windings would lead us too circuitous
a route. So tortuous indeed is its course here,
tha* in less than eight houfS, we crossed it no
less than forty-four times. The majestic cedars
that shade the gorge at this point are truly
prodigious, most of them measure from twenty
to thirty feet in circumference, with a proportionate height, and so numerous, that as the
rays of the sun cannot penetrate the dense
mass, perpetual night may be said, without exaggeration, to reign here.   I doubt whether the
y<m 270
owl could have selected a more fitting abode,
certainly none so majestic or mysterious. The
death-like silence of this glen, broken only by
the passing breeze, the occasional visit of some
wild animal, or the constant murmuring of the
rills from the rocky banks, impress the beholder
with feelings of a most unearthly yet pleasing
ll|With much difficulty and fatigue we forced a
passage through this dense mass of forest,
stooping half the time upon the neck of the
horse, to avoid the low thorny branches, so
thickly crossed together, that one is inclined at
first sight, to abandon all hope of wedging his
way through them. Its termination brought us
to the foot of the great chain of mountains. It
occupied us nearly another day to ascend this
by a narrow winding path, which is shaded by
one of finest forests in Oregon. Towards sunset we reached the top, where we pitched our
camp, within a few paces of one of those immense snow masses, that perpetually shroud
this lofty chain. Here we enjoyed a most
magnificent view—the horizon for some hundred
miles around presented a spectacle of surpassing grandeur : as far as the eye could reach, a
long succession of mountains, towering cliffs,
and lofty pinnacles, exhibited their dazzling snowcapped summits to our astonished vision. The
very silence of this vast wilderness strikes the
beholder with feelings of deep sublimity ; n ot
even a breeze stirred to break the charm of this
enchanting view. I shall never forget the
splendor of the scene we witnessed, as the last
rays of the seating sun were throwing their
full lustre upon the myriads of pinnacles that
ranged far away towards the distant horizon.
The descent on the eastern side of this mountain is less abrupt, presenting slopes of j4ch
verdure, adorned with a great variety of plants
and flowers. This descent also occupied us an
entire day. We next arrived at a forest, a
twin-sister, if I may be allowed the expression,
of the one I have just described. Here the
river St. Francis Regis meanders through innumerable hoary cedars, pine trees, and an impenetrable thicket of bushes of every species.
With the happiest recollections, we finally encamped on the banks of the St. Mary's river, in
the Flat-Head valley—the nursery of our first
missionary operations in the Far West.
In my next, I propose giving you some details of the present condition of our first#chil-
dren in God,   the   good  and  deserving Flat-   INSULA   OR   RED   LEATHER.
Great Chief and brave cvmongr th& T2at - keaa*s OREGON    MISSIONS.                      273
"     '           No. XXII.
Village of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
■/    _'.       \~   ■ -il ,1845.
I learn by letters from Europe, that you take
a lively interest in our dear missions. From
t$tis, I conclude fhat you will be very glad to
learn some of those things which are passing
amongst us. I take the more pleasure, because
I can detail what my own eyes have witnessed,
and because I can give a new proof of a truth,
which you love to extend, viz., that it is to their
devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that the
pastors of souls are indebted for the consolations they enjoy: this will explain the wonders
of mercy of which they are witnesses.
You know already the history of the Flat-
Heads ; truly their conversion is the result of a
wonderful outflowing of the riches of grace;
but I do not hesitate to say, that the conversion 274
of the Pointed-Hearts is a still more striking
indication of God's love to man. What were
these savages less than a quarter of a century
ago ? They had hearts so hard, that if their
first visiters have undertaken to give a true
description of them, they could not find an expression more just, than is the singular name
which they bear to this day. Their knowledge
was so limited, that, giving themselves up to
the worship of animals they had no idea of the
true God nor of their soul, much less of a future
life ; finally they were a race of men, so degenerate that they had barely two or three notions
of the whole natural law, and almost all were
strangers to it in practice.
What a different aspect they now present! I
will not say that they are perfect: that would
be an exaggeration even in the eyes of persons
little versed in the knowledge of the human
heart. Everybody knows, that people who are
converted, always retain something of their
primitive character, and that the defects of
education are not corrected except by a long
course of years; but I say to the glory of Him,
who can change the hardest rocks into children
of Abraham, that, at this day, our Pointed-Hearts
are true believers.
It is only two years since the cross was planted
on their soil, and all, with a very few exceptions have made their first communion.
About fifteen years ago, several missionaries
begged to be employed among the savages. A
new doctrine was soon spread among the
Pointed-Hearts, telling them that there is but
one God, who has, beyond the earth we see,
two things which we do not see :—a place for
the good, and a place for the bad; that the Son
of God, in all respects like his Father, seeing all
men running in the bad road, came down from
Heaven to put them in the right way ; but that
in order to effect this, it was necessary for him
to die upon a cross. One evening, all the families, who were dispersed in different directions,
for fishing, for hunting, and gathering roots, assembled upon the* ground of an old chief called
Ignatius, to see the author of this news. Regardless of fatigue, they prolonged their sitting
to the silence of the night, and listened to all
the details of the glorious message.
God is great—Jesus Christ is good:—two
truths the admission of which seemed to be the
result of the first sitting: was this, indeed, the
case ? Not so much, perhaps, as would have
been desirable : for before the families separat- 276
ed, Heaven sent a scourge, which struck with
death a great number of them. At the moment
it raged with the greatest violence, one of the
dying—since named Stephen—heard a voice
* from above, which said: " Cast down thy idols ;
adore Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be cured/5
The dying man believed the word, and was
cured. He went about the camp and related
what had taken place : fell the sick who heard
him imitated his example, and recovered their
health. I have this fact from the mouth of the
savage who heard the voice from heaven, and
the same has been confirmed by eye-witnesses,
who could say, " I, myself, have been the object
of that wonder, and my eyes have seen the
mountain at the foot of which the idols were
cast down."
The savage takes little notice of an event
which does not strike him in a sensible manner ; but what I have related was marked by
two such peculiar characters, that it left traces
in the memory of all. However, neither constancy nor reflection is to be found in the savage. After some years of fidelity to the impressions received, the greater part returned to their
former idolatry. This retrograde movement
was accelerated by the medicine-men—a kind OREGON    MISSIONS.
of charlatans, who set themselves up for physicians and prophets, and pretend to perform
wonderful things, especially, to cure the sick by
their skill and supernatural power. At the
word of one of the chiefs, who, probably, had
not ceased to be an idolater, the men convoked (
an assembly of those who were called believers,
in which it was resolved to return to their ancient practices; and, from that moment, the
animals of the country, now become again
divine, re-entered into possession of their ancient honors. The mass of the tribe, had,
indeed, no confidence in them; but, either
through fear of the medicine-men, or by natural
curiosity, they took part, at least by their presence, in the sacrilegious worship paid to them.
Happily, choice souls were always among them
to intercede with Heaven for their deluded
brethren; I know many, who, from the time in
which God was pleased to manifest himself
among them, have not the least faults upon
their consciences, with which to reproach themselves.
Such was pretty nearly the condition of the
people when Providence sent among them the
Rev. Father De Smet. His visit, the circumstances of which have been related elsewhere,
disposed them so much in favor of the Black-
gowns, that it was determined I should be sent
to their aid. Three months after, that is, at the
close of the hunting expeditions of the autumn
Of 1842, I left St. Mary's to place the new converts under the protection of the Sacred Heart
of Jesus.
The same day I entered their territory, the
first Friday of November, I made with thre£
chiefs who came to seek me, the promised
consecration, and on the first Friday of December, in the midst of chants and prayers, the
cross was raised on the borders of a lake,
where the poor savages had united for fishing.
Thanks be to God, we can say, that the miraculous draught of St. Peter was spiritually renewed. For they spoke no more of their assemblies of impostors, their diabolical visions,
nor superstitious ceremonies, which had before
been so common; and most important of all,
gambling, which had always occupied a great
portion of their time, was two weeks afterwards, abandoned; the conjugal bond, which
for centuries, perhaps, had known among them
neither unity nor indissolubility, was brought
back to its primitive character. A beautiful
sight was presented by the medicine-men them-
selves, who with their own hands, did justice to
the wretched instruments hell had used to deceive
them. During the long nights of that period,
it will not be necessary to tell how many sacrifices were made of feathers, wolves' tails, stags'
feet, deer's hoofs, wooden images, &c.
Scarcely was the bad tree cut down and
thrown into the fire, than a blessing on their
temporal affairs was united to that of their
spiritual. In one day three hundred deer became the prey of the hunters.
The first days of spring, the reunion of the
people at the place agreed on for the construction of a village was more numerous than the
first. It was formed upon the ancient plans in
Paraguay, and each one, according to his
strength and industry, contributed towards its
construction. Trees were felled, roads opened,
a church erected, and the public fields were
sown; and, thanks to the piety of our savages,
Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost
were celebrated with, becoming solemnity. In
truth, things went so well, that the enemy of
men, perceiving his prey escape him, redoubled
his efforts. We experienced some loss in consequence of a storm; but after a partial de- 280
struction, the storm only resulted in purifying
the atmosphere.
Towards the end of October, 1844, one hun-
red families of the Pointed-Hearts reunited in
one village. The sight of their little lodges
around the house of God, brought to mind
the touching idea of the pelican in the desert.
Young and old united to make their first communion, or renew it. Many had already acquired a certain degree of instruction, but the |
greater portion, especially of the old, were far
from being sufficiently instructed ; and the time
the Black-gown had to prepare them before
the great winter chase, was November and
December, for the chase could not be put off, it
is essential to the life of a savage. It was
necessary, then, to hasten, and choose the
shortest method of instructing them.
Everybody knows the savage has the eye of
a lynx, and never forgets what he has once
seen; therefore when he attaches any idea to
a sensible sign, he can always recall it as soon
as he sees the sign under his eyes; thus they
have a wonderful facility in speaking by signs,
and a great inclination to render their thoughts
by images: upon this faculty I based my
system of instruction.   I made images, repre-
h—^™~": OREGON     MISSIONS.
senting what they ought to believe. Some of
these represented tie faults and vices they
ought to sh m, others the virtues they should
practise. After this, with a little stick in my
hand, I explained my representations, and tried
to adapt myself to the understanding of all.
The success of this method surpassed my expectation : for, having made the most intelligent
repeat what I had said, I had the pleasure to see
that they lost nothing of what was essential,
and immediately I formed classes for repetition.
The first repetition was made immediately after
the instruction ; the second in their lodges, the
third by the chiefs in t eir harangues, and the
fourth at the beginning of the next instruction.
The plan was insisted upon, and rapid progress made, not only in their instruction, but
also in their morals. Those who exhorted
joined to their exhortations the force of private
example, so that the mass of the people seemed
to be led on, by attractiDn.
From the 9th of September to the time in
which I write—a period of six months not one
single fault, which can be called serious, so far
as my knowledge extends, has been committed
in the village of the Sacred Heart of Jesus;
and a great many, who reproached themselves 282
with light failings, cease not to m&ke public
confession in terms of grief, which it would be
desirable to see the greater culprits exhibit at
the tribunal of penance. I have seen husbands
come after their wives, and mothers after their
daughters, not to excuse the accusations which
they had made, but to acknowledge that their
want of patience and humility were the cause
of the failings of the others.
It is worthy of remark that all the adults,
who had not yet received baptism, and all who
united to prepare for their first communion, not
one was judged unworthy to receive the sacraments. Their simplicity, piety, charity, and
especially their faith, were admirable. And
truly all these virtues were necessary for these
good old men, who, for the sake of learning
their prayers, had to become the scholars of
their children, and for the children to enable
them to do violence to their natural vivacity,
while they slowly communicated to their old
parents and grand-parents, a part of what they
had learned; and the chiefs would rise at the
dawn of the day, and sometimes in the middle
of the night, to exhort their people to weep over
their sins.
I have spoken of their faith.   How pure and OREGON     MISSIONS.
above all, how confiding it was! The first idea,
neccessary to impress on their minds was, that
the goodness of God is not less great than his
power, and they were so convinced of it, that
they begged God to perform miracles, as they
would beg their daily bread. They were told,
that the sacrament of extreme unction had the
power not only to purify the soul, but to restore
health to the body ; it did not occur to them to
doubt of the one more than of the other.
They have great faith in the sign of the cross.
They are accustomed to make it at the beginning of their prayers, and of all their principal
actions. Not satisfied with making it themselves, their children can scarcely pronounce a
word, before they teach them to articulate the
words of the sign of the cross. 11 saw a father
and mother bending over the cradle of an only
son, who was about to die. They made their
best efforts to suggest to him to make the sign
of the cross, and the child having raised his
little hand to his forehead, made the consoling
sign and immediately expired.
A woman, sitting near the grave of her only
daughter, was conversing with her little boy,
whom she had that day presented at the baptismal font.   " See," said she, " my child, how tW^ .Wffl.
happy it is to die after being baptized ! f If you
should die to-day, you would see again our
little Clementia." And the pious mother exhibited such a calmness in her tone of voice
and countenance, that she seemed to have a
foretaste of the happy abode of which she
llrOur infant church presented the picture of
the purest virtues, when the happy period for
which she sighed was approaching. The week
preceding the celebration of the Immaculate
Conception of the blessed Virgin Mary, was
devoted to prepare the people for the reception
of holy communion. The time, of course, did
not admit of frequent instructions, long prayers
and general confessions. The good Father
Joset gave instructions. Their prayers were
fervent, and experience had already taught them
the necessity of true sorrow for past sins, which
they exhibited in a lively manner at the confessional. I used all the exertions I could to
prepare t ose whose understandings appeared
more limited than the others; and their piety,
calmness and perseverance, have put to flight
all the fears which rested on my mind. The
church was small; it measured in length fifty
feet, and in breadth twenty-four.   It was indeed,
poor, but from every part of the wall and ceiling, were  suspended rich festoons  of leaves.
While the stars were still shining in the firmament, the chant, Lauda Sion^ was heard.    But
who sung that divine canticle ?    The savages,
who lately addressed their prayers only to the
animals of their mountains.    Go to the foot of
the altar and see the new adorers, bowing their
heads before the Eternal One.    The representation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Cross
on which he expired, raised their thoughts to
the abode of glory, and caused them to centre
there all their affections.   They approached the
altar to receive   holy   communion   with   the
greatest order and devotion.     It was Father
Joset who had happiness to distribute to them
the bread of  life,—a happiness, so much the
more felt, as he had just arrived among them.
Before they approached the holy table, he addressed them a few words; but the tender piety
apparent in all at the moment of communicating, made him fear to spoil the work of God by
adding more words  of his own,  and he  left
them to their own devotion.
We recited the usual prayers for the intentions of the Church, and closed the morning ser-
13* 286
vices by chanting again the Lau&a Sion. The
high mass was celebrated at ten o'clock.
|1§ In the evening took place the renovation of
the promises of baptism. The church was
illuminated, at least as well as our poverty
would permit. The sacrament of baptism was
conferred on twelve adults. After a preparatory instruction, instead of the ordinary formulas, which were a little difficult to be translated into the Indian language, all of them, to
show their constant fidelity, recited three acts
of love to God. In hearing them, we remarked,
that like the prince of the Apostles, they replied
to the threefold enquiry of their Saviour. The
holy sacrament was exposed. To the expression of unanimous and forcible love, their
looks of piety directed towards the altar, seemed
to add: O beauty! always ancient, always
new! too late have we loved thee ; but we
will love thee forever ! The benediction of the
blessed sacrament followed, and closed that
great and beautiful day, which had been so
rich in every kind of spiritual gifts. It was
with difficulty that these good souls left the
place, which had, that day, been the witness of
their prayers and promises. The Pointed-Hearts
exhibited by their prayers, their canticles, and OREGON     MISSIONS.
their holy conversations, a foretaste of heavenly
joys. They often came to visit the Black-
gowns. Some days, I was surrounded by these
visitors. They all waited in profound silence,
till I had finished my office. . One of them
then chanted the first verse of Lauda Sion, in
which all the voices joined. Thus, it is a consoling truth, that, at the extremities of the
heathen world, as well as in the centre of civilization, the church puts forth a united effort
for the conversion and salvation of mankind.
I am, devotedly yours, in Christ,
•     i i        .-   N. POINT. -    . 288
A. M. D. G.
Flat-Head Camp, Yellowstone River,
September 6th, 1846.
Rev. and Dear Father Provincial,—After an
absence of about eighteen months, employed in
visiting the various distant tribes, and extending among them the kingdom of Christ, I returned to the nursery, so to speak, of our Apostolic labors in the Rocky Mountains.    Judge of
the delight I experienced, when  I found the
little log church, we built five years ago, about
to be replaced by another which will bear comparison with those in civilized countries, materials, everything ready to commence erecting it,
the moment they can procure some ropes to
place the heavy timbers on the foundation. Another agreeable surprise, however, yet awaited
me; a mill had been constructed, destined to
contribute largely to the increasing wants of
the surrounding country.   It is contrived to dis-   ORE GON     MISSIONS
charge the two-fold charitable object of feeding
the hungry and sheltering the houseless. The
flour mill grinds ten or twelve bushels in a day;
and the saw mill furnishes an abundant supply
of plank, posts, etc., for the public and private
building of the nation settled here. Indeed, the
location stood much in need of so useful a concern. The soil yields abundant crops of wheat,
oats and potatos—the rich prairie here is
capable of supporting thousands of cattle. Two
large rivulets, now almost useless, can, with a
little labor, be made to irrigate the fields, gardens, and orchards of the village. The stock at
present on this farm, consists of about forty
head of cattle, a fast-'ncreasing herd of hogs
and a prolific progeny of domestic fowl. In
addition to the mill, twelve log houses, of regular construction, have been put up. Hence,
you can form some idea of the temporal advantages enjoyed by the Flat-heads of St. Mary's
St. Mary's, or Bitter-Root valley, is one of the
finest in the mountains, presenting, throughout
its whole extent of about two hundred miles,
numerous grazing, but few arable tracts of
land. Irrigation, either by natural or artificial
means, is absolutely necessary to the cultivation 290
of the soil, in consequence of the long summer
drought that prevails ia this region, commencing in April and ending only in October. This
difficulty, however, if the country should be
ever thickly settled, can be easily obviated, as
the whole region is well supplied with numerous streams and rivulets. These remarks apply
to the valleys contiguous to St. Mary's, the
general aspect of them differing perhaps but
slightly in regard to the heights of the mountains, the colossal dimensions of the rocks, or
the vast extent of the plains.
After what has been said in my former letters
in relation to religion, little now remains that
has a direct reference to it; but you will lea*$
with much pleasure, that the improvements
made in the Flat-head village, afford the missionary stationed there great facilities for prosecuting successfully the grand object of his desires, viz., the eternal happiness of the poor
benighted Indian tribes, placed beyond the
reach of his immediate influence. The village
is now the centre of attraction to all the neighboring, and many of the distant tribes. The
missionary always avails himself of these occasional visits, to convey to them the glad tidings
of salvation.   Among the recent visitors were,
the great chief of the Snake Indians with his
band of warriors; the Banax and Nez-Perces,
conducted by several of their chiefs,—even several bands of Black-Feet; besides these, there
were also, on their return from the great hunt,
almost the whole tribe of the Pends-d'Oreilles,
belonging to the station of St. Francis Borgia.
These last in particular, the greater part of
whom I baptized last year, may be said to rival
the zeal of the Flat-Heads in the practice of
their religious duties.
After the festival of Easter, the abundant
supply of provisions, in the granaries and cellars of the village, enabled the minister to invite
all the visitors present to a feast, consisting of
potatos, parsnips, fearnips, beets, beans, peas,
and a great variety of meats, of which the
greater portion of the guests had nevejr before
tasted. Amasg the indusfrial products which
are mainly owing to the skill and assiduity of
their present pastor, Father Mengarini, I must
not forget to mention a kind of sugar, extracted
from the potato.
Let us next turn to the improved condition of
the people themselves. Polygamy—or rather a
connection, if possible, still more loose—is now,
thank God, entirely abolished among our newly- 292
converted Indians; there is, consequently, an
evident increase of population. The reckless
abandonment of the helpless infant—the capricious discarding of wife and children—the wanton effusion of human blood—are no longer
known amongst them. Our feelings are not
outraged by the brutal practice, heretofore so
commonly witnessed, of a father considering a
horse a fair exchange for his daughter; the
justice of allowing the young Indian maiden to
choose her future partner for life is now universally allowed;—the requisite care of their
offspring is regarded in its proper light, as a
Christian duty ;—attention is paid to the wants
of the sick;—changes of treatment, with the
remedies administered according to our advice,
have probably been the means, under Providence, of rescuing many from premature death.
The long-cherished vindictive feelings which so
frequently led to depopulating wars, are now supplanted by a Christian sense of justice, which, ii
unfortunately compelled to take up arms, does
so only to repel unjust aggression or defend theii
inherent rights, but always with the fullest confidence in the protecting arm of Heaven.
Indeed their unbounded confidence in the Goc
of battle, is well rewarded; a truth which the OREGON     MIS SI ON S.
enemies of the Flat-Heads invariably acknowledge. " The medicine of the Black-gowns," (an
expression synonymous with the true religion,)
" is," say they, " the strongest of all." Did time
permit, I could adduce almost innumerable instances to confirm the belief universally entertained here, that Almighty God visibly protects
them in the wars they are compelled to wage
with the hostile tribes. A few of these, for the
authenticity of which I can vouch, may suffice
for the present.
In 1840, when threatened by a formidable
band of Black-Feet, amounting to nearly eight
hundred warriors, the Flat-Heads and Pends-
d'Oreilles, scarcely numbering sixty, betook
themselves to prayer, imploring the aid of Heaven, which alone could save them in the unequal contest. Confident of success, they rose
from their knees in the presence of their ene-
emies, and engaged the overwhelming odds
against them. The battle lasted five days.
The Black-Feet were defeated, leaving eighty
warriors dead upon the field; while the Flat-
Heads and Pends-d' Oreilles sustained a loss of
only one man; who, however, survived the
battle four months, and had the happiness of
receiving baptism the day before his death. E*P*l-5
In 1842, four Pendi-d'Oreilles and a Pointed
Heart were met and immediately attacked by a
party of Black-Feet. At 4he first onset, the
Black-Feet had to deplore the loss of their
chief. Aroused by the noise of the musketry,
the camp of the Pends-d'Oreilles rushed to the
assistance of their companions, and without losing a single man, completely routed the enemy.
Their escape is the more remarkable, as rushing into the entrenchments of the BlaefcFeet,
they received a volley of shot poured in upon
them by the enemy.
The FLat-Heads were again attacked, during
the winter hunt of 1845, by a party of the Banax,
which, though outnumbering them nearly three
times, they soon put to flight, with the loss of
three of the Banax p%rty. The Flat-Heads acknowledge that the Banax are the bravest of
their enemies; yet this did not deter them,
though but seven in number, from fighting a
whole village of the latter, that had rashly violated the rights of hospitality.
During the summer hunt of the same year,
the united camp of Flat-Heads and Pends-d'Oreilles, when theatened, hesitated not a moment
to engage with a band of Black-Feet four times
their number.   The latter, fearing the " medi- OREGON    MISSIONS.
cine of the Black-gowns," skulked around their
enemies, avoiding an open fight. The former
perceiving this, pretended flight, in order to draw
the Black-Feet into the open plain: the snare
succeeded; and the Flat-Heads and Pends-d' 0-
reilles suddenly wheeling, attacked and repulsed
them with considerable loss, driving the enemy
before them in hot pursuit, as they would a herd
of buffaloes. Twenty-three Black-Feet warriors lay dead on the field, after the engagement, while the Pends-d' Oreilles lost but three,
and the Flat-Heads only one.
I shall close these sketches of Indian warfare,
so remarkably evincing, as they do, the special
protection of Heaven, with an account of an engagement which, as it was the occasion of my
first interview with the Black-Feet, and by its
consequences contributed much towards my favourable reception among them, will not I trust,
prove entirely devoid of interest, if given a
little more in detail.
In 1846, while engaged in one of these hunting excursions, the camp of the Flat-Heads was
reinforced by thirty lodges of the Nez-perces,
and a dozen lodges of the Black-Feet at their own
solicitation. The Flat-Heads encamped in the
neighbourhood of the Crows, purposely to renew
i 296
the terms of peace, if the latter felt so disposed.
The Crows, perceiving in the united camp, the
Nez-Perces and Black-Feet, with whom they
were at war, and knowing their own superiority both in numbers and bodily strength, (they
are the most robust of the Indian tribes) rushed
into it like a torrent, evidently more anxious to
provoke a contest than to make overtures of
peace. The calm remonstrances of the Flat-
Heads, and the wise admonitions of their own
chief, were lost upon the now almost infuriated
mutinous band of the Crows.
If the threatened outbreak had occurred at
that moment, it is prob S le that the whole
united camp would have been massacred in the
hand-fight, for which evidently the Crows came
prepared, with loaded guns and other destructive weapons, v hile the Flat-Heads and the
o hers were totally unprovided. At this critical
juncture, fortunately, indeed I n ay say providentially, my interpreter Gabriel, and a Pend-
d'Oreille named Charles, forced their way breathless into the disordered camp, and announced
the arrival of the Black-gown who had visited
them four years ago. The alarming scene they
witnessed was indeed what they had expected
for as we travelled to overtake the Flat-Head
camp at the place designed for their interview
with the Crows, we perceived from the marks
of their daily encampments, that some Black-
Feet and Pends-d'Oreilles were with the Flat-
Heads; we accordingly feared a collision would
result from the interview. I therefore despatched with all possible speed, Gabriel and Charles,
to announce my arrival. Well did they execute
the commission—they rode almost at full gallop
during a whole day and night, performing in
this short period a journey which occupied the
camp fourteen days. This intelligence roused
the Crow chiefs to an energetic exercise of their
authority. They now seized the first missiles
at hand, and enforced the weight of their arguments upon their mutinous subjects, as long as
there was left in the united camp the back of a
Crow on which to inflict punishment. This
forced separation, though it may have checked
the present ebullition, could not be of long duration. It needed but a spark to rekindle their
hostile dispositions into open war. The next
day, as if to provoke a rupture, the disaffected
Crows stole thirty horses from the Flat-Heads.
Two innocent persons were unfortunately
charged with the crime, and punished. The mistake being discovered, the amende honorable was 298
made, but to no purpose. The Flat-Heads,
aware of their dangerous position, employed the
interval in fortifying their camp, stationing their
women and children in a place of safety, and
arming themselves for the contest. An immense cloud of dust in the neighborhood of the
Crow camp at ten o'clock, announced the
expected attack. On they came, with the impetuosity of an avalanche, until within musket
shot of the advanced guard of the allied camp,
who had just risen to their feet to listen to a
few words addressed them by their chief, Stiet-
tietlotso, and to meet the foe. "My friends,"
said Moses, (the name I gave him in baptism )
" if it be the will of God, we shall conquer—if
it be not his will, let us humbly submit to whatever it shall please his goodness to send us.
Some of us must expect to fall in this contest:
if there be any one here unprepared to die, let
him retire ; in the meanwhile let us constantly
keep Him in mind." He had scarcely finished
speaking, when the fire of the enemy was returned by his band, with such terrible effect
as to make them shift their mode of attack into
another, extremely fatiguing to their horses.
After the battle had raged for some time in this
way, Victor, the grand chief of the Flat-Heads, OREGON    MISSIONS.
perceiving the embarrassed position of the enemy, cried out: " Now, my men, mount your best
horses, and charge them," The manoeuvre was
successful. The Crows fled in great disorder,
the Flat-Heads abandoning the pursuit only at
sun-down, when they had driven the enem^two
miles from their camp. >
Fourteen warriors of the Crows fell in the
engagement, and nine were severely wounded,
as we subsequently learned from three Black-
Feet prisoners, who availed themselves of their
capturers' defeat to recover their liberty. On
the part of the allied camp, only one was killed,
the son of a Nez-Perce chief, who fell by the
hand of a Crow chief, in so cowardly a manner,
that the indignation of the allied camp was at
once raised into immediate action—it was in
fact, the first shot fired and the first blood
drawn on either side ; the boy was yet quite a
child. Besides this loss, though the engagement lasted for several hours, only three were
wounded, two of them so slightly that by application of the remedies I brought with me, they
recovered in a short time; the third died a few
days after my arrival in the camp.
This defeat was the more mortifying to the
Crows, as they had been continually boasting 300
of their superior prowess in war, and taunting
their enemies with the most insulting, opprobrious epithets. They had besides, forcibly and
most unjustly drawn on the engagement.
Indeed, I look upon the miraculous escape of
our Christian warriors, in this fierce contest,
as further evidence of the peculiar protection of
Heaven; especially when I consider the numer-
ous instances of individual bravery, perhaps I
should say reckless daring, displayed on the
part of the allied camp. The son of a Flat-
Head chief named Raphael, quite a youth, burning to engage in the contest, requested his fa-
ther to let him have his best horse. To this the
father reluctantly consented, as the boy had
been rather weak from sickness. When mounted, off he bounded like an arrow from the bow,
and the superior mettle of his steed soon brought
him close upon the heels of a large Crow chief,
who, turning his head round to notice his pursuer, pulled up his horse to punish the temerity
of the boy, at the same time bending to escape
the arrow then levelled at him. The boy must
have shot the arrow with enormous force, for it
entered under the lower left rib, the barb passing out under the right shoulder, leaving nothing but the feathers to be seen where it entered. OREGON     MISSIONS.
The chief fell dead. In an instant a volley was
poured in upon the boy—his horse fell perfectly
riddled, with the rider under him.—He was
stunned by the fall, and lay to all appearance
dead. According to the custom of the Indians,
of inflicting a heavy blow upon the dead body
of their enemy, he received while in this position, a severe stroke from each individual of the
several bands of Crows that passed him.—He
was taken up half dead, by his own tribe, when
they passed in pursuit of the enemy. The
ardour and impetuosity of the young men belonging to the Flat-Head camp amazed the oldest warriors present, and formed the theme of
universal admiration, as well as the dread of
their enemies. Even the women of the Flat-
Heads mingled in the fray. One, the mother
of seven children, conducted her own sons into
the battle-field. Having perceived that the
horse of her eldest son was breaking down in a
single combat with a CroWj she threw herself
between the combatants, and with a knife put
the Crow to flight. Another, a young woman
perceiving that the quivers of her party were
nearly exhausted, coolly collected, amidst a
shower   of   arrows,  those   that   lay scattered
ground her, and brought them to replenish the
14 302
nearly exhausted store. The celebrated Mary
Quille, already distinguished in numerous battles, pursued, with axe in hand, a Crow, and
having failed to come up with him, returned,
saying: " I thought that these great talkers
were men, I was mistaken: it is not worth
while even for women to attempt to chase
them." ■;..■■'■ •'•#'/-''.'/' • < :-||'' :~ ■ /- #•'•'■ :-:
flThe little party of Black-Feet, animated by a
spirit of revenge, for the loss of half their tribe,
massacred the preceding year by the Crows,
and probably influenced by a feeling of their
safety while they fought in company with the
Flat-Head Christians, did signal service in the
In the meantime, Gabriel and Charles, fearing
the threatened outbreak, immediately started
back to meet me and hasten my arrival, my
presence being considered necessary to prevent
the effusion of blood. I arrived at the Flat-
Head camp the day after the battle. I found
everything ready to repel a second attack, should
that be attempted. I immediately sent an express to the Crows, to announce my arrival, and
at the same time, to convey to them the great
desire I had to see them, especially for the purpose of effecting a reconciliation between the OREGON     MISSION3.
contending parties. But it appeared that after
having buried their dead, they retreated precipitately ; so that no account of their destination
could be had. My express told me that there
must have been excessive grief in the camp of
the Crows, as the usual marks of it could be
traced in every direction, such as the dissevered
joints of fingers, and the numerous stains of
blood, caused by the wounds which the parents
of the deceased inflict upon themselves on such
Shortly after my arrival, the Black-Feet came
in a body to my lodge, to express in a manner
truly eloquent, their admiration of the Flat-
Heads, with whom in future they desired to live
on terms of the closest friendship. " To their
prayers," said they, 8 must this extraordinary victory be attributed. While the battle lasted, we
saw their old men, their women, and children,
on their knees, imploring the aid of Heaven;
the Flat-Heads did not lose a single man—one
only fell, a young Nez-Perce, and another mortally wounded. But the Nez-Perces did not
pray. We prayed morning and evening with
the Flat-Heads, and heard the instructions of
the chiefs." They then begged of me in their
own affecting way, to take pity on them and be 304
charitable to them: they now determined to
hear the words of the Great Manitou of the
whites, and to follow the course which the Redeemer had marked out on earth.    Having ad-
dressed them on the nature of the life they
had proposed to adopt, they all without exception presented their children for baptism, to the
number of eighty.
The day after this sacred ceremony, they called on me, requesting to be allowed to express in
their own way, the excess of joy which they felt
on account of this two-fold victory. On return-
ing from the late field of battle, the warriors, at
the head of whom was a young chief, chanted
songs of triumph, accompanied with the beating
of drums; at each beat, they sent forth a wild
and piercing shout jj then followed the song, and
so on alternately;—wild as the music was, it
was not without harmony. It continued thus,
during almost the whole of our route. We
marched along the right bank of the Yellow-
Stone River, having on our left a chain of
mountains resembling those old portals to which
history has given the name of " ancient chiv-
airy." We had scarcely arrived at the encampment, when the Black-Feet commenced, under
the shade of a beautiful cluster of pines, their
arrangements for a dance, insisting, at the same
time, upon showing the Black-gowns how highly they valued their presence among them, and
how gratified they would be to have them witness this display. There was, indeed, nothing
in it that could give occasion to offended
modesty to turn aside and blush. I need not
tell you it was not the polka, the waltz, or any
thing resembling the dances of modern civilized
life. The women alone figure in it, old and
young; from the youngest child capable of
walking, to the oldest matron present. Among
them I have seen several old women upwards
of eighty years, whose feeble limbs required the
aid of a staff in their movements through the
dance. Almost all appeared in the best costume
of the warriors, which, however, was worn
over their own dress, a sort of tunic they always wear, and which contributed also not a
little to the modesty of their appearance. Some
carried the arms that had done most execution in battle, but the greater part held a green
bough in the hand. In proportion as the dresses
increase in singularity, the colors in variety, and
the jingling of the bells in sound, in the same
degree is the effect upon the rude spectator
heightened.   The whole figure is surmounted by 306
a casket of plumes, which by the regular movements of the individual is made to harmonize
with the song, and seems to add much graceful-
ness to the whole scene. . To lose nothing of so
grand a spectacle, the Indians mount their
horses, or climb the neighboring trees. The
dance itself consists of a little jump, more or less
lively, according to the beat of the drum. This
is beaten only by the men, and all unite in the
song. To break the monotony, or lend some
new interest to the scene, occasionally a sudden,
piercing scream is added. If the dance languishes, haranguers and those most skilful in
grimaces, come to its aid. As in jumping the
dancers tend towards a common centre, it often
happens that the ranks become too close, then
they fall back in good order to form a large
circle, and commence anew in better style.
After the dance, followed the presentation of
the calumet. It is borne by the wife of the
chief, accompanied by two other women, on the
breast of one of whom rests the head of the
pipe, and upon that of the other, the stem handsomely adorned with feathers. The most distinguished personage of the nation precedes the
calumet bearers, and conducts them around the
circle of dancers.   The object, probably of the
last part of the ceremony, the termination of the
rejoicings, is to indicate, that the best fruit of
the victory they celebrate is the peace which
follows. To establish this peace upon a better
foundation, is a thought constantly uppermost in
my mind. May God grant that our efforts
to plant the crop of peace among these wild
children of the forest, be not unavailing; I
earnestly recommend these poor souls to the
prayers of the faithful.
Having thus, more fully perhaps than the
limits of a single letter would seem to justify,
redeemed the promise given in my last, of recounting some of the advantages, spiritual and
temporal, which the Flat-Heads enjoy, it may
now be proper to resume the course of events
up to the present date. On the 16th of August,
we left St. Mary's by a mountain gap, called the
I Devil's gate," a name which it has probably
received from the fact of its forming the principal entrance of the marauding parties of the
Black-Feet. We encamped the first night, at
the foot of the Black-Foot forks. Innumerable
rivulets, and several beautiful lakes contribute
largely to this river. Towards its head, to the
north-east, there is an easy pass for cars and
wagons.    The valley we ascended, is watered by a beautiful stream called the Cart River. It
was through this valley we wound our way in
former days, with all our baggage, to the
spot where St. Mary's now stands. We crossed the mountains in the vicinity of the Arrow-
stone fork, another easy pass, and descended
a tributary of the Jefferson as far as its outlet,
through rather a wild, broken, and mountainous
country, with here and there an extensive,
open plain, the ordinary resort of innumerable herds of buffalo. The seventh day found
us encamped in the immense plain through
which the forks of the Missouri diverge, ascending to the source at the very top of the main
chain of the Rocky Mountains. In travelling
through these wilds, great care is to be had in
order to avoid the sudden attack of some of
those straggling war-parties that infest this
neighborhood purposely to search for scalps,
plunder, and the fame of some daring exploit.
We halted every evening for a few hours, to
take a bite, as the trapper would say, and to
give some food and rest to our animals. When
it was quite dark, we would kindle a brisk fire
as if to last until morning ; then under cover of
the night, proceed on our journey for about ten
miles, to some unsuspected place, thus eluding OREGON    MISSIONS.
our enemies, should any have followed in our
track, or be lurking in the neighborhood, awaiting the midnight hour to execute their murderous designs. From the three forks we went
easterly, crossing by an easy pass the mountain
chain which separates the head waters of the
Missouri from the Yellow-Stone River, a distance of about forty miles. We followed in the
track of the Flat-Head camp for several days,
when I sent Gabriel, my interpreter, with a
Pend-d'Oreille Indian in advance to discover
what direction the camp had taken, and to bring
back speedy news regarding their movements ;
and also to learn the dispositions of the Crows,
whom I designed to visit. Four days later I
was met by a few Flat-Heads on their way to
find me, when I was apprised of the treachery
of the Crows, and the severe chastisement they
had so deservedly received. I travelled the
whole of that night, and arrived next day in the
allied camp, as I have already informed you.
Having failed to obtain the desired interview
with the Crows, our attention will be now turned towards the Black-Feet, with whose favorable disposition to receive the gospel you are
already acquainted. The result of this determination will  form   the  subject of my next
# letter. , I recommend myself to God in your
prayers. ,      ;-^|/ ;-•:-.•  --v-i c#v ^:i& < ' ' ■■  7    .'■
;3|I remain, with sentiments of profound respect
and esteem, reverend, dear father, your very
humble servant and brother in Christ.     ,
A. M. D. G.
St. Louis University,
January 1st, 1847.
Very Rev. and Dear Father Provincial,—You
are already acquainted with our determination
to accompany the Black-Feet in returning to
their country. In the sequel of this letter you
will learn, with pleasure, how far Almighty
God has blessed our humble efforts in carrying
this resolution into effect. After the battle,
described in my letter from the Yellow-Stone
camp, the Crows, it appears, fled to the Wind
River Mountains, determined, however, to
avenge themselves on the Black-Feet, whom
they now designed to follow into their own
country. The latter, probably through fear of
this assault, resolved to remain with the Flat-
Head camp, until it reached the head waters of
the Muscle-shell River. In leaving the Yellow-
Stone  our   direction lay towards   the north, I
through a broken and undulating,!dry and
woodless country, destitute of any water fit to
drink—stagnant pools of brackish water being
the only kind found here to satiate the thirst.
Only a few straggling bulls were seen or killed,
scarcely sufficient, indeed, to supply the wants
of our numerous camp. The great variety of
matter incidental to this journey with the united
Indian camp, will appear, perhaps, more satisfactory if given in the same order in which it
was entered in my diary ; I therefore present
you with an extract from it: —:
8th Sept., 1846. The elements of discord existing between the Nez-Perces and Black-Feet,
there is every appearance of an open rupture.
The Nez-Perces being evidently in the wrong,
the Flat-Heads, following our example, endeavor to convince them of the impropriety of
their conduct; but to no purpose, the principal
men among them refusing, for the second time,
Lo smoke the calumet of peace.
9th. Towards night a touching incident occurred in our lodge. A Nez-Perce chief, who
declares himself our friend, entered, accompanied by three Black-Feet, a warrior, an interpreter, and a young man about twenty years of
age.    This youth, when about one year old, lost OREGON     MISSIONS.
both his parents; his mother, a captive among
the Black-Feet, died the first days of her captivity ; his father, whose country is far distant
from the Black-Feet, is altogether lost to him.
The poor orphan became the adopted child of a
Black-Foot woman, who brought him up as she
would her own offspring. The adopted son
grew up, imbibing all the notions and customs
of his new friends, knowing no other relations
than those around him. To-day, the woman
whom he believed to be his real mother, declared to him that she was not; and that his
farther, whom he had not seen since he was one
year old, was now sitting beside him, I Who is
my father ? " he anxiously enquired. " There,"
said the woman, pointing to the Nez-Perce chief,
who entered the lodge with him. The doubts
of the father were soon removed, as he hastily
stripped the youth's garments from his back, and
there discovered the mark of a burn received in
the parental lodge while yet an infant. The
sudden burst of feeling elicited from these children of nature at this unexpected meeting, can
be better imagined than described. The chief
has no grown children, he is therefore the more
eloquent in endeavoring to persuade his son to
return to his native country, presenting him, at 314
the same time, with one of the best and most
beautiful of his steeds. I joined to the entreaties of the father, the strongest motives I could
urge. The son, whose heart is divided between
nature and grace, begged to be allowed to bid
farewell to the companions and friends of his
youth, who were now absent—he could not, he
declared, thus abruptly leave her who, with
motherly care and anxiety, had watched over
him so many years, an^ whom he had always
so tenderly loved, and looked upon as his mother.
"Now that the Black-gowns are with u^" he
said, " I desire to be of the happy number of
those who are about to introduce them to my
friends, and to listen to the words of the Great
Spirit, whom they have come to announce.
After that, but not before, shall I follow my
father.".; ..••.,-''• :■-■  •      ":-f '^-   ■„.'- ...-
10th. The Nez-Perces announce their determination of leaving the united camp. The Flat-
Heads, who dread more the presence of a friend
capable of injuring their souls, than that of an
enemy who can only hurt the body, are excessively rejoiced at this announcement. The
Black-Feet also are highly pleased to see them
go. The separation took place about 8 o'clock;
but they had gone only a short distance from the OREGON     MISSIONS.
camp, when, fearing an attack from the Crows,
they rejoined the main body, determined to remain as long as the great hunt shajl last. To
avoid the outbreak, evidently threatened by the
ill-will of the Nez-Perces, the Black-Feet have
resolved to leave the camp on the morrow.
This day I baptized a Nez-Perces, who had been
shot in the late battle with the Crows—he cannot survive much longer.
11th. Farewell to the Flat-Heads.   All came
to shake hands with us, the grief of their hearts
was depicted in their countenances ; we all perceived how deeply they felt the separation. A
great number of their cavaliers accompany us
for a considerable distance ; six go as far as our
encampment, r^pt less than twenty-five miles.
Our course lay through an extensive level
plain, at the very base of the Muscle-shell mountains. These rise abruptly from the plain
around, resembling broken, elevated islands in
the midst of the ocean, and their tops tufted
with a heavy growth of cedar and pine. While
admiring the singular appearance of the scenery,
my attention is called off to a very distressing
accident. An old Indian is seen falling from his
horse, receiving in the fall a severe wound between his eyes ; he remains senseless, all efforts ihvm
to revive him are fruitless. It was the old
Black-Foot chief, Nicholas, whom I baptized
five years ago ; he acted, ever since, the part of
a most effective missionary, in preparing the
Way for the introduction of the gospel among
his tribe. To-day he entered what he called his
own country, chanting hymns^of praise and
thanksgiving in the happy anticipation of soon
presenting us to his brethren. He dies! not
even a sigh escapes him. Oh, how profound
are the designs of God. Happily he leaves a
son worthy of so excellent a sire. His attachment to religion equals that of his father.
Having resided several years among the Flat-
Heads, he has acquired a perfect knowledge of
their language—acting in the capacity of interpreter, he has already rendered me considerable
assistance. Notwithstanding his great grief, he
performs the last sad offices near the tomb of
his father with the composure and firmness of a
Christian. It is customary among the Black-
Feet to express their grief by wailings and
lacerations of the body, calculated only to afflict those around, though intended by them as
a mark of respect towards the lamented dead.
The son of Nicholas, himself a chief and a
great brave, knowing the  Christian practice,   OREGON     MISSIONS.
passes the night in prayer, with his wife and
children, near the funeral couch of his father.
His friends and brother, Pegans (pagan in name
and in fact), would now and then gather around
him, and kneeling beside the mourner, pour
forth, Christian-like, many a pious ejaculation
on behalf of their deceased chieftain. The remains of the venerable chief were placed in the
grave by the hands of his own son, and over his
tomb the emblem of salvation was raised—the
cross of the Saviour, whose words were now for
the first time announced to the lonely tribes of
this long-benighted wilderness. At the very
moment the last prayers of the funeral service
were uttered, " May he rest in peace," a busy
stir breaks the death-like silence of the surrounding crowd of Indians. A Flat-Head approached
in full gallop, announcing the pleasing intelligence that two Black-Feet had reached their
camp, and informed them that the tribe of
Nicholas was within two days march of us.
12th. The very evening of the day on which
Nicholas was interred, immense herds of buffalo
are seen in the neighborhood of the camp. All
are preparing for the chase—hunters throwing
the lasso over their buffalo horses, already
prancing and capering for a race—all ready to 318
start; bu| before they separate, they halt for a
foment, and, in imitation of the Flat-Heads, all
are seen on their knees to beg of Almighty God
their daily bread; when again mounted, off they
bound at full speed, each for one,Jtwo, or three
fat cows, according to the strength of his favorite steed. The supper was abundant in every
lodge, regiments of steaks|were paraded before
all the fires. My fire was encircled with tongues,
or other dainty dishes reserved for the Black-
gown ; and all who visited our lodge were of
course invited to partake $f the superabundant
supply. Among my visitors, one in particular
distinguished himself by his;i>riginality and good
sense—his words were accompanied with expressive signs, which rendered his conversation
very agreeable ; he related to me what he observed while in the Flat-Head camp :—" When
we first arrived," said he, " we had abundance
of provisions with us, while the Flaf^Heads and
Nez-Perces were fasting; we were visited, and
all partook of what we had. The Flat-Head
differed from the Nez-Perces ; the former prayed
before he ate, the latter did not. On the Lord's-
day, the Flat-Heads remained quiet in the
lodges, they frequently prayed, and spoke to us
words of the Great Spirit to make us good; but   OREGON     MISSIONS.
the Nez-Perces, painted, and proud of their
feathers, were seen going here and there, more
for evil than good, without reserve, before our
young people. But then came the battle with
the Crows, and the Nez-Perces, though the least
brave of us all, and the least exposed, have had
to weep over the loss^of one of their men, and
another is dying of his wounds. This made me
believe the words I had heard the Flat-Head
say, j that the Great Spirit is good to the good,
but that he can find the wicked at pleasure to
punish them as they may deserve.'" ,'■*...,
The wonderful success of the Flat-Heads in
the different wars they have been compelled to
wage, has confirmed their enemies in the persuasion entertained for some years, that the
medicine of the Black-gowns is stronger than
their own. Two Indians of the Pegan camp
have just arrived, apprising us of their approach.
Hf13th. Sunday. — We are obliged to move
camp;—every dry stick had been burned where
we passed the night, and the rain has rendered
the only other substitute for fuel, buffalo dung,
unfit for use;—the rain which was falling as
we travelled, changed into sleet and hail. After
a long day's march we encamp for the night, in
a%eautiful cotton grove, on the margin of the
Judith river.
I 320
The bad weather prevented the re-union of
the two camps ; it will be so much the more remarkable, as to-morrow will be the feast of the
Exaltation of the Cross. The chief enquires, if
it would please us to see the Black-Feet manifest their joy in their own way, that is, by painting, singing and dancing; the answer was:
" Do the best you can to show your friends that
you are pleased." We learn by an express, just
arrived, that the Big Lake, the great chief of the
Pegans, harangued his people, exhorting them
to behave orderly, and to listen with attention to
all that the Fathers would say to them. He is
accompanied by the great Tail-Bearer, a kind of
orator, or aid-de-camp to the chief. His tail,
composed of buffalo and horse-hair, is about
seven or eight feet long, and instead of wearing
it behind, according to the usual fashion, it is
fastened above his forehead, and there formed
into a spiral coil, resembling a rhinoceros' horn.
Such a tail, among the Black-Feet, is a mark of
great distinction and bravery—in all probability,
the longer the tail, the braver the person.
14th. An agreeable disappointment. The
Flat-Head camp, from which we separated four
days ago, is only about ten miles from us. They
sent an invitation to the Big Lake, desiring, at
the same time, to trade with him on friendly OREGON     MISSIONS.
terms. Opinions are divided among the people
of the Big Lake. The chief is for postponing
the trade until the meeting with the Black-
gowns takes place ; the Tail-Bearer gives the
preference to trade. The chief's voice prevails.
An Indian from the camp arrives about ten
o'clock, to herald their approach; all the horses
are immediately saddled, and the two Black-
gowns, at the head of a numerous band of
cavaliers, forming one extensive line, in single
file, proceed through a beautiful open plain, the
air resounding with songs of triumphal joy.
We are soon in sight of each other—a loud discharge frpm all the guns was the signal to dismount, when the Big-Lake and Tail-Bearer, followed by the whole tribe, walked up to give us
a warm and affectionate shake of the hand.
Smoking came next; and after the friendly pipe
had passed from mouth to mouth, and had made
several rounds, they communicate to each other
the news since parting. I made to them my
preparatory address, to dispose their minds and
hearts to listen with attention to the word of
God. To this appeal they responded with a
loud and cheerful expression of the satisfaction
they felt in listening to the Black-gown. We
had scarcely introduced our new friends into the 322
camp, before the Flat-Heads and Nez-Perces
were seen approaching. Their meeting was
still more joyful and cordial than the one we
had just witnessed among the people of the Big-
Lake. This is not astonishing, when you know
them; the savage is naturally reserved towards
men he does not know. The candid, open ways
of acting which distinguish our neophytes soon
communicate themselves to the Black-Feet, and
before the sun went down, Black-Feet, Flat-
Heads, young and old, all show equal pleasure
to find us, on such an occasion, in the midst of
After evening prayers were said in the Black-
Foot and Flat-Head languages, I addressed to
them a short discourse on the happy re-union
and peaceful disposition that now existed between the two nations. What a pleasing sight!
What a consoling triumph for religion, to behold
those warriors, whose deep-scarred faces told of
the many bloody battles they had had together,—
who could never meet before but with feelings
of deadly enmity, thirsting for each other's
blood,—now bending the knee before their common Father in prayer, as with one heart, and
listening with delight to the words of the peaceful Redeemer.   The chiefs and the principal OREGON     MISSIONS.
men of both nations passed the evening in my
lodge. Victor, the great Flat-Head chief, gains
the good-will of all—charms everybody by the
suavity and dignified simplicity of his mannersl
He relates some of his exploits, not indeed to
appear conspicuous, as is evident from the
modest and simple way in which he speaks, but
to make them fully sensible of the protection
which the Great Spirit extends to those who are
devoted to His holy cause. The Black-Feet
who were engaged in the late battle with the
Crows, confirm the statements of Victor, and recount many edifying circumstances which they
had witnessed in the Flat-Head camp. The
making of the sign of the cross was highly extolled, as a certain sign of victory to those who
had already given their hearts to the true God.
It is truly to-day the Exaltation of the Holy
15th. The Octave of the Nativity of the
Blessed Virgin. The new disciples of the cross
assist at a solemn Mass, sung in the open plain,
under the canopy of green boughs, to beg for the
blessings of God upon this wilderness and its
wandering tribes, and unite them in the bond of
peace. Flat-Heads, Nez-Perces, Pegans, Blood
Indians, Gros-Ventres and Black-Feet, number- 324
ing about two thousand, all surround the altar
of the living God, on which " the clean oblation
is offered," in their behalf. It is a thing unheard
of, that among so many different savage nations,
hitherto so inimical to one another, unanimity
and joy, such as we now witness, should exist,
—it appears as if their ancient deadly feuds had
been long since buried in oblivion ; and this is
the more remarkable in an Indian who, it is well
known, cherishes feelings of revenge for many
years. How long will this last ? May Heaven
strengthen their present good-will, and grant
them perseverance. Mention is already made
of baptizing all the Pegan children, but the ceremony is postponed on account of the general
rejoicing, and the affairs of business that now
occupy the camp.
16th. The engaging simplicity and cordiality
of the Flat-Head chiefs have gained them the
affections of all the principal men of the Black-
Feet tribe,—conduct the more remarkable, when
contrasted with the turbulent disposition of the
Nez-Perces, who are kept in check only by the
presence of the Flat-Heads. At this second
separation, they came again to renew their affection towards us. The Flat-Head chiefs remain last in the camp to see everything pass off OREGON     MISSIONS.
orderly and amicably. In the evening the Black-
Feet assemble around our fire, where the first
canticle is composed in their language; the
subject of the composition is the consecration
of their persons to the " Supreme Ruler of all
things." Apistotokie Nina, Pikanniai tokanakos
akos pemmoki tzagkoma Achziewa ziekamolos.
17th< Nothing very remarkable took place.
We received the visit of a war party of Blood
Indians, the most cruel among the Black-Feet.
From them we learn that their tribe will be delighted to receive a visit from us,—that our persons are considered sacred among them,—that
we need apprehend no danger, and, to remove
all uneasiness on this head, that sixty of their
children had already received baptism at the
hands of a Black-gown, whom they met on the
Sascatshawin, and that these children constantly
wear the crosses and medals which the Black-
gown gave them.
18th.f|News in great variety. Two Gros-
Ventres have been killed by the Crows. Seven
families of Pegans have been followed by a
numerous band of Crees, and have probably
been destroyed. A chief, just arrived, informs
us that Black-Feet of different tribes are assembling in the neighborhood of Fort Lewis to re-
ceive their annual supplies, and that the traders
who bring up the goods are distant only three
days' journey, with three large canoes (Mackinaw boats). About two o'clock in the afternoon
the camp prepares for another great hunt.
19th. Baptism was this day conferred on upwards of one hundred children and two old
men, with all the usual ceremonies. To enter
into a full description of these, calculated, as
they are, to leave a deep and lasting impression
upon the minds of all present, would be but a
repetition of what has been already stated in
mv former letters on the like occasions.
20th. Arrival of a great war party of Blood
Indians. They are returning from an expedition
against the Crows, having carried off twenty-
seven horses belonging to the latter. The leaders of this party, one a son, the other a brother
of the great chief, exhibit towards us particular
marks of friendship. The elder, who worshiped the sun and moon, has long since ceased to
invoke these deities—he-confirms the statement
of the other party, that we shall meet with a
hearty welcome among his tribe. The Black-
Feet nation consists of about fourteen thousand
souls, divided into six tribes, to wit: the Pegansf
the Surcees, the Blood Indians, the Gros-Ventres OREGON      MISSIONS.
(descendants of the Rapahos), the Black-Feet
(proper), and the Little Robes. These last were
almost entirely destroyed in 1845.
21st. A feast is given in my lodge to the newcomers. It is preceded by the baptism of a
Pegan, who had been an old chief, but who, on
account of age, resigned the dignity of his title
in favor of his brother. He possesses the gift
of speech in an eminent degree. He is daily
here, repeating and commenting on the instructions given by us. He exercises over his
flock a very happy influence, and it is, doubtless,
owing to his exertions that the Pegans are the
first among the Black-Feet tribe to manifest
favorable dispositions, and they will probably
be the first also to embrace and put in practice
the saving truths of Christianity. He presents,
in his own person, a rare exception among his
people, and indeed the only instance I have met
with in my intercourse with the Indians, especially in one of his age—of an Indian having
lived with one and the same wife, and with her
also in perfect peace and harmony. He received
in baptism the united name of Ignatius Xavier,
the medal having that impress—which he constantly wears, to remind him of the virtues
which distinguish those saints.    Let us hope 328
that the first graces bestowed on this tribe may
soon produce fruits of salvation to all.
22d. A day of great rejoicing—a dance. All
the Indian fineries are produced, all the war-
caps, adorned with eagle feathers, figure in the
dance—a thousand voices join in the song—the
rejoicing prolonged till evening. The common
prayers have all been translated—already several know what is to be believed. May the practice of good soon take deep root in their hearts.
Sata, our interpreter, acts the part of an
Apostle—after each interpretation, he resumes
his discourse, and speaking from the abundance
of his heart, produces a powerful effect upon his
audience. The word Sata does not differ in
signification from Satan, and as the Indian generally receives his name from the natural disp$*
sition he manifests, we may safely conclude,
when such a name is given to a Black-Foot, that
the grace of God has operated most powerfully
in converting this savage to what he is at present.
23d. Nothing remarkable happened, except a
trial given to faith of the new catechumens. A
theft of two horses was committed in the camp
by a stranger, residing among the Flat-Heads,
Some individuals from the western side of the fffi
mountains, occasionally forget what they should
be; but a few isolated misdeeds, highly disapproved of by the entire nation, show to the best
advantage the good spirit that animates the
great mass of them. The critical position of
the robber serves in some degree as an extenuation of his guilt. He had advanced a considerable distance from the Flat-Head camp, on his
way to join j|s about the time we should re&eh
the Black Indians ; when he was given to understand that his life was in great danger from the
war parties prowling in the rear. The poor
fellow did not feel much inclined to meet death
in this way, and his meagre horse not being
very well able to avoid the meeting, proprio
motu he left his, in exchange for two other horses,
fully equal to the task of sweeping him past the
danger. These horses will, however, be returned to the owner. This is not the first instance
of restitution among the Indians.
Sept. 24th. The missionaries, accompanied
by a great number of Indians, precede the camp
on its way to Fort Lewis, now only a few miles
off. I am accosted by a little Pegan chief, who
invites me to smoke. He tells me that he has
come to the determination of settling at the Fort
an unfortunate personal difficulty between him- OREGON     MISSIONS.
self and another chief of the Blood Indian tribe.
" I am going to meet," said he, " my mortal
enemy, a Blood Indian chieftain, renowned for
his courage, but much more for his wicked
heart. He treacherously murdered a Nez-
Perce, while under my protection. I should be
dishonored forever if I did not avenge this
shameful act, and wash the stain from my nation in his blood. I shot the murderer in his
own lodge—he did not die—his wound is healed
-he awaits my arrival, resolved to kill me. I
dread him not, for I also am a chief. I have
heard your words, and other feelings have crept
over my heart. Black-gown, hear what I am
about to do: I will present to him the best horse
of my band to cover his wound ; if he accepts
it, well and good, if not, I must kill him." I offered myself as a mediator between them, before any steps should be taken, and promised
him a favorable issue, according to the conviction of my own heart; for, as I had never witnessed the spilling of one drop of human blood,
I felt assured that Almighty God would spare
me the painful sight on the present occasion.
We continue our route. The little chief and his
Pegan friends prepare their arrows and load
their guns.   When in sight of the Fort, two
Black-Feet came running up towards us, to tell
the little chief that if he approached any further,
or any of his people, their lives would be in
danger; and they returned as they came, running to announce the arrival of the Black-gowns.
The bell of the Fort is sending forth a solemn
peal, to honor, as it subsequently appeared, the
arrival of the Black-gowns—a mark of respect
generally paid to a priest by its inmates, who
are chiefly French Canadians and Spaniards.
Heedless of the admonition we had received, we
proceeded to the Fort in full gallop. The gates
were thrown open. We received a hearty welcome from every white man in the Fort; the
bourgeois being absent, soon returned, to add
by their kindness and politeness to the warm
reception we had already received at the hands
of their tenants. The first compliments over,
two horses were saddled for Father Point and
myself, when we went over to an island formed
by the waters of the Missouri, where the murderer and his band were encamped. The great
neatness in the lodge of the latter, to whom I
had already sent word, showed that it was prepared for our reception. We entered first, followed by our Pegan friends; then came the
Blood Indians, and last of all the murderous
Iff •• 332
chief, with a countenance far from serene—
savage vengeance visibly lurking in his breast.
He shook hands only with the Black-gowns, and
sat down silent and surly. I explained to him
the object of my visit, and pleaded strongly for
a reconciliation, declaring, at the same time, that
1 would not leave his lodge until I should see
them reconciled. He listened with much attention, made a very appropriate reply, and in finishing, he exclaimed: " all is forgiven and forgotten. How could my heart remain angry
whilst I listened to thy words?" Confidence
was quickly restored in the assembly, and his
short but eloquent reply showed, that there was
eloquence everywhere when the heart speaks.
The little chief who had first spoken of reconciliation ended his remarks by an action that
wets really moving; stepping up to the man
who had been his mortal enemy, he tenderly
embraced him, and then, in addition to other
gifts, presented him with a beautifully-painted
robe, wrought in porcupine. The calumet of
peace was cheerfully lighted, and passed around
several times. Conversation became animated
and friendly, and each one left the council-house
with a light and glad heart, more easily felt than
described.    The chiefs who were present on this
" -ni-rnr
occasion were : Amakzikinne, or the Big Lake ;
Onistaistamik, or White Bull; Masleistamik, or
Bull-Crow; Aiketzo, or Grande roulette; Sata,
or the wicked; Akaniaki, or the man who was
27th. Sunday, I offered up the Holy Sacrifice
of the Altar, followed by an instruction on the
end of man, at which all the inmates of Fort
Lewis attended, together with as many Black-
Feet as the large room and passage could contain. Many a tear escaped from the Canadian,
the Creole, and the Spaniard, at the remembrance, no doubt, of the innocent and happy
days they spent when young, in attending regularly to their religious duties. Many a pious
resolution was lowly made on the present occasion, and their strict attention and devout feelings during divine service,, showed that the germ
of faith in them still gave promise of fructifying, however far they may have wandered from
the strict line of Christian rectitude. In the
afternoon I administered, with all the ceremonies, the sacrament of baptism to thirty children.
From what I have seen, I am firmly convinced of the great good a missionary establishment would  produce   among the  Black-Feet. 334
Assuredly it is a work well worthy the zeal of
an apostle: to reclaim these savages from their
cruel and bloody wars ; to wrest them from the
soul-destroying idolatry in which they are
plunged, for they are worshippers of the sun and
moon : and to teach them the consolatory truths
of the Divine Redeemer of mankind, to which
they seemed to listen with the utmost attention,
and heartfelt satisfaction. Allow me the reflection, the ultimate fate of these fierce and lonely
tribes is fixed at no distant date, unless looked
to in time. What will become of them? The
buffalo-field is becoming narrower from year to
year, and each succeeding hunt finds the Indians
in closer contact. It is highly probable that the
Black-Feet plains, from the Sascatshawin to the
Yellow-Stone, will be the last resort of the wild
animals twelve years hence. Will these be
sufficient to feed and clothe the hundred thousand inhabitants of these western wilds ? The
Crees, Black-Feet, Assiniboins, Crows, Snakes,
Rickaries, and Sioux, will then come together
and fight their bloody battles on these plains,
and become themselves extinct over the last
buffalo-steak. Let those, who have the power
and the means, look to it in time. Let some
efforts be made to rescue them from the threat-
ened destruction, lest, by guilty negligence, the
last drop of aboriginous blood indelibly stain
the fair fame of the Spread Eagle, under whose
protecting wing they are said to live. Justice
makes the appeal.
After mature deliberation upon the various
plans devised for the contemplated establishment, it was deemed more advisable that the
Reverend Father Point should remain with the
Black-Feet, and continue the instructions; while
I should go to St. Louis and endeavor to procure the means necessary to establish a permanent mission among them. Accordingly, on the
28th, I took final leave of my companions, of
the kind and polite gentlemen of the Fort, of all
the Black-Feet then present, who ceased not,
during my stay among them, to give me the
most marked tokens of affectionate attachment.
Our departure was honored by the Fort with
a discharge of the guns, and amidst a thousand
farewells we glided down the Missouri, from a
point 2850 miles above its mouth.
We left the Fort about noon, and encamped
25 miles below, near Bird Island. Next day,
while passing the bluffs, on whose steep declivities numerous groups of the big-horn were
browsing, we stole a march upon an old buck mm
that came to drink at the water's edge—the
first of the many victims sacrificed to our necessities during this long trip. After passing the
Maria and Saury rivers, we reach the remarkable formation, the yellow sand-stone walls, on
both sides of the Missouri, exhibiting most fantastic shapes and fissures—urns, of various sizes
and forms—tables of every description—rostrums, surrounded by mushrooms, pillars, forts,
castles, and a multitude of other figures, which,
for the greater part of this, and the whole of
the following day, furnished to our almost bewildered fancies ample scope for comparisons
and theories. We passed, on the 8th of October,
the great Elk-horn steeple, near Porcupine Fork.
I could not learn what extraordinary event this
remarkable tower was intended to commemorate. Several thousand elk-horns have been
here piled up, which formerly constituted, I
have little doubt, the grand resort of numerous
groups of these animals. On the 11th we arrived at Fort Union, 600 miles distant from Fort
Lewis, this making about 50 miles a day. Here
we met with a very warm reception. We
availed ourselves of the kind offer given to us
of resting a day at the Fort; while there I baptized five children.   We left the Fort on the ill I!
13th, with two companions. Large herds of
buffalo were seen on both sides of the river, and
bears, deer and elks appeared at every bend, so
that there is little danger of suffering from want
at this season. On the 16th our ardor to press
forward, in spite of a strong head-wind, was
suddenly cooled by a side wind, which upset
the skiff and ourselves in four feet of water.
We were now satisfied that we had better wait
for a more favorable wind, and improve the
time by drying our clothes. We started quite
refreshed in the afternoon, and made up for the
lost time by running sixty miles the next day.
On the 17th we met six lodges of Assiniboins ;
they received us very kindly in their little
camp,—gave us a feast and abundance of provisions. The same day we met eight Gros-
Ventres, who were also exceedingly kind to us,
insisting on our accepting a lot- of buffalo
tongues. A favorable wind on the 18th, induced us to unfurl our sail. We were thus enabled to run about ten miles an hour, and early
next day we reached Fort Berthold, where we
were kindly entertained by Mr. Brugere. The
Gros-Ventres have a village here. I found but
a few families;—one of the chiefs invited me to
a feast.   On the 20th we were hailed by sever- 338
al bands of Indians, and kindly received. We
proceeded, and encamped for the night near
Knife river ; but our fire discovered our encampment to a band of Indians. The discovery would
have been fatal to us, had I not been fortunately
recognized by them; for they came armed for
destruction, and took us by surprise. As soon
as the two leaders knew who I was, they embraced me affectionately; our alarm was soon
quieted, and we passed the evening very agreeably in their company; a good smoke, a cup of
well sweetened coffee, a few humps and buffalo
tongues, put them in a very good humour. They
made me a solemn promise, that they would, in
future, never molest a white man. They were
Arikaras. The next day we breakfasted at Fort
Madison, with the good and kind-hearted Mr. Des
Autel. Shortly after leaving this Fort, we passed under a scalp attached to the end of a long
pole, which projected over the river. This was
probably an offering to the sun, to obtain either
fresh scalps or a good hunt. We were hailed
by a large village of Arikaras, encamped and
fortified on a point of land well timbered. They
treated us with great kindness, earnestly pressing me to accept invitations to several buffalo
feasts; and as time did not admit of such delay, OREGON     MISSIONS.
their liberality fell little short of sinking the
skiff, with the most dainty pieces of the hunt.
Though late, we proceeded on our journey,
principally, indeed, to avoid passing the night in
feasting. Having had very favorable weather
during the five following days, we reached, on
the 26th, the encampment of Mr. Goule, an
agent in the service of the American Fur Company. I baptized several half-breed children
at this place.
Availing ourselves of the favorable weather
the four following days, we kept on the river,
drifting down every night, so that early on the
30th, we arrived at Fort Pierre. Mr. Picotte,
of St. Louis, received us with the utmost cordiality and politeness. He forced me to remain
three days under his hospitable roof. This delay enabled me to see a great number of Sioux,
and baptize fifty-four children. Meanwhile
Mr. Picotte ordered a large and convenient
skiff to be made, and stored it with all sorts of
provisions. In all my travels, I have never met
one to surpass, perhaps to equal, the overflowing kindness with which this gentleman confers
a favor. I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to him. May God bless and reward him.
And, indeed, I must here add, as a token of my 340
sincere gratitude, that in all the forts of the
American Fur Company, the charitable liberality and kindness of the gentlemen were unbounded.
Late on the 3d November we renewed our
journey, but had not proceeded far when we
found it necessary to refit our skiff, which, being
quite new, leaks considerably. We landed at
a large farm belonging to the company on
Fleury's Island. We freely used the permission
given to us, and committed great havoc among
the poultry. On the 5th we breakfasted at Mr.
Rouis' Fort, where I baptized thirteen half-breed
children—the day was beautiful and we made
the whole of the Grande Detour. We arrived
at Fort Look-Out, of which I found Mr. Campbell in charge. I baptized here sixteen half-
breed children. I was kindly received by a
a great number of Sioux. We encamped nine
miles lower down at a trading post held by
two Canadians, where I baptized four children.
On the 10th we passed the entrance of Running-
water river, a fine stream with a strong current.
Two miles above its mouth were encamped one
hundred families of the unhappy and much-
abused Mormons—met several Sioux about
Great Island, where we encamped.    A favora- OREGON     MISSIONS
ble wind enabled us to reach Fort Vermilion
on the 13th, four hundred miles below Fort
Pierre. I baptized seven half-breed children.
Mr. Hamilton liberally supplied us with provisions. On the 14th we saw a Mormon along
the beach, who fled at our approach. We met
two Canadians who had shot a fine turkey,
which they gave me: in return I presented them
with some coffee and sugar, rare articles in
that country. A fine breeze brought us in
sight of the old Council Bluffs on the 18th. The
river has made considerable changes since my
former visit to this place; entirely new beds
have been formed. For several hundred miles,
all the forests along the south side of the river
were filled with cattle belonging to the Mormons. On the 18th we passed the ancient trading post, Lisel de Cabanne's—a few miles below is the new temporary settlement of the
Mormons, about ten thousand in number. I
was presented to their president, Mr. Young, a
kind and polite gentleman. He pressed me
very earnestly to remain a few days, an invitation which my limited time did not permit me
to accept. The persecutions and sufferings endured by this unhappy people, will one day
probably form a prominent part of the history 342
of the Far-west. At sun-set we encamped at
Mr. Sarpy's trading post, among the upper
Potawotomies, where I met several of my old
Indian friends, and among them Potogojecs, one
of their chiefs, whose Indian legend of their religious traditions will form the subject of my
next letter.
20th. A beautiful day-:—we visited our old
friends in Bellevue, the good Mr. Papin and
others. We passed the Papillion, the Mosquito,
and the Platte rivers, and encamped near
Table Creek.
On the 23d we arrived at St. Joseph's, the
highest town in Missouri. It is now in a most
thriving and prosperous condition; much improved indeed since I last saw it.
28th. We arrived at West-Port, from which I
proceeded by stage to St. Louis, the termination
of a trip which occupied just two months. I recommend myself to your prayers.
I remain, with sentiments of profound respect
and esteem, your obedient servant and brother
in Christ.
No. XXV.
A. M. D. G.
St. Louis University,
January 10,1847.
Very Rev. and Dear Father Provincial,—
Agreeably to my promise, I send you the account given by the Potawotomies, residing at
Council Bluffs, respecting their own origin, and
the causes which gave rise to their " great
medicine," and juggling, considered by them as
of the highest antiquity. Such superstitions,
indeed, are found to exist among all the tribes
of the American continent, differing only in the
form and the accompanying ceremonies. The
Nanaboojoo of the Potawotomies, the Wieska of
the Objibbeways, the Wizakeshak of the Crees,
the Sauteuxand the Black-Feet, the Etalapasse
of the Tchinouks on the coast of the Pacific,
can, among these different tribes, be traced up
to the same personage. OREGON     MISSIONS.
I send it verbatim, as it was communicated to
me by Potogojecs, one of the most intelligent
chiefs of the Potawotomie nation. Though fabulous, it is not entirely devoid of interest; it
should excite us to offer up our prayers the
more fervently to the Great Father of Light, for
these poor benighted children of the forest, and
beg of Him to send good and worthy laborers
into this vast vineyard. Having enquired of
this chief what he thought of the Great Spirit,
of the Creator, and of the origin of his religion,
or great medicine, he replied as follows: " I
will give you a faithful account of what my
tribe believes in these matters. We have not,
like you, books to transmit our traditions to our
children; it is the duty of the old men of the
nation to instruct the young people in whatever
relates to their belief, and their happiness.
" Many among us believe, that there are two
Great Spirits who govern the universe, but who
are constantly at war with each other. One is
called the Kchemnito, that is, the Great Spirit,
the other Mchemnito, or the Wicked Spirit.
The first is goodness itself, and his beneficent
influence is felt everywhere; but the second is
wickedness personified, and does nothing but
evil.     Some  believe   that   they   are   equally OREGON     MISSIO NS.
powerful, and, through fear of the Wicked
Spirit, offer to him their homage and adoration.
Others, again, are doubtful which of them
should be considered the more powerful, and
accordingly endeavor to propitiate both, by
offering to each an appropriate worship. The
greater part, however, believe as I do, that
Kchemnito is the first principle, the first great
cause, and consequently ought to be all-powerful, and to whom alone is due all worship and
adoration; and that Mchemnito ought to be
despised and rejected!
" Kchemnito at first created a world, which
he filled with a race of. beings having nothing
but the appearance of men—perverse, ungrateful, wicked dogs—that never raised their eyes to
heaven to implore the assistance of the Great
Spirit. Such ingratitude aroused him to anger,
and he plunged the world in a great lake, where
they were all drowned. His anger thus appeased, he withdrew it from the waters, and
created anew a beautiful young man, who,
however, appeared very sad, and being dissatisfied with his solitary condition, grew weary of
life. Kchemnito took pity on him, and gave
him, during sleep, a sister, as a companion to
cheer his loneliness.   When he awoke and saw OREGON    MIS SIONS.
his sister he rejoiced exceedingly—his melancholy instantly disappeared. They spent their
time in agreeable conversation and amusement,
living for many years together in a state of
innocence and perfect harmony, without the
slighest incident to mar the happiness of their
peaceful solitude.
" The young man had a dream, for the first
time, which he communicated to his sister,
'Five young men,' said he, 'will come this
night, and rap at the door of the, lodge—the
Great Spirit forbids you to laugh, to look at
them, or give an answer to any of the first
four, but laugh, look, and speak, when the fifth
presents himself.' She acted according to his
advice. When she heard the voice of the fifth,
she opened the door to him, laughing at the
same time very heartily; he entered immediately, and became her husband. The first of the
five strangers, called Sama, (tobacco,) having
received no answer, died of grief; the three
others, Wapekone, (pumpkin,) Eshketamok,
(water-melon,) and Kojees, (the bean,) shared
the fate of their companion. Taaman, (maize,)
the bridegroom, buried his four companions, and
from their graves there sprung up, shortly after,
pumpkins, water-melons, beans,  and tobacco- OREGON     MISSIONS.
plants in sufficient abundance to supply their
wants during the whole year, and enable them
to smoke to the manitous, and in the council.
From this union are descended the American
Indian nations.
| A great manitou came on earth, and chose
a wife from among the children of men. He
had four sons at a birth; the first born was
called Nanaboojoo, the friend of the human
race, the mediator between man and the Great
Spirit; the second was named Chipiapoos, the
man of the dead, who presides over the country
of the souls ; the third, Wabosso, as soon as he
saw the light, fled towards the north, where he
was changed into a white rabbit, and under that
name is considered there as a great manitou;
the fourth was Chakekenapok, the man of flint,
or fire-stone. In coming into the world he caused the death of his mother.
" Nanaboojoo, having arrived at the age of
manhood, resolved to avenge the death of his
mother, (for among us revenge is considered
honorable) ; he pursued Chakekenapok all over
the globe. Whenever he could come within
reach of his brother, he fractured some member
of his body, and after several renconters, finally
destroyed him by tearing out his entrails.    All 348
fragments broken from the body of this man of
stone then grew up into large rocks; his entrails
were changed into vines of every species, and
took deep root in all the forests; the flint-stones
scattered around the earth indicate where the
different combats took place.    Before fire was
introduced among us, Nanaboojoo taught our
ancestors how to form hatchets, lances, and the
points of arrows, in order to assist us in killing
our enemies in war, and animals for bur food.
Nanaboojoo and his brother, Chipiapoos, lived
together retired from the rest of mankind, and
were  distinguished  from  all other beings by
their superior qualities of body and mind.    The
manitous that dwell in the air, as well as those
who inhabit the earth and the waters, envied
the power of these brothers, and conspired to
destroy   them.     Nanaboojoo   discovered   and
eluded their snares, and warned Chipiapoos not
to separate himself from him a single moment.
Notwithstanding  this   admonition,  Chipiapoos
ventured alone one day upon Lake Michigan ;
the manitous broke the ice, and he sank to the
bottom, where they hid the body.    Nanaboojoo
became inconsolable when he missed his brother
from his lodge ; he sought him everywhere in
vain, he waged war against all the manitous, OREGON     MISSIONS.
and precipitated an infinite number of them into
the deepest abyss. He then wept, disfigured
his person, and covered his head, as a sign of
his grief, during six years, pronouncing from
time to time, in sad and mournful tones, the
name of the unhappy Chipiapoos. ♦    '
"While this truce continued, the manitous
consulted upon the means best calculated to appease the anger qf Nanaboojoo, without, however, coming to any conclusion ; when four of
the oldest and wisest, who had had no hand in
the death of Chipiapoos, offered to accomplish
the difficult task. They built a lodge close to
that of Nanaboojoo, prepared an excellent repast, and filled a calumet with the most exquisite tobacco. They journeyed in silence towards their redoubted enemy, each carrying
under his arm a bag, formed of the entire skin
of some animal, an otter, a lynx, or a beaver,
well provided with the most precious medicines,
(to which, in their superstitious practices, they
attach a supernatural power). With many
kind expressions, they begged that he would
condescend to accompany them. He arose immediately, uncovered his head, washed himself,
and followed  them.     When arrived  at  their
lodge, they offered him a cup containing a dose
of their medicine, preparatory to his initiation.
Nanaboojoo swallowed the contents at a single
draught, and found himself completely restored.
They then commenced their dances and their
songs ; they also applied their medicine bags,
which, after gently blowing them at him, they
would then cast on the ground ; at each fall of
the medicine bag, Nanaboojoo perceived that
his melancholy, sadness, hatred, and anger disappeared, and affections of an opposite nature
took possession of his soul. They all joined in
the dance and song—they ate and smoked together. Nanaboojoo thanked them for having
initiated him in the mysteries of their grand
-^ I The manitous brought back the lost Chipiapoos, but it was forbidden him to enter the
lodge; he received, through a chink, a burning
coal, and was ordered to go and preside over
the region of souls, and there, for the happiness
of his uncles and aunts, that is, for all men and
women, who should repair thither, kindle with
this coal a fire which should never be extinguished,
"Nanaboojoo then re-descended upon earth,
and, by order of the Great Spirit, initiated all
his family in the mysteries of the grand medi- OREGON      MISSIONS.
cine. He procured for each of them a bag well
furnished with medicines, giving them strict
orders to perpetuate these ceremonies among
their descendants, adding at the same time, that
these practices, religiously observed, would cure
their maladies, procure them abundance in the
chase, and give them complete victory over
their enemies. (All their religion consists in
these superstitious practices, dances and songs;
they have the most implicit faith in these
strange reveries.)
" Nanaboojoo is our principal intercessor with
the Great Spirit; he it was that obtained for us
the creation of animals for our food and raiment.
He has caused to grow those roots and herbs
which are endowed with the virtue of curing
our maladies, and of enabling us, in time of
famine, to kill the wild animals. He has left
the care of them to Mesakkummikokwi, the
great-grandmother of the human race, and in
order that we should never invoke her in vain,
it has been strictly enjoined on the old woman
never to quit the dwelling. Hence, when an
Indian makes the collection of roots and herbs
which are to serve him as medicines, he deposits, at the same time, on the earth, a small 352
* offering to Mesakkummikokwi. During his
different excursions over the surface of the earth,
Nanaboojoo killed all such animals as were
hurtful to us, as the mastodon, the mammoth,
etc. He has placed four beneficial spirits at the
four cardinal points of the earth, for the purpose
of contributing to the happiness of the human
race. That of the north procures for us ice
and snow, in order to aid us in discovering and
following the wild animals. That of the south
gives us that which occasions the growth of our
pumpkins, melons, maize and tobacco. The
spirit placed at the west gives us rain, and that
of the east gives us light, and commands the
sun to make his daily walks around the globe.
The thunder we hear is the voice of spirits,
having the form of large birds, which Nanaboojoo has placed in the clouds. When they
cry very loud we burn some tobacco in our
cabins, to make them a smoke-offering and appease them.
" Nanaboojoo yet lives, resting himself after
his labors, upon an immense flake of ice, in the
Great Lake, (the North Sea). We fear that the
whites will one day discover his retreat, and
drive him off, then the end of the world is at OREGON     MISSIONS.
hand, for as soon as he puts foot on the earth,
the whole universe will take fire, and every
living creature will perish in the flames! "
In their festivities and religious assemblies, all
their songs turn upon some one or other of these
fables. When the chief had finished this history,
I asked him whether he had any faith in what
he had just related. " Assuredly I have, for I
have had the happiness to see and entertain
three old men of my nation, who penetrated far
into the north, and were admitted into the
presence of Nanaboojoo, with whom they conversed a long time. He confirmed all that I
have recounted to you ! " «
Our savages believe that the souls of the dead,
in their journey to the great prairie of their ancestors, pass a rapid current, over which the
only bridge is a single tree, kept constantly in
violent agitation, managed, however, in such a
way, that the souls of perfect men pass it in
safety, whilst those of the wicked slip off the
tree into the water and are lost forever.
Such is the narration given to me by the
Potawotomi chief, comprising all the articles of
the creed held by this tribe, we can hardly fail
to recognize in it, much obscured by the accumulation of ages, the tradition of the universal
8 deluge, of the creation of the universe, of Adam
and Eve; even some traces of the incarnation
are found in the birth of Nanaboojoo, he was
descended of parents, one of whom only, his
mother, was of the human race ; he is, moreover,
the intercessor between God and man.
I recommend myself to your prayers.
I remain, with sentiments of profound respect
and esteem, your obedient humble servant and
brother in Christ.
P. J. DE SMET, S. J,
A. M. D. G.
Philadelphia, April 6th, 1847.
Mr. J. D. Bryant,
Dear Sir,—The nation of the Pawnees is divided into four great tribes, which act in concert
as one people. They have their villages upon
the river Platte, or Nebrasca, and its tributaries,
about 150 miles west of the Missouri river.
They are the same true children of the desert
as they have been these many ages.—They
dress in the skins of animals killed in the chase.
They cultivate maize and squashes, using the
shoulder-blade of the buffalo as a substitute for
the plough and hoe. In the season of the chase,
a whole village, men, women, and children,
abandon their settlements and go in pursuit of
the animals whose flesh supplies them with food.
Their huts, which they call akkaros, are circular, and about 140 feet in circumference. They
are ingeniously formed by planting young trees at suitable distances apart, then bending and
joining their tops to a number of pillars or posts
fixed circularlv in the centre of the enclosure.
The trees are then covered with bark, over
which is thrown a layer of earth, nearly a foot
in thickness, and finally, a solid mass of green
turf completes the structure. These dwellings,
thus completed, resemble hillocks. A large
aperture in the top serves to admit the light and
also to emit the smoke. They are very warm
in winter, and cool, but oftentimes very damp,
in summer. They are large enough to contain N
ten or a dozen families.
If, in the long journeys which they undertake
in search of game, any should be impeded,
either by age or sickness, their children or relations make a small hut of dried grass to shelter
them from the heat of the sun or from the
weather, leaving as r#tuch provision as they are
able to spare, and thus abandon them to their
destiny. Nothing is more touching than this
constrained separation, caused by absolute necessity—the tears and cries of the children on
the one hand, and the calm resignation of the
aged father or mother on the other. They often
encourage their children not to expose their
own lives in order to prolong their short rem" OREGON     MISSIONS.
nant of time. They are anxious to depart on
their long journey, and to join their ancestors
in the hunting-grounds of the Great Spirit. If,
some days after, they are successful in the
chase, they return as quickly as possible to render assistance and consolation. These practices
are common to all the nomadic tribes of the
The Pawnees have nearly the same ideas
concerning the universal deluge as those which
I have given of the Potawotomies. In relation
to the soul, they say, that there is a resemblance
in the body which does not die, but detaches itself when the body expires. If a man has been
good during this life, kind to his parents, a good
hunter, a good warrior, his soul (sa ressem-
blance) is transported into a land of delights,
abundance, and pleasures. If, on the contrary,
a man has been wicked, hard-hearted, cruel and
indolent, his soul passes through narrow straits,
difficult and dangerous, into a country where all
is confusion, contrariety and unhappiness.
In their religious ceremonies, they dance, sing
and pray before a bird stuffed with all kinds of
roots and herbs used in their superstition. They
have a fabulous tradition, which teaches them
that the morning: star sent this bird to their an-
/ j
# 358
cestors, as its representative, with orders to invoke it on all important occasions and to exhibit
it in times of sacrifice. Before the invocation,
they fill the calumet with the sacred herb contained in the bird. They then puff out the
smoke towards the star, offer the prayers and
make their demands, dancing and singing, and
celebrating in verses the great power of the
bird. They implore its assistance and its favor,
whether to obtain success in hunting or in war,
or to demand snow in order to make the buffalo
descend from the mountains, or to appease the
Great Spirit when a public calamity befalls the
nation, or a family, or even a single person. The
Pawnees are one of the few aboriginal tribes,
which, descending from the ancient Mexicans,
are guilty of offering human sacrifices. In order
to justify this barbarous practice, they say that
the morning star taught them by means of the
bird, that such sacrifices were agreeable to it,
and would bring down upon the nation the
favor of the great Deliberator* of the universe.
They are firmly persuaded that human sacrifices
are most agreeable to the Great Spirit. Hence,
when the Pawnee takes a prisoner and wishes
* A name which they give to the Great Spirit. OREGON     MISSIONS.
to render himself acceptable to Heaven, he devotes it to the morning star. At the time of
sacrifice, he delivers the prisoner over into the
hands of the jugglers; soon after which, commence the ceremonies preparatory to the offering. I was in the neighborhood when one of
these bloody sacrifices took place, and the particulars, which I am about to relate, were reported to me by worthy eye-witnesses.
The victim in this horrid transaction was a
young Sioux girl,named Dakotha, aged 15 years,
who had been taken prisoner by the Pawnees
about six months previous to her immolation..
During the months of her captivity, Dakotha
received from the Pawnees every mark of regard which savages are capable of bestowing.
She was an honored guest at all the fetes and
festivities of the village ; and everywhere was
treated, in appearance at least, rather as a fond
friend than as a prisoner. It is the custom thus
to prepare the victim, in order to conceal their
infernal design.
The month of April being the season for
planting, is on that account selected for the
offering of their abominable sacrifices. To this
end, four of the principal savages of the tribe
assemble in the largest and   most beautiful 3b0 OREGON     MISSIONS.
akkaro or hut, to deliberate withTirawaat, or the
great Deliberator of the universe, concerning
the sacrifice, of the victim. According to their
belief, a human offering is rewarded by him
with an abundant harvest, he fills the hunting-
grounds convenient to their villages with int^
mense herds of buffaloes, deer and antelopes,
thus enabling them to kill their prey with more
facility and with less risk of coming in contact
with other warlike and hostile nations.
The oldest savage of the tribe presides at the
feast given on the occasion. Ten of the best
singers and musicians, each with his peculiar
instrument, squafetn the middle of the akkaro.
Four of them have dried calabashes in their
hands, from which the seeds have been extracted and small pebbles placed in their stead, which
being shaken by the muscular arms of these
gigantic savages, produce a sound like falling
hail. Four others beat their tekapiroutche-Ji!
this is a kind of drum of a most mournful and
deafening sound ; it is made from the trunk of
a tree and is about three feet long and one-and-
a-half broad, covered at both ends with deer
skin. The remaining two have a kind of flute:
made of reeds, about two feet long and one inch
in diameter, instruments, such as were used by
the ancient shepherds, and which give forth
sounds that may be heard at the distance of
half a mile. They fasten to each instrument a
little tewaara, or medicine bag, filled with roots
and other materials, to which, in their superstitious rites, they attach a supernatural power,
that renders their offering more agreeable to
the Author of life. Four sentinels, each armed
with %Iance, take their position at the four cardinal points of the lodge, to maintain order
among the spectators and to prevent the entrance of the women, young girls and children.
The guests are seated upon the ground or upon
mats on the right and left of the presiding juggler, turning around from time to time in the
most grotesque and ridiculous dances. Imagine
thirty swarthy savages, with their bodies tattooed; their faces besmeared with paint—
white, black, made of soot and the scrapings of
the kettles, yellow, green and vermilion; and
their long and dishevelled hair clotted with mud
or clay. Placing themselves in a circle, they
shriek, they leap, and give to their bodies, their
arms, their legs, and their heads a thousand
hideous contortions ; while streams of perspiration, pouring down their bodies, render the horrors of their appearance still more dreadful, by "
the confused commingling of the colors with
which they are smeared—now they crowd together pell-mell, then separate, some to the right,
some to the left, one upon one foot, another upon
two, while others go on all-fours without order,
and although without the appearance of measure, yet, in perfect harmony with their drums,
their calabashes and their flutes.
Near the centre of the hut, at about four feet
from the fire-place, are placed four large buffalo
heads, dissected, in order that they may take the
augury. The presiding juggler, the musicians
and the dancers have their heads covered with
the down of the swan, which sticks to them by
means of honey, with which they smear their
hair—a practice common to all the tribes of
North America in their superstitious rites. The
president or presiding juggler alone is painted'
with red, the musicians, one half red and the
other half black, while all the others are daubed
with all colors, and in the most fantastic figures.
Each time that the music, the songs and the
dances are performed, the spectators observe the
most profound silence, and during the space of
thirty minutes that the extraordinary charivari
continues, nothing is heard but the chants, the
cries, the howlings and the music.   When all OREGON     MISSIONS.
have figured in the dance, the presiding juggler
gives the signal to stop, crying out with all the
force of his lungs. Immediately all cease, each
one takes his place, and the auditory responds :
1 Neva ! Neva! Neva !" it is well, it is well, it
is well! Tftfe dancers then fill the ancient naw-
ishkaro, or religious calumet, which is used only
upon occasions the most important. They offer
it to the president, who, striking with both his
hands the long pipe, adorned with pearls and
worked with different figures, goes and squats
himself down by the fire-place. One of the
guards places a coal upon the mysterious calumet. Having lighted it, he rises and gives a -
puff to each of the musicians without once
slacking his hold from the pipe. He then turns
towards the centre, and raising his eyes towards
heaven, he offers the calumet to the Master of
life, resting for a moment in majestic silence :
then, offering three puffs to heaven, he speaks
these words : " 0, Tirawaat! Thou who be-
holdest all things, SToke with thy children, and
take pity on us." He then offers the calumet to
the buffalo heads, their great manitous, salutes
each of them with two puffs, and then goes to
empty the bowl of the pipe in a wooden dish,
prepared for that purpose, that the sacred ashes 364
may be afterwards gathered and preserved in a
deer-skin pouch.#
After the dance, the master of ceremonies
serves up the repast to the guests, seated in a
circle. The food consists of dried buffalo meat
and boiled maize, served in wooden^lates, filled
to the brim. Each one is bound to empty his
plate, even should he expose himself to the
danger of death from indigestion. The president offers a portion of the meat and maize to
the Great Spirit, and places it accordingly upon
the ground, and he then makes a similar offering to one of the buffalo heads, which is supposed to be a party to the feast. At length,
while each one occupies himself with doing
honor to his plate, one of the chiefs of the band
rises up and announces to all the guests that
the Master of life dances with him, and that he
accepts the calumet and the feasting. All the
band reply: " Neva ! Neva ! Neva !" This is
the first condemnation.
.* This method of smokingis in great repute among all the
savages of the West. It is of the same importance and equally as
binding as an oath among civilized nations. If two savages,
ready to kill each other, can be induced to accept the calumet,
the dispute ceases, and the bond of their friendship becomes stronger
than ever. OREGON    MISSIONS.
The repast ended, they again dance, after
which the calumet is lighted the second time;
and, as in the former instance, is offered to the
Master of life and to the buffalo heads, upon
which, the lodge again resounds with the triple
cry, " Neva!" This last dance condemns,
without appeal, the unfortunate victim whose
immolation is invoked.
After all their grotesque dances, their cries,
their chants and their vociferations, the savages,
preceded by the musicians, go out of the lodge,
to present the sacred calumet to the buffalo
heads placed on the tops of the lodges of the
village, each of which is ornamented with from
two to eight heads, preserved as the trophies of
their skill in the chase. At each puff the multitude raise a furious cry, for now the whole village joins in the extraordinary procession. They
stop before the lodge of the Sioux girl, and
make the air resound with the horrible imprecations against their enemies and against the
unfortunate and innocent victim, who represents
them on the present occasion. From this
moment she is guarded by two old satellites,
whose office it is to beguile her from the least
suspicion that she is the victim for the coming
sacrifice ; and whose duty it also is to entertain
* 1 366
her upon the great feast, they prepare on the
occasion in her honor, and that she may be well
fed in order to appear more beautiful and fat,
and thereby more agreeable to the Master of
life. This ends the first day of the ceremonies.
On the second day, two old female savages,
with dishevelled hair, their faces wrinkled and
daubed with black and red paint, their naked
arms and legs tattooed, barefooted, and with no
other dress than a deer-skin petticoat, extending down to the knee—in a word, two miserable-looking beldams, capable of striking terror
in any beholder,—issue from their huts with
pipes in their hands, ornamented with the
scalps which their husbands have taken from
their unhappy enemies. Passing through the
village, they dance around each akkaro, solemnly announcing, " that the Sioux girl has
been given to the Master of life by wise and
just men, that the offering is acceptable to him,
and that each one should prepare to celebrate
the day with festivity and mirth." At this
announcement, the idlers and children of the
village move about and shout with joy. They
jhen, still dancing, re-conduct the two old
squaws to their huts, before which they place
their pikes as trophies, and enter.—All then OREGON     MISSIONS.
return to their own lodge, to partake of the
feasts of their relatives.
About ten o'clock in the morning of the third
day, all the young women and girls of the village, armed with hatchets, repair to the lodge
of their young and unhappy captive, and invite
her to go into the forest with them to cut wood.
—The simple-hearted, confiding child, accepts
their malicious invitation with eagerness and
joy, happy to breathe once more the pure air.—
They then give her a hatchet, and the female
troop advance towards the place marked out in
the dance, making the forest resound with
shouts of joy. Atipaat, an old squaw who conducted them, designates, by a blow of the
hatchet, the tree which is to be cut down.
Each then gives it one blow, after which the
victim approaches to complete the work. As
soon as she commences what seems to her but
pastime, the whole crowd of young furies surround her, howling and dancing. Unconscious
that the tree is to supply the wood for her own
sacrifice, the poor child pursues her work as if
a great honor had been reserved for her.—
Atipaat, the old woman, then fastens to her the
a^hki# with which to draw the wood.
* The ashki is a cord, made of horse-hair or of the bark of
the elm, which they prepare by boiling it in cold water.   It 368
The troop then lead the way towards the village, dancing as they pass along, but giving the
hapless victim almost no assistance in dragging
her load. An innumerable multitude attend
them to the place of sacrifice, and receive them
with loud acclamations. They there relieve
her of her burden and again place her in the
hands of the guards, who, with voices harsh
and quivering, chant the great deeds of their
younger days and re-conduct her to her lodge.
In the meantime the whole band assist to arrange the wood between two trees, after whiclr
they immediately disperse.
On the morning of the fourth day, before sunrise, a savage visits all the lodges to announce
to each family, in the name of the Master of
life, that they must furnish two billets of wood
about three feet long for the sacrifice.
Then thirty warriors issue from their lodges,
decked in all sorts of accoutrements; their
heads adorned with deer and buffalo horns,
with the tails of horses and the plumes of the
varies from twenty-five to sixty feet in length, and, although it is
but about one inch in thickness, it is strong enough to bind the
most powerful man. This they adorn with the quills of the porcupine, and with little bells. The bells, besides for the sake of
ornament, are intended to give notice in case the victim makes
any efforts to escape. OREGON    MISSIONS.
eagle and heron, interwoven with their scalp-
locks, while the tails of wolves and wild cats
stream from various parts behind, as the wings
of Mercury are represented, with pendants
hanging from their noses and ears, so elongated
by the weight of the ornaments suspended to
them, that they float about and strike against
their shoulders.—Glass beads, or necklaces of
brass or steel adorn their necks, while highly-
ornamented deer-skin leggins and curiously-
painted buffalo-skins, negligently thrown over
their shoulders, complete their grotesque habiliments. Thus accoutred they present themselves at the hut of their captive, who is already adorned with the most beautiful dress
their fancy can devise, or the materials at their
command produce. Her head-dress is composed
of the feathers of the eagle and swan, and descends behind in gracefully waving curves, even
to the ground. Her person is properly painted
with red and black lines. A frock of deer-skin
descends to the knee, while a beautiful pair of
leggins extend from thence to the ankle. A pair
of moccasins garnished with porcupine quills,
pearl and glass beads, are on her feet. JPend-
ants hang from her ears and nose, a necklace
ornaments her neck, and bracelets her arms; 370
nothing was spared that could add to her
Tranquillity and joy distinguishes her as she
approaches the grand feast, which she has been
made to believe her kind guardians have prepared to honor her. At the first cry of the warriors, the poor child comes out of the hut and
walks at the head of her executioners, who follow in single file. As they pass along they enter into all the huts, where the most profound
silence and the utmost propriety reign. The
Sioux girl walks around the fire-place, her followers do the same, and, just as she leaves the
lodge, the principal squaw gives her two billets
of wood, which the unconscious victim gives in
her turn to each of the savages. In this manner, when she has been made collect all the
wood to serve for her immolation, she takes her
place in the rear of the band, joyous and content that she has had the happiness to contribute to the pleasure of her executioners; after
which they again restore her to her two guards,
to be presented with her last repast, which consists of a large plate of maize.
All now wait in anxious expectation to witness the last scene of the bloody drama. The
whole village is in commotion.   Everywhere OREGON     MISSIONS.
the warriors, old and young, may be seen preparing their murderous arrow, as upon the eve
of a battle. Some practice shooting at a mark;
the more barbarous, thirsting for the blood of
their enemies, encourage and instruct their children in the use of the bow and arrow, and
what part of the body they ought to strike.—
The young women and girls devote themselves
to clearing away the bushes and preparing the
place of sacrifice, after the accomplishment of
which, they employ themselves during the rest
of that day and night in polishing their necklaces, pendants and bracelets, and all the other
ornaments in which they wish to appear at the
great feast.
On the fifth day, an aid-de-camp of Lechar-
tetewarouchte, or the chief of sacrifice, ran
through the village to announce, in the name of
his master, the necessity of preparing the red
and black paint, which is to serve for the grand
ceremony. It is vain to attempt to give you,
my dear sir, an adequate description of this
personage, either as regards his costume, his
figure, or his manner; it is every thing that a
savage can invent of the fantastic, the ridiculous and the frightful, united in one person.
The collector of colors himself scarcely yields OREGON     MISSIONS.
to his comrade in monstrosity.    He has the appearance of one, truly, just escaped from the
infernal regions.    His body is  painted black,
which,  contrasted with the whiteness  of his
teeth and of his huge eyes, and with his hair
besmeared with white clay, and bristling like
the mane of a lion, gives him an aspect terrible
and ferocious in the extreme.    At each heel is
fastened the tail of a wolf, and on his feet a
pair of moccasins made of buffalo skin, with the
long shaggy hair on the outside.    He passes
through the whole  village  with  a measured"
step, holding a wooden plate  in  each hand.
He enters the huts successively, and, as he approaches the fire-place, he cries aloud: " The
Master of life sends me here."   Immediately, a
woman comes and empties into one of his plates
either some red or some black paint, which she
had prepared.    Upon the reception of which,
he raises his eyes to heaven, and with a loud
voice says: "Regard the love of thy children,
0 Tirawaat!    However poor, all that they possess is thine, and they give it to thee.    Grant
us   an  abundant  harvest.    Fill  our hunting-
grounds with buffaloes, deer, stags and antelopes.    Make us powerful against our enemies,
so that we may again renew this great sacri-
fice."    Each one replies by the usual exclamation : " Neva ! Neva ! Neva !" |,
After the return of the collector of colors,
and before sunrise, the last scene commences.
Men and women, boys and girls, daub themselves in all the colors and forms imaginable.
They deck themselves in whatever they possess
which in their estimation is either beautiful or
precious—pearls, beads, porcelain collars, the
claws of the white bear, (this is in their view
the most costly and valuable decoration ) bracelets and pendants; nothing is forgotten on this
occasion. They ornament their hair with the
feathers of the heron, and of the gray eagle,
a bird superstitiously venerated by them. Thus
equipped for their sortie, they listen attentively
for the first signal to the sacrifice.
While these preparations are in progress, the
Tewaarouchte, a religious band of distinguished
warriors, known in the procession by the down
of swans upon their hair or upon the tops of
their heads, and by their naked bodies painted
in red and black lines, follow the braves of the
nation armed with their bows and arrows, which
are sedulously concealed  beneath their buffalo
robes. >. Thus  they approach  the lodge  where
the unconscious victim awaits, as she thinks,
17 374
the happy moment for the festivities given in
her honor, to commence.    She is now delivered into the hands of her executioners, dressed
in the beautiful costume of the previous day,
with the addition of a cord tied to each ankle.
The poor child is all interest and in a kind of
impatience to participate in the grand festivities.    She smiles as she looks round upon the
most cruel and the most revengeful enemies of
her race.    Not the slightest agitation, fear, or
suspicion, is visible in her manner.    She walks
with joy and confidence in the midst of her executioners.    Arrived at the fatal spot, a frightful   presentiment   flashes   across   her   mind.
There is no one of  her own sex present.    In
vain do her eyes wander from place to place,
in order to find the evidences of a feast.     Why
that solitary fire ?   And those three posts, which
she herself drew from the forest, and which she
saw fastened between two trees, and those swarthy figures of the warriors, what can they mean ?
All, all indicate some dreadful project.    They
order her to mount the three posts.   She hesitates,
she trembles as an innocent lamb prepared for
the slaughter.  She weeps most bitterly and with
a voice the most touching, such as must have
broken any other hearts than those of these
savage men, she implores them not to kill her.
With a persuasive tone they endeavor to convince her that their intention is not to injure
her, but that the ceremonies in which she participates are indispensable before the grand
feast. One of the most active of the savages
unrolls the cords tied to her wrists and assists
her to mount the post. He passes the cords
over the branches of the two trees, between
which the sacrifice is to be made.
These are rendered firm by the powerful
arms of the other savages, and her feet immediately fastened to the topmost of the three
posts, which she had unconsciously cut and
drawn to the fatal spot. On the instant all
doubt of their intentions vanishes from her mind.
The savages no longer conceal from her their
frightful project. She cries aloud, she weeps,
she prays ; but her supplications, her tears and
her prayers are alike drowned in the melee,
and cry of their horrible imprecations against
her nation.
Upon her innocent and devoted head they
concentrate the full measure of their vengeance,
of all the cruelties, of all the crimes, of all the
injustice and cruelty of the Sioux, which may
have taken place in their most cruel and pro-
lii 376
tracted wars, and which from time immemorial
had been transmitted from father to son, as a
precious heritage of vengeance and resentment.
In a manner the most furious and most triumphant they exult with leaping and howling, like
wild beasts, around their trembling victim.
They then despoil her of all her ornaments and
of her dress, when the chief of the sacrifice approaches and paints one-half of her body black
and the other half red, the colours of their victims. He then scorches her armpits and sides
with a pine-knot torch. After these preparatory
rites, he gives the signal to the whole tribe, who
make the air resound with the terrible war-cry
of the Sassaskwi. At this piercing cry, which
freezes the heart with terror, which paralyzes
the timid and rouses the ardor of the brave,
which confounds the buffalo in his course, and
fills the bear with such fear as to take from him
all the power of resisting or fleeing from his
enemies, the savages, impatient and greedy for
blood, issue from their dark lodges. Like a ter-"
riffic hurricane they rush headlong to the fatal
spot. Their cries, mingled with the noise of
their feet, resemble the roar of thunder, increasing as the storm approaches. As a swarm of
bees surround their queen, these Pawnee savages
encompass the Sioux child—their trembling
victim. In the twinkling of an eye, their bows
are bent and their arrows adjusted to the cords.
The arrow of Lecharitetewarouchte, or chief of
the sacrifice, is the only one which is barbed
with iron. With this, it is his province to pierce
the heart of the innocent Dakotha. A profound
silence reigns for an instant among the ferocious band. No sound breaks the awful stillness save the sobs and piteous moans of the
victim, who hangs trembling in the air, while
the chief of the sacrifice makes a last offering
of her to the Master of the universe. At that
moment he transfixes her through the heart—
upon the instant a thousand murderous arrows
quiver in the body of the poor child. Her
whole body is one shapeless mass, riddled with
arrows as numerous as are the quills upon the
back of the porcupine.
While the howling and the dancing continue,
the great chief of the nation, mounting the three
posts in triumph, plucks the arrows from the dead
body and casts them into the fire. The iron-
barbed arrow being the only one preserved for
future sacrifices. He then squeezes the blood
from the mangled flesh, upon the maize and
other seeds, which stand around in baskets ready 378
to be planted ; and then, as the last act of this
cruel and bloody sacrifice, he plucks the still
palpitating heart from the body, and, heaping
the fiercest imprecations upon the enemies of his
race, devours it amidst the shouts and screams
of his people. The rite is finished. The
haughty and satisfied savages mo^e away from
the scene of their awful tragedy ; they pass the
remainder of the day in feasts and merriment.
The murdered and deformed body hangs where
it was immolated, a prey to wolves and carnivorous birds. I will end this painful tragedy, by
giving you an extract of a former letter.
" Such horrid cruelties could not but bring
down the wrath of Heaven upon their nation.
As soon as the report of the sacrifice reached the
Sioux, they burned with the desire to avenge
their honor, and bound themselves by oaths that
they would not rest until they had killed as
many Pawnees as their innocent victim had
bones or joints in her body. More than a hundred Pawnees have at length fallen under their
tomahawks, and their oaths have since been
still more amply fulfilled in the massacre of
their wives and children.
" In view of so much cruelty, who could mistake the agency of the arch enemy of mankind,
and who would refuse to exert himself to bring
these benighted nations to the knowledge of the
One only true Mediator between God and man,
and of the only true sacrifice without which it is
impossible to appease the Divine justice ? "
With sentiments of respect and esteem,
I remain, my dear sir, yours, &c.
To-day, 17th August, we pitched our tents upon
the borders of a winding stream, in the heart of
a wild, mountainous country, whose deep ravines and gloomy caverns are well suited for
the dens of wild animals. Great as our expectations were of finding here abundance of
game, they were not deceived. In less than an
hour our hunters killed as many as twelve
bears. During the night, an event of a far more
serious nature occurred. The sudden firing of
a gun roused us from slumber. Every warrior
was on the alert; that shot could have proceeded from no hand save that of a " Black-Foot!'
We looked at one another in silent anticipation.
Who, then, had been the sufferer ? The painful
question  was quickly  answered.    It was the
poor widow Camilla, one of the Sinpoil tribe.
The ball had passed through her throat, and she
expired without a groan ! Happily, her soul was
ripe for Heaven. From the period of her first
communion, she had never passed a Sunday
without approaching the holy table, nor was her
bapt'smal robe sullied by the slightest stain.
The funeral obsequies were performed on the
banks of Yellow-Rock River, because that spot
was better suited than any other to conceal her
sepulchre from the avaricious Black-Foot assassin. All things work together for good to them
that love God; this death, terrible, indeed, in
the sight of men, but precious in the eyes of the
Lord, became the source of & good work. The
murdered woman left two daughters, both very
young; had her life been spared, she would not,
perhaps, have been able to shield their innocence from the dangers to which it would have
been exposed ; but, now, they were immediately
adopted by Ambrose, chief of the Flat-Heads,
and father of a numerous family; in his noble
heart, charity, piety, and confidence in God, go
hand-in-hand with his courage.
At the distance of a few gun-shots from Yellow-Rock, the buffaloes made their appearance.
17* 382
One of them plunged into the river to avoid
the death which threatened him, swam rapidly
down the current, then suddenly tacked about
to escape his pursuers; and, finally, exhausted
by his efforts, and unable longer to contend with
his fate, came out of the river, and stretched
himself upon the turf at the entrance of our
camp, where his presence caused no other mischief than that of excfting the mirth of the
women and children.
Farther on, two bears were seen making
their way through the bushes. The young
people, who were the first to perceive them,
announced their discovery by loud yells. Immediately, a Black-Foot, a friend of the Flat-
Heads, sprang forward with the intention of
giving the first blow to the common enemy;
but the sagacious animal, anticipating his design, rushed from his lair, and fastened his
enormous claws on the uplifted arm of the
young Indian, whose situation would have been
desperate, had not a Flat-Head come to his
assistance. A few days after, another converted
Black-Foot, finding himself in the same circumstances, and wishing to show that he knew
better than his comrade how to kill bears, went OREGON     MISSIONS.
about it in the same manner, and shared the
same fate; a punishment which his temerity
richly deserved.
Whilst we were encamped in this place,
several chiefs of the Corbeaux tribe came to
visit the Flat-Heads, accompanied by the flower
of their young warriors. They spoke with enthusiasm of the visit their nation had received
from a Black-gown in 1842, and expressed great
desire for the time to come when they, like the
Flat-Heads, would enjoy the privilege of having
Black-gowns always with them, to instruct
them in heavenly things. They still observe
the superstitious practices of the calumet. To
render the odor of tne pacific incense agreeable
to their gods, it is necessary that the tobacco
and the herb (skwiltz), the usual ingredients,
should be mixed with a small quantity of
buffalo's dung, and that the great pipe, after
haying gone round the lodge, should re-commence the circuit as soon as it arrives at the
opening, without which ceremony they imagine
it would be useless to ^rjaoke with their brethren^
or incense, as they do, the heavens, earth, four
cardinal points, and medals of Washington and
Jackson. ^M
Nothing but misfortunes could await them.
ii'l 384
Whilst they remained with us, we buried a
Pend-d'Oreille Indian, who had died shortly
after baptism, strengthened by all the sacraments of the church. This ceremony, which was
performed with more than ordinary pomp in
honor of the visitors, was concluded by the
solemn erection of the cross on the grave of
the deceased. May the remembrance of these
last duties paid to a departed child of the church,
increase in the hearts of the Corbeaux the
desire of knowing* Him, without the knowledge
of whom there is no salvation. The following
day they returned to their own camp.
- The Pierced-Noses werejiow on their way to
their own country; the Flat-Heads, on the contrary, were still in pursuit of game; for, although the season was far advanced, they had
not yet commenced to lay in their winter provisions. I Early the following morning, we
struck our tents and resumed our march. We
had not proceeded far, when our attention was
attracted by a herd of buffaloes quietly feeding
ii^the beautiful valley at our feet. # They were
so numerous, that each of the hunters killed
several. The slaughter of these animals was
but the prelude of that which was to take place
on the following days.   Our hunters brought in
game in abundance. On one occasion, they returned laden writh the spoils of 344 fat cows.
We encamped in the very heart of the Black-
Foot territory, yet the howling of Solves and
bears, calling one another to their nocturnal
repast, was the only sound that disturbed our
repose. The hunting season is a time of rest
for the missionary, of intimate union with his
God, of renovation for his soul! It was in this
spirit I received, with humble gratitude, the
short but severe illness with which I was visited
at this period. I regarded it, likewise, as sent
me in punishment for the too natural pleasure I
felt in contemplating the strange and varied
scenes by which I was'^surrounded. During our
encampment in this spot, I had the consolation
of baptizing ten adults.
An unexpected fall of snow warned us that
it was time to think of our return. The chief
accordingly gave orders for all to be in readiness to set out the following day. The weather
was clear, but intensely cold ; and, suffering as
I still was, from the effects of my recent illness,
I had great difficulty in supporting its severity.
We were, however, soon cheered by milder
days, and warmer sunshine. Our young hunters
were, once more, all animation.    The pleasures 386
of the chase were resumed as far as the good
order necessary for the homeward march would
permit. Even the children caught the general
spirit, and bounded off in pursuit of some smaller
animal, which the elated winner of the race
never failed to bring back on his shoulder.
We were now entering the defile where we
had before met with such brilliant success. At
almost every step we fell in with some straggler.
At one time, an old decrepit buffalo ; at another,
a fat cow, and sometimes a playful calf, whose
dam had already fallen a victim. These animals were an easy prey, and their capture was
a new source of sport for the boys.
On the 28th I retired^o the summit of a
neighboring mountain, to read the vespers of
St. Michael. The atmosphere was unusually
serene; not a sound disturbed the silence of
nature. I gazed on the quiet beauty of the
scene, hushed, as it were, in the presence of
God, and my heart dilated at the thought of the
thousands of unconverted Indians, buried in the
darkness of idolatry. Full of these thoughts, I
raised my eyes, and, excited as my imagination
was, it seemed to me that I beheld the- archangel, Michael, standing on the opposite mountain, exclaiming, " Deluded nations 1   Who is
like unto God ?" The voice resounded through
the forests—it was echoed by the deep ravines.
I fancied it was heard and understood by the wild
children of the woods ; their responding shouts
rung in my ear. Yielding to the enthusiasm
of my feelings, I hastily quitted my elevated
position, and erected a wooden cross on the
summit of a neighboring eminence. Some days
after, a hunter discovered, near the half-consumed embers of an extinguished fire, a similar
cross, to which a banner was attached. My
first thought was, that it had been planted there
by some Catholic, who had lost his way in the
forest, and been devoured by the wolves. The
Flat-Heads, however, Well acquainted with the
practices of their ancient foes, the Black-Feet,
informed me that it was a custom among them
to erect these crosses to the moon, in order to
render her favorable to the robbery or chase, in
which they were about to engage. This information dispelled the pleasing fancies in which I
had indulged ; and painfully reminded me that
the God-Saviour is yet far from being adored in
these wild abodes. May we not hope that the
time will yet come, when the banner of the true
cross will wave triumphant o'er this benighted
land ! 388
The obstacles which have hitherto prevented
the missionaries from penetrating into the Black-
Feet territory are now beginning to disappear,
and there is every prosmct of our soon being
able to commence the glorious work of their
The next day we entered a mountain pass,
where the foot of man had seldom trodden, as
was proved by the fact, that fifteen beavers
were taken in one night by three hunters. After following for some time the circuitous windings of the ravine, we came to an ascent so
slippery, that at every instant I was in anticipation of some sad catastrophe. Presently a
sumpter-horse missed his footing and fell, rolling down the precipice. Who, that had seen
him fall from rock to rock, would ever have
thought, that in a few minutes he would be
journeying on, laden as before ! Without uttering a single word, the guide made her way
through the deep snow to the spot where the
poor animal lay, unloaded him, raised him from
the ground, replaced his burden, and brought
him back to the rear of the troop.
We continued our route until sunset, along
the mountain's summit; at length, after a forced
march of ten hours, we pitched our tents on a OREGON     MISSIONS
beautiful island, where we enjoyed both security and repose. Surrounded by the waters of
the Missouri, and abounding in rich pastures,
this charming spot seems, as it were, destined
by nature as a place of rest for the wearied
traveller. f|
It would have been impossible to contemplate
without admiring the loveliness of the landscape. From the southern coast of the river
arose a ridge of mountains, whose varied colors
of blue, red, green, and yellow, gave them a
striking appearance ; the effect of which was
heightened by a small stream, leaping from
rock to rock, in the form of a cascade, cooling
the parched ground, insinuating itself into the
crevices of the rocks, and giving birth to an infinite variety of creeping plants, and flowering
shrubs.—The island itself is beautiful beyond
description. The scenery is diversified by
groups of t e majestic button-ball, which, in this
country, is the giant of the vegetable kingdom.
It was under the shade of one of these noble trees
that our hunters prepared o celebrate the feast
of the Maternity. The sun's last rays had long
disappeared beneath the horizon, ere all was
ready for the evening prayer. After which, notwithstanding the fatigues of the day, a large 390
fire was kindled before my tent, and the greater
part of the night consecrated by these fervent
children of the woods, to the reconciliation of
their souls with God. The following day the
Holy Sacrifice was celebrated with as much
solemnity as the circumstances would permit.
Of the ninety persons who then approached the
table of the Lord, there was not one, who, since
the departure from St. Mary's, had not communicated every month. Several had enjoyed that
happiness each week. During the evening office nothing particular occurred. The eve of
my departure the mothers brought their young
children to receive my blessing ; and the chiefs
erected a cross in token of their gratitude for
the favors received during the hunting season.
To this latter circumstance the island is indebted for the beautiful name of St. Croix.
The following day I bade farewell to my dear
neophytes ; and, after joining in prayer with
them for the last time, I set out on my return to
St. Mary's.
■M m      -i:- ... N. POINT, S. J.
" Henceforward the Prayer of the  Flat-Heads
shall be ours."
BY  REV.   P.   N.   POINT.
We shall see what gave occasion to these remarkable words uttered by thirty-seven Black-
Feet, who had fallen into the hands of the Flat-
It is rare, at present, to find any Black-Feet,
even among the most vicious tribes, who are
not convinced that the Black-gowns desire their
The following observations clearly prove my
proposition: 1, the kind reception they gave
the Black Robe, who was taken by sixty of
their warriors : 2, the attention with which they
listened to the Rev. Mr. Thibault, a Canadian
priest, who fell in with a large company of them
at Fort Augusta, on the River Sascatshawin:
3, sending back to St. Mary's, a horse belonging to a Flat-Head missionary ; a circumstance 392
hitherto unheard of, in the relations of the
Black-Feet with the Flat-Heads; 4, the confidence which several have manifested in the
missionaries, on many remarkable occasions;
5, the smoking of the calumet in the plain of
the Great Valley, with a small number of Flat-
Heads whom they might have killed without
difficulty; 6, the amicable visits they have
paid the Flat-Heads by the persuasion of the
hoary chief Nicholas, (baptized,) and the
habitual residence of several of the tribe at the
village of St. Mary's; 7, the plunder of horses
is incomparably more rare than during the preceding years; 8, the four years' cessation of
any serious attack; though, formerly, not a
hunting party passed without a sanguinary
battle with the Flat-Heads. In proof of this,
remember the sixty-five battles of old Paulin.
If we add to all this, the providential and admirable circumstance which occurred during
the chase, and which we purpose relating, surely, it may be permitted to form the brightest
prospects relative to the religious conquest of
this numerous tribe; and I sincerely hope that
an occurrence, which lately took place at St.
Mary's, will contribute much to realize my
desires. OREGON    MISSIONS.
The 2d or 3d February, during the night, the
dogs barked—a pistol-shot was heard—a mournful silence ensues ! A thief, doubtless, had been
wounded. The following morning, marks* of
blood could be traced as far as the river, which
led to the conclusion that the robber had perished in the waves; but, three days since, George
Sapime, whilst duck-shooting, found the suffering being among some bushes, so exhausted by
loss of blood that he could scarcely stand.
George might easily have despatched him on the
spot, according to the savage custom; but he
thought it better to return to the village and
take counsel as to what seemed most expedient
to be done with the hapless desperado. At this
intelligence, numbers of Indians mount their
horses and gallop off, full armed, to the spot indicated. Whilst this was being transacted, the
incident was related to Father Mengarini. Pel-
chimo and Ambrose, two really brave Flat-
Heads, who communicated the intelligence,
thought it base to kill a dying man. The zealous missionary conceived an ardent desire to
secure the salvation of the culprit, by pouring
on his soul the saving waters of regeneration.
Pelchimo, seconding the good design, flies to the
place, and arrives at the very instant when the 394
pistols were cocked to terminate the prisoner's
existence. " Stop !" vociferates the feeling Pel-
chimo. At this word the execution is suspended, and an hour after, the Black-Foot enemy
and robber is tended, in the chieftain's lodge,
with all the kindness that could be lavished on
a noble and much-loved sufferer.
Father Mengarini, after having dressed his
wounds, spoke to him of God, and   his judgments : the sick man answered, that it was the
first time he had heard these great truths.  Such-
a reply, made the father cherish the hope of
saving his soul; and, also, of contributing, by
means  of this man, to the  designs of mercy,
which, it seemed, the Almighty God had towards
this terrible nation.    "Brethren," said he, addressing   the  assembled  chiefs, "during four
years the Black-gowns have been among you,
and each day have they spoken to you of God.
You know well that His divine Son not only
died on the cross for all men, but even pardoned
his enemies, and prayed for his executioners, to
teach us how we should act in the like occasions.
An enemy has   fallen   into your   hands—remember, he has a soul like yours, redeemed by
the blood of Jesus Christ, and destined to sing
eternally the divine mercy of your Saviour!
What shall be done with this man ? Is he to
live, or must he die ? " | Let him live," answered every tongue. Overjoyed to find their hearts
so replete with compassion, the Black-gown was
expressing his satisfaction to the assembled
tribe, when he was told that some obscure
savages, of a different tribe, were not of the same
opinion as the generous chieftains who surrounded him. This information induced the
father to take a different tone; and addressing
the murmurers, he thus spoke: " Brethren! when
we pardon a foe, we imitate the ordinary conduct of God towards men. Who, among you,
has not sinned during his life ? And how often
has God forgiven you ? If, instead of forgetting
your- multiplied offences, the Almighty had
placed your souls in the power of your infernal
enemy, what would now be your fate ? But no ;
God has not treated you thus; he has sent his
ministers among you,—numbered you among
his children, and promised heaven to your
fidelity and compassion for the unfortunate ; and
who knows, if this signal favor may not depend
on the generosity you exercise towards your
enemy ? The blood of Jesus Christ pleads for
mercy in his behalf. Already have your chiefs
pronounced his pardon.    Will you imitate their 396
noble conduct ? Ah I if you refuse, take your
knives and bury them in your enemy's heart!
But, from that instant, call not God your Father;
cease saying to Him:' forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us ;'
for, our Common Father might hear your prayer,
but, it would be for your eternal reprobation."
This brief but energetic appeal caused such
sensation throughout the auditory, that every
one approved the first decision. From that
moment the entire village of St. Mary's, with the
exception of a few malicious.hearts, shared in
the, generous sentiments of the Flat-Head chiefs.
Selpisto, a chieftain of the Pends-d'Oreilles,
happened to be, at this time, at St. Mary's. He
took the Black-Foot under his protection, and
when he recovered from his wounds, loaned him
a horse to return to his country; and he even
redoubled his attention at the moment when
he received the news that one of his sons had
fallen a sacrifice to the Black-Feet. When the
youth was met by his enemies, he was returning
in triumph to St. Mary's, with the horses recently stolen from the village. His bravery had
forced the robbers to return them ; this circumstance rendered his loss a still greater affliction
to his family.   The return of the Black-Foot, so OREGON      MISSIONS.
honorably dismissed, and the relation he gave
the tribe of the mercy exercised towards him,
caused his nation to look upon the Flat-Heads
in a different light. " I am very glad," wrote
Father Mengarini, " that this affair terminated
amicably. I trust that the future will prove,
that the Almighty, after having exercised mercy
towards this unfortunate sinner, has also particular graces in reserve for this perfidious and
benighted nation, which I hope, is destined
to receive the light of the gospel. Should any
fathers be named to this mission, I should be
too happy to be of their number."
To whom are the Black-Feet indebted for a
change so consoling, both to religion and humanity ? Next to Almighty God, we may safely
say, they owe it to the admirable conduct of the
Flat-Heads, especially since the residence of the
missionaries among the tribe. Some remarkable instances of virtue were exhibited during
the hunting season.
On quitting St. Mary's our pious neophytes
added some short invocations to their morning
and evening prayers; 1, to the Heart of Jesus,
as protector of the men's confraternity; 2, to
the blessed Virgin,  patroness  of the women's
modality ; 3, to St. Michael, model of the brave ;
18 4, to St. Raphael, the guide of travellers ; 5, to
St. Hubert, the patron of hunters; 6, to St.
Francis Xavier, for the conversion of idolaters.
We shall see, that these pious aspirations were
not addressed to Heaven in vain.
The eve preceding the anniversary of St.
Francis Xavier's canonization, the missionary
administered baptism to a Black-Foot, whose
example induced many others to solicit the like
favor. The reception of the holy sacraments ofx
penance and eucharist, was very frequent.
There were 430 confessions, (children included).
350 communions, 103 of which took place the
last Sunday. Only one person was left, in the
camp ; he having recently made his first communion, did not renew it during the chase ;
whereas, his companions approached two or
three times, and some, even more frequently.
The pious practice of saying the Angelus, reciting the Rosary, and singing canticles, was
maintained throughout the camp. The chiefs
displayed their zeal for every species of good ;
an unalterable patience was the distinguishing
virtue of all, and this is saying much, if we consider the trials attending the hunting season.
Their resignation to the Divine will, was strongly
manifested.    During twenty-four days they had
I S S I O N S.
been toiling onwards, undergoing much suffering
from a rigorous abstinence, when the news was
spread that a herd of buffaloes had been seen in
the environs. The Indians repaired thither, but
it was to encounter a keen disappointment.
Thus, the poor Flat-Heads found themselves
constrained either to fast or seek food in the
country of the Black-Feet. As their horses
were in a better condition than those of the
other tribes, they resolved to risk the dangerous
expedient. Four days they traversed heights
and floods: the weather was cold and snow lay
on the ground ; no animals were to be seen. At
last, on Wednesday in Ember-week, the missionary warned his little flock that the moment was
propitious for addressing Heaven to implore the
goods of earth; but, he added : " if you wish the
Divine bounty to shed on you His gifts, you
must promise not to abuse them." His words
were attended to with deep emotion, and each
savage, according to the Indian expression,
" Arranged his heart and began to pray." The
next morning, (Thursday), herds of cattle were
seen in the neighborhood; and on Friday and
Saturday so many were killed that their great
number encumbered the lodges.
Already was the  camp on   its   homeward MISSIONS.
march, when, 12th March, the chief, reaching
the top of a mountain which commanded an extensive view of the plain, suddenly stopped—
and aftir gazing fixedly for some time, discovered moving objects at the verge of the horizon.
At first, those around him imagined they §aw
buffaloes ; next, they fancied they could discover
a herd of deer; the final conclusion was, that
an armed party of Black-Feet rapidly approached them. What was to be done ? Victor, the
chief, lost nothing of his usual presence of mind.
He calmly quitted the head of the camp, mounted
his horse, and making the animal perform a few
evolutions, he was instantly surrounded by the
bravest of his band. Isaac proposed prayer.—
Victor exclaimed: " Let us wait until the
Black-Feet show themselves yonder." Saying
these words, he pointed out a second mountain
which concealed us. Never had any position
offered more advantages. The Black-Feet were
climbing the opposite side—they were already
fatigued. Between the mountain and the chain
which crowned the horizon extended an immense plain, without either tree, ravine or river
that could offer them the least rampart. They
were but thirty-seven in number, newly exercised in arms, and on foot.   The Flat-Heads, on OREGON     MISSIONS.
the contrary, were on horseback, numbered fifty,
in the flower of age, all well armed and conducted by chieftains whose shadow would put to
flight more enemies than were now approaching. Besides, Victor was at their head ; he who
had never been conquered, and what is more,
not even wounded, though six different times he
had been encompassed by the Black-Feet. The
marked protection of Heaven had thus manifested itself in his favor !
The enemy, then, could not escape them.
All eyes were strained towards the spot indicated by the chief, expecting the approach of the
foe. Victor judges that there is " periculum in
mora;" he casts a smiling look on the missionary, raises his fire-arms, utters a yell, urges on
his steed, and flies to the combat, followed by
the bravest of the land. Perceiving their approach, the Black-Feet took to flight, casting
away all that embarrassed them; but beholding
themselves hemmed in on all sides, they endeavoured to rally; the Flat-Heads hasten towards
them; Victor's horse having been lately wounded, Fidele, Ambrose, Isaac, Ferdinand, and
Emanuel, passed their chief, and arrived first in
front of the enemy.    Fidele spoke not; but his
warrior name, signifying Thunderbolt, sufficient-
ly declared his courage.    Ambrose announced*
him by that title, which causes the Black-Feet
to turn pale, and  added,  in a terrible voice:
" Fire not!   If you fire you are dead men !"
God spoke by his lips.    Instead of firing, one of
the Black-Feet threw down his gun, whilst several others extended their arms, in a supplicating
attitude.    The brave Ambrose refused not the
pardon his enemies solicited; for true courage
will never bathe itself in the blood of a conquered foe, who appeals for mercy, and whose
conversion has been begged of Heaven.    The
generous warrior willingly extends his hand to
the foe ; and all, imitating his example, show
that clemency has conquered.    At this happy
moment, when such Christian sentiments pervaded every heart, the   Black-gown advanced,
•Ad the conquered foes offered him their hands,
and, spreading a buffalo-skin on the snow, invited him to seat himself, and receive the honors
of the calumet.    Whilst the smoke of peace ascended towards heaven, presents were offered,
and received, on both sides.    The oldest of the
Black-Feet band, seated on the left of the missionary, presented him a pair of Indian moccasins, and, strange to say, they were embroidered, with a blue cross standing out conspicuous-
ly from the surrounding work. The poor idolater ! did he, at that moment, think of the "quam
speciosi pades ? " Most probably not; but, it
is certain, he remarked the pleasure caused by
his present, and felt an assurance, from the
manner in which it was received, that, henceforward, all hearts would be united.
The Flat-Head camp set out on their return.
The thirty-seven Black-Feet followed them.
The thawing of the snow rendered the roads exceedingly bad, and the kind-hearted Flat-Heads,
compassionating the fate of their new friends,
did all they could to help them on their journey.
Before separating, Victor conducted the principal Black-Feet into the missionary's lodge, that
he might witness their parting good friends ;
and, during half an hour, every thing was said
that could strengthen the new-formed friendship
between the tribes. The Black-Feet told us,
that for some time past they had been expecting a Black-gown, and that, when he should
come among them, he would be well received ;
that, henceforth, they and the Flat-Heads would
live like brothers ; " that the prayer of the Flat-
Heads should be theirs." And, although the sun
had set, they assisted at prayers ; after which,
they exchanged some tokens of friendship, and
left, declaring that they were going to persuade
their village to act as they had done.
The 19th March, feast of St. Joseph, seven
days after the pardon so generously granted the
Black-Feet, Heaven bestowed on us the fruit of
our forbearance in the amicable visit of the
grand chief of the " Petite Robe, Itchetles Mel-
akas—or the three crows." All the chiefs
smoked with him under the missionary's tent.
Ambrose explained to him the Catholic Tree ;
Victor invited him to pass the night in his
lodge. Such attention completely gained his
heart; and the next morning the Black-Foot
communicated to the missionary the resolution
he had formed of soliciting the admission of his
twenty-eight lodges among the Flat-Head tribe ;
and that he would repair to the village of St.
Mary's for that purpose, towards the decline of
the present moon.
During the night of the 19th some Black-Feet,
belonging to a distant tribe, stole into the camp
of the Flat-Heads and carried off five horses;
but one of the robbers fell, pierced with balls,
and two strokes of the knife. It would be difficult to describe the horrors of that night! the
savage yells, mingled with the sound of thunder,
and report of musketry. The miserable desperado, by the lightning's glare, could be perceived on the ground, streaming torrents of
blood from his wounds, and his unhappy soul
about to quit the agonizing body, to find in eternity the chastisement due to its crimes. What
else could the minister of God do, in such a circumstance, but pray the Father of Mercy to
perform a miracle of grace in favor of the criminal.
The Flat-Heads have abolished the barbarous
custom of reeking their vengeance on the mutilated body of their enemy. They even carry
their generosity so far, as to give sepulture to
all who die among them. The robber owed his
grave to the bravest of the Flat-Heads, the
chief of a numerous family, and the adopted
father of two children, whom the Black-Feet
have rendered orphans.
The following day offered nothing remarkable, if I except the many proofs of solid virtue
displayed by the camp. To afford them pleasure, the missionary amused himself in his
leisure hours tracing with a pen several historical facts, drawn from their annals, and suited to 406
their tastes ; such as, march of the camp, divers
occupations, labors of the chase, feats of arms,
singular tragic scenes, religious ceremonies, &c,
&c. It would be difficult to relate the pleasure
this little collection gave them; and, what is
still better, it contributed powerfully to raise the
authority of the chieftains in the estimation of
the young men, and to excite in them a noble
emulation in the practice of good; for experience has clearly proved, both in civilized and
uncivilized society, that this quality is not only
a stimulus to noble actions, but a greater preventive of evil, than all chastisements united.
Human ingenuity is useful, but it can do little
towards the salvation of souls, if it be not joined
to fervent prayer. Every missionary should be
convinced of this truth. Our pious neophytes
have experienced the efficacy of frequent recourse to Heaven. Each day they had invoked
the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Holy Heart
of Mary ; and the first Friday and Saturday of
March proved the most successful hunting days.
We had invoked the patron of hunters, and our
chase was relatively fortunate. We had implored the protection of the glorious St. Michael,
and never did our chiefs display greater valor OREGON      MISSIONS.
in the presence of the enemy. We had entreated the Apostle of the Indies to obtain the conversion of the Indians, and one party of Black-
Feet falls under our power, whilst the other
amicably visits us, and departs, exclaiming,
" The prayer of the Flat-Heads, shall be ours."
In fine, we had taken St. Raphael as our guide ;
our journey was long, fatiguing, and perilous,
nevertheless, no serious accident occurred,
though we often fell on the ice and rocks. Not
a hunter in our camp was there who did not remark this manifest protection; and nearly all
testified their gratitude to God by a fervent
On Passion Sunday one hundred and three
approached the holy table. The evening of so
happy a day was crowned by the erection of a
cross, to which they gave the name of Eugene,
because the previous evening a quiver of that
excellent Flat-Head, and a letter written on a
piece of skin, after the Indian fashion, apprised
us that he had been massacred in the neighborhood by a party of Banax. We then remembered, with consolation, that, on Ash Wednesday, a few days before his death, he came to see
us, and during his stay received the holy commu- 408
nion. Thus, all seemed to concur, even this
death, in causing us to bless the Divine Bounty
which ever watches with paternal care, to supply the necessities of his confiding children.
Slat-§cab a\xb Jtenb-if ©mile language.
THE   SIGN   OF   +   THE   CROSS.
Skwest kyle-e-ou, Ouls kezees, Ouls Saint Pagpagt.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
May it be so.
Kyle-e-ou ltchitchemask, askwest kowakshamenshem,
Our Father       of heaven,     may thy name be respected
every where . _     ,
ye-elskyloog.    Entziezie telletzia spoe-oez.    Assintails ye-elstoloog
etzaareel , ,       .,,,-•
on the earth. May thou be master of all hearts.   May thy will be done on
earth as it is . .
ltchitchemask.    K6ogwitzelt yettilgwa lokaitsiapetzinem.
in heaven. Give us this day        all our wants
Kowaeksmeemillem klotaiye kloistskwen etzageel kaitskolgwelem
Forgive us the evil we have done      as we forgive
klotaye kloistskwen klielskyloeg koayalokshilem takaekskwentem
the evil done unto us by others. Grant us thy help to avoid
klotaye kowaeksgweeltem klotaye. Komieetzegail.
evil but deliver us from evil. May it be so.
OUR   FATHER,     1!
Akikliai Stailoe, Akaltes, Saint Kilkiltlui
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
May it be so.
Katitoe naitle naite, akiklinais zedahitskinne wilkane.
Our Father, who art in heaven, may thy name be great and honoured.
Ninshalinne oshemake kapaik akaitlainam.
Be thou the master   of all      hearts, jj
Inshazetluite younoamake yekakaekinaitte
May thy will     be done on earth as it is in heaven. #
Komnakaike logenie niggenawaishne naiosaem miaiteke
Grant us this day all our wants.
Kekepaime nekoetjekoetleaitle ixzeai,
Forgive us all the evil we have done
Iyakiakakaaike iyazeaikinawash kokakipaimenaitle.
u we forgive all the evil done unto Us.
Amatikezawes itchkestshimmekakkowelle akatakzen.
Strengthen us against all evil, and deliver us from ^haeykiakakaaike,
May it be so. OUR   FATHER,
Tnchiachttoobe machpiachta yaeoenshi ha-eninshi
Our Father heaven who art there let it
nahishi nietshalzilzi, Nitanwiadezi, ektyyaegnizi,
be great, thy name,        thy kingdom       come,
yetshoeszizi aittshaiszi lenmachkoetzizi aseettshaiszi machtpiachta
thy will be done       on earth as it is in heaven,
Tnkoem nangaah oezoezandie innimbechain,
give us this day the means of life,
ezieyakink taniozeni etchoengoebezie sinkimhishnitshaa ektaes
look over      our evil      doings as we look over those who do
evil unto us.
Youoechtontjen tanniaesni etchoem goebishniet tchain,
Guide us that we       not fall into evil,
napeen giettshioenn ingninnaege. Eetchees.
and drive off all evil from us. Amen.   I'
Eokosisit mina, ewiotawit mina, emiosit manito, owigowionik.
Him who has a Son, him who has a Father, him who is the beautiful Spirit,
in his name. Pitone Ekeesiikik.
May it be so.
Notanan kitsi kijikok epian pitone mewaitsikatek kiwigowin, pitone
Our Father in^rhe great heaven being seated, may it be honoured thy name,
may it
otitamomakad kitibeitsikewin, ispits enatota kawigan kitsi kisikok,
arrive thy kingdom (reign) like thee being followed in the great heaven,
pitone ekusi iji waskitaskamik.   Anots kakijikak miinanipakweji
may it be the same on earth. Now in this day     give us our
ganiminan mina latwaw kigigake.   Canisi kaiji kasenamawayakik
bread and    in every   day. As we have remitted to those
ka ki matsitota koyankik ekusi iji kasinamawinan eki
who to us have done evil        so likewise remit unto us      what we
matsitotamank.   Pisiskeiminan kitsi eka matsi mamitoueitamank
have done evil.        Be merciful to us that we fall not   into evil,
iekatenamawinan kamayatok. Pitone Ekeesiikik.
keep away from us all what is evil. May it be so. OUR FATHER,
Kikanatzeniekasin ochkoeye tokakisint
Of the Father in his name, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit.
May it be so.
Kinana spoegsts tzittapigpi, kitzinnekazen kagkakomimokzin.
Our Father in heaven who art,   thy name, may it Jae holy.
Nagkitapiwatog neto kinyokizip.
Thy reign may it arrive.
Kitzizigtaen nejakapestoeta tzagkom, nietziewae spoegsts.
Thy will, muy it be done      on earth      as it is in heaven.
Ikogkiowa ennoch matogkwitapi.
All we need, this day unto us grant.
Istapikistomokit nagzikamoot komonetziewae nistowa
Forgive the evil     we nave done as we pardon the wrong we have received,
Nagkezis tapi kestemo6g.
Help us .   against sin.
Spemmook mateakoziep makapi. Kamoemanigtoep.
From all        what is evil      deliver us. May it be so.
-f- TcHiBiATiKONiKEWiN—sign of the Cross.
Olinosowinig Weosimit, ipi Wekwissimit, ipi menojuwepisit
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Ape iw nomikug.
N0 6itl(Ht—our Father.
Nosinan Wakwik ebiyin ape kitchitwa kitchilwa wenitamag
kitinosowin, enakosiyin ape piyak kitewetako tipu wakwig, ape
tepwetakon chote kig.   Ngom ekijikiwog michinag mamitchiyak
ponigetedwichinag kego kachi kichiinakineyi ponigeledwoiket
woye kego kachi kichiimidgin, kinamochinag wapatadiyak.
Chitcbjikwan nenimochinag meyanek waotichkakoyakin.
Ape iw nomikug. HH9"
1 Peak
2 Nizo
3 Nisto
4 Neou
5 Nianen
6 Koutonazek
7 Tepeko
8 Enaneo
Gwaeskoneou 9 Tegametata
10 Mitatat
Stitchewagen *
1 Katcheet
2 Num
Tommakiotketzis Nemezittzi-
3 Yamine
4 Tonza
Back-bone Zintshametchin
5 Zapita
6 Shagape
7 Shayoen
8 Shagnoge
9 Namtchoeank
10 Wi-ink
Stitchekoetkoltloest Nowaaps
HH  »©Wlgm  HH  &TOHOT  AMID  SBfflPISSOffim.
Of which the botanical names follow :
1. Helenium
2. Sabbatia Angularis
3. Spigelia Marylandica
4. Geum Geniculatum
5. Rudbeckia Comentosa
6. Euchroma Coccinea
7. Astet Coccinnus.
8. Ilex Ligustrifolia
9. Convallaria Stellata
10. Chrysanthunum Arcticum
11. Aronia Amifolia
12. Polymnia Uvedelia
13. Frasera Caroliniensis
14. Ophrys, Malaxis
15. Sedum Stenopetalum
16. Prunus Duerinckii
17. Cantua Aggregata
18. Rudbeckia Purpurea
19. Actinomeris Squarrosa
20. Cardamine Bellidifolia
21. Houstonia Longiflora
22. Melanthium Monoicum
23. Liatris Brachystachya
24. Rhexia Mariana
25. Claytonia Spathulata
26. Aquilegia Formosa
27. Campanula Dirarica    Date Due
tsscessBr^saatK'ivmimnuwi »stwj
J 0 m
/r7( (LjiS-A
pl| ^f'
I   Lojifcitude ^8 West   from  726' 6i»eenwicS>


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