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Life, letters and travels of Father Pierre-Jean de Smet, S.J., 1801-1873 : missionary labors and adventures… Smet, Pierre-Jean de, 1801-1873; Chittenden, Hiram Martin, 1858-1917; Richardson, Alfred Talbot 1905

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Array       L
1  Life, Letters and Travels of
Father De Smet among the
North   American   Indians.
—    MR
ather Pierre-Jean De Smet, S. J.
Missionary Labors and Adventures among the Wild Tribes of the
North American Indians, Embracing Minute Description of Their
Manners, Customs, Games, Modes of Warfare and Tortus,
Legends, Tradition, etc., All from Personal Observations
Made during Many   Thousand   Miles   of  Travel,
with Sketches of the Country from St. Louis
to   Puget   Sound    and   the   Altrabasca
fffl!   !
Edited from the original unpublished manuscript Journals
and Letter Books and from   his  Printed Works  with
Historical,, Geographical, Ethnological and other Notes;
Also a Life of Father De Smet
Major, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A.
Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, S. J.
Missionary Labors and Adventures among the Wild Tribes of the
North American Indians, Embracing Minute Description of Their
Manners, Customs, Games, Modes of Warfare and Torture,
Legends, Tradition, etc., All from Personal Observations
Made during Many   Thousand   Miles   of  Travel,
with Sketches of the Country from St. Louis
to    Puget    Sound    and    the    Altrabasca
Edited from the original unpublished manuscript Journals
and Letter Books and from  his  Printed Works  with
Historical, Geographical, Ethnological and other Notes;
Also a Life of Father De Smet
Major, Corps of Engineers, U. S. A.
A Copyright, 1904,
All rights reserved
%F % *o
5 6 3 JL s
immim contents of volume IV.
Miscellaneous Letters Relating to the Indians       .      . 1213-1227
The Flathead and other Missions 1228-1249
Letters from the Resident Missionaries     .... 1250-1261
Tributes to the Flatheads and other Tribes     .      .      . 1262-1278
Plans for a Sioux Mission 1279-1304
Miscellaneous   Missionary   Notes      .       .       .      .      . 1305-1344
Notes on the Western Country I345-I354
The Missouri River 1355-1387
Difficulties in the way of missionary work — Deaths of baptized children — Polygamy and drink — Thanks an informant — The Grattan
Massacre — Indians must be industrious and rely on Providence —
Testimonials to the mountain tribes.
*|T SEE more plainly every day that a good store of virtue
™ is required, and the assistance of many prayers, to overcome the difficulties and obstacles which seem to multiply
with our efforts to advance the greater glory of God. The
demon does not sleep, and seeing that some portion of his
prey is escaping him, " tanquam leo rugiens circuit, quœrens
quern devoret." He employs all his snares and ruses to attach his devotees to their infamous debauches, and to the
grossest superstitions. If a baptized child dies, the medicine men, true ministers of Satan, put the whole village in
uproar to make us the cause of its death. " It is the medicine (the water of baptism) that they poured on his forehead; it is the medal or cross that they have hung around
his neck, and nothing else, that have caused his death."
By such speeches they increase the fears of these poor
Marriage also, which hampers them, and the prevalent
practice of polygamy, form powerful obstacles to their conversion. The Indian is naturally light and inconstant ; consequently to attach himself for life to a woman, and have
but the one, seems to him impossible and insupportable.
I should explain further that marriage is a species of speculation with them; a father who has several daughters is
rich among the Indians, for he can sell them for one, two
1 Extract from a letter  (in French) to the Father-General (in 1839?).
[1213] 1214
or three horses each. Frequently, after they have followed
and relished our instructions for a long time, as soon as we
touch upon this article they go away, like the disciples of
the Lord, saying, " Durus est hic sermo, et quis potest eum
audire? " and we have the grief of seeing persons escape us,
who, in all other respects, were giving us great hopes.
A still greater obstacle, and one which will, I fear, end in
the total ruin of the nation, is drink; which brings in its
train war, famine and pestilence, all together. The country
is overrun by vagabond Americans; and the Government,
which alone could put a stop to this abominable traffic, in
spite of the severity of its laws, pays no attention to the
matter. The Potawatomies, by their treaty with the Government, receive $50,000 per annum ; this payment having
been omitted last year, they received double in 1839. Such
a sum, well placed, would procure for the savages victuals
and goods in abundance, and would render them happy in
regard to temporal things. But alas! all this money goes
for liquor. As long as it lasts they neither work nor hunt :
and they now have enough to keep them going from New
Year's day to the end of December. They quarrel and
fight from morning to night ; their bodies become veritable
furnaces, full of foul humors, which cause them all sorts
of maladies. Their love for liquor is really inconceivable;
one must see it to be able to form any idea of the thing.
It is a regular tarantula to them ; as soon as they are bitten
by it, all their blood flames in their veins, and they are
crazy for more. If they get it, " More, more !" is their
war-cry, until, as the flame consumes them, they fall over,
drunk, like animals. And when the fumes of drink evapo*
rate from their brains, their first and only cry is " Whisky !
whisky! whisky! " as if it was a matter of life and death.
While they are drunk, their passions control them absolutely. At first they are moved to joyous songs, but these
are soon succeeded by yells and roars. Disputes and quarrels follow, and then the knives, lances and tomahawks
come out, and murders finally crown their abominable or-
nm "N.
gies. A great many are dead already, and others are horribly mutilated. The other day I counted nine bitten-of¥
noses in a single group of Indians. In their rage, this
little member is the principal object of their attack; and a
drunken Indian who deprives a comrade of his nose, boasts
of it as much as a brave soldier of having carried off a flag
from the enemy. When they are sober, no one would recognize them; they are mild, civil, quiet and attentive; but
there is no safety in the presence of a drunken savage.
Several times already our lives have been in the greatest
danger; but fortunately by gentle and moderate words we
have managed to appease the rage of these barbarous
drunkards, who were breathing only blood.
Sept. 30, 1852.
Mr. Denig, Fort Union:
My Dear Friend.— At my return home this evening, I
found a card in the parlor with the well-known name of
our good friend Mr. Culbertson, and understood at the same
time that he is to leave on to-morrow for the Upper Missouri.
I cannot let him start without charging him with a few lines
for you. I do not know how to express my gratitude for
your very interesting series of narratives concerning the
aborigines of the Far West. A thousand thanks are due
to your precious and valuable labor and are hereby given,
though language fails to express the feeling which a treasure
like your pages has awakened within my breast. Nothing
could be more gratifying to me than the beautiful and
graphic details which you have given me of the religion,
manners, customs and transactions of an unfortunate race
of human beings, toward the amelioration of whose sad
condition I have in some measure contributed and am still
anxious to contribute whatever I possibly can. Please read
these sublined words to the Crazy Bear, whose speech has
wonderfully pleased me and whose petition, were it to de- I2l6
pend on me, I would most assuredly grant. Explain this
well to him. By the next steamer he shall hear from me,
and I shall send him the words of the big Black-robe (the
Bishop), for I have forwarded a copy of his speech to him.
The lot of the Indian; his severance from the hallowed
influences of Christian civilization; his profound ignorance,
only exceeded by his grosser superstitions; the deep and
often unmerited contempt, into which prejudice has thrown
him; all call upon the humane and philanthropic to do for
him what ordinary charity requires of man.
In telling his tale in unvarnished colors to the unknowing world by delineating his character and by painting the
scenes with which he is habitually surrounded, you, dear
friend, will soften into sympathy the public heart and stimulate it to active exertion for bettering his future situation;
and you will further awaken an interest in the circumstances
and events which surround the posts, plains and wigwams
of the Indians.
Think that your researches can be spent most profitably
to the Indian and most agreeably to me. Show me this
acknowledgment, for your beautiful manuscript tells me
that I may claim a large share in your friendship and remembrance, and for which I feel truly grateful to you. You
are filling up the broken, but important, history of a race of
men whose career, I deem, is well nigh run on this continent, but whose character, deeds and fate will increase in
interest as generations descend the stream of time. We
shall soon look in vain for the survivors of a once fierce
and dreaded people, but shall find them again on the historic page which you and others shall have helped to swell
with faithful accounts of their savage life, rude customs
and untutored manners. I have read the present series
with absorbing attention and growing interest. My imagination has often carried me back to scenes long familiar
to my experience and to others of a general and kindred
nature which your pen has so well portrayed, in your valuable descriptions of their religious opinions, of their great THE GRATTAN MASSACRE.
buffalo hunt, their war expeditions, and in the histories of
old Gauche and of the family of Gros François.
Mr. Culbertson will bring you all the news of the civilized world and a little remembrance from me, consisting
of a couple of good razors and penknife,
Believe me to be, etc.
The Grattan Massacre.
Bardstown, Ky., April 17, 1855.
I have received your good letter of the 4th of October last
in response to mine of September 12th. Thank you for it
most sincerely. I cannot express to you how much good
your letters, going into such details and so full of family
news, do me. I shall keep them most carefully; I find only
one fault with them — their dates are rather too far apart ;
let them be closer together, and I promise you, dear friends,
to make it up to you. I rejoiced at the announcement of
the birth of your first-born and I implore the Lord daily to
keep him for you, for your mutual happiness and the consolation of your dear parents on both sides.
I told you in my last letter that I proposed to return to
the desert in the course of this spring. That was sincerely
my desire and I regret that serious difficulties have come up
which compel me to put off my visits to the savages to more
favorable times and circumstances. For you must know,
that the grand and glorious Republic is going to appear
on the stage of the great Indian desert to give a representation of the lovely fable of La Fontaine (always old and always new) of the Wolf and the Lamb. The moral is,
" The wicked and the strong always find plenty of pretexts
to oppress the innocent and the weak; and when they lack
77 I2l8
good reasons they have recourse to lies and calumnies."
An unpardonable offense, it appears, has been committed
in the eyes of our civilized people by the Indians. They
had repaired, to the number of 2,000, to the appointed
spot at the time fixed by the Government agent to receive
their annuities and presents. They waited several days
for the commissioner to arrive and in the meantime they ran
out of provisions. Then a Mormon wagon-train, on its
way to the Territory of Utah, came peaceably by the Indian
camp. One of the party was dragging after him a lame
cow hardly able to walk. A famished savage, out of pity
for his wife and children, and perhaps, also, from compassion for the suffering animal, killed the cow and offered
the Mormon double value for it in a horse or a mule.
Such an act with such an offer under such circumstances
passes for very honest, very fair and very polite, in a wild
country. Still the Mormon refused the proffered exchange
and went and filed a complaint with the commandant of
Fort Laramie, which is in the neighborhood. Like the wolf
who leaped upon the lamb to devour it, crying : " I know
very well that you all hate me, and you shall pay for the
rest," the illustrious commandant straightway sent out a
young officer with twenty soldiers armed to the teeth and
with a cannon loaded with grapeshot. He was absolutely
determined to capture the so-called robber and make an
example of him. The savages were astonished at the menacing turn that the affair of the cow, so frivolously begun,
had taken; they begged the officer to take one, two, three
horses in exchange, a hundred times the value of the cow,
if necessar)r. They wished at any price to " bury " the affair, as they express it; that is to arrange it peaceably and
quietly, but without giving up to him their brother, innocent
according to their code. The officer was inflexible, refused
all offers; he must absolutely have his prisoner; and when
the latter did not appear, he fired his cannon into the midst
of the savages. The head chief, whom I knew well, the
noblest heart of his nation, fell mortally wounded and a
number of his braves beside him. At this unexpected massacre the Indians sprang to arms; and letting fly hundreds
of arrows from all sides they instantly annihilated the aggressors and provocators. Will you in Europe believe this
tale of a cow? And yet such is the origin of a fresh war
of extermination upon the Indians which is to be carried out
in the course of the present year. An ajmy of 3,000 to
4,000 men is being got ready in Missouri at this moment to penetrate into the desert. A very large number of
whites will lose their lives without a doubt, but in the end
the savages will have to yield, for they are without fire-arms,
without powder and lead and without provisions.2
Since the discovery of America a system of extermination,
of moving the Indians, thrusting them farther back, has
been pursued and practiced by the whites, little by little, at
first— more and more as the European settlers multiplied
and gained strength. At this day this same policy is marching with giant strides; the drama of spoliation has reached
its last act, both east and west of the Rocky Mountains.
The curtain will soon fall upon the poor and unhappy remnants of the Indian tribes, and they will henceforth exist
only in history.   The whites are spreading like torrents over
a This is what is known as the Grattan Massacre, from the name of
the officer in charge of the detachment sent after the thief. There is
no doubt that the Indians were already in bad temper over their general situation before this incident occurred, and that it required but
little provocation to make trouble. But the unfortunate affair could
probably have been prevented if the commanding officer at Fort
Laramie had understood the gravity of his action and had sent an
officer of sound judgment and experience. The conduct of Lieutenant
Grattan showed him to be lacking in both these qualities. The massacre
took place August 19, 1854.
A little over a year later, September 3, 1855, General Harney, who
had been sent out with a military force to punish these Indians, met
them in battle on the north shore of the north fork of the Platte opposite the place known on the Oregon Trail as Ash Hollow. The Indians were completely defeated. General Harney then went overland
to Fort Pierre where he succeeded in bringing about a general pacification of the tribes. I220
all California and the Territories of Washington, Utah and
Oregon; over the States of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa,
Texas, and New Mexico, and latterly over Kansas and
Nebraska, which have just been incorporated into the great
American confederation. At a very recent epoch, within
my own knowledge, all these first-named States and Territories were occupied by Indian nations, and just as fast as the
whites settle and multiply there the natives disappear and
seem to fade away. To-day the very names are hardly
known of hundreds of tribes that have entirely disappeared.
The immense regions that I have just named contain several million square miles of land. The Territories of Kansas
and Nebraska alone are forty times as large as all Belgium.
When I began this letter I had no idea of saying so much
about the savages, which can be of very little interest to you.
I speak, no doubt, from the abundance of my heart — it is
my favorite subject — and most willingly would I consecrate the remnant of my days to their spiritual and temporal happiness. I recommend them most urgently to your
good prayers.
St. Louis University, September 7, 1868.
Dear Colonel:
Your kind and most welcome favor of the 8th ultimo
was received yesterday and has afforded me a great deal of
pleasure and consolation to be remembered by you. Major
Galpin called thrice on me during his stay in St. Louis. He
kept very busy all the time. I occasionally visited his wife
and children at the hotel. They enjoyed good health but
seemed to prefer Fort Rice. The major gave me all the
news from Fort Rice and mentioned you often. I introduced him to General Sherman with whom he had long
conversations. He met General Harney at the Southern
Hotel.   I did not see the major before his departure from*
St. Louis, and was informed by Captain Haney that he
was hurried off to Sioux City, by a telegram from Harney.
I recommended the major in strong terms to both generals. I hope he has found some honorable employment and
in accordance with his wishes. His long experience among
the Indians might make him a very efficient man, and
with the co-operation of his good wife, he might render
great service to the Indians, particularly the hostiles, under
the existing circumstances. It is my candid opinion that
he may be very favorably employed and to very good purpose, by the commissioners and the commanding officers
at the various upper posts on the Missouri.
The news you give me from my adopted brother Two
Bears, truly affects me and I am sorry to hear of the distress and sufferings of his people. The advice you have
given him is the only true one. His actual trials should
not make him despond and omit his prayers. He should
rather redouble in fervor and pray oftener, doing all the
good he can among his own people, to keep them in the
straight path. Trials received with patience and resignation will render us more pleasing in the sight of the Great
Spirit and more worthy of receiving his favors and assistance, whereas murmurs make things often worse than
before. As you so well advised him, he should continue
to pray, be industrious in hunting, fishing and digging
roots. He must, meanwhile, rely on the kind providence
of the Lord, on whom our dependence must rest altogether.
I join him daily in my poor supplications to God.
What I have foreseen for several years past is now approaching. The buffalo are fast disappearing from the
country and their time is well-nigh spent. Their want is
already severely felt. Under these trying circumstances,
the Great Spirit has moved the heart of their Great Father,
the President, to lend his red children a fatherly hand in
their actual sufferings. They must avail themselves earn-
nestly of the opportunity he offers and follow the advice
given them by the commissioners.   They must set to work 1222
in due season in the cultivation of the soil and the raising
of domestic cattle and animals. Under the providence of
God, it is to be hoped that their labors will prove successful
in time, and before long their children may live in comparative abundance, by the labor of their own hands. Our great
maxim in all things must be : "To do what we can, to ask
God's blessing in what we cannot, and if we are deserving,
the Lord will help us in our need." He commands us to
" ask " and promises " we shall receive." All this, of
course, is intended for my friend Two Bears. I hope Frank
will make him understand it well. He may add that the
actual want the Lord permits may be a warning to his
red children to make strong exertions and efforts to succeed in the new life they are about entering. I place great
confidence in my brother and friend Two Bears. He will
tell his people, particularly the chiefs and orators, not to
despond, to have courage and hope in the future. Industry
and perseverance must crown their efforts. I remain truly
attached to my red children of the. upper country. The
summer has been very severe and long. I have suffered
much, and though it is much cooler at present, I still continue to feel the effects of the previous heat. Should my
health permit, I intend to return to the upper country in
the course of next spring. I have received some encouragement for the erection of a mission among the Sioux and
I sincerely hope that it may be realized.
From the news I read yesterday, in the Missouri Republic, the Sioux on the waters of the Platte and its tributaries have refused to join the Cheyennes and Arapahos
in the new depredations and murders. I have been assured,
on good authority, that reckless endeavors are made in the
new western settlements to continue the war with the Indians. " It brings them money in abundance, and they are
determined to have it !"
A letter from you, dear Colonel, will be always most
welcome. Please present my best respects to the officers
of Fort Rice.
St. Louis University, May, 1870.
Honorable Sir?
I received your favor of the 27th ultimo. Permit me
to express to you my sincere thanks for the kind sentiments you entertain in my regard and which I shall ever
gratefully remember. You reiterate to me the invitation,
in the name of the I Honorable Committee of the United
States Indian Commission " to assist at your meetings in
New York on the 18th instant. Even apart from the
great honor you are pleased to confer on me, nothing could
be more pleasing to my personal feelings than to be admitted in the presence and at the deliberations of the most
highly esteemed gentlemen of the country to whom the
administration has confided in its wisdom the important
Indian question as to the future welfare of the remaining
Indian tribes. I stated in my previous letter that my health
is rather declining, and must add that my hearing, particularly, is failing fast and makes my presence in meetings rather unpleasant. Besides, the invitations I have
received from the Upper Sioux Indians and the promises
I have made to them, if in my power to comply with their
requests, make me humbly decline your very kind and honorable invitation, for which please receive again my sincere and heartfelt thanks.
You do me the honor to ask me some account as to my
personal experience among the Indians and my conviction
as to their capacity for civilization and receiving religious
instruction, etc. Though pressed for time, I take great
pleasure in reviewing some of my early experience among
the Indian tribes, accompanied with a few simple illustrative occurrences, showing the Indian character in its primitive nature where it had remained uncontaminated by the
contact of vicious whites.
You allude in your letter to the anecdote I related to the
honorable commissioners at Fort Leavenworth (1868) to
8 Letter to Hon. S. F. Tappan. 1224
wit : to the chapel trunk I had left among the Rocky Mountain tribes at my departure from them, as an assurance of
my promise to return to the mountains. For nearly a year
they had carried it with the greatest care in all their expeditions and returned it to me intact and in the best state
of preservation. I may here add a short statement of what
occasioned my visit to these Indians. The Rocky Mountain tribes, Flatheads, Kalispels, Cœur d'Alênes, Kootenais
and others had heard of the Savior and of his holy laws
to mankind, by means of a few Christian Iroquois from
Canada who had come to the mountains as engagés of the
Hudson Bay Company, and who had finally settled among
the above tribes. They had aroused the minds of the
mountain Indians with a religious feeling to which they had
been hitherto strangers, and in a council they resolved to
send a deputation to St. Louis of some of their wisest men,
to obtain Black-robes (priests) from the Bishop. I always
looked upon it as a particular favor to have been appointed
to accompany this deputation and with pleasure I can bear
witness, that during the long and tedious traveling at that
time (1840) their conduct toward me .was one continued
act of kindness and of attention.
After some two or three months' travel to the appointed
rendezvous in the plains of the Green river, we met great
numbers of the above-mentioned tribes who had come hundreds of miles from their habitual hunting grounds to meet
us and welcome us to their country. Their kindness, attention and zeal exceeded my expectations. From the very
start of my missionary operations they listened with the
utmost anxiety and earnestness to the holy word of God
and put in practice immediately what they were made to
understand. In this first visit I remained with the Indians
about three months. They daily attended at the morning
and evening prayers and instructions, which holy practice,
as I learn, has never been discontinued among them. They
keep the Lord's day in the highest veneration. As soon as
it became practicable they abandoned polygamy and with-N
out the least ill will or trouble. I always remarked great
love and attachment of the parents toward their children,
great regard for each other, for quarrels were of the rarest
occurrence and no stranger could come amongst them without meeting with a kind reception and finding hospitality.
They were strictly honest toward one another and likewise
toward strangers. Even any object found was carefully
remitted to the chief, who proclaimed it aloud at the camping place to return it to the owner. My mission-house was
of necessity often left alone, but nothing was ever missed.
My friends, the Kootenais, had a trading post on their
lands provided with goods for their use. The trader (Mr.
Berton) was sometimes absent for weeks or months. The
Indians went in and served themselves according to their
wants; replaced in furs and skins for the goods taken out;
and upon the testimony of the trader (I use his words),
" his confidence in their honesty was never abused." Their
moral conduct was admirable and commendable. Every attempt at seduction, either by young men or by adults, was
punished with a severe flogging. During my several years'
intercourse and experience with these mountain Indians, I
never heard of an adulterer.
I had an adopted Indian brother, named Moses, sur-
named The Brave of the Braves. His exemplary conduct
took pace with his renowned bravery and he was generally
looked up to and esteemed. I was with him when he called
upon the chief who had just performed his duty after his
morning prayer and as justice of peace in flogging a guilty
young Nez Percé, who had recently arrived amongst them
and was ignorant of their laws and customs. Moses took
off his buffalo robe, exposed his bare back, shook hands with
the judge, and stipulated, himself, to receive twenty-five
well-laid-down lashes. I here interposed and inquired into
the motive and cause of his action. He answered me with
a smile, equally admirable for his simplicity and sincerity:
" Father, the Nez Percé here present was whipped because
he talked foolishly to a girl.    My thoughts are sometimes I22Ô     BROTHER  MOSES DISCIPLINES HIS THOUGHTS.
bewildering and vexing and I have prayed to drive them
from my mind and heart." I consoled him with a few
words of advice and encouraged him to persevere manfully
in the service of the Great Spirit, who would have pity on
him and help him in his tribulations,  and he was not
flogged. j
As to agriculture and other manual-labor work, it was
easily introduced amongst them and they set joyfully to
work as far as the few plows and other instruments we
had would allow them. Each family had its field of weed
[wheat?] and its garden of vegetables. Each mission was
provided with a mill and carpenter and blacksmith shops.
I might here adduce many more characteristic traits of
the mountain Indians. I shall rejoice if I have not exceeded the limit of my letter and if, in any way, I have
come up to your intention and expectation in these somewhat hurriedly written pages. Please accept my good will
in what I have the honor to address to you, with my best
wishes and prayers in the deliberations you are about to
assume for the welfare of the Indian tribes.
Permit me to add the following testimonies, confirming
what I have said of the religious dispositions of the mountain Indians. In the Explorations and Surveys (of Governor Stevens) for a Railroad from the Mississippi River
to the Pacific Ocean, Vol. I, page 308, Captain John Mullan,
of said expedition, writes, September 14, 1853 : | When the:
guide and myself had reached their camp (Flathead) three
or four men met us at the entrance and invited us to enter
the lodge of their chief. They very kindly took care of
our horses, unsaddling and watering them. As soon as the
camp had heard of the arrival of a white man among them,
the principal men of the tribe congregated in the lodge of
the chief. When they had all assembled, by a signal from
their chief they offered up a prayer. This astonished me,
it was something for which I had not been prepared.
Every one was upon his knees, and in the most solemn and
reverential manner offered up a prayer to God.    For a
moment I asked myself, was I among Indians? Was I
among those termed by every one savages? I could
scarcely realize it. To think that these men should be thus
imbued, and so deeply too, with the principles of religion,
was to me overwhelming."
From the late (1869) Report of the Commissioners of
Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior I take an
extract from McConley's letter, U. S. Indian Agent, page
254, speaking of the Flatheads and Pend d'Oreilles, says :
" These people possess strong religious feelings as the well-
filled and commodious church of the Reverend Fathers of
St. Ignatius' Mission on every Sabbath testifies. The missionary labors of the Reverend Fathers have not been in
vain, for many of them are exemplary Christians. I may
here remark that the labors of the Reverend Fathers have
been very arduous and difficult. Poor and unaided, they
have established their mission, built their church and school,
and maintained themselves solely by their own exertion.
Not only this, but they have been, at the same time, priest,
physician and benefactor to these tribes. * * * Still
more, in conjunction with the noble Sisters of Charity they
educate, clothe and feed the orphans of these tribes without fee or reward. * * * Without their aid and influence, the wrongs inflicted upon these people would long
since have driven them to war."
I give the above extract of McConley to draw your attention to these missions and take the liberty of recommending them to you, should the opportunity present itself.
I have visited and traveled among most of the Indian
tribes of the upper Missouri river and its tributaries and
plains, during the space of about thirty years. I am happy
to be able to bear testimony that I have been on all occasions
kindly received and entertained by them and have ever
found them attentive to religious instruction. It is my
candid opinion that much good might have been, and can
still be, effected among the Indians, if they are properly
and justly dealt with by the whites. PART VUL
(When npt otherwise noted, the letters in this part are here published for the first time.)
The Kalispel church — Virtues of Standing Grizzly — Victor and
Insula — Beginning of present St. Ignatius Mission — American and
European savages — Indian uprising feared — Object to parting with
their lands — The little news of a remote mission.
To the Editor of the Précis Historiques, Brussels:
University of St. Louis, April, 1856.
Reverend and Dear Father:
♦IT INCLOSE you a letter of Reverend Adrian Hoeken,
■■ brother of Christian, whose death you announced in
your volume of 1853, PaSe 394-
Father Adrian Hoeken was one of my earliest traveling
companions in the missionary journeys to the Flatheads.
He has ever labored, and still continues to labor here, with
the greatest zeal and the most plentiful results.
I have this month dispatched a perfect cargo to him, by
a steamer which was about to ascend the Missouri. It consisted of tools, clothes and provisions of all kinds. The boat
will go 2,200 miles; then the goods will be transported by
a barge, which will have to stem the rapid current about 600
miles; there will then remain 300 miles by land with
wagons, through mountain defiles; so that the objects
shipped in April can arrive among the Flatheads only in the
month of October.
1 From Western Missions and Missionaries, p. 295.
We hope that other evangelical laborers wall soon go to
assist Father Hoeken. The savages request missionaries.
We shall perceive that this mission and that of the Pend
d'Oreilles continue to flourish.
" Flathead   Camp   in   the   Blackfeet   Country,   Oct.   18,
'   l855-       |
Reverend and Dear Father:
" You will thank Grod with me for the consoling increase
he has given, through the intercession of Mary, to the missions which you began in those remote parts. During the
many years that I have passed among the Kalispels, though
my labors have not been light and my trials have been numerous enough, God has given me in abundance the consolations of the missionary, in the lively faith and sincere piety
of our neophytes. We have found means to build a beautiful church, which has excited the admiration of even Lieutenant Mullan, of the United States army. This church is
sufficiently large to contain the whole tribe, and on Sundays
and festival days, when our Indians have adorned it with
what ornaments of green boughs and wild flowers the woods
and prairies supply ; when they sing in it their devout hymns
with fervor during the holy sacrifice, it might serve as a subject of edification and an example to quicken the zeal of
many an old Christian congregation. There is among our
converts a universal and very tender devotion to the Blessed
Virgin, a most evident mark that the faith has taken deep
root in their souls. Every day, morning and evening, the
families assemble in their lodges to recite the rosary in common, and daily they beg of Mary to thank God for them for
having called them from the wild life of the forest, spent
as it is in ignorance, rapine and bloodshed, to the blessings
of the true religion and its immortal hopes.
" The Kalispels have sustained a great loss in the death of
their pious chief, Loyola, with whose euphonious Indian
name, Etsowish-simmègee-itshin, " Standing Grizzly," you 1230
are familiar. Ever since you baptized this excellent Indian
chieftain, he was always steadfast in the faith. He daily
made progress in virtue and became more fervent in the
practices of our holy religion. He was a father to his people, firm in repressing their disorders and zealous in exhorting them to be faithful to the lessons of the missionaries.
In the severe trials to which divine Providence subjected
his virtue in his latter years, when within a short space of
time he lost his wife and three of his children, he bore the
heavy stroke with the edifying resignation of a Christian.
During his last illness, of several weeks' duration, he seemed
more anxious to do something still for the promotion of
piety among his people, than to have his own great sufferings alleviated. His death, which occurred on the 6th of
April, 1854, was lamented by the Indians with such tokens
of sincere grief as I have never before witnessed. There
was not that false wailing over his tomb which Indian usage
is said to prescribe for a departed chieftain ; they wept over
him with heartfelt and heartrending grief, as if each one
had lost the best of fathers, and their grief for the good
Loyola has not died away even at this day. Never had I
thought our Indians capable of so much affection.
" As Loyola, contrary to Indian customs, had not designated his successor, a new chief was to be chosen after his
death. The election, to which all had prepared themselves
by prayer, to lead them to a proper choice, ended in an almost unanimous voice for Victor, a brave hunter, whom you
as yet must remember as a man remarkable for the generosity of his disposition. His inauguration took place amid
great rejoicing. All the warriors, in their finest costumes,
marched to his wigwam, and ranging themselves around it,
discharged their muskets, after which each one went up to
him to pledge his allegiance and testify his affection by a
hearty shaking of hands. During the whole day, numerous
parties came to the mission-house to tell the Fathers how
much satisfaction they felt at having a chief whose goodness had long since won the hearts of all.    Victor alone CHARACTER OF MICHAEL INSULA.
seemed sad. He dreaded the responsibility of the chieftainship, and thought he should be unable to maintain the good
effected in the tribe by the excellent chief Loyola.
" In the following winter, when there was a great scarcity, and almost a famine among the Kalispels, Victor gave
an affecting proof of his generous self-denying charity. He
distributed his own provisions through the camp, hardly
reserving for himself enough to sustain life, so that on his
return from the annual chase, when yet at a considerable
distance from the village, he fell exhausted on the ground,
and had to be carried by his companions, to whom on that
very day he had given all the food that had been sent up
to him for his own use.
" The Indian is often described as a being devoid of kind
feelings, incapable of gratitude, and breathing only savage
hatred and murderous revenge; but in reality he has, in
his untamed, uncultured nature, as many generous impulses
as the man of any other race, and he only needs the softening influence of our holy religion to bring it out in its most
touching forms. We need no other proof of it than the
grateful remembrance of all the Indians of their late chief
Loyola, the generous character of Victor, and the affectionate feelings of all our converted tribes for their missionaries,
and especially for you, to whom they look up as to their
great benefactor, because you were the first to bring them
the good tidings of salvation.
" Among our dear Flatheads, Michael Insula, or Red
Feather, or as he is commonly called on account of his small
stature, ' The Little Chief,' is a remarkable instance of the
power which the Church has of developing the most amiable
virtues in the fierce Indian. He unites in his person the
greatest bravery with the tenderest piety and gentlest
manners. Known amid his warriors by the red feather
which he wears, his approach is enough to put to flight the
prowling bands of Crows and Blackfeet, that have frequently infested the Flathead territory. He is well known
and much beloved by the whites, who have had occasion to il
deal With him, as a man of sound judgment, strict integrity,
and one on whose fidelity they can implicitly rely. A keen
discerner of the characters of men, he loves to speak especially of those whites, distinguished for their fine qualities,
that have visited him, and often mentions with pleasure the
sojourn among them of Colonel Robert Campbell, of St.
Louis, and of Major Fitzpatrick, whom he adopted, in accordance with Indian ideas of courtesy, as his brothers. He
has preserved all his first fervor of devotion, and now, as
when you knew him, one can hardly ever enter his wigwam
in the morning or evening without finding him with his
rosary in his hands, absorbed in prayer. He cherishes a most
affectionate remembrance of you and of the day he was baptized; he longs ardently to see you once more before his
death, and but yesterday he asked me, when and by what
road you would return. In speaking thus he expressed the
desire of all our Indians, who all equally regret your long
" It was proposed, during the summer of 1854, to begin
a new mission2 about 190 miles northeast of the Kalispels,
not far from the Flathead lake, about fifty miles from the old
mission of St. Mary's, among the Flatheads, where a convenient site had been pointed out to us by the Kalispel chief,
Alexander, your old friend, who often accompanied you in
your travels in the Rocky Mountains. Having set out from
the Kalispel Mission on the 28th of August, 1854, I arrived
at the place designated on the 24th of September, and found
it such as it had been represented — a beautiful region, evidently fertile, uniting a useful as well as pleasing variety of
woodland and prairie, lake and river — the whole crowned
in the distance by the white summit of the mountains, and
sufficiently rich withal in fish and game. I shall never forget the emotions of hope and fear that filled my heart,
when for the first time I celebrated mass in this lonely
spot, in the open air, in the presence of a numerous
band  of  Kalispels,  who  looked  up  to  me,  under  God,
3 The present St Ignatius, Montana.
i. ^
for their temporal and spiritual welfare in this new
home. The place was utterly uninhabited — several bands
of Indians live within a few days' travel, whom you
formerly visited, and where you baptized many, while others
still remain pagan. I was in hope of gathering these around
me, and God has been pleased to bless an undertaking begun
for his glory, even beyond my expectation. In a few weeks
we had erected several frame buildings, a chapel, two
houses, carpenter's and blacksmith's shops; wigwams had
sprung up at the same time all around in considerable numbers, and morning and evening you might still have heard
the sound of the axe and the hammer, and have seen newcomers rudely putting together lodges.
"About Easter of this year, over 1,000 Indians of
different tribes, from the Upper Kootenais and Flat-Bow
Indians, Pend d'Oreilles, Flatheads, and Mountain Kalispels, who had arrived in succession during the winter, when
they heard of the arrival of the long-desired Black-gown,
made this place their permanent residence. All these Indians have manifested the best dispositions. Besides a
large number of children baptized in the course of the year,
I have had the happiness to baptize, before Christmas and
Easter, upwards of 150 adults of the Kootenai tribe, men
of great docility and artlessness of character, who told me
that ever since you had been among them, some years ago,
they had abandoned the practice of gambling and other vices,
and cherished the hope of being instructed one day in the
religion of the Great Spirit.
" By the beginning of spring, our good Brother McGean
had cut some 18,000 rails; and placed under cultivation a large field, which promises to yield a very plentiful harvest. Lieutenant Mullan, who spent the winter
among the Flatheads of St. Mary's, has procured me much
valuable aid in founding this mission, and has all along
taken a lively interest in its prosperity. I know not how to
acquit the debt of gratitude I owe this most excellent officer,
and I can only pray, poor missionary as I am, that the Lord
78 1234
may repay his generosity and kindness a hundredfold in
blessings of time and eternity. We are still in want of a
great many useful and important articles — indeed, of an
absolute necessity in the establishing of this new mission.
I am confident, many friends of the poor Indians may be
found in the United States, who will most willingly contribute their mite in such a charitable undertaking — we will
be most grateful to them, and our good neophytes, in whose
behalf I make the appeal, will not cease to pray for their
kind benefactors.
" Please make arrangements with the American Fur
Company to have goods brought up by the Missouri river to
Fort Benton, whence I could get them conveyed in wagons
across the mountains to the missionary station.
"The Right Reverend Magloire Blanchet, Bishop of Nis-
qually, who in his first visit to the Mission of St. Ignatius
near Lake De Boey, confirmed over 600 Indians, although he
arrived unexpectedly, when a great many families had gone
to their hunting grounds, among the Kalispels and our
neighboring missions, intended to give confirmation here
this summer. I was very desirous of the arrival of this
pious prelate, who has done so much good, by his fervent
exhortations, to strengthen our neophytes in the faith. It
had already been agreed upon that a party of Indians should
gfo  to  meet   him  as   far  as  the  village   of  the   Sacred
Heart, among the Cœur d'Alênes, about 200 miles from
t ^>
St. Ignatius' Mission, when our plans were broken up by a
message from Governor Stevens, summoning all our Indians to a council to be held some thirty miles off, in St.
Mary's or Bitter Root valley, at a place called Hellgate,
whence a number of chiefs and warriors were to accompany
him to a Grand Council of Peace among the Blackfeet. I
was absent on a visit to our brethren among the Cœur
d'Alênes, the Skoyelpis. and other tribes, when I received
an invitation from the Governor to be present at the councils.   I had found, in my visit, all our missions rich in good
mt Q
works and conversions, though very poor in the goods of m*  m
this world — all the Fathers and Brothers were in the enjoyment of excellent health. Father Joset, among the Skoyel-
pis, at the Kettle Falls of the Columbia, had baptized a
large number of adults and children. During the late prevalence of the smallpox, there were hardly any deaths from it
among the neophytes, as most of them had been previously
vaccinated by us, while the Spokans and other unconverted
Indians, who said the * medicine (vaccine) of the Fathers
was a poison, used only to kill them,' were swept away by
hundreds. This contrast, of course, had the effect of increasing the influence of the missionaries.
" With mingled feelings of joy at all the good effected,
and of sorrow at the miserable death of so many of God's
creatures — thankful to God for all his blessings, and submissive to the mysterious judgments of his Providence, I
set out, accompanied by my neophytes, for the Blackfeet
territory. The grand council took place in the vicinity of
Fort Benton. Our Indians, who were in great expectation
of seeing you with Majors Cummings and Culbertson, were
indeed much disappointed at not finding you. The Blackfeet, although they are still much given to thieving and
have committed more depredations than ever, during the
last spring, are very anxious to see you again, and to have
missionaries among them. Governor Stevens, who has always shown himself a real father and well affected toward
our Indians, has expressed a determination to do all in his
power to forward the success of the missions. The establishment of a mission among the Blackfeet would be the
best, and indeed the only means to make them observe the
treaty of peace which has just been concluded. Until missionaries are sent, I intend, from time to time, to visit the
Blackfeet, so as to do for them what good I may, and prepare the way for the conversion of the whole tribe. I hope
a new mission may soon be realized, for it is absolutely
necessary, both for their own sake and for the peace of our
converted Indians on the western side of the Rocky
Mountains. 1236
" From all I have seen, and from all I have learned during this last trip, I may say that the Crows and all the
tribes on the upper waters of the Missouri, as well as the
various bands of Blackfeet, where so many children have
already been regenerated in the holy waters of baptism, by
you and by Father Point, are anxious to have the Black-
robes permanently among them, and to learn ' the prayer of
the Great Spirit.' The field seems ripe for the harvest.
Let us pray that God may soon send zealous laborers to this
far-distant and abandoned region.
" The Kalispel chief Alexander, Michael Insula and the
other Flathead chieftains, the leaders of the Kootenai and
Flat-Bow bands, and all our neophytes, beg to be remembered in your good prayers — they, on their part, never forget to pray for you.   Please remember me.
" Your devoted brother in Christ,
The following extract from a letter of Reverend T. Congiato, superior of the Missions of the Society of Jesus in
California and Oregon, written since the commencement of
Indian hostilities, and dated Santa Clara, 29th of last November, will perhaps prove not uninteresting to those who
take an interest in the success of our Catholic mission. Reverend T. Congiato writes :
" On my return from our missions among the Rocky
Mountains, which it took me three months to visit, I found
here a letter of yours full of edifying news, for which I am
very thankful. Our college here is progressing. The number of members of our Society is on the increase, and
reaches nearly forty. All over California, our holy religion
is making great progress, and priests and churches are multiplying. In the Oregon missions our Fathers are doing
much good. At the mountains Father Adrian Hoeken, a
worthy brother of Father Christian Hoeken, the apostle
LL y
and zealous missionary among the Potawatomies, who died
in 1851, while on his way to the Upper Missouri tribes, has
succeeded in bringing three nations and a part of the Flat-
heads to live under his spiritual guidance. Everything
seemed to be going on well when I left Oregon, but now
the country appears on fire. All the Indians living on the
banks of the Columbia, from Walla Walla down to the
Dalles Mountains, together with the Indians of North California, are in arms against the whites, and commit great
depredations. One of the Father Oblates, Father Pandory,
has been killed. Please pray, and make others pray for our
brethren in Oregon. The last accounts I received from St.
Paul's Mission, at Colville, stated that our Indians disapproved highly of the depredations committed by the other
Indians, and showed no disposition whatever to join them."
It may, indeed, be confidently anticipated that the Indians
of the Catholic missions of the mountains, who have always
shown great kindness to the whites, and have always lived
in peace with them, will continue to listen to the good counsel and advice of the missionaries, and will abstain from any
act of hostility. Moreover, they are removed from the seat
of war, and have seldom had any intercourse with the
hostile tribes.
Most Respectfully, etc.
University of St. Louis, August 4, 1857.*
Reverend and Dear Father:
You will find inclosed in this letter a recent letter from
Reverend Adrian Hoeken, S. J. I hope that it will merit a
place in your Précis Historiques. In Holland I am sure
it will afford pleasure.
3 To the editor of the Précis Historiques, Brussels.   From Western
Missions and Missionaries, p. 306. 1238
The expression of the sentiments of the poor Indians in
my regard fill me with confusion, and I would not have
sent the letter entire, but that you insisted on my sending
each piece entire. For the rest, we must never forget that
these wretched Indians, deprived of everything, and neglected by other men, experience an excessive joy for the least
benefit, and feel grateful to any one who treats them with a
little attention. A great lesson for our fellow countrymen.
Among those whom infidel and revolutionary writers in
Belgium style savages and barbarians, you could not find
one enough so to figure in the bands of Jemappes, or even
in the rioters of Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Mons. Here
the Black-gown is respected, loved. The Indians perceive
in him the emblem of the happiness that the missionary
brings him in presenting him the torch of faith.
Letter of Reverend Father Adrian Hoeken.
Mission of the Flatheads, April 15, 1857.
^Reverend and Beloved Father:
Before entering into a few details, I beg you to excuse
the want of order in this letter. Much time has elapsed
since I had the pleasure of receiving news from you, who
have so many titles to my love and gratitude, and whose
name is frequently on the lips, and always in the hearts, of
each of the inhabitants of this remote region. Your letter of
the 27th and 28th of March reached us toward the end of
August; it was read, or rather devoured, with avidity, so
dear was it to our hearts. It was remitted to us by our chief,
Alexander, who accompanied Mr. R. H. Lansdale to the
Cœur d'Alênes. Scarcely had we cast a glance at the address and recognized your handwriting, than, not being able
to contain our joy, all with one consent cried out : " Father
De Smet !    Father De Smet !"    You cannot imagine the DE SMET REMEMBERED BY THE INDIANS.
delight your letters afford us and our dear Indians. God be
praised ! Your name will be ever held in benediction among
these poor children of the Rocky Mountains. Ah! how
often they ask me these questions : " When, oh when ! will
Father De Smet come to us ? Will he ever again ascend the
Missouri ? Is it true that he will not come to Fort Benton
this fall ? " These, and many other similar questions, show
how dear to them is the remembrance of their father in
Christ ; of him who first broke to them the bread of eternal
life, and showed them the true way to happiness on earth
and bliss hereafter. It is not strange, then, that your letters
should have been read several times, and that every time
they gave us new pleasure and excited new interest.
I can never cease admiring Divine Providence, which presides over all, and which in particular takes care of our
beloved missions. Among the unnumbered proofs of its
continual protection, your assistance in our late distress, and
the liberality of our benefactors, are not less remarkable nor
less worthy of our gratitude. Our storehouses were empty,
and the war between the Indians nearest the seaboard took
away all hope of procuring other resources. Never, never
was charity more appropriate nor received with greater joy.
May heaven prolong your days and those of our benefactors! May you continue to foster the same interest toward us that, until the present moment, you have never
ceased to testify ! Yes, beloved father, let the recollection of
our missions be ever equally dear to you. They are the
fruit of your own heroic zeal, fatigues and labors. Ah!
never forget our dear Indians; they are your children in
Christ, the offspring of your boundless charity and your
unwearied zeal !
During the months of June, July and August, disease
raged cruelly in our camp, as well as in that of the Flatheads.
However, there were few victims of its terrible attacks.
Father Ménétrey, my colaborer, visited the Flatheads,
where he had been asked for by the chief, Fidelis Teltella
( Thunder), whose son was dangerously ill.   Later, I visited 1240
them myself in their camas prairies. A second time, in the
opening of the month of June, I remained some days with
them, at Hellgate, and I distributed medicines to all those
who had been seized with the epidemic, and a little wheat
flour to each family. Victor, the great chief, Ambrose,
Moses, Fidelis, Adolphus, and several others, came here of
their own accord, to fulfill their religious duties. Since last
: spring there has been a notable amelioration in the whole
nation. Ambrose has effected the most good. He had convened several assemblies, in order to arrange and pay off
old debts, to repair wrongs, etc. The Indians appear, however, very reluctant to part with their lands; they will
scarcely hear of the dispositions to be taken.
Father Ravalli labored as much as he could to pacify the
tribes which reside toward the west, namely: the Cayuses,
the Yakimas, the Palooses, etc. As our neophytes hitherto
have taken no part in the war, the country is as safe for us
as ever. We can go freely wheresoever we desire. No one
is ignorant that the Black-gowns are not enemies; those,
at least, who are among the Indians. Almost all the Cœur
d'Alênes, in order to shield themselves from the hostilities
of the Indians, and to avoid all relations with them, are gone
bison hunting. A few days since, Father Joset wrote me
that Father Ravalli had already written to him several
weeks before : " I fear a general rising among the Indians,
toward the commencement of spring. Let us pray, and let
us engage others to pray with us, in order to avert this
calamity. I think that it would be well to add to the ordinary prayers of the mass, the collect for peace."
If the less well-intentioned Indians from the lower lands
would keep within their own territory, and if the whites, the
number of whom is daily augmenting in St. Mary's valley,
could act with moderation, and conduct themselves prudently, I am convinced that soon the whole country would
be at peace, and that not a single Indian would henceforward imbrue his hands in the blood of a white stranger.
Were I authorized to suggest a plan, I would propose to SUCCESSFUL AGRICULTURE.
have all the upper lands evacuated by the whites, and form
of it a territory exclusively of Indians ; afterward I would
lead there all the Indians of the inferior portion, such as the
Nez Percés, the Cayuses, the Yakimas, the Cœur d'Alênes
and the Spokans. Well-known facts lead me to believe that
this plan, with such superior advantages, might be effected,
by means of missions, in the space of two or three years.
Our Indians here are doing well. Last spring we sowed
about fifty bushels of wheat, and planted a quantity of potatoes, cabbages and turnips. God has graciously blessed
our labors and our fields. Here all generally like agriculture. We give the seeds gratis to everybody. Our plows
and our tools are also free to be used by them. We even
lend our horses and oxen to the poorest among the Indians,
and we grind all their grain gratuitously. But our mill,
which goes by horse-power, is very small, and we are not
able to build another.
Mr. R. H. Lansdale, agent of the Government, a very just
and upright man, has assumed his functions at the Plum-
trees, a place situated quite near the place where we cross
the river, a few miles from this. We gave him all the
assistance of which we were capable. I had indulged the
hope that- the Government would come to our aid, at least
for the building of a small church; but so far my expectations have been frustrated. Alas! are we never to cease
deploring the loss of our little church among the Kalispels ?
Several of these latter named, and among others, Victor, on
seeing the chapel, formerly so dear to them, but now forsaken and neglected, shed tears of regret.
When, oh when! shall the oppressed Indian find a poor
corner of earth on which he may lead a peaceful life, serving and loving his God in tranquillity, and preserving the
ashes of his ancestors without fear of beholding them profaned and trampled beneath the feet of an unjust usurper?
Several among the Kalispels, Victor and others, already
have possessions here. However, they have not yet renounced those which they own in the country lower down.
e] 1242
Twelve very poor habitations are the beginning of our town
called St. Ignatius. Our little abode, although very modest,
is sufficiently comfortable. To any other than you, this
word comfortable might sound singular; but you, Reverend
Father, who understand perfectly what it means when applied to a poor missionary, will comprehend the relative
application of the word. Our community numbers six members. Father Joseph Ménétrey, who is missionary, prefect
of oui chapel, and inspector in chief of our fields, etc. ;
Brother McGean, farmer; Brother Vincent Magri, dispenser, carpenter and miller ; Brother Joseph Specht, blacksmith, baker and gardener; Brother Francis Huybrechts,
carpenter and sacristan.
I intend going to Colville after the harvest and during the
absence of the Indians.
Father Ménétrey, of his own free will, went to Fort Benton with a pair of horses. The distance by the great road is
294 miles. He took horses because we could with difficulty
spare our oxen, and also because, according to information
received from Mr. Lansdale, the road is impassable to oxen
which have not, like horses, iron shoes. Father Ménétrey
arrived at the fort on the 17th of September, and was very
favorably received by the occupants ; but he was obliged to
wait some time for the boats. He speaks with high eulogi-
ums of the Blackfeet, and regrets that he has not jurisdiction
in that part of the mountains. He returned on the 12th of
How express to you, Reverend Father, the joy that filled
our hearts, when we opened your letters and the different
cases which you had the charity to send us ? We each and
all wept with grateful joy! In vain, the night following, I
strove to calm the emotions that these missives, as well as
the liberality of our benefactors, had produced in my heart ;
I could not close my eyes. All the community, yes, the
whole camp, participated in my delight. In unison we rendered thanks to Divine Providence, and that day was a perfect holiday.   The next day, having a little recovered from «M
my excitement, I was ashamed of my weakness. You who
know what it is to be a missionary; you who know so well
his privations, his trials, his pangs, you will easily forgive
my excessive sensibility.
I had agreed with Father Congiato that he would send
your Reverence my lists, as well as the money that he might
allow me. I was bolder in soliciting your charity and your
benevolence in our favor, because I knew the love and interest that you bear to our missions; and that, on the other
hand, I only executed a plan that yourself had conceived and
suggested, when, in consideration of the circumstances, it
would have appeared to every one else illusory and incapable of execution.
Scarcely had Father Ménétrey gone than I received a letter from Father Congiato, in which he said to me : "If you
think that your supplies can be furnished at a more reasonable price from Missouri, order them thence, I will pay the
cost. Write on this subject to Reverend Father De Smet."
Had I received this letter somewhat later, I scarcely know
what would have been my decision; for it is very doubtful
that we should have been able to find any one who would
return to Fort Benton. I entreat you, be so good as to excuse the trouble that we give you ; our extraordinary situation is the sole excuse that I can offer in favor of our
importunity. A thousand thanks to you, and to all our
benefactors who concurred so generously in the support of
our missions. I also thank our kind brethren in St. Louis,
for the very interesting letters that they had the kindness to
write me. Receive, too, our grateful sentiments, Reverend
Father, for the catalogues of the different provinces, the
classical books, Shea's Catholic Missions, the works of controversy, etc., etc. I should never conclude did I attempt to
enumerate all your gifts, which we were so overjoyed to
receive. Brother Joseph was beside himself with gladness
when his eyes fell on the little packages of seeds, the files,
scissors and other similar objects. Accept, in fine, our
thanks for the piece of broadcloth you sent us ; by this favor
Ik 1244
we continue to be Black-robes. Ah! with my whole heart
I wish that you could have seen us as we were opening the
boxes. Each object excited new cries of joy and augmented
our grateful love for the donors. All arrived in good order.
The snuff had got a little mixed with the clover seed, but no
matter ; my nose is not very delicate. It is the first donation
sent into these mountains, at least since I have been here.
We bless God, who watches over all of his children with so
much care and liberality, even over those who appear to be
the most forsaken.
On the following day I sent Father Joset his letters. I
found an opportunity that very day.
It would have been very agreeable to me to receive a copy
of all your letters published since 1836. The portraits were
very dear to me. I could not recognize Father Verdin's, but
Brother Joseph knew it at the first glance. Yours was also
recognized at once by a great number of the Indians, and on
seeing it they shouted " Pikek an !" 4 It made the tour of
the village, and yesterday again, an inhabitant of Kootenai
came to me with the sole intention of " paying a visit to
Father De Smet." This did them an immense good, only
seeing the portrait of him who was the first to bear them the
light of faith in these regions, still overshadowed with the
darkness of moral death; and who first dissipated the mists
in which they and their progenitors during untold ages had
been enveloped. Believe me, Reverend Father, not a day
passes, without their prayers ascending to heaven for you.
In what manner can we testify our gratitude in regard to
the two benefactors who so generously charged themselves
with the care of transporting and delivering to us our cases
without consenting to accept the slightest recompense ? Undoubtedly they will reap a large share in the sacrifices and
* The venerable Father J. D'Aste, of St. Ignatius' Mission, thus explains this expression : " ' Pikokan ' means White Head, being composed of the word ipik (white) and the final kan, which in composition stands for ' head.' But there must be a mistake here, because when
Father De Smet left the mountains forever, he had not yet white hair." EXECUTING TREATY STIPULATIONS.
prayers that daily rise to heaven for all our benefactors,
and which are with a grateful heart and the remembrance
of their beneficence toward us, the only tokens of our thankfulness that we can offer them. How noble the sentiment
which prompted them gratuitously to burden themselves
and their boats with the charitable gifts, destined by the
faithful to the destitute missionaries of the Indians !
Heaven, who knows our poverty, will reward them with
better gifts than we could have imagined suitable to their
The package destined for Michael Insula, the f Little
Chief," lies here for the present. He has not yet opened
it. The good man is abroad on a hunting excursion; but
we expect him back in a few days. I doubt not that he will
be very sensible to these marks of friendship, or, as he usually expresses it, " these marks of fraternity." He set out
from here, when he had harvested the grain he had sowed.
Always equally good, equally happy, a fervent Christian, he
is daily advancing in virtue and in perfection. He has a
young son, Louis Michael, whom he teaches to call me papa.
It is a real pleasure to him to be able to speak of your Reverence and of his two adopted brothers, Messrs. Campbell
and Fitzpatrick. I will give him the packet directly after
his return, and will inform you of the sentiments with which
he will have received it, as well as his reply.
Here in our missions, we already observe all the conditions stipulated in the treaty concluded last year by Governor Stevens, at Hellgate. Our brothers assist the Indians,
and teach them how to cultivate the ground. They distribute
the fields and the seeds for sowing and planting, as well as
the plows and other agricultural instruments. Our blacksmith works for them : he repairs their guns, their axes, their
knives ; the carpenter renders them great assistance in constructing their houses, by making the doors and windows;
in fine, our little mill is daily in use for grinding their grain,
gratis; we distribute some medicines to the sick ;— in a word,
all we have and all we are is sacrificed to the welfare of the
1 1246
Indian. The savings that our religious economy enables
us to make, we retain solely to relieve their miseries. Whatever we gain by manual labor and by the sweat of the brow,
is theirs ! Through love of Jesus Christ, we are ready to
sacrifice all, even life itself. Last year we opened our
school ; but circumstances forced us to close it. Next spring
we shall have a brother capable of teaching, and we intend
opening it a second time; but in the interval we shall not
earn a cent. During last October, the snow forced Fathers
Joset and Ravalli and Brother Saveo to return to the Cœur
We have done, and shall continue to do, all that lies in
our power for the Government officers. Still our poor mission has never received a farthing from the Government.
Do not think, Reverend Father, that I complain — oh no!
you are too well assured no earthly good could ever induce
us to work and suffer as we do here. As wealth itself could
never recompense our toils, so privations are incapable of
leading us to renounce our noble enterprise. Heaven,
heaven alone is our aim; and that reward will far exceed
our deserts. On the other hand, we are consoled by the
reflection that he who provides for the birds of the air will
never abandon his tenderly loved children. Yet it is not less
true, that, if we had resources (humanly speaking), our
missions would be more flourishing; and that many things
that we now accomplish only with great patience and sore
privations, and which again frequently depend upon contingencies, could be effected more rapidly and with less uncertainty of success.
In our mission there are persons of such a variety of
nations, that we form, so to speak, a heaven in miniature.
First, our community is composed of six members, all of
whom are natives of different lands. Then we have créoles ;
Genetzi, whose wife is Susanna, daughter of the old Ignatius
Chaves; Abraham and Peter Tinsley, sons of old Jacques
Boiteux; Alexander Thibault, a Canadian, and Derpens.
There are some Iroquois : old Ignatius is settled here, as well DISPOSITION OF THE BLACKFEET.
as the family of Iroquois Peter. The death of this venerable
old man is a great loss to the mission. Then we have créoles from the Creek nation; Pierrish, and Anson, with his
brothers; then some Flatheads; Kalispels; two camps of
Pend d'Oreilles; then several Spokans; some Nez Precés,
Kootenais, Cœur d'Alênes, and Kettle-Falls Indians; a few
Americans, settled a few miles from here; and some Blackfeet. All, though of different nations, live together like
brethren and in perfect harmony. They have, like the primitive Christians, but one heart and one mind.
Last spring, and during the summer following, we had
several Blackfeet here. They behaved extremely well.
Among others, the Little Dog, chief of the Piegans, with
some members of his family. They entered our camp with
the American flag unfurled, and marching to the tones of
martial music and an innumerable quantity of little bells.
The very horses pranced in accordance with the measure,
and assumed a stately deportment at the harmony of the
national hymn.
We held several conferences with the chief concerning
religion. Pie complained that the whites, who had been in
communication with them, had never treated this so important affair. So far the best understanding reigns between us,
and it would appear that all the old difficulties are forgotten.
May heaven keep them in these favorable dispositions. Last
summer the Crows stole about twenty horses from our nation. A few days after, others visited our camp. The remembrance of this theft so excited the people that, forgetting the law of nations, which secures protection to even
the greatest enemy as soon as he puts his foot within the
camp, they fell upon the poor guests, and killed two of them
ere they had time to escape.
May God bless the Government for establishing peace
among the Blackfeet ! However, as hitherto the means have
not proved very efficacious, I fear that the quiet will not be
of very long duration. I trust that our Society will one day
effect a more  enduring peace.     A mission among  them 1248
would, I am persuaded, produce this blessed result. And
if to bedew this hitherto ungrateful soil requires the blood
of some happy missionary, it would bring forth a hundredfold, and the Blackfeet would respect our holy religion.
I am much distressed at learning that an epidemic disease
is making terrible ravages among the Blackfeet. According to the last news, about 150 Indians had perished in one
camp alone, near Fort Benton. When the malady had
ceased scourging men, it fell upon their horses. Many are
dead already, and many are dying. We have lost five. Our
hunters are forced to go to the chase on foot ; for, according
to their account, all the horses are sick. If the Nez Percés
lose their horses in the war with Government, horses will
be very dear here.
Michael, the Little Chief, has arrived. I presented him
the gracious gift of Colonel Campbell. He was astonished
that the colonel should think of him, and was much moved
at this mark of attachment. Then he cited a long list of
kindred, dead since his last interview with Colonel Campbell, and entertained me at length with the great number of
Americans that he had seen annually passing Fort Hall. He
told me with what solicitude and anxiety he sought his
friend among those successive multitudes, and when at
length he could not discover him, he believed that he was
Our Indians are bison hunting, and quite successful. Five
Spokans have been killed by the Bannocks, and six of these
last killed by the Spokans and Cœur d'Alênes. The Flat-
heads have had a man killed by the same Bannocks. Louis,
Ambrose's son, was killed last fall by the Grosventres. All
last winter a good understanding prevailed among the
Blackfeet. Many of them will come, I think, and reside
with us.
The Nez Percés and the Spokans endeavor to spread a
bad spirit among the Indians who reside in the country below. They endeavor to communicate their hatred of the
Americans; but our chiefs are firm, and will in no wise ILL FEELING BETWEEN TRIBES.
acquiesce in the desire of their enemies. Victor, the great
chief, and Ambrose, are here again, in order to accomplish
their spiritual duties. Unfortunately a great antipathy prevails among these tribes.
Mr. McArthur, formerly agent of the Hudson Bay Company, has now settled at Hellgate.
To conclude, Reverend Father, I entreat you to believe
that, notwithstanding your reiterated exhortations to assure me, it is not without a feeling of restraint that I inclose
you anew the list of things we need this year. I am aware
that you are weighed down with business ; but who, as well
as yourself, can know and understand our position?
I entreat you to present my respects to all my kind friends
who are at the university, at St. Charles, and elsewhere.
Your reverence's most respectful servant,
Adventures of a missionary
blizzard — Charles Larpenteur -
Dangers of delay.
-Sufferings  and  danger — A  Dakota
Needs of the Sioux — Iowa in 1851 —
The Sioux.
To the Editor of the Précis Historiques, Brussels:1
Paris, November 17, 1856.
Reverend and Dear Father:
*fT FIND with pleasure in your number of the 15th inst.,
■■ the interesting letter of Father Adrian Hoeken, written to me from the Flathead camp, which I sent you from St.
Louis before I started for Belgium.
Herewith are four letters of his brother, Father Christian Hoeken, which will, I think, be found as interesting
as Father Adrian's. In a few days I shall see you at
First Letter of Father Christian Hoeken to Father De Smet.
Sioux Country, Fort Vermilion, Dec. 11, 1850.
Reverend and Dear Father:
You have doubtless learned by Father Duerinck's letters that I set out last June for the Sioux country. The
season was quite favorable when I left Kansas, but I had
a pretty cold time as I crossed Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota till I got to the post of the American Fur Com-
1 From Western Missions and Missionaries, p. 263.
[1250] ADRIFT    IN   A   BLIZZARD.
pany, called Fort Vermilion. My inability to find a good
guide to lead me to Fort Pierre, the great post of the Missouri, made me lose five days of excellent weather.
At last I succeeded in finding a companion who had
crossed backward and forward, for the last thirty-three
years, every plain, mountain, forest and prairie of the
West. I set out the day before the weather changed. On
the third day the snow overtook us. On reaching James
river we found it impassable; the water was too high and
too cold for our horses to swim it. We had to ascend it to
find a ford. We traveled eight or nine days without finding any place or means to cross. A violent north wind set
in, so that we were nearly frozen to death. We accordingly began to descend the valley of the river, but had not
made over five or six miles when night surprised us, and we
had to encamp in a spot which offered scarce wood enough
for one night. We had hardly encamped when the north
wind began to blow with horrible violence; the snow fell so
thick and fast, that you would have said the clouds had burst.
You may imagine our position, and how much we pitied
each other. Sleep was out of the question. The next
morning we struck our camp. The snow and wind raged
with unabated fury for two days and two nights. In some
spots there were six, fifteen, and even twenty feet of snow.
Conceive our position if you can, as we made our way along
the valley of James river, which runs between two chains
of mountains, with deep ravines near each other.
We were almost out of provisions, entirely alone, in a sad
desert, where we could see nothing but snow; we had no
one to encourage us, except the spirit of divine charity, at
whose voice I had undertaken this painful journey. The
snow grew high around us, our horses would not proceed.
The gloomy thought that we could never cross the river
crushed out all courage ; but I was consoled when I remembered the words of divine wisdom : " It is good for you to
suffer temptation." To fill up our misery, rheumatism
seized both my knees, so that I could not set one foot before
Ii 1252
another. One of our horses fell lame and was no better
than myself. Moreover, the keen norther froze my ears,
nose and feet, and my companion's feet. The poor man
complained of violent pains in the bowels, caused doubtless
by fatigue and hunger. The elements seemed to conspire
against us; and it is only by a special assistance of heaven
that we did not perish in this strait. " I never saw anything
like it. I have lived, wandered, traveled, for thirty-five years
all over the upper Missouri, but never, never was I in
such a scrape as this." Such were the frequent exclamations of my guide. For my part, I was forced by a dire
necessity to march against my inclination, or rather to drag
myself along as best I could. I gathered up what little
courage I had left. I walked on in the snow from morning
to night, praying and weeping in turns, making vows and
resolutions. The aspirations of the prophets and apostles
were the subject of my communications with heaven.
" Confirm me, O Lord, in this hour. Rebuke me not in
thy fury, and chastise me not in thy wrath." This I repeated at almost every instant. When I sank to my waist
in snow, I cried : " Have mercy, Lord, have mercy on us.
For thee and for thine have we come unto this hour.
Stretch out thy arm to lead us.   Lord, we perish."
Meanwhile, we advanced painfully over the mountains
of snow, till night summoned us to plant our tent, which
consisted, be it said here, of a square piece of a skin tent-
cover. We set to work with courage, clearing away the
snow, getting down a framework and wood enough for our
fires at night. The fire is kindled ; we have finished our night
prayers ; we have only a morsel to eat. Now, then, repose
for a few hours. Impossible. Sleep has fled our eyelids;
the smoke blinds and stifles us, at almost every instant we
had to cough; my companion said that it was impossible to
distinguish one object from another, the smoke had so
blinded him. How sleep, with the wolves howling and
prowling around us! The snow and sometimes rain and
hail fell on us all night long.    Often, while listening for BAD LANGUAGE OF THE GUIDE.
any noise, the prayer, " From all danger, rain and hail, deliver us, O Lord !" escaped my trembling lips involuntarily.
Thank heaven, the Almighty heard our humble supplication; every day he gave us fine weather, though bitter cold.
My greatest fear every morning was that my companion
would bring word that our horses were dead of cold or
hunger in those bleak and sterile tracts. Had this loss
befallen us, our misfortune would have been complete. I
put myself and all belonging to me under the special protection of our good and amiable patroness, the Blessed Virgin Immaculate, and I often reminded her, with filial confidence, that we had been committed to her care at the foot
of the cross.
From day to day, my guide was the more urgent that we
should abandon the lame horse so as not to be frozen for
him. We had to lose a good part of the day in unloading
and reloading him, because he fell at almost every step on
the slippery snow; yet by care, pain, fatigue and patience,
we arrived with our two horses at Fort Vermilion. Famished and almost dying as we were (having had nothing to
eat for ten days, but a little bread and a prairie-hen that my
companion killed by chance), sleepless and wearied to death,
we reached Vermilion on the 8th of December, the feast of
the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To express the joy that overflowed my soul on that happy
day I would need write in tears, not in ink, and you could
trace my feelings better than if delineated with a pen. I
was at the end of hunger, cold, snow, rain, hail, tramping,
and blasphemy that filled me with horror every time my
companion vented his wrath on the horse or the evils we
experienced. I rebuked him frequently and begged him to
refrain, but in vain ; the poor man had always the same excuse : " It was a second nature with him, and he meant no
harm." Wretched excuse! I suffered more from his
troubles and murmurs than from all the other miseries put
together. To my prayers of blended hope, and fear, and
anguish, succeeded now hymns of gratitude and joy.    In-
I'd 1254
stead of my ordinary aspirations : " Enough, Lord, it is
enough. Command the winds and there shall be a great
calm. Lord, thou hast said: Ask and you shall receive..
Give us this day our daily bread," and so on, I now exclaim : " We praise thee, O Lord ! great is thy power, Lord
God of hosts."
Mr. Charles Larpenteur, whose hospitality you have
often enjoyed when traveling in the desert to visit the
Indian tribes, is now in charge of the post, and he received
us with all the goodness of a father. He procured us all
that he could. May the Lord bless him, for he deserves it.
" The Samaritan in the Gospel," said he, " took care of an
unfortunate man, and poured oil and wine into his wounds.
Sir," he added, " you are welcome. I offer you all I have ;
I wish to treat you as well as is in my power." The dignity
and worth of charity are never better felt than on similar
occasions, and by beggars like us.
I shall spend some days instructing and baptizing a score
of people who live around here. I shall endeavor to recover
from my unusual hardships before I start. In the meanwhile the snow will melt, the roads become better, and I
will resume my journey.
Receive the assurance of my respect. Present my respects to the Fathers and Brothers, and believe me,
Reverend and Dear Father,
Your devoted servant and brother in Christ,
You see, Reverend Father, by this letter of Father Hoeken, that the consolations of heaven are constantly tempered by the desolations of earth. This is the support of
the laborers in the vineyard of the Lord.
I have come to Europe for missionaries. Belgium has
already furnished many. St. Francis Xavier asked for Belgians. Shall I succeed in getting some? Cannot I count
on my own land as much as on Holland, France, or Italy? IMPECUNIOSITY AND HORSE-TRADING. !255
Second Letter of Father Christian Hoeken.— To Father
Territory of the Platte, Dec. 28, 1850.
Reverend and Dear Father Provincial:
According to my express promise in my letters, I write
to tell you where I have been, and what I have done since
I left the Kansas, till my return from the Upper Missouri.
I traveled by the way of Weston, without a cent in my
pocket. I had to trust entirely to Providence. A draft of
ten dollars on Father De Smet enabled me to get the actual
necessaries for my journey. I should have drawn more,
but it was all they could let me have.
On the way I met several old friends, whose liberality did
not improve my poverty. I reached St. Joseph at the foot
of the Black-snake Hills. My horse could not stand the
hard travel. Others were of my opinion, among them was
Mr. Scanlan, who offered me an Indian horse to go as far
as Bellevue, and also to take charge of mine. I accepted his
kind offer. In two days I was quite disappointed. The
horse was very lazy, and weak in the bargain. I changed
him at the Great Pacoa [ Platte ?Tarkio?] river for a good
horse, whose exterior promised better in the long journey
before me. I gave the man a draft on Mr. P. A. Sarpy to
pay the difference.
On reaching Bellevue, I learned from Mr. Sarpy that
Messrs. Bruyère and Argot had started the day before, and
that I could easily overtake them ; that there was no guide
for me, and they knew none about there. I bought the
necessary utensils, a little pot, tin-pans, provisions, etc., and
started in pursuit of the gentlemen, who live about thirty
miles below Fort Vermillion at the mouth of the Great
Sioux. I overtook them next day at Boyer River. I traveled in their company seven days, when we reached the
Great Sioux. 1256
I spent three days there instructing the people, and baptized fourteen persons. They treated me with great kindness, and expressed their extreme delight at the prospect of
the establishment of a Sioux mission. They promised to
pay for their children's board. They are not only full of
good will, but capable of acting.
As for the mixed race of the Santees (a Sioux tribe),
they receive from Government about $1,000 a head, according to the treaty made last year at St. Peter's River in the
Upper Missouri. You see, then, Reverend Father, that if
we defer founding a mission among them, they will send
their children elsewhere. Do not imagine that the number
of these poor children, all baptized by Father De Smet and
others, is insignificant. The half-breeds exist in great numbers everywhere, with thousands of Indians. Must all
these children, of whom several thousand have already received holy baptism, perish for want of instruction? Are
they doomed to remain sitting in the shadow of death?
May I not announce to them all, the precious tidings of
vocation to grace? I trust, in God's mercy, the day of
their deliverance is at hand; that they will soon perceive
the aid of the Saviour and Redeemer. My daily prayer is
(above all at the holy altar) that their expectations and
frequent appeals may at length find a term.
I forgot to say, that on arriving at Linden, a village situated eight miles below the river Nishnabotna, I found
Major Matlock very dangerously ill with dysentery. He
recognized me at once, and cried out : | Father Hoeken, I
am extremely glad to see you. I wished to see you much
a long time; but I am so indisposed at this moment that I
cannot converse with you. Could you not come a little
later ?" " Most willingly," I replied ; " I will see you by
and by." An hour after I returned to his room in the
hotel; I found him half asleep. He heard my voice, and
after having dismissed those who were with him, he spoke
to me of his religious convictions. He informed me that
he had been brought up in the Methodist sect, but that he OLD SARPY AND LOGAN FONTENELLE.
did not believe in their views, and that his most ardent
desire was to become a Catholic. He then made his confession to me; after which, I baptized him conditionally.
He appeared to me to be perfectly contented and resigned
to die. I have since learned that he did not long survive
his baptism.    May he rest in peace.
I commend myself to your prayers and sacrifices, Reverend Father Provincial,
Your most humble servant,
Third Letter of Father Christian Hoeken.-
To Father
St. Joseph's, Jan. 3,  1851.
Reverend and Very Dear Father Provincial:
I was obliged to wait in order to regulate my account
with Mr. P. A. Sarpy, who was absent when I arrived at
Council Bluffs. That time was not lost. I had the happiness of baptizing a great number of children of the Omaha
tribe, and I met the young chief, Logan Fontenelle. He is
a spiritual child of Father De Smet. He is very worthy of
the post he fills in his tribe, and will do all in his power to
convert his people and bring them to the true faith.2
I quitted Council Bluffs on the 27th of December. I
arrived on the river Nishnabotna at a place called French
Village. It is occupied almost exclusively by Canadians,
by half-breeds, and a mixture of Indians united among
themselves. I was received with much kindness, and employed Saturday and Sunday in confirming and strengthening them in the faith.
2 He fell, in 1855, in a combat against a great war-party of the Sioux.
—{Note by Father De Smet.")
ÏÊ 1258
As soon as my arrival was known, the people collected on
all sides, in order to secure to their children the grace of
baptism. You can easily imagine what a consolation it was
to me after the fatigues of the late journey. On examining the state of things, I found that those people needed instruction in regard to the sacrament of marriage. The)''
listened to me with profound attention, and followed my
advice on this point. I baptized sixteen persons, among
whom was one converted from Mormonism and one Sioux
squaw. I gave the nuptial benediction to three couples.
In the midst of a meeting held in a private house, the conversation fell on the construction of a village church; each
one offered his services, and promised to approach the sacraments. How great and plentiful is the harvest, but alas,
how few are the reapers! We must, in truth, but in sadness, repeat with the prophet Jeremiah : " The children ask
bread and there is no one to break it to them." What a
vast field for them of whom the scripture says : 1 How
beautiful upon the mountains are the footsteps of those who
proclaim the glad tidings of peace and salvation."
A month's traveling in the desert through which these
people are wandering deprived of instruction, would bestow
on our missionaries greater experience of the evils of ignorance and of superstition, than many years passed in
studying them in books and writings, and one hour of conversation would inspire Christian hearts with sentiments of
more real compassion, than all the discourses of rhetoric
and all the artifices of eloquence could ever produce. If
the Catholics of civilized countries, and provided with all
the advantages that civilization offers for the soul and for
the body, could, during one single week, experience what
is endured in the midst of the ravages and violence of this
poor Indian country, their hearts would open to the sentiments of a truly active compassion, and they would extend
a charitable hand to relieve the misery and mitigate the bitterness of their wretched and afflicting condition. TROUBLES   OF  THE   INDIANS.
There are in human life certain marks of degradation
which, at first sight, awaken the tender sentiments of a
Christian heart; there are interior trials and sorrows which
need to be related to excite charity toward those who suffer
them. Such are, my dear Father, the troubles and sufferings of the Indians. Deprived of civilized society, destitute
of all the advantages of social life, ignorant of the very elements of individual duty, they are a prey to exterior deceptions, to interior illusions, and their days are counted by
overwhelming evils and misfortunes as numerous as the
hours which mark their duration. But when it pleases a
wise Providence to permit that they be visited by other and
extraordinary trials, as it happened to the Potawatomies,
who lost their harvest, their ills are increased a hundredfold, and nothing but the consolations of the gospel are
capable of ameliorating the hard lot of barbarism and the
anguish of ignorance. May heaven deign to inspire a
large number of worthy ministers of the Church with a
zeal in conformity with the will of God, and inspire also
a great number of Christians with that charity which covers
a multitude of sins, in order that they may come to their aid
amid the painful sufferings which they are at this moment
My respects to all,
Reverend Father Provincial,
Your most humble servant,
Fourth Letter.— To Reverend Father Elet.
Bellevue, December 23, 1850.
Reverend and Very Dear Father Provincial:
I left Fort Vermilion on the third Sunday of Advent;
I descended the Great Sioux as far as its confluence.   There
j If]l I2ÔO
I met with Major Halton, who is agent for the Upper Missouri.
He employed all his eloquence to persuade me to accompany him as far as Fort Pierre, which is the post of the
Little Missouri. He will probably stop there, at about the
middle of January. God alone knows what the weather
will prove at that time. He presented us a beautiful buffalo-robe, and told me, that if we would establish a mission
in these sections, he would contribute annually $100. Another gentleman added, I have three children to educate;
I will furnish $300 per year, and be assured, continued he, that every white man residing in this locality
that has a family of mixed race (and there are a great number of them), will assist you to the best of their ability —
one in one manner and another in another, according to
their means. The Brûlés, and Yanktons, and the other
Sioux tribes assembled in council said : " The missionaries
shall not perish with hunger among us ; we will bring them
an abundance of buffalo-robes and buffalo-meat, so that they
can purchase clothes for the children who will be confided
to them."
For the love of God and of souls, I conjure you, Reverend Father, not to defer any longer. All the good that
Father De Smet and others have produced by their labors
and visits will be lost and forgotten, if these Indians are
disappointed in their expectations. They weigh men's
characters in the balance of honesty; in their eyes whosoever does not fulfill his promises is culpable; they do not
regard or consider whether it be done for good reasons, or
that there is an impossibility in the execution. Some of
them have sent their children to Protestant schools, and they
will continue to do so as long as we form no establishments
among them.
From all this you may easily conclude that there is apostasy and all its attendant evils. Immortal souls are precious
in the sight of God.    You are acquainted with my dis
to  your  own *■
good will and pleasure. My sole desire is to endure fatigue
and suffering, as much as I can with God's assisting grace,
and as long as I shall live. I have deposited my hopes in
the bosom of my God; I expect my recompense from his
goodness, not in this life, but in the next.
Yours, etc.,
These four letters of Reverend Father Hoeken show sufficiently, my dear and reverend Father, the spiritual wants
of these nations and their desire of being assisted. Apostasy is more frequent than is generally believed in Europe.
Oh! if the zealous priests of the Continent knew what we
know, had they seen what we have witnessed, their generous hearts would transport them beyond the seas, and
they would hasten to consecrate their lives to a ministry
fruitful in salutary results. Time passes; already the sectaries of various shades are preparing to penetrate more
deeply into the desert, and will wrest from those degraded
and unhappy tribes their last hope — that of knowing and
practicing the sole and true faith. Shall they, in fine, obtain the Black-robes, whom they have expected and called
for during so many years?
Accept, Reverend Father, the assurance of my sincere
Testimony of Lieutenant Mullan and Governor Stevens — Progress
in agriculture and useful arts — Pious devotions — Stolen horses returned — Advancement of the Cœur d'Alênes — The Indian outbreak.
Brussels, Feast of St. Xavier, December 3, 1856.
Reverend Mother:
*^*HE festival of to-day renews in my mind the recollec-
^■^    tion of the pleasant time I spent at Erps, last Monday.
I must again thank you for the kind reception I received
at your convent and academy.
The repeated invitations you have extended to me, since
my return to Belgium, through Father Terwecoren, who
took me there, made it a duty on my part to go. I owed
you this visit also personally, Reverend Mother, on account
of the ties which always have existed, and still exist, between your family and mine. This recommendation was
made to me at Termonde. It was, indeed, pleasant for me
to meet you, after thirty-five years' absence, and especially
to find you consecrated to God by the vows of religion.
During my long travels over the world, I have always found
in religious communities the greatest amount of happiness
to which man can aspire here below.
But independent of this personal motive, the Academy of
the Servants of Mary would leave, in my mind, a most
pleasing recollection. I shall never forget this little family
festival, the charitable and pious words addressed to me by
one of your scholars, in the name of her companions; the
1 To the Mother Superior of the Convent and Academy of Erps-
Querbs, between Brussels and Louvain. From Western Missions and
Missionaries, p. 275*
[1262] m*
earnest attention paid by them to my accounts, and the
prayers they promised me for my poor Indians; that beautiful hymn in honor of St. Francis Xavier, the patron of
missionaries; the happiness of the little village children,
gathered in the day-school, where their hearts learn to love
God and serve him by labor ; the respectful deference of all
the sisters, and of your worthy director.
I thank you, then, Reverend Mother, for this welcome;
and, in the name of the Indians, I thank you especially for
the alms which the convent has confided to me for them,
and the vestments which you prepare. The Indians pray
for their benefactors; they will pray especially for the Servants of Mary, and for their young pupils, as soon as I tell
them all.
As an anticipated testimony of their gratitude, and that
the remembrance of this day may abide, your community
ever prosper more .and more, your young ladies, when they
come forth from that house of the Lord, preserve preciously
the inappreciable gift of piety and the pure lustre of all
virtue, I propose to give to the first little Indian girls that
I baptize after my return, the Christian names of the religious and pupils whom I saw assembled, that they may pray
for their benefactresses. Please to prepare a list, and send
it to Father Terwecoren, who is collecting all that is offered
for the mission.
I add to this letter a copy of the tributes of admiration
paid to the Flatheads, as well as the Pater and Ave in
Osage. It is a little souvenir for the Academy of Erps-
I. Tribute of admiration rendered to the Flatheads, by
an officer of the United States army, sent with Governor
Stevens to explore St. Mary's valley. These lines are
drawn from a report recently issued by order of Government. Explorations, etc., from the Mississippi to the Pacific
ocean, p. 308.   Lieutenant Mullan says :
" When I arrived at the camp with my guide, three or
four men came out to meet us, and we were invited to enter
— 1264
the lodge of the great chief. With much eagerness they
took care of our horses, unsaddled them, and led them to
drink. As soon as the camp had been informed of the
arrival of a white man among them, all the principal men
of the tribe collected at the lodge of the chief.
^ All being assembled, at a signal given by the chief,
they prayed aloud. I was struck with astonishment, for I
had not the least expectation of such conduct on their part.
The whole assembly knelt. In the most solemn manner,
and with the greatest reverence, they adored the Lord. I
asked myself : Am I among Indians ? Am I among people
whom all the world call savages? I could scarcely believe
my eyes. The thought that these men were penetrated with
religious sentiments, so profound and beautiful, overwhelmed me with amazement.
" I could never say enough of those noble andgenerous
hearts among whom I found myself. They were pious and
firm, men of confidence, full of probity, and penetrated at
the same time with a lively and religious faith, to which
they remain constant. They never partake of a repast without imploring the blessing of heaven. In the morning,
when rising, and at night, when retiring, they offer their
prayers to Almighty God. The tribe of the Flatheads
among the Indians is the subject of their highest esteem;
and all that I witnessed myself justifies this advantageous
Here is another testimony from the Hon. Isaac I. Stevens,
Governor of Washington Territory. Giving orders to Lieutenant Mullan, he says :
" Tell those good Flatheads that the words of Father De
Smet in their behalf have been received by their Great
Father, the President of the United States, and that all
good people are devoted to them. I would like to rebuild
St. Mary's. Let them know that I am attached to them,
and ready to aid their old benefactors in their well-being.
This would be most pleasing to me." T ■
He wrote to the Indian agent :
" You are already aware of the character of the Flat-
heads. They are the best Indians of the mountains and the
plains — honest, brave, and docile, they only need encouragement to become good citizens — they are Christians, and
we are assured that they live up to the Christian code."
This passage is from the message to the President in
1854. You see, Reverend Mother, that my eulogium at
Erps-Querbs, on the Flatheads, is also in the mouths of the
Americans. It is the same with the other Indians. The
sisters of the pupils may then rely on the prayers and gratitude of the little girls who bear their names. May these
children of the desert have the same means of salvation as
the children of Belgium.
Accept, Reverend Mother, this trifling homage of my
gratitude, and express the same sentiments to your worthy
Director, community, and pupils.
Your servant in Christ, etc.
To the Editor of the Précis Historiques, Brussels.2
Oregon Missions.
University of St. Louis, July 16, 1857.
Reverend Father:
Since my return to St. Louis I have been very busy, and
not very well, in consequence of the sudden transition from
a cold climate to one where the thermometer stands at 900
Fahrenheit. I have not been able, thus far, to send you
any interesting article. I have lately received a long and
beautiful letter from Father A. Hoeken, in the Rocky
Mountains. It appeared, on the nth instant, in the Freeman's lournal, which you receive regularly. I shall try and
send you a translation.
2 From Western Missions and Missionaries, p. 280.
I inclose to-day a short notice of Father Eysvogels. If
you give it a place in your Précis, it will give pleasure to
the friends and acquaintances of that good Father in North
As you propose terminating a volume of my letters, you
would do well, perhaps, to add, if there is time, a letter to
the St. Louis Leader, dated June 19, 1855, which you can
have translated.
St. Louis, June 19, 1855.
Mr. Editor
From a letter received from the Rocky Mountains about
two months ago, I learn that the Indians, in our different
missions in Oregon, continue to give great satisfaction to
their missionaries, by their zeal and fervor in the holy practices of religion. " I hope," writes Father Joset, " that
the holy sacrament of confirmation, which many have lately
received, will add still more stability to their good resolutions. The arrival of Monseigneur Blanchet, of Nisqually,
had been announced only a few hours before, yet, notwithstanding that one-half of the neophytes were absent on their
hunting grounds, the zealous prelate gave confirmation to
over 600 persons. He expressed the greatest satisfaction at
the flourishing condition of the missions, and the exemplary
and Christian conduct of the Indian faithful."
The conversions to our holy faith, if you consider the
small number of our missionaries, are very consoling and
encouraging. Father Joset says, that in the Mission of St.
Paul's alone, among the Skoyelpi s or Kettle Falls Indians, he had 163 converts in the course of the year.
He further states in his letter, that Lieutenant Mullan,
of the United States army, visited the Flatheads, and
several others of our missions, by order of Governor
Stevens, of the new Territory of Washington, and that the
y mt <J J
distinguished officer had expressed great delight at all he
saw among the Indians, promising withal to favor them and
to speak well of them in his report.   Governor Stevens him-
self, in his report to the President of the United States,
commends them highly, arid calls upon the Government for
aid and assistance. " They are," says he, speaking of the
Flatheads, " the best Indians of the mountains and the
plains — honest, brave and docile — they only need encouragement to become good citizens; they are Christians, and
we are assured that they live up to the Christian code," etc.
Most respectfully, Dear Sir,
Your humble and obedient servant,
P. J. De SMET, S. J.
You see, Reverend Father, that I have cited the testimony
of Governor Stevens, as to our Indian missions. The details which I shall give you in this letter emanate from the
same source, as honorable as it is truthful. They form part
of an official report on the State of Oregon, sent by that
magistrate to the President of the United States, in 1855,
and published by order of Government.
Speaking of the tribe of Pend d'Oreilles, the Governor
" I am indebted to Doctor Suckley for many interesting
facts in relation to the mission of St. Ignatius, established
among the lower Pend d'Oreilles ; it would be difficult to find
a more beautiful example of successful missionary labors.
The mission was established nine years ago, by Reverend
P. J. De Smet, the whole country at that time being a vast
" For the first two years the missionaries lived in skin
lodges, accompanying the natives on their periodical hunts
and visits to their fishing grounds.
' During this time they found it very hard to live. Their
food consisted principally of camas-roots and dried berries,
which at best contain very little nourishment. They raised
some wheat, which they boiled in the beard, for fear of
waste ; parching some of the grains to make a substitute for mmmm
coffee. After this, they slowly but steadily increased in
welfare. Each year added a small piece to their tillable
ground. They then obtained pigs, poultry, cattle, horses,
agricultural implements, and tools. Their supplies of tools,
seeds, groceries, clothing, etc., are shipped direct from Europe to the Columbia river. There are two lay brethren attached to the mission. One of them, Brother Francis, is a
perfect jack-of-all-trades. He is by turns a carpenter, blacksmith, gunsmith and tinman; in each handicraft he is a
good workman. The other, Brother McGean, superintends
the farming operations. They both worked hard in bringing the mission to its present state of perfection, building
successively a windmill, blacksmith's and carpenter's shops,
barns, cowsheds, etc., besides an excellent chapel, in addition to a large dwelling-house, of hewn timber, for the
" The church is quite large, and is tastefully and even
beautifully decorated. I was shown the handsomely carved
and gilded altar, the statue of our * Mother,' brazen crosses,
and rich bronzed fonts — work which at sight appears so
well executed as to lead one to suppose that they must all
have been imported.
" Works of ornament are not their only deeds. A grindstone, hewn out of the native rock, and modeled by the
same hand which made the chisel which wrought it, tinware, a blacksmith's bellows, plow-shares, bricks for their
chimneys, their own tobacco-pipes, turned with the lathe
out of wood, and lined with tin, all have been made by
their industry. In household economy they are not excelled.
They make their own soap, candles, vinegar, etc., and it is
interesting and amusing to listen to the account of their
plans, shifts and turns, in overcoming obstacles at their
first attempts, their repeated failures and their final triumphs.   The present condition of the mission is as follows :
" The buildings are : The house, a good, substantial,
comfortable edifice; the chapel, a building sufficiently large mssmm
to accommodate the whole Kalispel nation. A small building is attached to the dwelling-house; it contains a couple
of sleeping-rooms, and a workshop, a blacksmith's shop,
and a storeroom for the natives. These are all built of
square or hewn timber. Besides these there are a number
of smaller outbuildings, built of logs, for the accommodation of their horses and cattle during the winter, and an
excellent roothouse.
I The mission farm consists of about 160 acres of cleared
land: wheat (spring), barley, onions, cabbages, parsnips,
peas, beets, potatoes and carrots. Father Hoeken says, that
if the children see carrots growing, they must eat some.
Says he, ' I must shut my eyes to the theft, because they cannot resist the temptation. Anything else than carrots, the
little creatures respect.'
" The Indians are very fond of peas and cabbages, but
beets, and particularly onions, they dislike. The other productions of the farm are cattle, hogs, poultry, butter and
cheese. Around the mission buildings are the houses of the
natives. These are built of logs and hewn timber, and are
sixteen in number. There are also quite a number of mat
and skin lodges. Although the tribe is emphatically a
wandering tribe, yet the mission and its vicinity are looked
upon as headquarters.
" When the missionaries came among the Indians, they
found them to be a poor, miserable, half-starved race, with
an insufficiency of food, and nearly naked ; living upon fish,
camas and other roots, and, as the last extremity, upon
the pine-tree moss. They were in utter misery and want.
The whole time was occupied in providing for their bellies,
which were rarely full. They were of a peaceable disposition, brave, good-tempered and willing to work.
" Of spiritual things they were utterly ignorant. Unlike
the Indians east of the mountains, they had no idea of a
future state or of a Great Spirit, neither had they any idea
of a soul; in fact, they had not words in their language to
express such ideas.   They considered themselves to be ani-
, 1270
mais, nearly allied to the beaver, but greater than the beaver,
* because,' they said, ' the beaver builds houses like us, and
he is very cunning; true, but we can catch the beaver, and
he cannot catch us, therefore we are greater than he.'
" They thought that when they died, that was the last of
them. While thus ignorant, it was nothing uncommon for
them to bury the very old and the very young alive, because,
they said, ' these cannot take care of themselves, and we
cannot take care of them, and they had better die.'
" The missionaries had an arduous labor before them.
They commenced by gaining the good will of the inhabitants, by means of small presents, and by manifesting great
interest in their welfare, in attendance upon the sick, and by
giving the poor creatures food, seeds and instruction as to
" The Indians could not help seeing that no hopes of
temporal or personal benefit induced the missionaries thus
to labor among them.
" The missionaries told them that they had a Creator,
and that he was good. They told them of their Savior, and
of the manner of addressing him by prayer. To this they
listened, and believed.
" The people look up to the Father, and love him. They
say that if the Father should go away, they would die.
" Before the advent of the missionaries, the inhabitants,
though totally destitute of religious ideas, still believed that
evil and bad luck emanated from a fabulous old woman or
sorceress. They were great believers in charms or medicine. Every man had his particular medicine or charm, and
from it they expected either good or ill. some it
would be the mouse, with others the deer, buffalo, elk, salmon, bear, etc. ; and whichever it was, the savage would
carry a portion of it constantly with him.    The tail of a
mt L mt
mouse, or the fur, hoof, claw, feather, fin, or scale, of whatever it might be, became the amulet. When a young man
grew up, he was not yet considered a man until he had discovered his medicine.    His father would send him to the INDIANS   ARE   WILLING   TO   WORK.
top of a high mountain in the neighborhood of the present
mission; here he was obliged to remain without food until
he had dreamed of an animal; the first one so dreamed
about becoming his medicine for life. Of course, anxiety,
fatigue, cold and fasting would render his sleep troubled,
and replete with dreams. In a short time he would have
dreamed of what he wanted, and return to his home a man.
" The missionaries say that these Indians are industrious,
and not lazy, as compared to other Indians; that they are
willing to work; but the land is so poor, and so little of it
is susceptible of cultivation, that they cannot farm enough.
I The mission farm, as already stated, contains about 160
acres. This is kept up for the natives, as but a few acres
would be amply sufficient for the missionaries. Each Indian
who wishes it, is allowed a certain amount of land to cultivate for his own use, and is provided with tools and seeds.
" Before reaching the Mission of St. Ignatius, Doctor
Suckley found four lodges of the Pend d'Oreilles about half
a mile above the outlet of Lake De Boey. These lodges were
all built after the fashion of the Sioux lodge, with the single
difference that they were covered with mats of reeds, instead of skins. These mats are made of rushes laid parallel,
and fastened together at their ends. For convenience in
traveling, the mats are rolled into cylindrical bundles, and
are thus easily carried in canoes. Doctor Suckley's provisions being out, he concluded to lodge all night with All-ol-
stargh, the head of the encampment. The other lodges were
principally occupied by his children and grandchildren.
t Shortly after our entrance,' says Doctor Suckley, ' All-ol-
stargh rung a little bell; directly the lodge was filled with
the inhabitants of the camp, men, women and children,
who immediately got on their knees, and repeated, or rather
chanted, a long prayer, in their own language. The repetition of a few pious sentences, an invocation, and a hymn,
closed the exercises. In these the squaws took as active a
part as the men. The promptness, fervency and earnestness, all showed, was pleasing to contemplate.   The partici-
vt'ji I
pation of the squaws in the exercises, and the apparent foot-*
ing of equality between them and the men, so much unlike
their condition in other savage tribes, appear remarkable.' "
The following trait, mentioned by Mr. Doty in his report,
attests their good faith and decision of character :
" On the 1st of November, six Pend d'Oreille Indians
came to this post, and delivered up all the horses that were
stolen. It appears that they were taken by two young Pend
d'Oreilles, and run to the Pend d'Oreille camp, then hunting
beyond the Muscleshell, under the command of a chief of
that nation, Alexander. The horses were recognized, by the
stamps, as belonging to the whites, and the young men confessed having stolen them at this post. A council was held,
and it was determined that it was a great sin to steal horses
from the white men who were friendly to them; that the
wishes of the ' Great Soldier Chief,' who had been at St.
Mary's, were known to them, and they had promised compliance with them; that stealing these horses would give the
Pend d'Oreilles the name of liars and triflers ; that they had
always borne a good name, and were ashamed to have mean
things said of them now ; therefore the horses must be taken
back by the great chief and five principal men of the tribe.
Accordingly, they came boldly to the fort and delivered up
the horses, without asking any reward, but, on the contrary,
expressing much sorrow and shame that they had been
" Thus the six Indians proved themselves not only honest,
but brave in the highest degree, coming, as they did, five
days and nights into an enemy's country, simply to do an act
of justice to strangers. They remained here two days, and
on departing were accompanied by Mr. Clark and myself
fifteen or twenty miles on their journey."
In regard to the Flatheads, the Governor says :
" Lieutenant Mullan, in his journal of September 20th,
relates the following incident, illustrative of their noble
character :  ' We had to-night a great luxury, in a string of THREE   NOBLE RED  MEN.
mountain trout, brought into camp by one of our Flathead
friends. Our Indians displayed, on this occasion, a trait
worthy of notice. They were without meat or anything to
eat. We were without meat, but had a little flour left from
our small stock of provisions. These being the first fish
caught by any of the party, they insisted on our taking
them. This we refused, but they insisted, until we were
compelled to accept them.' He continues : ' I cannot say
too much of the three noble men who were with us. They
were firm, upright, reliable men, and, in addition thereto,
entertained a religious belief, which they never violated.
They did not partake of a meal without asking the blessing
of God; they never rose in the morning or retired at night
without offering a prayer. They all knew the country well,
and were excellent guides and hunters. When they could
not find fresh meat, they accepted the remnants from our
scanty table with the greatest contentedness.'
" The Flatheads recognize Victor as their chief, an Indian
of the same name being the chief of the lower Pend
d'Oreilles. These two tribes usually accompany each other
in their great hunting expeditions east of the Rocky Mountains. The heroism of the Flatheads in battle, and their
good faith toward others, have been the theme of praise,
both from priest and layman."
Speaking of the Cœur d'Alênes, the Governor says :
" The Cœur d'Alêne Indians are under-estimated by all
the authorities. They have some seventy lodges, and number about 500 inhabitants. They are much indebted to the
good Fathers for making considerable progress in agriculture. They have abandoned polygamy, have been taught
the rudiments of Christianity, and are greatly improved in
morals and in the comforts of life. It is indeed extraordinary what the Fathers have done at the Cœur d'Alêne mission. It is on the Cœur d'Alêne river, about thirty miles
from the base of the mountains, and some ten miles above
the Cœur d'Alêne lake. ■274
Agricultural progress of Indians.
" They have a splendid church, nearly finished by the
labors of the Fathers, brothers and Indians ; a large barn ;
a horse-mill for flour; a small range of buildings for the
accommodation of the priests and brothers; a storeroom; a
milk or dairy-room; a cookroom, and good arrangements
for their pigs and cattle. They are putting up a new range
of quarters, and the Indians have some twelve comfortable
log cabins. The church was designed by the superior skill
of the mission, Father Ravalli, a man of skill as an architect,
and undoubtedly, judging from his well-thumbed books, of
various accomplishments. Father Gazzoli showed me his
several designs for the altar, all of them characterized by
good taste and harmony of proportion. The church, as a
specimen of architecture, would do credit to any one, and
has been faithfully sketched by our artist, Mr. Stanley. The
massive timbers supporting the altar were from larch trees
five feet in diameter, and were raised to their place by the
Indians, with the aid simply of a pulley and a rope.
" They have a large, cultivated field, of some 200 acres,
and a prairie of from 2,000 to 3,000 acres. They own 100
pigs, eight yokes of oxen, twenty cows, and a liberal proportion of horses, mules and young animals.
" The Indians have learned to plow, sow, till the soil
generally, milk cows (with both hands), and do all the
duties incident to a farm. They are, some of them, expert
woodcutters; and I saw at work, getting in the harvest,
some thirty or forty Indians. They are thinking of cutting
out a good trail to St. Mary's valley, over the Cœur d'Alêne
Mountains (on the route passed over by me). They need
agricultural implements and seeds.
" The country generally, on both sides of
d'Alêne river and lake, is rolling and beautiful,
spersed with many small prairies, all affording excellent
grazing, and most of them adapted to crops. The rolling
country could be easily cleared, and would yield excellent
wheat and vegetables.   I have no question that all the coun-
the   Cœur
It is inter- mmm
try, from the falls of the Cœur d'Alêne to some distance
above the mission, and thence to near Clark's Fork, a region
of 3,000 or 4,000 square miles, is adapted to grazing and
culture. A small portion will be overflowed by the melting
of the mountain snows, and another portion will be occupied
by the mountain spurs or isolated peaks, capable simply of
furnishing timber and fuel.
If The Fathers state that a better site for the mission is
furnished by a river flowing from the southeast into the
western end of the Cœur d'Alêne lake, and called by them
St. Joseph's river. It is said to be larger than the Cœur
d'Alêne river, to have many prairies along its banks, and the
country generally to abound in wood, grass and water.
p On the return of the Indians from the field above spoken
of, I talked to them in these words :
" j I am glad to see you, and to find that you are under
such good direction. I have come four times as far as you
go to hunt the buffalo, and have come with directions from
the Great Father to see you, to talk with you, and to do all
I can for your welfare. I see cultivated fields, a church,
houses, cattle and the fruits of the soil — the works of your
own hands. The Great Father will be delighted to hear
this, and will certainly assist you. Go on ; and every family
will have a house and a patch of ground, and every one will
be well clothed. I have talked with the Blackfeet, who
promise to make peace with all the Indian tribes. Listen to
the Good Father and to the good brothers who labor for
your good."
These details are drawn from the Message of the President of the United States to Congress, 1854-5, p. 416.
Accept, dear Father, my respectful homage, and believe
me, Your devoted servant and brother in Christ,
P. J. De SMET, S. J. /I
Indians of the Rocky Mountains.
To Editor of the Précis Historiques, Brussels.3
St. Francis Xavier, Feb. 4, 1856.
Reverend Father:
I have just received a letter from Father Adrian Hoeken,
dated October 18th, at the united camp of the Flatheads
and Pend d'Oreilles, in the region of the great plains, east
of the Rocky Mountains. The Indians had gone there to
attend a peace council, held by order of the United States
Government. Father Hoeken attended, at the express request of Governor Stevens of Washington Territory, who
shows every regard to the Fathers, and whose reports to the
President evince the lively interest which he feels in the
improvement of the material condition of the Indians under
our care.
The Blackfeet, Crows, Flatheads, Pend d'Oreilles, Kootenais, and a great number of chiefs of other tribes attended
the council. It is to be hoped that the stipulations of the
new treaty will be ratified by Government. On the one hand,
the Indians promise to remain at peace with each other;
on the other, the whites and the Government to aid them
by subsidies in educating their children, and by farming
implements to encourage them to leave their nomad life
and settle in a convenient spot on their own lands. It is to
be hoped that the council will succeed in realizing this laudable plan.
Father Hoeken tells me that the Indians of our missions
west of the Rocky Mountains (the Flatheads, Pend
d'Oreilles, Cœur d'Alênes, Kootenais, Kettle Falls Indians),
continue, by their regular and religious conduct, to give the
missionaries great consolation. He speaks also of the good
dispositions of the Crows, Blackfeet and others east of the
mountains. These Indians earnestly solicit missionaries.
Colonel Cummings, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who
5 From Western Missions and Missionaries, p. 292.
■iktlMllkVk'iaWUailllM&SSSC DURING  THE  OREGON   WAR.
presided at the great Indian council, assured me, on his
recent return to St. Louis, that all the tribes of the upper
Missouri are devoted to us. He would gladly use his influence with Government for the success of our missions
among them. Before setting out for the council, he expressed the wish that I should accompany him to the great
Indian assembly.
In a letter from Father Congiato, dated at Santa Clara,
November 29th, that superior of the missions of California
and Oregon, speaks of his visit to the missions in the mountains.   It lasted three months.   The following is an extract :
" The Fathers do much good in that remote region. Like
his venerable brother, who died on the Missouri in 1851,
Father Hoeken does the work of several men. He has succeeded in uniting three nations and a part of the Flatheads
to live together under his spiritual direction.
"All was going on wonderfully well when I was in Oregon ; now all is on fire. The Indians who live on the banks
of the Columbia, from Walla Walla to the Dalles, have
joined the Indians of northern California to make war on
the Americans or whites, and commit great depredations.
One of the Oblates (Father Pandory) has been massacred.4
The last tidings which I received from the Mission of St.
Paul at Colville, inform me that your Indians express their
horror for the excesses committed by the Indians, and show
no disposition to join them in the war. Pray for your fellow missionaries in Oregon."
Several papers in this country ascribe the origin of this
war to the cruelties perpetrated by some whites on a peaceful and tranquil band of Indians. I do not think that our
Indians will take the least part in the difficulties which have
arisen between the Americans and the Indians of the Columbia. They will doubtless follow the advice of their missionaries, who will divert them from such a great danger and so
sad a misfortune.   Moreover, they are at some distance from
4 This was a false report.— Editor,  Western Missions and Missionaries. 1278
the actual seat of war, and have had but trifling intercourse,
if any, with the hostile tribes.
Do not forget me in your prayers, and obtain prayers for
the wretched. I have just received a second letter from
Father Hoeken from the Flathead village of St. Ignatius.
He has several nations there. The conversions among the
Indians have been very consoling and numerous in the
course of last year.
In the name of all the Indians east and west of the mountains, he implores me to revisit them. The Blackfeet, Crows,
Assiniboins, Sioux and others incessantly implore our aid.
These nations are still very numerous. They number over
70,000 souls. Religious should, before all else, be children
of obedience. It is the affair of our superiors. We shall
never cease to aid them by our prayers, and commend them
in a special manner to the remembrance of the pious. CHAPTER IV.
An excursion among the Yanktons — Quarters assigned — Talks all
day and wrestles with the enemy all night—Baptism of head chief —
His experience with a miraculous medal — A good Indian — Repulses
sectarians — Letter from chiefs — The Indian Bureau consulted in regard to formation of a mission — Letters to public men — Nomination
of Indian agents — Statistics of mountain tribes.
St. Louis University, March 22, 1866.
Major-General Sully,
Headquarters District Upper Missouri, Clinton, Iowa:
Dear General.— I received your kind favor of the 28th
ultimo. You will excuse me for not answering it sooner.
I had to postpone it till the arrival of the Superior of the
Board of the University, who has been on a long absence.
He has now just returned and your propositions, concerning
Indian missions, have been taken up for consideration.
Allow me to return my sincere thanks for the kind and
favorable feelings you express in your letter toward the
Catholic missions in general. Your suggestion of establishing a mission at Fort Berthold among the three united
bands of Mandans, Aricaras and Grosventres, and among
the Sioux near Fort Randall, was highly approved and will
be looked to. Owing to our numerous establishments and
the great want of personal means, the design could not immediately be acted upon. It will, I hope, be done before
long and as soon as practicable and when the proper persons
can be prepared for carrying out the views proposed and
with the permission of the proper civil and military authorities.
[1279] i28o
I intend leaving St. Louis on the 7th of April, on the
Fannie Ogden. I hope I shall have the honor of meeting
you on my way up the river. Should I meet the head men
of the Santee tribe and the chiefs at Fort Berthold I shall
do my best to encourage them.
With sentiments of the highest consideration of respect
and esteem, I have the honor to be, dear General, etc.
Tribe of the Yanktons, in the vicinity of
Fort Randall, July, 1866.1
Very Reverend Father Provincial:
In this letter I shall give you a faithful statement of my
mission among the Yanktons. I do not doubt in the least
that your Reverence and the consulting Fathers will take
under consideration the position of these good savages and
their admirable disposition toward the faith. Permit me
to go into minute details concerning all my relations with
them. If the consolations are sometimes great in the holy
ministry among the savages, I have also, at the station from
which I write, shared in a good portion of human misery.
The more fruitful were the days, the more miserable and
exhausting have the nights been. The following recital will
give you a faithful account of it.
Upon my arrival among the Yanktons, Indians and half-
breeds welcomed me among them with the utmost good
will. Every one expressed in particular his desire that I
should come and share his lodge or cabin, as the case might
be. As the families are usually quite numerous and their
quarters rather cramped, and in order that I might have
more free use of my time among them, I expressed my intention of occupying some little private abode, in whatsoever
condition, where I might discharge in quiet my spiritual
1 From the French of the Linton Album, p. 94.
duties ; say my early morning mass and recite my breviary.
They had the very thing for me — a poor cellar (fifteen
feet square) built of hewn timbers and covered with earth
and long abandoned. It was serving as a junk shed for all
the community and Was full of rags, pieces of rusted iron,
chips, planks, etc. This was all cleared away and the place
swept out. My little effects were quickly transported
thither, and in less than an hour I took possession, without
the least doubt that I would spend several agreeable days
there in the instruction of the Indians, and several tranquil
nights in reposing after the fatigues and the great heats of
the day. I had a long conference with the chiefs and their
subjects concerning the motives of my visit; I answered all
their questions, and it was prolonged well into the night.
At last I said prayer with my new community, we smoked
one last calumet together, and then every one, thanking
me joyfully for my presence, withdrew to give himself up
to repose under his own roof.
Worn out by the heat of the day and the fatigues of the
journey, I expected to enjoy a good sleep. I had reckoned
without my hosts. I had been perhaps ten minutes in bed
and was almost asleep, when I was awakened with a start.
The dugout was swarming with famished rats; they came
and laughed in my very face. Night is their particular
domain and they make the best use they can of it in their
own behalf. They carried on at a shocking rate. They
were rummaging all my bags of provisions, and were about
to begin in earnest the transportation of such of their contents as suited their purposes into their caves, when I stopped
them short. To prevent the depredations of the rats, I hung
my sacks to the posts of my mansard out of reach oï any
attempts on the part of these highwaymen. During this
labor I felt myself assailed by another enemy, the flea. If
he is not so formidable as the rat, he is more importunate
and he attaches himself to his prey in a most tenacious manner.   Often one is deceived into the consoling belief that he
has put his finger upon him, but "he is not there."   To
81 1282
be brief, I was awake and up all night, making play with my
hands, fingers and nails to defend myself against the fleas
and their comrades in evil-doing, the mosquitos, the bedbugs, the ants, the spiders, et omne genus muscarum. As
you will perceive, dear Father, all is not gold that glitters.
The more beautiful and consoling had been the day, among
those good Indians, who lent such earnest attention to my
words, the more sorry and troubled was the night. Take
what precautions I would for the night, during my fortnight among the Yanktons, and with all my fruitful and
consoling relations with them on each day — I spent all my
hours instructing them and baptizing their little ones and
those about to die — still each night I must go on the warpath afresh against .the common enemy, the veritable
scourge of this region. But of course, putting miseries and
consolations in the balance, the latter outweigh as much as
light surpasses darkness.
The results of my mission among the Yanktons have
been very happy. I have baptized all the little children that
were in the camp, about ioo in number, together with some
fifteen adults, among whom I count the head chief of the
tribe with his spouse. I think a little notice of the life and
character of this head chief may please you. I will transcribe it from the notes in my journal.
On the 6th of this month (July) I baptized solemnly the
head chief of the Yankton tribe, named Pananniapapi, or
Man that Strikes the Ree. His tribe numbers in the neighborhood of 450 lodges, say 3,000 souls. He is a remarkable man, the descendant of a long line of chiefs recognized
for their bravery in war against their enemies, but still more
for their wisdom in the councils of the Dakota nation, which
numbers 35,000 to 40,000 souls. I met Pananniapapi first
in 1844. He recalled all the circumstances to me. I had
at that time, he says, long talks with him regarding our
holy religion. I exhorted him to pray the Master of Life to
make him worthy to enter some day into the bosom of
Jesus Christ, and become a worthy child of his Church.   He
has remained faithful ever since to the words I spoke to him
upon religion, and has kept them carefully in his mind and
heart. He has preserved with care and respect the large
miraculous medal and has always Worn it, full of confidence
in the protection of the Mother of God, and he and all his
tribe have participated in her mighty favors.
He recounted to me with primitive simplicity the benefits obtained from heaven by the intercession of Mary.
Once, in 1853, he and all his camp were buffalo hunting in
the vast plains of the West. It was the cholera year, and the
frightful scourge of God broke out among the Indians,
where its ravages were terrible. Thousands of them fell
victims to it. Pananniapapi's camp was attacked in its
turn and in one day thirty died. There was universal
mourning and nothing but groans and weeping was to be
heard anywhere. In the consternation of the moment, the
head chief exhorted his people to have trust in God and
apply to Mary. He placed the miraculous medal upon a
new white parfleche, neatly painted. Surrounded by his
people, he implored the succor of the Holy Virgin, the good
Mother of the children of God. Pananniapapi embraced
the wonder-working medal devoutly, and amid their pious
invocations to Mary, which penetrated heaven, all the
Yanktons, 3,000 in number, full of trust, kissed the medal
after the example of their head chief. At the same instant
every symptom of the malady disappeared and the cholera
left them.
It gives me pleasure to add to this little tale the universal
testimony which I have received to the character of the
great and good chief Pananniapapi. He leads an exemplary life among his people. His charity is boundless.
His position as chief brings him certain remunerative favors from the Government which would put his family in
easy circumstances. He accepts them, and makes use of
them solely to relieve the distress of the poor members of
his tribe. He shares with resignation, nay, I may say with
joy, the general needs.    He wears no mark of distinction.
Vm   l 1284
He has adopted the costume of the whites; his garments
are humble, but clean. His bearing is at once modest and
imposing. In his speech he is grave and imposing, and he
is quick to take a point. His example is a model and lesson to all. Although sixty-five years of age and almost
blind, he is always the first at work, whether in the field, the
forest or the garden. The men, women and children of
his tribe need no other encouragement. With axe, pick and
shovel on their shoulders, they follow him everywhere
eagerly, either to the forest or to the field. Such an example is rare, especially in a head chief among the Indians,
so little accustomed to labor. They have over 800 acres
under cultivation. The vast field was admirably tended,
and promised a good ample crop.
The longer I stayed among the Yanktons, the more I was
struck with the manners and bearing of Pananniapapi. His
modest exterior, his words full of wisdom and prudence,
brought to my mind an ancient Patriarch or Nestor of the
wilderness. During his younger years, he distinguished
himself in war by deeds of valor. He bears the honorable
marks upon him, but without ostentation. A three-inch
arrowhead remained in the small of his back for sixteen
years. But he has distinguished himself still more by his
wise and moderate counsels upon the most important affairs
of his nation. At the death of him who was head chief
before him, he was chosen unanimously to fill his place, and
he has ever discharged the duties of it with honor and for
the best interests of his people.
My arrival in the thirty-mile square Yankton reservation was a real day of rejoicing for Pananniapapi. He received me with all demonstrations of the sincerest joy, and
eagerly renewed his invitation of twenty-two years before,
that we should come and establish ourselves on his land and
open a mission there for the instruction of children and of
the members of his tribe. He has often had to resist the
artifices of Government agents and employees, who have
mmnnmuiiwimtWHBCBttfl NO   USE   FOR   MINISTERS.
sought, unasked, to impose missionaries of their own particular sect upon his tribe, by force and against his remonstrances. Pananniapapi has always resisted all their attempts. When they asked him his reason for refusing his
consent to their benevolent and charitable intentions toward
his tribe, he replied modestly, " I am thankful for the occasion you give me to tell you all my thought with reference
to this important matter. My opposition to your plans is a
sincere and conscientious duty to the Great Spirit, which I
desire to discharge. I made up my mind on this subject
twenty-two years ago. I wish to put the instruction of the
youth of my tribe into the hands of the Black-robes ; I consider them alone the depositaries of the ancient and true
faith of Jesus Christ, and we are free to hear and follow
them." The ministers answered him : " The religion of
the Black-robes may be good, but ours is the best ; why not
rather accept ours ? " The chief replied, " I have told you
that my resolution goes back a great many years. In the
old Church the Mother of Jesus Christ is honored. When
the cholera attacked us in the desert, all my camp was put
under the protection of Mary. She deigned to come to our
rescue; I always wear her medal." And he told them the
story of the miraculous occurrence in the plain. He continued : " Besides, like ourselves you have your wives and
children; they possess your hearts and are your principal
preoccupation. You wish to come and settle among us.
That is to gather wealth and enrich your wives and children
at our expense. The Black-robe has neither wife nor children. His heart is undivided. All his care is for God and
the happiness of the people that surround his cabin and the
house of prayer. Since my first talk with the Black-robe
I have had no other thought but to embrace the ancient
religion of Jesus Christ, if I can make myself worthy. My
mind is made up." His answer has always been the same
to all renewals of the question. Pananniapapi has remained imperturbable as to his choice of a religion for
twenty-two years.    To-day he enjoys  the  distinguished
USi J 1286
happiness of having been regenerated in the holy waters of
baptism with his wife Mazaitzashanawé under the patronage of St. Peter and St. Anne.
As soon as I came he renewed his petition with ardor, to
obtain a Catholic mission among the Yanktons. In my long
experience with Indians, I have never seen so durable and
admirable a persistency. He spent all the time he could
spare with me. We had long talks together upon religion,
and he was most attentive.
May all the tribe of the Yanktons, after the example of
their great chief, become worthy to enter hereafter into the
sweet fold of the Divine Shepherd! May the long-desired
Catholic mission be established among these children of the
desert, under the illustrious patronage of the Holy Virgin,
to be led to the knowledge of the word of her Divine Son,
the only door of salvation !
Come, Reverend Father, to the aid of the Indians by your
holy sacrifices and prayers, for the fulfillment of their desire — a mission among them. The land which the Yanktons occupy is the doorway to the vast territories of the
Dakotas or Sioux, who are 35,000 to 40,000 in number. In
my various meetings with the Sioux tribes, they have always treated me with much respect and kindness and given
close attention to my words.
I have the honor to be, with the deepest respect and the
most sincere esteem
Very Reverend Father Provincial, Revae Vae Servus in
Copy of Letter of Yankton Chiefs.
Greenwood, D. T., July 26, 1866.
Reverend Dear Father De Smet:
I send you a few lines from the chiefs of the Yanktons.
They say when  they were  at  Washington  their  Great PETITION  OF YANKTON  CHIEFS.
Father promised them a school and teachers, and now it is
seven years and they have seen nothing as yet. Doctor Burleigh had a school for his children. There is another religious [teacher] that wants to come and remain with us.
He wants to teach us the Santee language, but we do not
want them. We want no other but you and your religion.
The other wants to learn us how to read and sing in the Indian language and which we all know how to do in our own
way. What we want is to learn the American language and
their ways. We know enough of the Indian ways. I am
now very old and before I die I want to see a school and
the children learn how to read and write in the American
language, and if you will try and get with us, I will be very
happy. Our agent has not arrived as yet, but when he
comes I will have a long talk with him and will send you
an answer to what he says.
I will say not much until the agent arrives and then I
will tell him what I have to say and what I want and then
I will send you a few lines. After you had gone, all my
Indians have had plenty of buffalo. We have made a surround from this place. I think the Great Spirit will take
pity on us and grant all our requests. Hoping that we may
hear and see you soon, we remain, ever yours.
2(I write this for the Chiefs, who have requested me so
to do.)
J. B. CHARDON, for Indians.
2 Note in parenthesis by Chardon. 'i
St.   Louis University, Nov. 24, 1866.
Honorable Sir:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the " Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for the year
1865," which you had the great kindness to forward to me,
and for which I return you my most sincere thanks.
I avail myself of the present occasion to lay respectfully
before you a little incident of my late missionary visit
among the Indian tribes of the upper Missouri. At the
special request of Pananniapapi, or " The Man who Strikes
the Ree," the head chief of the Yankton tribe and several
of his braves who reside at the Yankton Agency below Fort
Randall, I remained some time amongst them. During my
whole stay, I found them all very attentive and respectful.
Since my first interview with Pananniapapi, in 1843, ^e
had nourished a longing desire, as he expressed it, " to see
the old Black-robes (the priests) reside among his people,
to instruct the Indian youth and to teach them the saving
truths of Christianity." On my recent visit last summer he
manifested anew this his old desire with an urgent request
to come and locate on the land reserved for his tribe. The
chiefs, having made up their minds, in regard to the religious profession of the teachers of their children, had been
opposed hitherto to the establishing of schools by teachers
of other denominations contrary to their own choice.
I could not give at that time a positive promise to Pananniapapi, the affair having first to be proposed to our own
Board of Missions in St. Louis, and the practicability of its
execution having first to be discussed. The Yankton Indians are under treaty with the Government, and a school
fund, if I have been well informed, has been established in
favor of their tribe consisting, I am told, of about 450
lodges, or 2,500 souls.
I would feel grateful for information on the following
points : First. Should our Board of Missions agree to
grant a Catholic missionary establishment, as expressly de-
sired by the chiefs of the Yankton tribe, will it meet with
the approbation of the Indian Bureau in Washington?
Second. In case it meets with the consent of the proper
authorities, I would beg to be informed as to the conditions
and stipulations of the Yankton Treaty in regard to the
formation and allowances for aforesaid schools.
With sentiments of the highest consideration of respect
and esteem, I have the honor to be, etc.
Honorable L. V. Bogy,
Com'r of Indian Affairs,
Washington, D. C.
St. Louis University, July 30, 1868.
Dear General:
According to promise you have a right to a letter from
me. I shall ever remember your extraordinary kindness to
me whilst in the upper country. Since I left Fort Sully I
suffered greatly from the unprecedented atmospheric heat.
I had made up my mind, after my arduous trip to the hostile
bands on the Yellowstone river, to take a few days' rest at
St. Mary's Mission, among the Potawatomies, in Kansas,
The thermometer at that place and in the shade, ranged
from 104 to 1090. Of course, I availed myself of the
coolness after the first good shower, to proceed hastily to
St. Louis, which I reached a few days ago. I find the heat
here more moderate, still it continues to be excessive and I
am under great sufferings and in real danger. Deaths from
the heat are very common and are of daily occurrence.
At Omaha I had the pleasure of entertaining the Right
Reverend Bishop O'Gorman last mission in the upper Missouri, principally among the various Indian tribes. I have
exposed to him the great need and want of a Catholic chaplain to visit the various military forts along the river and
attend to the spiritual welfare of the numerous Catholic
\M i2go
soldiers they contain. He felt moved at the representation
made, but owing to the great scarcity of priests in his immense district, I doubt much whether he will be able to
grant any assistance in this respect. At this moment the
Archbishop is absent from St. Louis. At his return I shall
expose the case to him in earnest terms and at your particular request. With some certainty, or at the least, good
hope, I can announce to you that a mission of our Society
will be established on the new contemplated Indian reservations, in all probability among the Yanktonnais (the Two
Bears band) who number over 700 lodges. From this establishment, in case of no regular chaplain being appointed,
a Father will be able to visit yearly all the military posts
on the Missouri. Should any suggestion occur to your mind
on this subject, please inform me. I shall do my best and
take great pleasure to bring it about. When last at Fort
Sully, I informed you of my intended trip to Europe.
Under urgent circumstances two Fathers have left; a month
ago to perform the duties intended for me. Should you
have any commands or orders for the Old World, I shall
with pleasure communicate them to my friends, who will
promptly and readily fulfill the requests. Any other commands from here in books, etc., I shall, with pleasure,
attend to.
I intend shortly to write to good Captain Duffy and
family. I procured two little libraries of very interesting
books for his dear young children and shall send them by
the safest and best occasion. I have carefully kept the address of his son, Master James, and shall soon write to him.
A beautiful prayer-book and other books are bundled up
and ready to be forwarded to Rhode Island.
Please present my best respects to Mrs. Stanley and remember me to your dear little daughters.
Most respectfully, etc.,
General D. S. Stanley,
Fort Sully, D. T. all
St. Louis University, Sept. 9, 1868.
Dear General.
I heard to-day of the arrival of General Sherman and
paid him a visit at his office. I represented to him the case of
removing the Upper Missouri tribes in the vicinity of Forts
Sully and Rice, to the neighborhood of Fort Randall, adding its objections and difficulties. The general showed me
the map intended for the Indian reservation. It is about
as large as the whole State of Missouri and extends from
Fort Randall, above Fort Sully. The upper Indians, he
added, " may select any spot, even opposite Fort Sully, if
they choose." I learned that General Harney has the entire
control of the reservation and that $200,000 have been
placed at his disposal, to help the Indians through the coming winter. Of course, you will see General Harney.
Your great experience, advice and direction will be of great
service to him and result in the welfare and happiness of
the Indians.
Try your best to induce my brother, Two Bears, to make
a good selection, not far away from Sully. Should a
Catholic mission be established, and I have good hopes it
shall, I would like it to be in his neighborhood, according
to the promise I made him. From a letter I received lately
from Colonel Otis Two Bears appears to me in great distress, as few animals are found in the prairies. Should you
see him, try to console him. In my answer to the colonel I
inserted a long paragraph to him.
Present my best respects to Mrs. Stanley, to Captain
Duffy and family. I received a very fine letter of his son.
James, from Rhode Island.
Should you find out a good locality for a mission, confer
on the subject with General Harney and give me information and advice in due time. I hope we shall not meet with
any opposition in Washington, if the sentiments of the
Indians are well known and duly represented by yourself
and Harney.   On the subject of missions, as far as my ex- 1292
perience goes, the Indians have always pronounced in favor
of the Black-gowns, or Catholic missions. I truly hope and
pray that their expectations may be soon realized and that
the light of faith may redound upon them.
Most respectfully, etc.,
D. S. Stanley, Brevet Major-General,
Fort Sully, D. T.
P. S.—I hope my letter of the 4th instant has reached you.
Honorable Sir.
St. Louis University, July 16, 1869.
In writing the other day to Mr. John B. Motley, solicitor
of patents, etc., I requested him in case of meeting you to
present you my kindest respects and regards and my most
sincere congratulations for the high and important office to
which our worthy President has called you. I entertain
the fullest convictions that the appointment will redound to
the general welfare of our red brethren throughout the
Union, and particularly among the numerous tribes of the
Far West. I shall always remember with true satisfaction
and pleasure the honor I have had of visiting the Sioux
tribes in your company and that of General Sully, in the
summer of 1867. Accept my sincere thanks for the many
favors and great kindness you bestowed on me on that
The answer I received from my friend Motley, in regard
to his kind compliance with my request, encourages me to
address this letter to you to let you know my future intentions in regard to a visit to the Sioux tribes in the Upper
Missouri country. In my visits last year among the friendly
and among the hostile bands on the Yellowstone river I
was everywhere received with marked tokens of kindness,
respect and  confidence.    Two Bears and other principal «w
chieftains in their speeches at the council at Fort Rice, expressed the desire of my forming a missionary station in
their midst. In particular they entreated me to that effect.
I made no formal promise to them and have answered simply, " that I would do my best to bring it about." I learn
from various sources that Two Bears, chief of the Yanktonnais, and several others have been anxiously expecting
me. I arrived in St. Louis on the 7th ult., leaving
the cool climate of Belgium and stepping so suddenly into
the fullest heat of our Missouri summer, that I have been
rather suffering ever since. However, I have not abandoned
the intention of visiting the Sioux tribes in the neighborhood of Forts Sully and Rice as soon as I shall be able and
feel strong enough for the trip.
The situation of affairs in the upper country having somewhat changed in regard to missionary establishments, permit me to lay before you my plan, if admissible. Your
views on the subject will be gratefully received. My visit
to the upper country would be to select a place where a missionary station may be commenced early next spring and
where manual-labor schools may in time be erected. In
my visits last year I found all the half-breeds, who are
mostly Catholics, very sanguine on the subject and several
of the most prominent chiefs in the council at Fort Rice
made the same request to the commissioners.
Honorable Sir, I have another important matter to lay
before your consideration — a letter from the Reverend
Father Dielo, which I just received from St. Mary's Mission, Kansas. I feel particular interest in said mission because it was the Potowatomies, now of St. Mary's, among
whom I first commenced my missionary career. This mission has been in a flourishing condition for about thirty
years. At various times the establishment has been visited
by most distinguished and eminent men of the United
States. Senators Doolittle, Foster and Ross, General
Ewing and a host of others, have at various times honored
it with their presence and pronounced the establishment "A CONSULTS   ROBERT   CAMPBELL.
model mission " and the schools " a perfect success." The
Friends or Quakers now threaten to replace Doctor Palmer,
for many years the efficient and qualified agent of the
Potawatomies, who has given satisfaction to the greatest
number of Indians in his agency. The schools of the mission continue (The rest of the letter not copied in Press
St. Louis University, Jan. 6, 1870.
Honorable R. Campbell, St. Louis, Mo.:
Honorable Sir.— Having the honor of your acquaintance for these several years past in my capacity of missionary among the Indian tribes ; knowing the deep interest you take in the welfare of the Indians, and in your
present capacity as member of the Board of Commissioners instituted by the Government for the interest and
civilization of the Indians, allow me the liberty of laying before you my intention of establishing a mission among the
upper Sioux tribes, should it meet with the approbation of
the Board of Commissioners.
A few words of explanation may be here necessary. I
visited various bands of Sioux in the summer of 1868.
Several considerable portions of Indian tribes about Fort
Sully and Fort Rice were friendly and entertained peaceable dispositions toward the Government and the whites.
The presence of the hostile Sioux bands being highly desirable and necessary, to meet the commissioners at Fort
Rice, in order that a treaty of peace might be concluded, I
offered my services which were accepted. Accompanied
by Mr. C. E. Galpin, in the capacity of interpreter and a
band of friendly Indians as scouts, we proceeded across the
plains in a western direction. After about fifteen days'
travel we found the hostile bands to the number of several
thousand, encamped on the banks of the Yellowstone river
ten miles above the mouth of Powder river.     They had EXPLAINS   WISHES   OF   INDIANS.
been apprised of my approach by some of the scouts and I
was met by hundreds of warriors clad in their finest apparel
and war ornaments. They welcomed me into their country and amidst the greatest rejoicings conducted me to their
common camp, consisting of about 1,000 lodges and composed of Ogallalas, Brûlés, Blackfeet-Sioux, etc. The day
after my arrival I held a council with the Indians, attended
by thousands — a space of over an acre was surrounded by
Indian lodges and served as the council hall which was filled
to its utmost. I made known to them the benign intentions
of the Government, in their regard. I was listened to with
apparent great attention and received the answers from the
various orators appointed for the occasion. On my return
to Fort Rice I was accompanied by a number of deputies
from the hostile bands. They attended the great council
of the Government commissioners and signed the treaty
of peace.
Several of the chiefs present at the council, in their
speeches to the commissioners expressed a desire to be attended by Black-robes or Catholic priests for their instruction and that of their children. For years past, during my
missionary visits to them, and more particularly in the summer of 1868 at Fort Rice, have I been earnestly requested
by the chiefs to make a missionary establishment in their
midst — I made them a formal promise to that effect, if
in my power, to interest myself in their behalf. I entertained the hope of seeing them the following summer in
1869, but being called to Europe on business and on account of subsequent sickness on my return to the United
States, I have been compelled to postpone my visit until
next spring.
In conformity with the wishes of numerous Indians and
half-breed families, I feel desirous to establish a mission
for their welfare in some well-suited locality. I must
here humbly observe that our means for such an undertaking are very limited and inadequate. Should we be able
to bring the design about and should our services be ac- 1296
ceptable, my principal object in addressing you, Honorable
Sir, is to humbly beg you to present our case to the honorable
board of commissioners of which you are a distinguished
member. Should means be accorded for the undertaking of our contemplated mission, it shall be gratefully received and conscientiously applied in accordance with the
views of the Government and in favor of the Indians.
Allow me to make the observation, that our Catholic missions among the Potawatomies and Osages, during their
whole existence for over twenty years, have always been in
a flourishing condition and have merited the approbation
and praise of the various superintendents and agents of the
Government. The usefulness and good done by our missions in the Rocky Mountains (Montana and Idaho) are
highly spoken of in late letters I received from General
Should reference be necessary, allow me to name General
Sherman, Commissioner Parker, Generals Stanley, Harney,
Terry and Sully.
With sentiments of profound respect and esteem, I have
the honor to be, Honorable Sir, etc.
Honorable Sir:
St. Louis University, Sept. 15, 1870.
I received your very kind favor of the 9th instant. Please
accept my most sincere gratitude. Your letter has been
for two days on my table, but [has been delayed] owing to
bodily indisposition and very urgent matters to attend to,
and hoping the return of my Superior to confer with him
on the subject in question. He is still absent, but I can
no longer defer my answer.
A simple statement of our intention to erect a mission
among the Upper Missouri Sioux tribes early next spring
may here be necessary. I passed the months of June and
July in visiting the various military posts and Indian reser- LOCATIONS    FOR   SIOUX    MISSION.
vations from below Fort Thompson to Grand river. I was
kindly and well received by the various Sioux tribes and
bands. I had to listen to their usual little complaints and
apprehensions, but upon the whole they appeared to me
pretty well pleased and peaceable. Generally they seemed
anxious to have me establish missions among them. On
the occasion, I answered all their queries and gave them the
best advice in my power with the promise of doing what I
could to return soon among them to establish a mission for
their welfare and the education of their children.
At my return to St. Louis, in the beginning of last month
I gave an exposé, to my Superior and his consultors of my
visit and mission among the various Sioux tribes. They
readily approved and resolved on the establishment of a
mission among the aforesaid tribes, without deciding about
the locality. During the consultation a letter was read from
General Stanley, in which he advised, stating his motives,
establishing the mission in Peoria Bottom, where General
Harney raised buildings fifteen miles below Fort Sully and
where the little band of Yellow Hawk habitually resides.
(North side of the Missouri river.)
I will here state that, personally, I am in favor of establishing the mission on the Grand River reservation, from
the fact that it will bring the missionaries in closer contact
with a greater number of Indians and give them more facility to visit the hitherto hostile bands in the interior. I was
assured while at Grand