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About this collection

Exposed to Christianity by fur trappers, Native Americans in Montana and Idaho, curious for guidance about their religion sent four representatives to St. Louis, reportedly to request the presence of a priest and a bible. The first Catholic priest in the Inland Northwest was Father DeSmet who built the St. Mary’s Mission in 1839. He oversaw the beginnings of Catholic missionary work among the Native Americans in the area, including the building of additional missions in present day Idaho and Washington. Father Cataldo was appointed to the Sacred Heart Mission in Coeur D’Alene in 1865, and eventually became superior of the Rocky Mountain Mission. The Sacred Heart Mission became the center of missionary work for northern Idaho and Washington. The Spaldings and Eells established Protestant missions amongst Nez Pearce and Spokane tribes but abandoned the area after the Whitman massacre in 1848. Ruins of these missions are a vision of the first forays into a remote wilderness, only seen by fur trappers and Native Americans, eventually paving the way for American settlement.

 
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