Whitefish History & Museums: Father De Smet

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Father De Smet

Father De Smet was influential in helping Native Americans in the United States as he ministered them through the 1800s and taught them important skills in their survival. Read More

  • 1801: Pierre De Smet was born
  • 1827: Pierre De Smet was ordained and became a missionary
  • 1824 – 1830: Father De Smet studied the Indian culture
  • 1841: The St. Mary’s Mission was established
  • 1868: De Smet got Sitting Bull to accept the Treaty of Fort Laramie

Father Pierre-Jean De Smet was a Roman Catholic priest who was active in missionary work among the Native American Indian tribes in the western US. He became known as a “Friend of Sitting Bull.”

Pierre De Smet was born in Belgium.

He came to America and began his novitiate near Baltimore, Maryland.

Pierre De Smet attended a seminary school where he decided to become a missionary and was ordained into the Society of Jesus.

1824 – 1830
Father De Smet studied the Indian culture for some time, learning their customs and other important information about the tribes.

He married Ignace Los Angeles Mousse, a young Iroquois Indian. Marrying into the Flathead tribe brought about the interest of the tribe for him to minister them.

De Smet traveled to the Flathead camp in the Bitterroot Valley. The tribe welcomed him and he decided to build a permanent mission at this site. He left a month later for St. Louis to obtain the money and builders needed to erect the mission.

Father De Smet returned to the Flatheads and began teaching the Indians about agriculture. St. Mary’s Mission was established.

De Smet continued to work with the missions, and in this year he talked to Sitting Bull and got him to accept the Treaty of Fort Laramie.