On New Year’s Day this year I was pleasantly surprised to have an email from a professor I had studied under during the previous semester. He asked if I wanted to be part of a research project centered on a Jesuit priest by the name of Jean –Pierre De Smet. I jumped at the chance to work with a favorite professor doing research. An added bonus is that this project will count as an internship and I will receive three credits for my work toward my graduation requirements. The work will be broken up over the fourteen weeks of the semester. The first six weeks will mainly be looking at the background of De Smet as well as creating a timeline of his life and travels. The last seven weeks of the project, I suspect, will be the most exciting. I will be putting together a map to document his travels.
My first assignment is to read the book, Father Peter John De Smet: Jesuit in the West by Robert C. Carriker. This book is a real enjoyable read. It helps that I took a class last semester that was based on the expansion of the Americans westward. Because of that class, most of the names in the book are familiar, as well as some of the Fort locations mentioned in De Smet’s travels.
I never realized the dangers that faced a missionary on the American frontier, so by reading about De Smet’s experiences I’m learning even more about the American Western Frontier. So far De Smet seems like he was someone who was born to do this kind of missionary work. He loves the adventure as well as ministering to the native people. He goes out of his way to make connections with as many tribes as possible, and braves the hostile western environment, including particularly bad weather. I have to admit I find myself intrigued by this man, and I am sure it will only get more and more interesting as I find out more about this mans life.