Sunday, January 27, 2013

Week Two: Book Reading, and Maps

            This week has been an exciting week indeed. I continued to read the assigned book, Father Peter John De Smet: Jesuit in the West, but when I read this week I kept written track of all the people he came in contact with. This made the reading go a little slower than before but gave me a very good picture of the people and places where he was traveling. Along the way I recognized a name I had seen last semester in a Western Frontier history course. The name was John Bidwell. I remember he was the one who found the California trail and had all kinds of problems along the way. De Smet was on this particular trip for the first half of the journey. So, De Smet actually met Bidwell. I found this very interesting.
            There was also another interesting thing I came across in the reading. According to the book the Flathead Indians claimed that one of their youth, a twelve-year-old child, had been blessed with a vision of the Virgin Mary. This made me wonder if there is any record of this in the Vatican.   
            When discussing my findings with the professor I am assisting, the subject of maps came up. He told me there was a few maps that hadn’t been published before that he had seen that were very interesting. I told the professor of my background in maps due to my time in the intelligence field in the Marine Corps. He then received permission from the archivist to show me  digital versions of the maps. They were all very well made, but were all detailed in French. The level of detail of all three maps amazed me, but one in particular caught my eye. It had a split in a major river, which I had thought looked familiar. I then looked online at some topographical maps of the area I thought was being depicted and was able to determine that I was correct. I then took a map of the area, and traced both to a distinct bend that was depicted in De Smet's, as well as the modern map. I then was able to obtain aerial photography of the area depicted by De Smet as a Native American camp. There along the river, in the place depicted on De Smet's map was a break in the rockface with an area covered in grass on flat ground. This could very easily be where this particular Native American camp was. It was an amazing experience to start to put pieces of a puzzle like this together. I am looking forward to working with these maps even more as my research continues.      

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