On the last blog post I had mentioned that I had a goal of finding an exact timeline when Father De Smet was within the boundaries of the map. I was able to accomplish exactly that this week. The exact timeline gives me an idea of what was going on in the area with exploration as well as who else was passing through the territory. I spent most of my time this week though on my hands and knees in the basement of my house hovering over the laminated map, and using my computer as a guide. I was putting a face to the landscape I was seeing on the map itself, which is a very exciting endeavor.
I started with St. Mary’s Mission. I looked at topographical maps of the area and was surprised to find out that the mission is preserved in the city of Stevensville, Montana. I intend this week to call the phone number I found to see if I can get in contact with Lucylle Evans, who is a local historian in the area. If I have any questions about the surrounding area I hope she could clear them up for me, and also get a good contact close to the area I am researching.
This week I also received a bonus. Fed Ex dropped off a book from the professor I am currently working with. It is entitled, Sacred Encounters, and is an amazing resource. Inside there are other maps, as well as pictures I can use to get a firm layout of the land. I was astonished at the detail in some of Father De Smet’s other maps, which were included in this book, and I hope I will get to work with those as well.
Also, in the course of my book research, I was led to two other titles that will help me greatly. The first is entitled Nicolas Point, S.J.: His Life& Northwest Indian Chronicles. The second is entitled, Wilderness Kingdom, Indian Life in the RockyMountains: 1840-1847; The Journals and Paintings of Nicolas Point. Lastly, a book I found in my own research, Letters and sketches with a narrative of a years residence among the Indiantribes of the Rocky Mountains, held a wealth of knowledge as well. Father Nicolas Point, S.J. is important because he has a lot of experiences with the Native Americans from this area. His drawings and writing have helped to, just as De Smet’s writings have, portray a picture of not only life, but more importantly the landscape of this beautiful and rugged area.