This past week has been a bit harder than the rest. This week I have been concentrating on trying to figure out what routes our subject, Father De Smet concentrated on when making his way between the various forts and missions throughout the Pacific Northwest. Once clue has been the terrain of the area. There are a lot of very rugged mountain ranges, and only a few ways in order to get around them. Another clue has been that all of the missions he created in the area are connected to waterways. This makes perfect sense because moving across large expanses of land with lots of cargo would be accomplished easier and faster with the help of water access. This goes along with a trend I have been seeing when looking at modern day local maps of the area. Most of the missions can be easily accessed by the use of a system of waterways, almost like waypoints throughout the area.
One of my tasks this week has been to contact Dr. Dan Flores from the University of Montana. I am hoping that there is some kind of map out there that he may know of, from his background in Western History and obviously his location in Montana that may depict often used Native American trails. In the mean time I have been using a map that was recommended to me from a professor in the history department here at Loyola. This map from the website www.havedonkeywilltravel.com depict some of the more traveled routes through some of the areas I am particularly interested in. It was this map that helped me realize the proximity of some of the missions to the Oregon Trail.
This week I have also begun to focus my energy on deciding which mapping platform I would like to utilize in order to complete the project. Currently, I am hoping to use a platform such as MacGPS pro. Software like this could help me to really depict the trails of the area, as well as the missions themselves. However, I am still looking at other possibilities, and exploring other websites to see if any of the platforms they used would in any way be more compatible with the maps as well as the overall aim of the project.
Overall I believe the project is coming along as planned, and though it is becoming more and more challenging, this experience and project are both very rewarding!