ville. St. Mary's Mission has had an eventful history. In 1850 it was closed temporarily, the improvements being leased to Major John Owen. Not until September, 1866, was the mission re-opened in charge of the venerated Father Ravalli. It is today a point of interest for the sight-seer in the Bitter Root Valley.
While the work of establishing the mission was in progress. Father DeSmet received a delegation from the Coeur d'Alene nation. They had heard of his arrival among the Flatheads, and came to request his services. "Father," said one of them to him, "we are truly deserving of your pity. We wish to serve the Great Spirit, but we know not how. We want some one to teach us. For this reason we make application to you." Their wish was granted, and the little tribe received the Christian religion with the same zeal and devotion that the Flatheads had displayed. The Pend d'Oreilles, too, a numerous tribe who dwelt in what is now northern Idaho, welcomed the missionaries, as also did the Nez Perces. Father DeSmet had little hope of converting the Blackfeet. They are the only Indians, he writes, of whose salvation we would have reason to despair if the ways of God were the same as those of men, for they are murderers, thieves, traitors, and all that is wicked. Father Point established a mission among them, but the Blackfeet are pagans even to this day.
In establishing the Rocky Mountain Missions, Father DeSmet and his companions had constant recourse to the experience of the Jesuit missionaries among the Indians of Paraguay. He expressly states that he made a Vade Mecum of the Narrative of Muratori, the historian of the Paraguay missions. The field west of the Rocky Mountains suggested to him many similarities with that among the native races of South America. The only obstacle to conversion in the one case as in the other, was the introduction of the vices of the whites. That alone stood in the way of the ultimate civilization of the natives. DeSmet refers to his missions as "reductions," a name borrowed from the South American system