Open main menu

Page:Quarterlyoforego10oreg 1.djvu/284

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Edwin V. O'Hara

the full fruition that he expected. But most important of all, from a public point of view, was the fact that he had become a great power among the Indian tribes. All now knew him, many personally, the rest by reputation. He was the one white man in whom they had implicit faith. The government was beginning to look to him for assistance. The Mormon, the Forty-niner, the Oregon emigrant, came to him for information and advice. His writings already known on two continents and his name was a familiar one, at least in the religious world.[1]

Father DeSmet paid two subsequent visits to the scenes of his missionary labors in Oregon. The first of these visits was occasioned by the Indian outbreak in 1858, known as the Yakima war. The savages, viewing with alarm the encroachments of the whites upon their lands, formed a league to repel the invaders. Even the peaceful Flatheads and Coeur d'Alenes joined the coalition. The United States Government sent General Harney, who had won distinction in several Indian wars, to take charge of the situation. At the personal request of General Harney, Father DeSmet was selected to accompany the expedition in the capacity of chaplain. Their party reached Vancouver late in October, 1858. The news of the cessation of hostilities and the submission of the Indians had already reached the fort. But the Indians, though subdued, were still unfriendly, and there was constant danger of a fresh outbreak. The work of pacification was still to be effected. Upon this mission, DeSmet left Vancouver, under orders of the commanding general, to visit the mountain tribes some 800 miles distant.

He visited the Catholic soldiers at Fort Walla Walla, and there met Father Congiato, superior of the missions, from whom he received favorable information concerning the dispositions of the tribes in the mountains. By the middle of April, 1859, Father DeSmet had revisited practically all the tribes among whom he had labored as a missionary. On April

  1. Chittenden and Richardson, Vol. i, page 57.