Two Worlds Collide

The coming of the "Black Robes" was foretold long before their arrival. In a great vision, Circling Raven, head chief during the 1600s, saw the coming of men wearing "long black robes with crossed-sticks under their belts" who would teach of a "new way to the heaven trails." In the spring of 1842 while on the prairie near Hayden Lake, the thirty-eight year old Father Pierre-Jean DeSmet was discovered wandering and lost by Stallam, the head chief at the time. For the Schitsu'umsh, it was less an opportunity "to learn from the priests [than] to teach the priests about the Coeur d'Alene ways and traditions!" The appeal of Christianity was eased by similarities in certain Catholic and Schitsu'umsh rituals and beliefs, as for example, in the belief in spiritual intermediaries such as saints and animal spirit guardians, the ritual use of sacred objects, water and incense, observance of feasting days, and the importance of religious practitioners, such as medicine people and priests. In addition, much of the desire to "welcome" the Black Robes was based upon their pledge to provide muskets, powder and shot to help hold off the ever menacing Blackfeet aggression. The weapons were never provided. "We accepted Catholicism, but on their own terms."
By the 1850s, under the direction of Father Antony Ravalli and with the labor of the Schitsu'umsh, the Mission of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, also known as the Cataldo Mission, was completed. Several families settled nearby and their children were soon being instructed in Catholicism and "civilized" skills. Beginning in the 1860's the Mission also served as an important rest area along the Mullan Road, linking Montana and Washington. But with the "bad influences" of miners and others so close at hand, the mission was moved in the 1870s to a "remote" site near of Hangman Creek, soon named, "DeSmet." The Sisters of Charity established and built a boarding school, with boys’ and girls’ dormitories, near the mission in 1878. More intensive instruction could now be directed at the youth of the tribe.
It was the desire of Father DeSmet and those priests who followed him to establish a "wilderness kingdom for God." To accomplish this task, the priests first needed to stop the "wandering, nomadic" ways of the Schitsu'umsh and settle them into a sedentary, self-sufficient community, isolated from outsider influences, where they, the priests, could control the lives of the people. The Schitsu'umsh needed to become farmers. Under the supervision of the priests, the scale of plant cultivation rapidly increased, with oats, potatoes, and wheat among the crops grown using state-of-the-art farm equipment. Schitsu'umsh farming "success" was most renowned throughout the northwest during the 1890s and into the early 1900s. Families often employed white laborers, and typically owned two homes, one on their farms and the other used on weekends at DeSmet were Mass was celebrated.
This information was found on this website here.
If you want to find out fascinating information about the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, check out the website. There are tribal members telling stories shared from generation to generation, there are words spoken from their original language, and you hear their story from their view, which, personally, I think is very interesting.

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