Coeur d'Alene Indians--Chief Circling Raven's Prophesy

I enjoy learning about the early culture of the Coeur d'Alene Indians, who used to roam the land I live on freely for hundreds of years.

This is from a post I wrote back in 2007.  I like this story of Chief Circling Raven's Prophesy.


Most people in North Idaho are familiar with the name "Circling Raven" because it is the name of the golf course at the Coeur d'Alene Casino in Worley. But I'm not sure when this Schitsu'umsh chief had a vision hundreds of years ago that the casino and golf course were a part of what he saw.

This is one of my favorite stories about the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. I think because it has such a connection to the Cataldo Mission. In the book, "Beneath These Mountains", by Russell A. Bankson and Lester S. Harrison, the first chapter retells Chief Twisted Earth telling his son Tecomtee of his father Chief Circling Raven's prophesy.

"It was prophesied to me by your grandfather, Chief Circling Raven (unfortunately, the authors had the name wrong. They refer to him as Circulating Raven, but we now know different.) many years ago, even when I was very young like you, my son, that these strange people with the white skins, would come. In the time of my father, and his father before him, and his father before him, it was prophesied that these people would come from far away across the great waters, where the rising of the sun begins.

It was prophesied even in my time by the great and venerable Chief Circling Raven, my father, who was gifted of the Gods to know and understand the future. He saw that these white skinned ones would come first in small numbers and then in ever increasing numbers, and that there would be a time when they would seek to take our native lands from us by trickery or by violence. They would come carrying long sticks filled with the thunder of their Gods, against which no arrow nor spear could stand.

It was told to me that we must not pit our puny strength against their mighty power, lest we would be destroyed, every one, to the last man, woman and child. It was taught that when they come, we should meet them with offers of peace.

I have not told you this before because of the tenderness of your years. But now you stand on the threshold of manhood, and there will come that time when I, too, will be old and my spirit will depart from my body to join those of our ancestors.

The prophet, Circling Raven, wisely ruled our people for an hundred years from the time that is called 1660 to 1760, when at the age of 150 years his spirit departed. Then I, at the age of twelve years, was called upon to rule our people with the council of our sub-chiefs. This I have done now for 45 years.

I would now also tell you of other revelations and prophesies which were given to me by my venerable father, all of which are relieved and reverenced by our people.

He saw in his visions the birth many centuries ago of a great Savior of all the peoples of the earth. And he visioned the cruel death of this Savior at the hand of those who would not believe.

He saw the coming of emissaries of our Savior, and they were dressed in black robes, bringing the true words of hope for all peoples. They will come and they will teach us the ways of friendship with those who follow, so that there will be understanding among us.

For an hundred years your grandfather searched through the mountains and the canyons of our land for the Black Robes. And I have since searched diligently. Then one day three ravens possessed of the spirit of your grandfather, the prophet, flew to my teepee and sat upon the ridgepole. And they spoke to me in the tongue of my father, saying to have great patience and strong belief, for it would be from fifty to sixty years before the Black Robes arrived.

Jesuit Father Pierre Jean De Smet
I, my son, know in my heart that they will come, but it may be after I have departed from my body. So I charge you that if you then are Chief of our people, you will receive them and believe them as they will bring the true words of faith.

But before the Black Robes, there will come many people with the pale skins. And this I charge you, my son, that when they come, we who possess this land can make peace with these strangers who destroy life with the thunder of the Gods.

You have seen now the first of them to come. And as I was instructed many years ago by my father, Circling Raven, I met them with my wise counsellors when they approached the portals of our domain."

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