Kalispell & the Jesuit - Old Town, ID
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 48° 11.139 W 117° 01.832
11U E 497730 N 5336935
Quick Description: In Rotary Park on the Right Bank of the Pend Oreille River in Old Town, ID are two kiosks containing no less than ten historical markers. This one tells of the Kalispel people of the Pend Oreille River.
Location: Idaho, United States
Date Posted: 3/25/2015 3:19:35 AM
Waymark Code: WMNJTD
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member muddawber
Views: 1

Long Description:
Kalispell & the Jesuit

"The Beginning of the End"

Nomadic People Living Off the Land

The Kalispel Indians also known as the Lower Lake Pend d' Oreilles, lived along the Pend Oreille River. The Kalispels were Salish-speaking nomadic people who lived off the land and followed the seasons. They fished the Columbia River for salmon, hunted deer and elk, and trekked into Montana in search of buffalo. This is what you would have seen standing here in 1809--the year which also marked the beginning of the end for the Kalispel Indians.

The Kalispels' aboriginal land extended from Montana, through Idaho, and into Washington. They lived and fished along the Pend Oreille and Clark Fork Rivers. The first white man to encounter the Kalispel people was David Thompson in 1809. Thompson was a Canadian explorer working for the Hudson Bay Company. Thompson's exploration of the Pend Oreille River forever changed northern Idaho. With the arrival of the white man, the Kalispel peoples' nomadic way of life, more than 3,000 years old, was about to disappear.

Nomadic Way of Life Disappears

In 1841, Jesuit Missionaries came into northern Idaho to establish a mission in the Valley of the Pend d' Oreilles. The name "Jesuit" dates back to the 15-century meaning a member of the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic Order founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in 1534.

Father Jean de Smet established the first mission, St. Michaels, in 1844 between Albeni Falls and present day Oldtown, Idaho. Soon after St. Michaels opened, spring snowmelt sent floodwaters seriously damaging the mission. St. Michaels was moved down stream fourteen miles into Washington and renamed St. Ignatius. The Jesuit Fathers encouraged the Kalispel to settle around St. Ignatius. The Jesuit Mission lifestyle proved to be a double-edge sword for the Kalispel. With the support of the U.S. Government, the Jesuit Fathers changed the Kalispel peoples' nomadic way of life into farmers. At the same time, the Jesuits also converted the Kalispel to the Roman Catholic Religion. Imagine learning to accept that you no longer have the right to carry on your way of life. These were the pressures the Kalispel people faced from the Jesuits, and from the growing number of white people settling on their ancestral land.

A brutal Winter and Starvation

Disaster struck. A brutal winter led to near starvation for the Jesuits and the Kalispel. After the record snowfall, spring floodwaters seriously damaged the mission. St. Ignatius was moved once again in 1854 to its present day location in Montana. The Kalispel people moved with the mission to Montana. The following year, upset and disappointed, the tribe moved back home to the Lower Pend Oreille.

More information about the Kalispel is available at the Rotary Park Interpretive Center, here in Oldtown, Idaho.
From the History Marker

Photo goes Here

Marker Name: Kalispell & the Jesuit

Marker Type: City

Marker Text:
See Above

County: Bonner

City: Old Town

Date Dedicated: 2008

Group Responsible for Placement: The Rotarians

Web link(s) for additional information:

Marker Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
In your log, please say if you learned something new, and if you took any extra time to explore the area once you stopped at the historic marker waymark. If possible please post a photo of you OR your GPS at the marker location. Also if you know of any additional links not already mentioned about this bit of Idaho history please include that in your log.

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