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The Indian Missions in the West

Posted 7/28/2019

After a warm welcome the Sisters expanded to teach many Indian tribes.

St. Labre MissionSt. Labre MissionWhen they reached Miles City in 40 degree temperature, the first to greet them at the station was the gracious Bishop Blondel. With him was Father Landesmith, and as polyglot a reception committee as ever welcomed a courageous group of nuns -- a typical band of cowboys with doffed hats, cattle kings, miners, gamblers, border ruffians and Indians -- all turned out to greet the “Lady Blackrobes.”

After a time, convinced that the nuns had come to teach their children, the Indians became frequent visitors and showed their gratitude by signs. The day after the nuns arrived, Wolf-That-Lies-Down came with an interpreter to see the nuns. Mother Amadeus asked the interpreter to tell the Chief that the nuns had come to teach the Cheyennes how to gain heaven. At this the Chief’s whole face lighted with joy; his eyes filled with tears as he approached and shook hands with each nun.

The foundation at Miles City was followed by schools at the Jesuit missions: St. Labre’s, St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s on the Fort Belknap Reservation for the Gross Ventre and the Assiniboine tribes; St. Francis Xavier on the Little Big Horn River for the Crows; St. Ignatius for the Flatheads; Holy Family on the Blackfoot Reservation; St. Charles at Pryor, and St. John Berchmans at Arlee.

Later came schools and convent in Idaho, Washington and finally Alaska, where they were the first white women to evangelize the Eskimos.  As a legacy to education in the West there were eight Indian School, three private academies, three schools for the Eskimos, and three parochial schools.


The material quoted here is taken from A Tree in the Valley by Sr. Lelia Mahoney.