1846 - Peace council with Flatheads and Blackfeet

Father Pierre Jean DeSmet, photographed by Mathew Brady

          DeSmet arranges a peace council on an island in the Missouri River between the Flatheads, the Blackfeet, and the Nez Perce.  What he achieved that fall was nothing short of remarkable.  If he had been influential among the Indians before the fall of 1846, he was now the most powerful 'medicine man' in the West.

          Word of his accomplishment spread rapidly from tribe to tribe.  His name was spoken in tones of awe and veneration.  If he could have remained in touch with the Blackfeet the peace might have held.  With a full heart, he climbed into a large canoe on September 28 and set off on the 2,300 mile-long trip to St. Louis, stopping at a number of trading posts to celebrate mass, to baptize children, perform marriages and visit old friends.  Near Council Bluffs he met the Mormons gathering for their trek into the wilderness, and he was moved with righteous fury when he heard of their persecution.  

          Good fortune landed him a berth on the last steamboat of the season, and on Dec. 1 he walked down the gangway at St. Louis.   During his adventures in the Canadian and American wilderness in 1845-46 he had traversed six thousand miles.  Alas, he returned to St. Louis for the purpose of soliciting funds, but he is ordered by his superiors to stay in St. Louis while another priest was sent back to Indian Country in his stead.