Page:The Indian Dispossessed.pdf/57

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


THE STORY OF THE BITTER ROOT

"If it [the Bitter Root Valley] shall prove, in the judgment of the President, to be better adapted to the wants of the Flathead tribe, . . . then such portions of it as may be necessary shall be set apart as a separate reservation for said tribe." The National Pledge to the Flatheads.

SITUATED in the mountainous country at the extreme western edge of Montana is the fertile valley of the Bitter Root, the ancient home of the Flathead Indians. The earliest noteworthy incident in their history dates back to about 1835; the story is rather fancifully told by a Government agent, in a report made many years later:

"Nearly forty years since some Iroquois from Canada, trading with the Flatheads, told them of the teachings of the Jesuit fathers, who for many previous years had been laboring among them, both for their spiritual and temporal good. The Flatheads, listening to these narratives of wonder and love, and as if directed by inspiration from above, selected some of their best men, rude and savage warriors, to proceed to St. Louis and ask a mission to teach them 'the ways of the cross.' Wending their way through the then almost trackless wilds between here and St. Louis, the delegation found

44