This story, “A Trek from Pierre’s Hole to the Pacific Ocean and Back Again” was transcribed by Angus McDonald as told to him by his wife, Catherine Batiste McDonald.
Angus and Catherine McDonald Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana–Missoula.
The three peaks of the Rocky Mountains with their lesser hills head three chief rivers, the Oregon, Colorado, and Missouri. We left Pierre’s Hole on their Columbian side when the antelope were fawning in the last month of the spring and the first of summer.
The founder of the Jesuit Mission [Father Pierre Jean DeSmet] was just arrived for the first time from the east to convert the Indian. He was a man of florid countenance, benign of speech and stout and short of stature. Some tribes were prepared by the Iroquois hunters and French Creoles to receive him … other tribes heeded him not. The Shawnee warrior J.H. rejected all evident fan-faring of religion saying that the sacred man that came so far must be a tool come to preach some things he did not know [and] for which the God Chief cared nothing. [He] told them it were better to ask that spirit to give them health and buffalo and help them to scalp their enemies than [to] listen to useless pryers that had no life but int he effort of them. His words were received by many of the leading Indians, chiefly from their bold assertions and as he who spoke them was from the east and said to be a man [who had been] in the battle for he Black Hawk.
Bidding farewell to our parent Rocky Mountain camp, we left for the place of gathering on one of the chief stream of the Northern Colorado, where more than a hundred white men awaited us to add to their numbers. Grass of rich growth was out on every hill. Streams of purest water ran from their armpits and lofty, little glens. The big valley below was full of heat, as the air was weigh flies. Games of many hoofs romped and grazed far and near. The big and little curlew, colored like the fawn, attended to their young as the mother antelope stood off sometimes afar mile or two observant of where laid her young.
Any unusual scream of flutter of the curlew brought the dame nearer it. The coyote, that most cunning and timorous of sneaks, and the game grey eagle were the greatest enemies and fared well on the numbers of that delicious young game, the most tender of all flesh. Other things of prey, from the mountain grizzly to the rattlesnake fed well on the numbers of ground squirrels that bored the valleys. One antelope can whip a coyote, but a young kid or fawn is helpless and often killed by the raven.