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Pierre Jean De Smet's Deerskin Coat

deerskin-coat-1.jpg

Jesuit priests and Native Americans forged strong relationships between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. This history influenced and inspired nineteenth-century Jesuits like Pierre Jean De Smet and Nicholas Point, missionaries who worked to spread Christianity among Native Americans living in the American west. Fr. De Smet undertook numerous journeys across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, during which he established Christian missions in Idaho and Montana. During his travels, a Native American tribe, probably the Salish, gave Fr. De Smet a deerskin coat as a token of friendship. Fr. Point traveled with Fr. De Smet frequently and recorded his experiences in drawings that depict Native American life. Fr. De Smet's coat and Fr. Point's drawings tell a story about Native American and Jesuit interactions along the frontier and illustrate the intricacies behind their cultural exchange.

Credits

Exhibit: Meagan McChesney, Hope Shannon, and Samantha Smith. Exhibit text adapted from "Deerskin Coat worn by Pierre Jean De Smet," by Joshua Wachuta and blog posts written by Stephen Schloesser, S.J., at jesuitrestoration2014.tumblr.com.