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July 6, 2023

Episode 141 - Historic St. Mary's Mission & Churchyard in Stevensville, Montana

Episode 141 - Historic St. Mary's Mission & Churchyard in Stevensville, Montana

This week on the Ordinary Extraordinary Cemetery podcast...Nestled in the Bitterroot Valley beneath St. Mary’s Peak, a mountain in the northern portion of the Rocky Mountain range that runs through the state of Montana, is a small, simple churchyard where rests the body of Father Antonio Ravalli alongside approximately 329 other souls whose resting place is part of historic St. Mary’s Mission. Jennie and Dianne learn the fascinating history of this mission; how  a Salish prophet had a vision of "Black Robes" coming to live among their people; this was later interpreted as the Jesuit priests who established the first St. Mary's Mission in 1841. One priest in particular, Father Antonio Ravalli, had a huge impact on the settlement and his story is interwoven with that of the Salish people and the trials they endured as westward expansion took over their homeland and begin to erase their culture and heritage. Also, shared is the Ordinary Extraordinary story of Mary Ann Pierre Topsseh Coombs, a Salish woman who was forced, along with her family, to leave the Bitterroot Valley at the age of 10 only to return to it as an old woman in 1975 with two other elders to share the traditions and burial sites of generations of Salish people with their young descendants determined that their culture should not disappear, but remain proud and steadfast.

Resources used to research this episode include:

Forest Service, USDA. "Bitterroot National Forest." Accessed 25 June 2023.

Weiser-Alexander, Kathy . "The Salish Tribe of Montana ." 1 June 2021. Accessed 25 June 2023.

, Historic St. Mary's Mission & Museum . "St. Mary Peak Stevensville, Montana ." Accessed 25 June 2023.

"St. Mary’s Mission Cemetery - St. Mary's Mission - ." 19 Jan. 2018. Accessed 25 June 2023.

"History ." Accessed 25 June 2023.

, "BRIEF HISTORY OF MONTANA ." Accessed 25 June 2023.

Mussulman, Joseph A. "Meeting the Salish." Accessed 25 June 2023.

"Pierre-Jean De Smet, SJ (1801-1873) ." Accessed 25 June 2023.

Emmons, D.D. "Father Pierre-Jean De Smet ." Accessed 25 June 2023.

Evans, Lucylle. "Father Antonio “Anthony” Ravalli, S.J. (1812-1884) ." Accessed 25 June 2023.

"Mary Ann Pierre Topsseh Coombs and the Bitterroot Salish ." 14 Oct. 2014. Accessed 25 June 2023.

Todd, Tom. "Fr Anthony J Ravalli ." 1 July 2007. Accessed 25 June 2023.