The Great Orator of the Sioux Asks Father De Smet to Bring the Faith to His Tribe

July 1, 2021

Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet, ca. 1864

Soon they came to the country of the Sioux, and found the principal chiefs assembled at Fort Lookout. He  [Father De Smet] told them of the conversion of the mountain tribes and of his recent visit to the Blackfeet. “And you,” he said to the Sioux in conclusion, “will you receive the Black Robe who wishes to live in your plains and dwell in the midst of you? Will you listen to his words and follow the path that Jesus Christ, Son of the Master of life, came on earth to show us, for in this path all nations must tread? Speak, Sioux! I am listening and will carry your words to the great chiefs of the Black Robes; speak from your hearts.” The Sioux deliberated a few moments, then the great orator arose:

The Indians welcoming Father De Smet.

“Black Robe,” he said, “I speak in the name of the chiefs and braves. You have spoken beautiful words about the Master of life. We like them. Today is the first time that we have heard them. Black Robe, you are only passing through our country: tomorrow we will no longer hear your voice; we shall be as we have always been children without a father to guide them, like ignorant beasts of the prairie. Black Robe, come and build your lodge in our midst; my heart tells me that you will be listened to. We are wicked, we have bad hearts, but those who carry the good word have never come to us. Come, Black Robe, the Sioux will listen to you and our children shall be instructed by you.”

E. Laveille, S.J., The Life of Father De Smet, S.J. (1801–1873), trans. Marian Lindsay (New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1915), 200.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 784


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