Speaker Series


Dr. Sally Thompson, “Following Nicholas Point Through Blackfeet Country”

Tuesday, November 14

5:30 PM

Location: McCormick Lounge, Coffey Hall

Nicholas Point was a French Jesuit priest who is known for working with Father Peter John De Smet to establish missions among the Salish and Coeur d’Alene. Less well known is the journey that began in August of 1846 that took him to Fort Lewis on the Missouri and into buffalo hunting camps of the Blackfeet and Gros Ventres throughout that winter. Point was particularly interested in their medicine practices and belief systems. Paintings from these camps and from stories he heard provide an extensive visual record of life on the Upper Missouri during that decade. A collection of paintings done by a Blackfoot man at the same time and of similar subject matter provides an extraordinary opportunity to compare perspectives. The presenter has worked extensively with Blackfeet elders and students to understand their insider view of Father Point’s record. The audience will be engaged in considering these contrasting images, and how an individual’s background and beliefs shape his or her perceptions.

Dr. Thompson has spent over thirty years working with the native tribes of the West. Trained as an anthropologist (Ph.D., CU, Boulder, 1980), she has worked as an archaeologist, ethnographer, and ethnohistorian, with a particular interest in the period just before and at the time of contact with Europeans.

Since 2001, Thompson has traveled widely in search of information on tribes of the Rocky Mountain Mission through Jesuit records. She collected reports and correspondence from the Society of Jesus (ARSI) in Rome, and eclectic correspondence about the Mission from priests, government officials, and other observers, in addition to maps, unpublished illustrations, and contextual information from Jesuit Archives in St. Louis, Montreal, Leuven, Belgium, and Gonzaga Universities, Universities of Oregon and Washington, Washington State, British Columbia Provincial Archives, the U.S. National Archives (NARA) and the Library of Congress. She is currently working on a book that follows Jesuit journeys along ancient trails of the Interior Northwest during the era when the power base shifted from Native to White.