Reports of Father Pandosy Starving in 1846 Are Greatly Exaggerated

He’s the Boy from Marseilles, the French Oblate Priest who came on the Oregon Trail and started two of the first missions in Washington Territory, singing the whole time. His first was at the Chamna summer village at the mouth of the Yakima River. Reports were that he was starving. I think it’s fair to say that those were actual reports on the degree of racism within the speakers, because I was just there today and even now, with the delta gone, the river impounded, the salmon extirpated, the deer shot to bits, the shore full of radioactive sludge from the plutonium reactors upriver, the sturgeon slaughtered for fun and steaks (that would be like slaughtering T-Rex for steaks, so, yeah, duh), and so on, still, still, it’s a garden of plenty. There are birds, so many you can’t hear yourself think, and ducks and geese, loons and fish and bass boats and ant lions and pelicans and Mexican fishermen,  and look who found me in the middle of the day in the lone cottonwood on the island, in a grove of ingrown locusts and russian olives, despite everything.

P1840674 Owl on Bateman Island

No, what Pandosy’s supervisors were saying was that those darned Oblates and their obsessions with poverty and self-sacrifice were just going to go Indian and betray the White cause, or at least their political access to it. And so Pandosy did. He stopped a war with his friends the Yakamas and was hounded out of this rich land and away from its people by the U.S. Army, led by the future leaders of the Confederate Army and manned by a bunch of vigilantes it took the post-civil war army thirty years to get under control. Just an example of why it’s important to write history from what you’ve seen with your own eyes. In this case, look into the eyes of an owl and say it is not so.

2 replies »

  1. History is never one lone person’s story. Humans make the stories just by living day to day. Trouble comes when one story — or the stories from one side — are given status while ignoring all the others which don’t quite fit the ‘established’ pattern.

    We in Canada are going to see a lot of veering and unravelling from now on as our histories are revised.


  2. Interesting uinfromation. My husband, Marc reads lots of book ab out native Americans. It is indeed hard to get accurate history. Always has been. All nations want to write it their own way.


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