The Buildings of the Mission
Archilde or at least one other character visits each one of these locations throughout the novel. Understanding the visual depictions of the setting is important when looking at the contrast of experience between the Jesuit Priests and the Native American peoples. The other pages of the exhibit will provide in depth views of various buildings around the mission grounds. In the novel, McNickle credits a man named Fr. Grepilloux, with the aspirations of building this mission on the Flathead reservation. We learn that this Father seemed to have good intentions for the people of the reservation but was forced to abide by government laws if he wanted funding for the mission. The original priests had a much different goal in 1850 than the priests who ran the reservation in 1936:
"His affection for all Indians was deep and in practical matters he understood them. He learned their ways of wilderness travel and existence. He was able to place himself on their level and he despised and inveighed against those who despoiled the Indians. If the reservation system must remain, he wanted to [government] agents removed or strictly supervised, and he wanted to see tribal laws and customs restored and respected. Above all he wanted to see white men kept off the reservation and only allowed to trade at supervised posts. His greatest sorrow was the decay of the Missions, when Congress, because of the pressure of certain religious spokesman, refused to allow funds already owning certain tribes to be used, at the request of tribes, for the support of the Mission. But was this enough? As for the Indians who had been taught to understand sin, certainly offered no satisfaction. Were they saved or were they destroyed? Bringing the outside world to them was not exactly like bringing heaven to them" (McNickle, 136).
This reflection is truly the aim of this whole project. Did the Jesuits do enough for the Native peoples? And in what ways was the fate of the mission decided by the government that put them on these reservations in the first place?