Preserving Montana's Catholic Heritage : Helena Diocesan Structures and Historic Preservation
Object ID:
2013.003.003
Description:
The Holy Family Mission opened in 1890 on the Two Medicine River. It had a Catholic boarding school operated by the Jesuit Order and the Ursuline nuns. Chief White Calf donated land for the school, the Drexel sisters of Philadelphia gave $14,000.00, and Senator Carter of Montana obtained government aid for 100 students.These followed a course of study one half—day academic and one half—day vocational.It was a self—sufficient school operating for grades one through eight and served the Blackfeet for 50 years.

Subsequently, Miss Drexel gave more money to build a new schhol for boys out of sandstone quarried from nearby cliffs. This three—story building greatly increased the capacity of the school. Bishop Brondel visited in the summer of 1891 and blessed the church and buildings.

Many of the problems now prevalent in Indian country, problems that are slowly starting to mend with the return of so many to traditional forms of education and spirituality, can be traced directly to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) which mandated missionary boarding schools "civilize" those who were forced to attend.

Holy Family Mission continually struggled to survive financially. In the early 20th Century a severe summer drought followed by an extremely hard winter resulted in loss of livestock and the need to borrow money. Bishop Finnigan took great interest in the mission, solicited for it, but the outlook continued to be bleak. By 1962, after its debts had been paid, the mission was sold to the Diocese of Helena.

The Holy Family Mission was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 14, 1982 and is located about 15 miles east of Browning off Highway 89 on the Two Medicine. This area is located on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation which covers most of Glacier County, Montana.Today all that remains of the missionary boarding school is the renovated church, the Holy Family Mission, where locals and visitors alike attend mass on Sunday mornings.


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Holy Family Mission near Browning, MTHoly Family Mission near Browning, MT