On the cover of the history textbook The American Venture, students will see a picture of Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J. (featured photo in this article). Outside the Catholic Church, not many people have heard of him. And even among Catholic students and laity, few have heard of him. Yet Fr. De Smet played a leading role in American history as a missionary, diplomat, and explorer.
Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet, S.J., a friend of “Sitting Bull”
Born in what is now Belgium in 1801, De Smet joined the Jesuits to evangelize Native Americans. Over the next five decades, he established missions with the Potawatomi in Iowa, the Salish of the Pacific Northwest, and the Flathead and Kootenay tribes of Montana, among others.
De Smet was known as the “Friend of Sitting Bull.” He convinced the Sioux war chief to negotiate with U.S. peace commissioners for the Treaty of Fort Laramie. An explorer whose travels totaled 180,000 miles, he produced the first detailed map of the upper Missouri River valley. Fr. De Smet died in 1873.
Stories like Fr. De Smet’s are part of the full story of history published by the Catholic Textbook Project. Rigorously accurate and faithfully Catholic, these history textbooks focus on the facts of history without the prejudice or bias you’ll find in secular alternatives. In living color, literally, these history textbooks for K-12 students show readers the Catholics who shaped the world we know today.
College professors add perspective
Even more, Catholic Textbook Project history textbooks are highly praised by college professors who say that students who learn history from these textbooks will graduate knowing more about history than most of their peers and some of their college professors!
Catholic Textbook Project invites you to see the difference for yourself. Download their digital samples. Sign up for their weekly teaching aid, This Week in History, which offers choice extracts from our textbooks. And ask them your questions at any time—they’d love to talk with you!