print by John Clymer
You know of Sacajewea, but have you heard
of Marie Dorian?
She was the second woman to make the long trip
from Missouri to the West Coast. She was in her
early 20's, at the time her husband Pierre Dorian was
hired as aguide and interpreter for the Wilson Hunt
Party of 1811.
Marie, along with her two children, Baptiste
(approx. age 4) and Paul (approx. age 2) was brought
After they tried unsuccessfully to travel the
Snake River in Dugout Canoes, the ill fated Wilson
Hunt party met with hard times.
Around what is now Burley, Idaho, they had to
abandon their Canoes. Most of their trade goods
were cached, each man carrying a 20lb. pack as they
began walking toward their goal of Fort Astoria, on
The party did divide onto smaller groups, making
it easier to find food.
From journals we can get some idea of how
desperate their situation became. November 18th,
(around Glens ferry, Idaho) they were able to trade
for Salmon and Dog meat. November 27th, they
found frozen blackberries, divided the meat of
one Beaver among their group.
Remember all this time, Marie was carrying her
two children, and was also pregnant! Her baby was
the first with mixed blood to be born in the Western
land, but in their sad state of starvation the baby
Marie carried her burdens of body and soul
without complaint and earned the admiration and
respect of all the men in the party!
Amazingly, all but two men lived and made it to
the Fort, February 15th,1812. She may have thought
her hard times were over but it was not to be.
In the Summer of 1813, Pierre was assigned as a
hunter for a trapping party, going to the Boise River.
They built a cabin on the Snake, near the mouth of
the Boise River, where trapping was good.
It was in January that they were attacked by
Bannock Indians. Marie, her husband along with
Jacob Rezner and LeClerc were trapping from a
camp about from 5 days away from the main cabin.
LeClerc, severly wounded made his way into camp
and told marie her husband and Rezner had been
killed by Indians.
Marie caught two horses and hoisted the
wounded man into the saddle along with what
supplies she could hastely pack. She then, with her
two children on the other horse, made their escape to
the main cabin.
LeClerc died during the 1st night, but they
continued on, arriving late the fourth day. When
arriving at the main cablin she found only ashes
where it once had been.
Determined to save her children, she forded the
Snake River and followed their old trail back from
Astoria. Nine days later the snow was too deep to
continue. In a sheltered ravine she built a primitive
hut using skins thrown over a framework of
branches. She killed their two horses for food. This
shelter was their home for 53 days.
print by John Clymer
By the end of March their food supply had become
desperately low. Marie set out on foot, holding the
hand of her oldest and carrying on her back her
youngest child and what was left of their food.
The second day of their travel, Marie became
snowblind and could not take a step further. She
remained in this condition for three days, then
started out on foot, again.
Finally she reached the Wallah Wallah River and
then traveled for 15 more days and then reached the
Columbia River Plains. Weak from hunger and
barely able to walk, she then saw smole in the
Leaving her children lying under a Buffalo robe, she
walked and finally crawled to reach that distant camp.
It turned out to be friendly Wallah Wallah Indians,
who went back and rescued her two children.
On April 17th, Canoes from Fort Astoria
approaching the mouth of the Wallah Wallah, were
intercepted by this tribe. When they pulled to shore
they were amazed to hear of her story of survival
under such hardships!