Women of
             the
             Fur Trade
Marie Dorian         

                                          
     
                         
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
   along. 

    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 Coast.

   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
   died.

   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
   distance.

   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!
         

        
      
                                         

                                                       

 

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