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Rosalie Morigeau, Oldest Indian on Flathead Reservation, Passes at 95

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Rosalie Morigeau, Oldest Indian on Flathead Reservation, Passes at 95

Daughter of Trader of Hudson Bay Company. Funeral Services at St. Ignatius Saturday.

Polson, Sept. 17. – Special –

Rosalie Morigeau, the oldest Indian on the Flathead reservation, according to records at the agency at Dixon, died Thursday afternoon here at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Mary Clairmont, at the age of 95 years.

In 1837, the year of Mrs. Morigeaus’s birth, the Indians made long trips into the mountains to secure furs and food. It was on one of these trips that Mrs. Morigeau was born. Her father was Patrick Finley, an Irishman, who came to this part of the country, as one of the traders of the Hudson Bay company, and her mother was Mary Ashley, one of the prominent families of the Selish tribe. Most of Mrs. Morigeau’s early life was spent traveling with her parents, on hunting trips, of which she was able to tell, before her death, many interesting stories and experiences. At the age of 21 she met and married Alec Morigeau. The couple settled and made their home at a place a few miles below Ravalli, where she lived until her husband’s death in 1916. Following his death, Mrs. Morigeau moved to the St. Ignatius Mission and has from that time lived alternately with her daughters at Ronan and Polson, having spent the past four years of her life here.

Mrs. Morigeau spoke Indian and French fluently and for many years was able to speak English, but as she grew older her memory lapsed back to Indian, mostly. She was active all of her life, even until the last week before her death. She is survived by five generations of descendants. Her living survivors are Mrs. Josephine LeBuff of Dixon, Mrs. Cecil Sloan of Sloan’s Ferry, Antoine Morigeau of Ronan, Mrs. Alfonse Clairmont of Ronan, Eli Morigeau of Valley Creek, Octav Morigeau of Arlee and Mrs. Rose Mary Clairmont of Polson, all her sons and daughters, and more than 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Morigeau had many interesting experiences during her life, one of them being during the winter of 1861, when she and her husband and family, wintered at the place where Kalispell is now located. The snow was four feet deep there all winter long, and the only place from which the Indians could get supplies was the trading post at Frenchtown. It was necessary to build sleighs and take furs by sleigh over the ice the entire length of Flathead lake, down through the lower Flathead valley and over the hills to Frenchtown. The furs were traded for food.

Mrs. Morigeau whose funeral services were conducted Saturday morning at the St. Ignatius Mission, where she was buried, died of pneumonia.

The above article appeared in the Sunday Missoulian on September 18, 1932. Soon to be President, the Governor of N. Y., Franklin D. Roosevelt, visited Missoula the next day.

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Last Updated on Friday, 19 January 2018 19:30