In our own language

Daily Reading for February 25 • John Roberts, Priest, 1949

John Roberts soon settled to a very primitive way of life. The Indians were very poor and he was kept very busy with the two tribes on the Reservation. The Shoshones were Mountain Indians and the Arapahoe were Plains Indians and they were not very friendly towards each other. Fort Washakie was about 20 miles from where the Arapahoes lived. The Shoshones were settled around Fort Washakie.

He gradually gained their confidence by his good deeds. He learned both their languages and wrote down their vocabulary which is printed in the back of the book mentioned above. Unlike many other missionaries Roberts was concerned that the Indians retained their culture, identity and languages; at the same time preparing them to cope with the modern developing world around them. He also wrote about the many characters he came to know and love during the course of his work. . . .

John Roberts established Churches in Lander, Milford, Dubois, Thermopolis, Hudson, Riverton, Ethete, and held services in Atlantic city, Lyons Valley, South Pass to name but a few. . . .

The second year he was at the Fort he was asked to go and see a very old Indian woman whom he was told was Sacajawea, who had been a translator and guide to the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803-6, which found the route from the east of the USA to the Pacific. She was also about 100 years old. On April 9th 1884 Sacajawea died and her burial was officiated by John Roberts.

She is buried in a cemetery about 2 miles from the Fort near where the mission house was to be built. A large headstone was erected many years later and it is visited often by tourists. There is a much controversy about Sacajawea’s burial site, as several States claim her, but they are fairly certain that this is her resting place as she knew many things about the Expedition that nobody else would know.

From “A Welshman amongst the Indians in Wyoming” by Heulwen Jones of Old Colwyn; found at

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