In the early 19th century, the Native Americans who lived in villages along the St. Joe River, Coeur d’Alene Lake and the Spokane River heard stories from passing travelers that black-robed strangers with special powers were living with other bands of Indians to the east. This prompted the people now known as the Coeur d’Alene Indians to invite these men to live among them. Father Pierre-Jean De Smet came first, in 1842, followed by other missionary priests who built the Mission of St. Joseph on the St. Joe River. Confounded by seasonal flooding, they made plans for a new mission. Construction began in 1850 near the Coeur d’Alene River 35 miles north. The Mission of the Sacred Heart, now the oldest building in Idaho and located in a state park, became an important stop for traders, miners, settlers and worshippers. The Coeur d’Alenes return each August for the Feast of the Assumption.
– Jesse Tinsley