If one were able to visit the vicinity of the eastern slope of Oregon’s Blue Mountains in February 1814, a strange and sad sight would have been seen: a young Indian woman and her two little boys, huddled in a snow-covered lean-to. The woman, Marie Iowa, had been the wife of Pierre Dorion, a trapper of French and Sioux parentage. The Dorions had left their home territory in South Dakota to help guide the Wilson Price Hunt exploring party to Astoria, Oregon in 1811-12. Pierre Dorion and his family then returned east with other trappers, ending up building a cabin or two between Notus and Parma, Idaho.
On January 14, 1814, disaster hit the Dorion family as hostile Indians swept over the area. Marie and her boys managed to escape a massacre because a friendly Indian had hurried by to warn the trappers. All the men were killed; for three days Marie and her sons Baptiste and Paul hid near a cabin. Marie decided their only hope of survival was to travel 260 miles back along the trail the Hunt party had marked, over the Blue Mountains to Walla Walla. She gathered what little the raiders had not taken, mainly two knives and some dried horsemeat, and set out with her sons and two horses.
Marie Dorion managed to avoid the hostile Indians but reached a point where snow made further travel impossible. For fifty-three days the Dorions made their camp in Oregon as their food supply dwindled. Marie had to kill the horses for food: one poor horse’s hide provided the covering for Marie’s lean-to.
In March, conditions had improved and the little family set out on foot to cross the Blue Mountains. Marie went snowblind; Baptiste had to lead the family for a while. Finally hunger sapped the strength of the boys so they could walk no farther. Marie could not carry them. She wrapped them in blankets and stumbled on in a desperate attempt to reach the summit of the Blues. A woman with the tribe from Walla Walla spotted Marie crawling on her hands and knees down the west slope of the mountain. Horsemen were called out. Marie and her boys were rescued after their amazing journey.

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