Father Pandosy: Pioneer of Faith in the Northwest

Edmond Rivère
Father Pandosy: Pioneer of Faith in the Northwest
Translated by Dr. Lorin Card

Review by Timothy P. Foran in BC Studies: The British Columbian Quartely

Perhaps the greatest contribution of this biography is its revelation of the scope and complexity of missionary roles in the early development of Washington and British Columbia. Pandosy’s career extended far beyond the altar and the confessional: he worked variously as a farmer, an irrigator, a viticulturist, a carpenter, a teacher, a healthcare provider, a musician, a lexicographer, and an intermediary between Aboriginal groups and the American government.

Father Pandosy is a first step in introducing a general English-speaking readership to a critical chapter in the history of the Pacific Northwest. It reveals a complex colonial process through the lens of a fascinating life story.

Yet even as he fulfilled these roles, Pandosy expressed grave misgivings about the broader colonial project to which they contributed. He alienated settlers, government officials, and even his clerical superiors by criticizing their treatment of Aboriginal people, and his identification – assumed or ascribed – with Yakama political resistance prompted a contingent of the US Army to destroy his mission and to threaten him with lynching. His life story is thus an eloquent example of missionary ambivalence toward colonialism.