How Marie Dorion Earned Her Title As Oregon’s Revenant
ven though history is sprinkled with brave, important women, there are many female figures that are still hidden in the shadows. Marie Dorion, one of the most persistent, resourceful woman in history, falls into that category. Her unbelievable story of surviving against it all is truly an inspiration to men and women alike.
Rebecca Maxwell / HMDb.org
Marie Dorion, or Marie Aioe Dorion Venier Toupin, was born to a French Canadian father and an Ioway Tribe mother in the late 18th century. Marie married Pierre Dorion Jr., the son of a white man and a Native American mother of the Yankton Sioux tribe, in 1806. It wasn’t long before Marie would give birth to two sons. Her life as a mother and wife would not be easy.
An Adventure For The Family
Joseph Gaston / George H. Himes
Pierre was an interpreter that helped the settlers trade and negotiate with the Sioux nations. The family moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1810. While they were there, representatives from two fur trading companies wanted to work with Pierre. After some deliberation, he decided to work for Wilson Price Hunt of the Pacific Fur Company (PFC). But he would only work with them if he could bring his wife and children along with him. This began Marie’s unbelievable adventure.
Heading To The Northwest
John Wesley Jarvis / National Portrait Gallery
John Jacob Astor, the founder of the PFC, instructed Hunt to lead an expedition to the opening of the Columbia River. They were sent there to open a trading post in the Pacific Northwest. The post would allow them to monopolize the fur trade and begin commerce with Asia. After months of waiting, the party finally took off in the winter of 1811. They had no idea what was in store for them.
She Was Badly Abused
Library of Congress
One of their first stops was Fort Osage. It was there that Marie became friends with some Osage people and informed her husband that she wanted to stay with them, instead of continuing on the journey. Pierre had an alcohol problem and beat Marie so badly that she ran into the woods for an entire day. Marie rejoined the party, along with her two sons, aged two and four. But Marie was continually treated badly by Pierre.
She Was Forced To Walk The Entire Way
Jesse Nusbaum / Palace of the Governors Archives
Unfortunately, the party was not properly prepared for the journey. They didn’t have enough horses, and the ones they did have were used to carrying supplies. Of course, that didn’t stop Pierre from riding one, forcing Marie to walk with her son strapped to her back. When they arrived at Snake River, they chose to use the downstream current to sail to the mouth of the Columbia. But there would be more setbacks.