Holy Family Mission | Browning, Montana

Catholic Boarding School Era - 1880s through 1920s
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Latitude: 48.482254028 Longitude: -112.7447052 Elevation: 3912 ft

A Short Introduction to the Site

The Holy Family Mission opened in 1890 on the Two Medicine River as a Catholic boarding school operated by the Jesuit Order. It was a self-sufficient school operating for grades one through eight and served the Blackfeet for 50 years.

The Holy Family Mission was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 14, 1982.

Full Description of the Historical Site or Museum

To many, the missionary boarding schools used religion as the tool to "civilize" the indigenous children. The idea was that if the natural spirituality of the children was destroyed and replaced through the religious indoctrination of Christianity, not only would the child be saved intellectually, but also spiritually.

The goal of Indian education and these schools from the 1880s through the 1920s was to assimilate Indian people into the melting pot of America by placing them in institutions where traditional ways could be replaced by those sanctioned by the government. Federal Indian policy called for the removal of children from their families and in many cases enrollment in a government or religiously run boarding school.

At missionary run schools, traditional religious and cultural practices were strongly discouraged while instruction in the Christian doctrines took place utilizing pictures, statues, hymns, prayers and storytelling. Many of the problems now prevalent in Indian country, problems that are slowly starting to mend with the return of so many to traditional forms of education and spirituality, can be traced directly to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and missionary boarding schools and the historical trauma that was experienced by those who were forced to attend.

Open Months

Year Round

Hours Open


Driving Directions from Nearest Town or Landmark

The Holy Family Mission is located about 11 miles southeast of Browning on Highway 89 to Two Medicine River then take Joe Show Road East about 3.5 miles.

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