The Stevensville community was originally founded as St. Mary’s Village in the 1840s before it grew into the larger town now known as Stevensville. The early years of Stevensville were shaped by both Italian Catholic missionaries and the local Native American tribes: Salish and Nez Perce. At the tribes’ request, the St. Mary’s Parish was established among the Native American peoples. Today, the community stands as a symbol of blending European Western settler culture and Native American culture.
Stevensville’s 175th Anniversary Commemoration—Founders Day—celebrated the community’s hybrid heritage by enacting a scene in which Salish chiefs welcome the “Blackrobe Missionaries,” presenting information about Salish culture and artwork, educating festival-goers on Stevensville’s early pioneer settlers and parish members, and creating time capsules that will be opened on the 200th Anniversary Commemoration. The time capsules were filled with noteworthy documents, photographs, and items, and were buried by area school students. The Montana History Foundation funded the Historic St. Mary’s Mission to host the Founders Day celebration.