St. Xavier is on the
Crow Indian Reservation
along the Bighorn River. In 1887 Fr. Prando, a Jesuit missionary, and two companions founded a mission here and named it. (from Cheney's
Names on the Face of Montana
, Mountain Press Publishing Company) The church is still in use. The misson's school, affiliated with the St. Labre Mission School, also continues to operate but is now called the Pretty Eagle School, after a famous Crow chief. The St. Xavier area is a patchwork of fields of malting barley, alfalfa, and sugar beets are irrigated by the Bighorn River. The nearby
, named after the famous Crow chairman Robert Yellowtail, harnesses the waters of the Bighorn River and turns this variable stream into a magnificent lake. The canyon features spectacular scenery, wildlife viewing, boating, fishing and camping. There are two visitor centers, one at Fort Smith and one at Yellowtail Dam.