Transcribed by:

Eric T. Stickels and Jason M. May
Parkland College
Anthropology 101

© 2005 by the Center For Social Research, Parkland College

The French Foundations: 1680-1693

Edited with Introduction and Notes by

Theodore Calvin Pease and Raymond C. Werner

Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library, Volume 23

Springfield, 1934


[by Pease and Werner]

p. ix

.... Through the courtesy of the Newberry Library of Chicago, a memoir … hitherto unprinted is presented - the so-called De Gannes Memoir. The only known copy is a transcript bound with various other narratives of discovery, exploration, and trade in a series of bound volumes apparently part of the library of a Swiss gentleman in the second third of the eighteenth century. The signature "Degannes" is quite inexplicable unless it be the name of the secretary or transcriber or the usurpation of someone seeking to gain its credit for himself. The things which the author

p. x

tells us about himself, his own experiences, commands in the Illinois, point unmistakably to the Sieur Deliette, nephew of Henri de Tonti, as the author. The Jesuits did not give Deliette as good a character as he gave them, and possibly the narrative in question may reveal the reason. He writes very much from the point of view of the modern anthropologist, quite conscious of such things as racial psychologies, sociologies, and habits of life. His simplicity and straightforwardness give his story the earmarks of truth and force. It affords the very best of the early accounts of the Illinois country and of its Indians. ….

Chapter VII

Memoir of De Gannes Concerning the Illinois Country

p. 302

The Illinois country is undeniably the most beautiful that is known anywhere between the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and that of the Mississippi, which are a thousand leagues apart.  You begin to see its fertility at Chicago which is 140 leagues from Michillimackinac, at the end of Lake Michigan.  The Chicago is a little stream only two leagues long bordered by prairies of equal dimension in width.  This is a route usually taken to go to this country.  At this river a portage is made, of a quarter of a league in low water and of an arpent in high water.  One finds a streamlet for half a league which comes from two little lakes that extend a league and a half, at the end of which, on the rising ground at this point, is made a short portage simply of one’s baggage.  When the water is favorable one reembarks at once, but


p. 303


when it is low it is necessary to go a league.  This is called the Portage of the Oaks; and it costs considerable effort to get the boat into this streamlet, which empties into the river which the French call the Illinois.  However, this is not the Illinois, as we only come to that stream twenty leagues farther on.  The passage is very difficult on account of the low waters which virtually render this river impracticable, because one ordinarily reaches this region only in summer or autumn.  There are ten places where for half a league it is necessary to take out half of the baggage, and very often to remove it entirely, until the deep water is reached.  It is necessary also sometimes to carry the canoe.  There is a place even, called Mount Joliet, where there are four leagues of rapids, and where this must nearly always be done.

This place is called Illes, because a voyageur  who bore that name was detained here a long time.  The Illinois and Miami call it Missouratenouy, which signifies an earthen vessel.  Indeed it has a certain resemblance to one; it is about three arpents in length


p. 304


and half an arpent in width. It is embanked as if it had been purposely shaped, and is about thirty feet high, situated an eighth of a league from the river in a very beautiful valley. The woods on the other side are distant about three arpents; there is only one tree on it. Several Illinois and Miami have tried to persuade me that at the time of the deluge, of which it appears they have learned, it was a vessel which had been made to save all mankind from shipwreck; and that, on the subsiding of the waters, being on a bad bottom, it had upset, and in course of time it had changed to earth.

Here you ordinarily begin to see the buffalo. As for turkeys, there are quantities of them. There is a game bird that is abundant, which is a good deal like the French pheasant, and which is very good. Formerly you found it as far back as Chicago, but since a party of Miami went to settle there, these birds have gone farther off. Four leagues from here is the fork of the real river of the Illinois, which has its source two leagues above the village of the Miami of the St. Joseph River, whence it flows always


p. 305


northward for 120 leagues up to the fork. Afterwards it bends to the southwest and flows on to empty into the Mississippi. Here you begin to see the beauty of this country, both for the soil, which yields bountifully, and for the abundance of animals. You see places on the one side that are unwooded prairies requiring only to be turned up by the plow, and on the other side valleys spreading half a league before reaching the hills, which have no trees but walnuts and oaks; and behind these, prairies like those I have just spoken of. Sometimes you travel a league, seeing all this from your boat. Afterwards you find virgin forest on both sides, consisting of tender walnuts, ash, whitewood, Norway maple, cottonwood, a few maples, and grass, taller in places than a man. More than an arpent in the woods you find marshes which in autumn and spring are full of bustards, swans, ducks, cranes, and teals. Ten steps farther on are the hills covered with wood extending about an eighth of a league, from the edge of which are seen prairies of extraordinary extent. Three leagues from the fork is the river


p. 306


Mazon, which signifies the tow, in which neighborhood are found parakeets that live in bands of fifty to sixty. They make a very strange noise. They are a little bigger than turtledoves.

Seven leagues from here is a rapid where, in low waters, you have to portage for an eighth of a league. Three leagues farther are some places that are very flat because of several islands that are located here, and a river flowing from the north, which the Illinois call Pestequouy (P.N.: the Fox River), near the outlet of which there is a rich quarry of coal. This river comes from the northeast. It has nothing but prairies on either side, except for a little strip of wood consisting of oaks and walnuts, and running the whole length of its banks. From here it is two leagues to the old fort. This is a steep rock, very favorably situated, which induced the late Monsieur de la Salle to build a fort here in 1682 or 1683. As I was not yet in the country [I cannot] precisely tell the time. I did not


p. 307


arrive until 1687. It was very easy for me, in view of my extreme youth, to learn the language of this nation.

There were also a hundred families of Shawnee. But, aside from the fact that I never saw them except for two years, I had so little inclination for their language, and so great a desire to know that of the Illinois, that I learned very little of it. What spurred my desires still more was that I was told that the languages of the Illinois and of the Miami were the same, and this is true, there being no difference except that the accent of the Illinois is very short and that of the Miami very long. One pronounces the h and the other the f. This was my reason, in 1688, for begging Monsieur de Tonti to allow me to accompany a village of Illinois who were going off on a buffalo hunt for five weeks. This request he readily granted, being pleased to have me learn this language, for which task he saw I had some talent, that he might safely absent himself when his affairs demanded it, and leave me in his place. He recommended me to the chief of this village, and with my servant I was placed in a cabin of savage men, if one may say that there be any among barbarians.


p. 308


We went into camp two leagues away. As I saw only old men, women, and girls, and five or six young men, I asked them, partly with the few words that I knew and partly by signs, how it happened that there were so few young men. They gave me to understand that they were out on a hunting expedition. The women had thrown down their packs and had run, each with an axe, into the woods to cut poles and to peel bark for their summer hunting cabin. As for the kind they use during their winter sojourn, they always carry these along; they are similar to those which they have in summer, as I shall tell in the proper place. They set them up on the edge of a prairie so as to be in a cool place, for in the month of June and in order to be in the open, it is to be remarked that all the southern nations establish themselves in the most open spots so as to see what is going on, and so as not to be taken by surprise, and in case an attack is made upon them, so as to be able to pursue.

The few young men who were with us while the women and girls were making the cabins went an arpent into the woods to cut


p. 309


three poles of which they made a large tripod from which they hung a big kettle, which they filled with water and then seated themselves around the fire which they had made underneath. My man and I settled down near them. A short time after, two men arrived each with a buck on his back. Two of our cooks went to meet them. The hunters, on seeing them approach, threw down their load and advanced proudly toward them, highly elated at being the first to bring meat to the camp. Our servitors soon had the bucks cut up and put into the kettle. When they were cooked the old men were called and came to eat. We were the first served and got the best there was. I noticed that this happened every day, and that some young men always came by turns with the old men. They are called guards, and prevent anyone from separating from the band and going off alone, because this frightens away the game. A man and woman once tried to escape from the band while the guards were busy gathering strawberries; one of the guards saw them and ran after them, took away the man's load, cut the collar


p. 310


and the bear skins which they used as a mattress, smashed the kettles which the woman was carrying, and came near killing a child, which she had upon her load, by pulling it from her head; and all this happened without the man or woman saying a single word.

The next day we saw in a prairie a great herd of buffalos. A halt was called and two old men harangued the young men for half an hour, urging them to show their skill in shooting down all the buffalos that we saw, and to manage so as to make all those that they could not kill move toward us. After removing us to the nearest spot, they started out in two bands, running always at a trot. When they were about a quarter of a league from the animals, they all ran at full speed, and when within gunshot they fired several volleys and shot off an extraordinary number of arrows. A great number of buffalos remained on the ground, and they pursued the rest in such manner that they were driven toward us. Our old men butchered these. As for me, I did not


p. 311


shoot. Their appearance filled me with terror, and I withdrew from our troop when I [saw] them approach; which set all the savages laughing, at which I was not a little mortified. It is certain that those animals are frightful looking and usually terrify people who have never seen them.

The cows are as big as the big oxen here. They have a hump about eight inches high which extends from their shoulders to the middle of their backs. They have their whole heads covered with fine hair so that their eyes can hardly be seen. They have short hair in summer, but from the month of September until June they are covered with a very fine wool.

To return to the hunt in which our savages engaged, they killed 120 buffalos from which they brought back a hundred tongues. The people from my cabin smoked these and distributed them among themselves to carry to me.

We remained a week in this place in order to dry all this meat. They make for this purpose a kind of cradle ten feet long, three feet wide, and four feet high, which they call gris, upon


p. 312


which they spread out their meat after preparing it. Under this they kindle a little fire. They are at it for a day, ordinarily, when they wish to dry a flat side. There are two of these in a buffalo. They take it from the shoulder clear to the thigh and from the hump to the middle of the belly, after which they spread it out as thin as they can, making it usually four feet square. They fold it up while still hot, like a portfolio, so as to make it easier to carry. The most robust men and women carry as many as eight, for a whole day. This is not possible in autumn nor in winter, however, as the cows are then very fat; they then can carry four at most.

The drying of this meat by the women and girls does not prevent the young men from going to the chase every day each for himself, for it is only when they all go together that they have guards. If anyone has no luck (which rarely happens in buffalo hunting), his relatives contribute from their share. These little hunts are ordinarily for bucks, bears, and young turkeys, on which


p. 313


they feast, not failing to invite the strangers whom they have among them (a very frequent thing), such as Miami, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Kickapoo, and others; so that there were days when I was invited as many as ten times. We did not dare to refuse, having learned that they were grieved if anyone who was among them did not come. Some days later they again surrounded a large herd of buffalos. I went to the chase in the hope of finding some one of these isolated so as to surprise and kill him, and thus redeem in some sort the poor opinion they had formed of me because of the apprehension I had shown at the sight of the first buffalos. About an eighth of a league from the spot where we were camping I heard a loud breathing in the brushwood. I listened very intently, and, having assured myself that I was not mistaken, I advanced as softly as I could and saw a calf stretched on the ground, its mother having been killed. It was completely exhausted. I did not wait long to discharge my gun. Several women who were in the vicinity, engaged in peeling off bark, came up on hearing the report. One of them, leaving the others, went off to


p. 314


the village to announce that I had killed a calf. Two old men came up, who gave me to understand that the animal was not worth the shot, as the calves are never fat; but as this was the first animal that I had killed, they felt it must be given the proper honors. They skinned it, leaving nothing but the entrails and the skin, and as soon as all our hunters had returned, one of the old men went off to harangue the village, announcing that I had killed a calf and that they must partake of it, in order to thank the Master of Life because he had allowed me to begin to kill game. The meat was divided among 120 men, who did not allow the least scrap of it to go to waste. We did not taste it, as it is not customary for the savages to eat when they give a feast.

The same day I had the old men assemble in our cabin and gave them all the powder and bullets that we had, telling them that we were not able to kill game while pursuing it on the run; so I begged them to divide this with the young men, as it was not fair that they should feed us for nothing; and to those of our


p. 315


own cabin I said that, according to the good treatment they accorded us, I should find a way to reward them. We perceived that they had understood me by the extraordinary care they took of us when we were on the march. If we showed signs of being thirsty, the most agile of them ran to fetch water for us from places that we should never have discovered.

As regards thirst, having gone to the chase, I found two men in a prairie who were skinning a buffalo. They told me to come with them as they wanted to have me eat a broiled slice of their meat. I told them I stood more in need of drink than of food. They gave me to understand that no water was to be found except at a great distance, but that there was some in the buffalo which they had killed not half an hour before, if I would have a little patience. I thought I had not rightly understood them, and the savages perceiving this, said nothing in reply to everything that I wished to say to them except, "Wait," my thirst not being so great but that I could do so. But I was apprehensive about the two leagues and more that remained to be traversed before arriving


p. 316


at the woods where streams are to be found. They hurried as much as they could in skinning their buffalo, and I helped them lay it on its back. After opening its belly, they opened the paunch and separated with their hands the excrements from the water which had not yet had time to be absorbed. Using my hands, I drank as much as I wished. It had a bad taste, but in spite of that, I had the pleasure of slaking my thirst.

When I came for my broiled meat on which they had promised to feast me, I could not understand where they would get means for cooking it. They took a fillet from within the body, this being the most tender part in all sorts of animals, and cut it into strips like sausages. One of them went off three or four arpents into a hollow, which in spring is nothing but a sort of marsh, and brought back a bundle of round reeds as thick as one's fingers. They drew from their quivers two bits of wood which serve them for striking a flame, and in less than half a Miserere, they had a fire. They kindled a part of their reeds, over which they put their meat, which they turned from time to time with their bows. In


p. 317


spite of all the care they took to scrape it with their knives, some ash remained, which rendered it as black as itself. Nevertheless, I ate abundantly of it and found it very good. It was very tender and I had a good appetite. One of the pieces of wood which they use to make a fire is of white cedar, which is the most combustible, a foot long more or less, according as they choose to make it, and as thick as two fingers. On one side, on the very edge, they make little holes, in which they make a notch. They put this bit of wood on some rotten wood or on some grass, dry and very fine, after taking care to crush it thoroughly in their hands. The other piece of wood is as thick as the little finger; it is a bit of a wood that has a black berry, which we call morette. When this wood is green it is very soft, and it is proportionately hard when it is dry. They shape the end to the size of the holes in the other piece of wood, into one of which they insert it, and by turning it in their hands without ceasing, they produce a sort of powder from which, after a very short time, one sees smoke issue, which shortly is converted


p. 318


into flame. This coming through the notch of which I have just spoken, falls on the rotten wood or dry grass, which is ignited.

We went as much as twenty leagues from the fort on this hunt, and I may say with truth that no finer landscape can be found. There are avenues extending farther than the eye can reach, which seem made expressly by nature to provoke our admiration, and offering, though about as wide as the Cours de la Reine, not a single bit of brushwood. This may be due to the endless number of buffalos that pass there. The reason why these places are so much frequented by these animals is because there is a kind of marsh here and there in the middle of these alleys which serves them for watering places.

More than 1,200 buffalos were killed during our hunt, without counting the bears, does, stags, bucks, young turkeys, and lynxes. We killed also some animals which the Illinois and Miami call Quinousaoueia, which signifies the big tails, as they have tails more than two feet long, a head like that of a cat, a body


p. 319


about three feet long, a very lank belly, and long legs, and fur, reddish and very short. They move faster than any other beast for two or three arpents. If they were as common as wolves, we should not see so many bucks in that country, for they [live] only on these. I saw an exploit of a young man of about twenty-two years which will show the agility of these savages, and which made me admire him and could not but give great pleasure to a thousand people themselves trained runners. On returning to the fort, we saw on a large prairie in which we were (for these people have lynx-eyes) a band of does numbering about sixty, and quite near the wood which we were about to enter. Several young men started off, part to the right, part to the left, and when they reached the wood, opposite the place where they had seen them, they made for the animals and reached the prairie, with part of our people after them, and with others at the flanks. They chased them for half an hour, letting them go now to one side, now to the other, but steering them continually toward us. The one of whom I wish to speak as the most agile, outran his comrades and caught up with the animals, laying his hand on the back of one of


p. 320


them while uttering cries of victory; afterwards he drew several arrows from his quiver, with which he killed and wounded several. Those who had remained behind, like ourselves, ran up, and we killed more than half of them with our guns. We camped in the wood where we had seen them, and came back from there to get the meat.

We found in these woods a vast number of trees laden with medlars, and others with nuts which have a wonderfully delicate taste. They are ordinarily olive-shaped but twice as big. The shells are very thin. There is a testa inside dividing in two the kernel, which is very bitter. There were other trees as thick as one's leg, which bend under a yellowish fruit of the shape and size of a medium-sized cucumber, which the savages call assemina. The French have given it an impertinent name. There are people who would not like it, but I find it very good. They have five or six nuclei inside which are as big as marsh beans, and of about the same shape. I ate, one day, sixty of them, big and little. This fruit does not ripen till October, like the medlars. Grapes grow


p. 321


here in such abundance that one cannot travel four arpents without finding trees full of trellises of charming beauty, with clusters sometimes as large as those in France; but most of them have the berries far apart. I cannot say as much of their quality, for out of all those that I have tasted, I have found none that are edible. I tried to cook some and used more than a quarter of a pound of sugar to a pint of this juice, yet it was impossible for me or my serving man to swallow it.

There are wood rats here as big as a French cat, which have white fur inclining to reddish, as long as that of a marten. It is very fine and the women make garters of it. They have tails a foot long and as thick as a finger, just like that of the muskrat. The female has two skins under her belly which gives the effect of a justaucorps closed at the top and the bottom, and open in the middle. They have as many as eight young, which they carry inside when they walk. Some savages brought me a couple of them once during the winter. I hoped to send them to France, but I


p. 322


was surprised some days after to find their tails missing. The cold had frozen them, and they had broken off like glass. Sometime later their ears also dropped off, so that I was obliged to kill them. Some savages to whom I told this informed me that the mothers always kept them in their holes until they were as big as themselves, and that, moreover, they did not go out when it was very cold. They are very good to eat. They are very heavy, and there is no need of running after them for when they see anyone they do not flee; they only open their mouths and you smash their heads with a stick.

There is also a great abundance of stinking animals, who produce an infectious stink with the smell of their urine. This is their defense; when one tries to approach them to kill them, they immediately turn tail and urinate if they can. The dogs, after having strangled them, are often like mad for a very long time. They do all they can by rolling on the ground to get rid of this bad smell, which sticks to them for a long time. This does not keep the savages from making dresses of their skin, the fur being white


p. 323


and black and very warm. The meat is very tender, but despite all precautions taken in washing it, it develops an unpleasant odor when eaten.

Plums are also very abundant here, and not inferior in beauty to those of France. I found some at one time which, as regards appearance, were nowise different from our Imperiale, but they had a very different flavor indeed. They are never freestone, and have a very thick skin.

There are also in the prairies many orchards whose trees are laden with apples as big as the Api, but very bad. I was never able to eat them except after boiling them, and after they had been frozen.

We got back from our hunt toward the middle of July. From that time up to the end of September there arrived continually bands of ten and fifteen and twenty Illinois, to the number of 800, whom the late Monsieur de Tonti had sent out at the beginning of March against the Iroquois, by order of Monsieur the Marquis Denonville. They brought in this summer, captive or killed, sixty


p. 324


men, women, and children.

In the autumn Monsieur de la Forest arrived, who told us that the Iroquois had killed many French and that everybody was in great dismay. He and Monsieur de Tonti used all their address to induce as many Illinois as possible to set out against them. In this they were fairly successful, for the following summer we burned six Iroquois, and they brought in more than twenty scalps.

In 1691 Monsieur de Tonti left for some business which he had at Michillimackinac, leaving me to take command in his place. Before his departure, he assembled all the principal Illinois and told them that he was leaving me in his place, and that in case any matters turned up regarding the service of the king or the well-being of their village, they had only to apply to me - he would approve whatever I might do. I learned afterward that this speech had had not a little effect on their minds, for I can truthfully say to their praise that never had Indians been so submissive as they were during this time.


p. 325


Several women complained that their corn had been cut, and others that they had found Iroquois moccasins in their fields. I assembled the principal Indians, whom I feasted on a flat side of buffalo, and told them that they should remember that Monsieur de Tonti had bid them listen to me whenever I might have something to tell them concerning the safety of their wives and children. I told them that I was informed that there were enemies out against them who were cutting their corn, and that these might be a band of Iroquois who were coming among them as they had done in the past. I said it was my opinion that they ought to send out scouts on the roads over which they knew they were likely to come, as undoubtedly, if it was true, as their women said, that enemies had cut their corn, they would surprise the enemy scouts, who doubtless were waiting for the crop to ripen before attacking them. They approved of my idea, and that very night sent out four bands of twenty men each who four days later brought in two Iroquois who had cut corn for the last time.


p. 326


They numbered 300 men. This made them draw back, happily for the Illinois, for at that time there were not 200 young men in the village. As soon as they were brought in they were fastened to the stake. I had only three men about me at the time, the Reverend Father Gravier being a fifth. Soon after, there came in several bands of the men whom Monsieur de Tonti had sent out in the spring. They brought in four more prisoners whom we had captured. Our Illinois lost four of their number, at which we were greatly pleased because this roused them still more.

In September I received a letter from Monsieur de Tonti, dated from Michillimackinac, informing me that he had learned that Monsieur de la Forest was returning from France and that the court had granted them the country of the Illinois with the same prerogatives as the late Monsieur de la Salle. He said he was coming up with a large number of engagés, and that I should therefore sound the Illinois regarding the abandonment of their village, for which they had shown a desire because their firewood was so remote and because it was so difficult to get water upon


p. 327


the rock if they were attacked by the enemy. I assembled the chiefs, and having learned that they had not changed their minds, I bade them choose such place as suited them best. They chose the end of Lake Pimitoui, which means Fat Lake, so called on account of the abundance of game there. This is where the Illinois are at present and where I was for seven years. Monsieur de Tonti arrived in the winter [1691-1692] and started the building of a large fort to which the savages might retire in case of an alarm. The following spring Monsieur de la Forest arrived also with a considerable number of engagés and of soldiers, who completed the building of it. It is four years ago this spring that I left the place. I left there something over 260 cabins, which have from one to four fires. I put them at two on the average, and thus calculate about 800 warriors between the ages of twenty and forty. You can see no finer looking people. They are neither tall nor short usually; there are some you could encompass with two hands. They have legs that seem drawn with an artist's pen. They carry their load of wood gracefully, with a proud gait as finely as the


p. 328


best dancer.  They have faces as beautiful as white milk, in so far as this is possible for Indians of that country.  They have the most regular and the whitest teeth imaginable.  They are full of life, yet at the same time lazy.  They are tattooed behind from the shoulders to the heels, and as soon as they have reached the age of twenty-five, on the front of the stomach, the sides, and the upper arms.  There is here a certain Villeneuve, who has half his back tattooed in the same manner.  They are proud and vain and all call themselves sons or relatives of chiefs; but in spite of this they are given to begging, are cowardly, licentious, entirely given up to their senses.  They always take advantage of the weakness of those they deal with; they dress their best when they appear in public; they are as jealous as Italians, thievish, gourmands, vindictive, hypocritical, and perfidious.  They would prostitute their daughters or sisters a thousand times for a pair of stockings or other trifle.  I have got the men to agree a hundred times that their fathers, their brothers, and their children were worse than dogs, because they hoped that I would give them a little red paint or a five-sol knife.


p. 329


The sin of sodomy prevails more among them than in any other nation, although there are four women to one man.  It is true that the women, although debauched, retain some moderation, which prevents the young men from satisfying their passions as much as they would like.  There are men who are bred for this purpose from childhood.  When they are seen frequently picking up the spade, the spindle, the axe, but making no use of the bow and arrows, as all the other small boys do, they are girt with a piece of leather or cloth which envelopes them from the belt to the knees, a thing all the women wear.  Their hair is allowed to grow, and is fastened from behind the head.  They wear also a little skin like a shoulder strap passing under the arm on one side and tied over the shoulder on the other.  They are tattooed on their cheeks like the women and also on the breast and the arms, and they imitate their accent, which is different from that of the men.  They omit nothing that can make them like the women.  There are men sufficiently imbruted to have dealings with them on the same footing.  The women and the girls who prostitute themselves to these wretches are


p. 330


dissolute creatures.


Formerly a man had to make several attacks on the enemy before he could marry, a thing he did not do until he was at least twenty-five, the period when a man begins to possess resolution, so that they were really about thirty when they married.  The girls also waited until they were twenty-five.  At present there are men who do not wait until they are twenty, and girls marry under eighteen.  The old men say that the French have corrupted them.


When a young man has succeeded in learning to hunt, he tells his father that he wishes to marry, and names the girl he loves, to whom sometimes he has never spoken, for a chaste girl among the Illinois, as well as among the Miami, ought not to hold any conversation with the young men, nor even with the married men.  When they first speak of marriage, she must never speak to them first, nor cast her eyes upon them, for as soon as a young man notices that a girl looks at him frequently and afterwards whispers to some one of her companions, he conjectures that she is in love with him, and ordinarily he is not mistaken.  He there-


p. 331


fore neglects no opportunity to take advantage of this, and spies out the time when she goes to the woods or to her field.  He begs her to listen to him, and assures her of his love. The girl half overcome already, does not answer a word, which is an infallible sign among them that she loves him.  He has a rendezvous with her and sometimes obtains without delay all that he desires.  Accordingly a really well-conducted girl should avoid gatherings where men are present, in order to be esteemed and married with ceremony.  This is done in the following manner.


It is usually at the time when the young man is absent either making war or hunting.  His father, if he has one, or his uncle in lieu of him, takes five or six kettles, two or three guns, some skins of stags, bucks, or beavers, some flat sides of buffalo, some cloth, and sometimes a slave, if he has one, in short something of all he has, according to his wealth and the esteem in which the girl is held.  He has these presents delivered by women, his relatives, who deposit them in the cabin of the girl, who goes out as soon as she is aware that it is for her that they bring these presents, and


p. 332


he merely says to the father or her nearest relatives that he asks his alliance and that he begs him to have pity on him and to suffer him to warm himself at his fire.  They use this expression because it is always the women who supply the cabins and the firewood.  They also [say] that they come to seek moccasins, because it is the women also who dress the skins.  The presents remain sometimes for four days in the cabin, without any answer being given, on account of the objections made by the girl who does not like the boy, or on account of her brother who is in favor of some other suitor who has perhaps been seeking his good graces for a long time by means of little presents, so that he may favor him in the same matter, which he has not yet been able to arrange either through lack of merchandise, or because his relatives are absent.  In such a case the presents are returned and nothing is said.  The father of the youth, knowing how much his son is bent on marrying this girl, augments the presents and returns to the girl's home, saying that it is at her fire only that he wishes to warm himself.  I have seen presents carried back as many as three times.  This often produces discouragement, and they address themselves to


p. 333


other girls for whom they have heard their sons express esteem.  In the end, therefore, the girl and her brother consent on the account of the suasion of the father and mother who extol the good qualities of the youth.  For this reason, in accordance with the means of the girl, they carry back several things resembling those that were brought to them, and the girl marches ahead well adorned with shoulder straps, glass beads, porcelain, and bells, so that one who heard them marching would think  they were mules.  They spread a bearskin, or that of a buffalo or stag, according to the season, in the middle of the cabin, on which they seat the bride, and the relatives who followed her carrying the presents return home.


In the evening the relatives of the youth bring her back with some presents.  This is usually done as many as four successive days.  The last day she remains.  There are some who wait for the bridegroom's return before going there for the last time.  They remain sometimes a whole week without approaching each other.  It has happened that men, getting angry at being too long rebuffed by their wives, have left them and gone off to the war


p. 334


without having known them, and have been killed.  This happens sometimes because they do not love their husbands, at other times to do themselves honor, for when they have children immediately after nine months, it is a matter of reproach when they quarrel, to say that they loved their husbands before marrying them, since they had borne children so soon.  I have known one woman who assured me that she and her husband had been six months together without having intercourse.  When such accidents occur, these women are to be pitied, for the relatives of the man are always reproaching her with his death.  They dare not comb their hair, nor be present at any dance, still less can they marry.  They obliged to live very quietly in spite of themselves, and often in shedding many tears, until the relatives are finally inspired with pity.  The sister is the one who combs her, and who urges her to marry if she finds some suitor.  To show them the regret that she feels and her gratitude toward them, she must remain a year without marrying.  If, unhappily for her, she were to do so before it was allowed, the relatives of the deceased would take her scalp


p. 335


as if she were one of their enemies, would put it into a hoop and hang it at the end of a pole at the top of their cabin.  When they are faithless to their husbands the same treatment is accorded them.  The husband or relatives do not wait for an opportune moment, but no matter where they find the woman outside of her cabin, they take the law into their own hands.


The Miami cut off their noses.  Others inflict another punishment; they post some thirty young men on a road by which they know that their wives must pass in going to the woods.  As soon as they see her, the husband issues from the ambuscade and says to his wife: As I know that you are fond of men, I offer you a feast of them---take your fill.  Her cries are futile; several of them hold her, and they enjoy her one after the other.  There are even some men who are always present on such occasions.  I had the vexation of seeing this happen one day in our fort, where I was in command at the time.  A chief who was one of my friends came to tell me that he knew that at the very moment he was talking with me, his wife was locked up with my serving man in


p. 336


the house opposite mine, where he cooked for me.  He added that but for the consideration which he had for me he would do an ill turn to that Frenchman.  He begged me to tell that latter to take care lest this happen in the future, and added that all men would not show as much regard for me.  He asked me to come with him to have the door opened, which had been kept closed in spite of much knocking on his part and of the many invitations from him to open it.  So I went there with him, and the Frenchman still kept us waiting for so long that I scolded him for being so slow to answer my calls.  He finally opened the door, and the woman came out holding in her hands a bit of paper containing some vermilion.  Her husband laid hold of her and led her off to one of the bastions of our fort, where there were twenty young men who did not spare her.  Others, who are braver, inflict wounds on the lover with knives or arrows, of which he sometimes dies.  When he is merely wounded his relatives say nothing; but if he dies his brothers or his near relatives take vengeance on the one who dealt the blow


p. 337


or his brothers, in spite of all the presents that are given to appease them.  Ordinarily blankets, kettles, guns, and slaves are given for this purpose.  There are some who say that the women are not worth the price of the least resentment, and that when they prove faithless one should be content to drive them away and take others.  In spite of the severity shown toward them, they are not held back from falling into this error, and their fate does not serve as a warning to others.  Since I have been in this country more than a hundred women have been scalped.  It is true that the young men are bound easily to inspire love in them, for as I have already said, they are the handsomest Indians that I know, good hunters, good runners, intelligent, affecting generosity toward the brothers of the women they love, who incline their sisters to return their love, although married women.  When, in addition to all this, they are warriors, there are few who do not succumb to them.  The women are rather ugly than beautiful, tolerably fair for savages, and quite cleanly.  They always bend one leg inward on which they sit when they are taking on a load. Those


p. 338


who are slender and tall are the most beautiful.  Thus when Madame Lesueur, who is very tall, slender, very blonde, and who has a well-shaped face, came among the Illinois, she was much admired and obliged to pass two entire days outside the fort.  Otherwise my house would not have been left standing because of the number of people bent on seeing her.  In this connection, the wife of a man of standing, the mother-in-law of one of our Frenchmen, made me an answer which does not seem to me quite that of a savage.  When I asked her one day if she had seen the French woman and her children, she said:  "Yes, truly, I have seen her, and I wish that she had never come to this county. I believed that our women could hold their own for beauty with other natives, and we even see that those that are known to us are much inferior to us; but now we know that we are only monsters compared with your women---and still we are told that this is not a beautiful woman! Her little children are like the little Jesus that Father Gravier shows us every day."


p. 339


They are very industrious, being rarely idle, especially when they are married.  In spring when the nation returns from its winter sojourn, which is at the end of March, or at the beginning of April, they busy themselves gathering wood so as to be able to do their planting at the beginning of May without interruption, for, although in this country the snow is not over four fingers deep and does not lie on the ground a week, and although the rivers are all open at the beginning of March, there are cold spells in May as severe as those of winter.  They spin buffalo hair out of which they make sacks to keep their peltry in, and of which they also make garters.  They also utilize wood rats and malodorous animals, whose hides they color black, red, and yellow.  They also work very well with porcupine quills, with which they trim their gala moccasins.  The Potowatomi and Ottawa furnish them these, for there are no animals of this sort among them.  When they wish to finish their sowing early, they offer a feast of flat sides of beef mixed with corn inside of it, and invite as many


p. 340


women as they need to spade up their fields.  They do not refuse such invitations, and if any of those invited fail to come, they come next day to offer their excuses and to tell the reasons which prevented their coming.


At the beginning of June they hill up their corn, and after that the village sets out on the buffalo hunt.  Someone always remains in each cabin, someone of the women, I mean.  I have seen times when not six remained. Some days after this the women who remain go off in canoes, of which they have as many as three in each cabin, to cut reeds with which to cover their cabins.  These are a kind that grow in their marshes.  They procure bundles of them, which, after removing a skin that encloses several blades conjointly, they dry in the sun and tie together with twine which they make of white wood, with ten or twelve bands at intervals of about six inches.  They make these up to ten fathoms in length.  They call them apacoya, a word which serves not merely to designate these, but which is also a generic term for all sorts of cov-


p. 341


erings.  They use the same term for bark boards, and two of these apacoyas, one on top of the other, protect one from the rain as well as the best blanket.  These are the cabins which they use in autumn and winter; even if they leave their canoes, the women carry these on their backs.


I have forgotten to say that before they set out for the chase, the men play at Lacrosse, a few women mingling with them. They make the [racket] out of a stick of walnut, about three feet long, which they bend half way, making the end come within a foot of the other end which serves for them as a handle.  To keep it in this shape they fasten a buffalo sinew to the curved end, which, as I have already said, they fasten about a foot from the end that serves as a handle.  They lace the interior with more buffalo sinew so that the ball, which is a knot of wood of the size of a tennis ball, cannot pass through.  This nation is composed of eight villages, of which there are six at Pimitoui, and two others which I have never seen with them.  These last are built eight leagues beyond the mouth of the Illinois River on the Mississippi, called Cahokia


p. 342


and Tamaroa, having, I believe, more than sixty cabins.


The six of which I wish to speak are the Kaskaskia, the Peoria, Moingwena, Coiracoentanon, Tamaroa, Tapouara.  The Peoria and the Coiracoentanon usually join against the four other villages because they are as numerous as the four.


They place in the middle of the prairie, on whose edge their village stands, two forks about ten paces apart.  An old man, who is neutral, rises and utters a cry which signifies:  It is time.  Everybody rises and utters cries similar to those they utter when they attack the enemy.  The old man throws the ball into the air and pell-mell they all try to catch it.  They strike their legs in such a manner that they are crippled sometimes, especially when someone manages to get the ball in hand so as to send it very far so that it has a reasonable distance for getting an impetus and then strikes a player's legs in front.  This makes them fall in such a manner that it might be supposed that they would never get up again. I


p. 343


have seen men in this state who were thought to be dead.  The players pass over them without paying any heed; only the women, their relatives, come and carry them off in a deerskin.  It is at times as much as two months before they can make use of their legs, and often they break them.


I have seen a Bardache (P.N.:  biological males living as females) who was standing aside like the women to send back the ball to his party, in case it came his way, who was struck by the ball in the eye so hard that the eye was knocked out of his head. It is necessary to go and return to win the game.


To return to the occupations of the women, at the end of July they begin to mix or dry the corn.  They make two kinds.  That which they roast gives them more trouble than that which they boil, for they have to make large griddles and exercise particular care to turn the ears from time to time to prevent their burning too much on one side, and afterwards they have to shell off the kernels.  They therefore make very little of this kind.  The kind which they boil they gather just as tender as the corn for


p. 344


roasting, and with shells, which they find more convenient than knives, they cut all the kernels, throwing away the cobs, until they have about the quantity they wish to cook for that day.  They never keep any for the next day because of the excessive care needed to prevent it from turning sour.  After this, as soon as it has boiled for a few minutes, they spread it on reed mats, which they also make in the same manner as those that serve for their cabins.  The drying process usually takes two days.  They make a great store of this kind.


As regards the large ears which are ripe at the end of August, after they have gathered it they husk the ears and spread them into a heap and cover them well; when the sun has risen they spread them again, and they keep this up for a week; then they thresh it with big sticks six or seven feet long, in a place which they surround with matting to prevent the flying kernels from getting lost.  They harvest also a great


p. 345


many watermelons which are admirable.  I have seen numbers of them as big as a water bucket.


There are abundant and excellent pumpkins.  They have a mode of drying them that is not common to all the nations of this region by which they keep from one year to the next.  They scrape the rind well, and take out all the inside, and cut them into slices full circle and an inch thick.  They let them wither for a day in the air, after which they tie them together, putting as many as five pumpkins together in this way.  They expose them to the sun for several days, which dries them out to such a degree that they break like a turnip.  They cook this with meat and Indian corn.  It is a great treat among them.  The French always make a liberal provision of this.


There are also many roots which the women gather.  The one which they esteem most is the macopine.  It is a big root which they get in the marshes.  I have never tried to learn what the flower is like, so I cannot speak of it, although I have seen the women pull the roots up from the ground at the bottom of the water into which they wade sometimes up to the waist, so that they


p. 346


often duck their heads under water to pluck them up.  There are some as big as one's leg.  The savages assert that they are poisonous when raw, which I hardly believe.  The women have peculiar difficulty in cooking them.  Sometimes three or four cabins combine and dig a hole in the ground five or six feet deep and ten or twelve square.  They throw a great deal of wood into it, which they set on fire, and when it is aflame they throw in a number of rocks, which they take care to turn over with big levers until they are all red; then they go in quest of a large quantity of grass which they get at the bottom of the water and which they spread as well as they can over these rocks to the thickness of about a foot, after which they throw on many buckets of water, and then as fast as they can each cabin puts its roots in its own place, covering them over with dry grass and bark and finally earth.  They leave them thus for three days.  They shrink to half their former size.


They gather also in these same marshes other roots which are as big as one's arm and which are all full of holes.  They give them no trouble to prepare:  they merely cut them into pieces


p. 347


half as thick as one's wrist, string them, and hang them to dry in the sun or in the smoke.  This root has larges leaves that spread out on the water, like what we call votels, but they are much larger.  Between two of these leaves issues something shaped like the body of a drinking-glass in which are the seeds, which are as big as hazelnuts.  They also store up onions, which are as big as Jerusalem artichokes, which they find in the prairies, and which I find better than all the other roots.  They are sugary and pleasing to the palate.  They are cooked like the macopines.


There are a great many others of which I make no mention whatever, which attests to the abundance of all things in this country.  In the vicinity of the river some bits of red copper have been discovered, but up to the present time no mine has been found.  We have only found below several lead mines which are very rich.  The French and the Indians make use of no others and even carry on a trade in lead with the Indians who come to trade with them.


p. 348


There are blackberry bushes here as large as those of France, and the berries are almost as big and as good.


They are no doubt simples also, since these savages sometimes cure themselves of wounds for which our surgeons would require six weeks.


There are also trees which in autumn have great pods in which there are black stones with a sort of green unguent inside, of which the savages have no knowledge.


There is another tree which is filled with thorns as long as one's fingers.  It also has pods which are not as big nor so long:  they are full of little beans which are very hard.


There is also found in this pod a gummy substance of a sugary taste, which I was told the English utilize to make punch.


There are Indian chestnuts of admirable beauty full of nuts bigger and finer than those of Lyons.  There is no one who on seeing them does not believe them to be excellent.  When we first


p. 349


established this settlement, I went out on a hunting excursion one day.  As I wished to go farther into the woods so as to shoot more easily at a flock of bustards which I had seen at the water's edge, I advanced and found a quantity of these chestnuts at the foot of the trees.  I thought now only of gathering them, and having collected a heap of the finest ones, I was unwilling to leave so beautiful a spot until I had tasted this fruit.  So I made a good fire and put a dozen of them into it.  I had taken care to open them.  They looked wonderfully inviting when I drew them out of the fire.  I bit into one, believing I was going to eat the best chestnut in the world, but I was well paid for my curiosity, for I was unable during more than a quarter of an hour to get rid of the bitterness in my mouth.  I felt none, however, because I had thus missed shooting my bustards.  It is a game bird that is very common here, as well as swans, French ducks, musk ducks, teals, and cranes, both white and gray.


I am now going to tell something which will perhaps not be believed, though I am not the only one who has witnessed it.  The


p. 350


waters are sometimes low in autumn so that all the sorts of birds that I have just mentioned leave the marshes which are dry, and there is such a vast number of them in the river, and especially in the lake (at the end of which the Illinois are settled on the north shore), on account of the abundance of roots in it, when, if this game remained on the water, one could not get through in a canoe without pushing them aside with the paddle, and yet the lake is seven leagues long and more than a quarter of a league wide in the broadest part.


This river also has a great abundance of fish, and especially the lake, in which there are carp much better than we have in France, two feet long and half a foot thick.  A savage, in good weather, spears as many as sixty of them in one day.  There are brills of monstrous size.  I have seen one whose two eyes were sixteen inches apart and whose body was a big as the biggest man.  The late Monsieur de Tonti assured me that he had seen one with an interval of eighteen inches.  I do not doubt that there are


p. 351


some even bigger, for one day a soldier of the garrison at that time among the Illinois, having gone fishing one night in a canoe, and having put out a big rock to anchor it, one of these brills, finding itself caught on the hook, made such powerful efforts that it carried away the canoe, the rock, and the man.  The soldier, seeing this, exerted all his strength and was pulling it toward him when, unhappily, the line broke.  It was of whitewood bark, twisted thicker than one's thumb.  While the women were working, as I have already related, from morning till night, the men remain under awnings which the women set up in front of their cabins to keep the heat of the sun from entering.  They surround these with foliage.  At night, most of the men, seated like dogs on mats of round reeds, play with straws.  For markers they use the little beans which I have mentioned, which grow on the thorny trees.  The game is usually of 200 straws of the length of a foot.  The one who can best deceive is the best player; so they are always on the lookout against being deceived.  They mark with their beans


p. 352


one or two, according to the wish of the one whose turn it is to mark, then three, and so in regard to the other players up to six, which is the game.  One of them takes the straws in both hands and forces his thumb into the middle.  The other, if he so desires, does the same thing, and afterwards counts the straws by the sixes;  if he happens to have one left, and one bean is marked the first, he has the head; if the other gets two which are marked next, it is what they call the neck which comes after the head, so he loses; if he gets one like the other, they begin over again.  They have perhaps five or six hundred of these beans, some of which they stake on each play, and when one player has them all before him, they gain what they have staked.  They are addicted to this game in a degree that cannot be exceeded.  Some of them have staked their sisters after having lost all that they had of personal property.  They are very superstitious about it, and if their wives are with child when they lose, they say it is they who bring ill-luck; if they win, they say the contrary.  They fear the women and girls when they have the malady to which they are all subject.  Because of


p. 353


this, opposite every cabin there is another which offers very close quarters for two persons and to which they retire during all the time they are in this condition, with a kettle, a spoon, and a dish.  No one enters except such as are in the same condition.  When they need anything they come to the door to ask for it.  When it is the first time, they make themselves cabins in the wilderness at a distance of no more than ten arpents from the village, and all the girls' relatives advise them to abstain from eating and drinking as long as they are in this condition, telling them that they see the devil, and that when he has spoken to them they are always happy and achieve the gift of great power as regards the future.  I saw a young girl of sixteen who was foolish enough to remain six days without eating or drinking and whom it was necessary to carry back to her cabin, after thoroughly washing her of course, because she was not able to stand up.  She made all her relatives believe that she had seen a buffalo, which had spoken to her, and that her two brothers were leading a party on the warpath against the Iroquois would make a successful attack without losing any life.  They did indeed make a successful attack, as she had said,


p. 354


but one of the two brothers was killed.  All the medicine men said she had been right, because the attack had succeeded, but that apparently she had not fasted all the time that was necessary, which was the reason why the devil had lied in part of what he had said to her, since she had performed only a part of what she ought to have seen.


The women also cannot be delivered in the cabins of their husbands, but betake themselves to those of which I have just spoken.  When they have a painful childbirth, forty or fifty young men make a descent upon the cabin in the most unexpected manner, uttering cries like those they make when they attack their enemies, shooting off guns, and striking heavy blows upon the cabin, which brings about immediate delivery.  The women remain sometimes a fortnight, in cases of very difficult childbirth, for although they are savages there are some who are just as sick as our women.  Afterwards the woman goes off to bathe; when the water is too cold, she washes is the cabin.  The day when she is to return to her husband's cabin, he has everything cleaned, has his


p. 355


furs shaken, and the ashes in the fireplace removed, so that not a speck remains, after which he kindles a new fire with his apparatus and lights it himself.  Then he sends word to his wife to enter.  I have seen some women go to the woods the day after they had had a child and bring home as heavy a load as ordinarily.


While the women are nursing, their husbands do not ordinarily have commerce with them.  As they have several wives, the abstinence is easy for them.  It is usually the sisters and the aunts or nieces of their wives whom they marry.  These they call Nirimoua.  When a man is a good hunter, it is a very easy matter for him to marry all who stand within this degree of relationship.  The women designate him in the same manner.


When their husbands die, they weep in a way that would lead one to believe that they are sincerely grieved, in which they are like a majority of our women who weep only in proportion to the loss they have sustained and the fear they entertain of not finding new husbands, and not from the love they bore the deceased.  They abstain for a very long time, as I have already said, from combing


p. 356


themselves unless the sister of the dead man urges them thereto.  Often at daybreak you hear weeping on all sides, which, however, far from raising pity, rather inspires laughter, for one would say that they are singing.  One invokes her brother, another her father, another her sister, and others their children.  She who has lost her husband and who has no children names her brother in her funeral song, the purport of which is that henceforth she will find no one to do her a good turn.  All the married men have the custom of giving some present to the brothers of their wives.  The women who have children name them in their songs, saying that they will find nobody who will give them a dress with which to "clothe themselves."  The relatives, of whom the savages have a great number, come to "clothe" them, bringing them blankets, pelts, kettles, guns, hatchets, porcelain collars, belts, knives.  All that is given gives pleasure, and now the people of the cabin say that the dead died opportunely since the esteem in which he was held is shown by these presents from


p. 357


everybody.  The next day they simply reverse the process.  If someone has received a red blanket, he receives a blue one in return; if he has given a yellow kettle, he receives a red one; if has given a small kettle, he receives a hatchet, and so on.  The only advantage accruing to the relatives of the dead men is that they often keep good articles for bad ones which they give away.  They also pay four men for burying the dead.


They ordinarily cut two forked sticks ten feet long with a crosspiece. They hollow out the earth to the length of the body and a little wider.  They put in a board from one of their old boats or canoes and put the dead body inside with another board on each side.


I forgot to say that they paint his face and hair red, put on him a white shirt if they have one, and new mittasses of cloth or of leather, and moccasins, and cover him with the best robe they have.  They put in a little kettle or earthen pot, about a double handful of corn, a calumet, a pinch of tobacco, a bow and arrows, and then they replant one of these forked sticks a foot from his


p. 358


feet and the other at the same distance from the head with the crosspiece above, after which they set their stakes in d'anse on each side, taking care to close up both ends well so that no animals may get in.


If the deceased has been a chief of war parties that have brought in prisoners they plant a tree forty or fifty feet long, which several men go to fetch at the request of the relatives, who give a feast.  From this tree they peal back the bark and color it with shades of red and black and make pictures of the chief and the prisoners he has taken, tie a bundle of small logs representing as many persons as he has killed, which they also fasten to the stake, and then they plant it beside the tomb.  They sometimes put some [articles] in the earth, observing always the maxim of putting similar things with them in their graves.  After this they take measures to procure for them, so the old men say, passage over a great river, on whose nearer shore they hear delights.  There, they say, they always dance, and they eat everything they wish.  The women there are always beautiful, and it is never cold.  All


p. 359


the souls of those who die always stand on the bank, waiting to be conveyed to the other side, which never happens unless they have been paid the last obsequies.  For this reason the Miami and the Illinois delay as little as possible in rendering them to their relatives.  If the dead man is a warrior who has loved the dance very much, the relatives assemble in his cabin to see what they can give.  They count how many villages they represent and agree on the thing as best they can in order that none may be dissatisfied.  They plant for this purpose three or four forks, according to the amount of merchandise there is to give, and fix crosspieces on which they hang several kettles, guns, and hatchets.  They send word to the chiefs of each village to send their warriors to dance for such a one who is dead in order that he may go to enjoy the bliss which all men will one day enjoy.


Immediately the chief or the leading men of each village go and exhort the young men to put on their best array.


A large number of mats are spread outside around those forks, the drummer is there nearby and the Chichicoirs.  They


p. 360


seat themselves round about, usually stark naked, and tie the skin of the virile member, sometimes fastening it at the belt.  One of them begins his role with war whoops, and they represent in dancing the tableau presented when they discover the enemy, when they kill him, and when they take his scalp, or when they take him prisoner, and they do all this without losing the cadence.  They call this dance the discovery.


The women during this time are weeping in his cabin.  When the dance is over, the nearest relative of the dead for whom they dance, pointing with a wand says: This is for you, Peoria; this is for you Coiracoentanon, and so on.


If the dead man liked the game of lacrosse, the relatives have the villages play against each other, and similarly if they liked gaming.  Sometimes they have races.  And the common people have dances.


When the women die, those of their sex make their graves, dressing them as neatly as they can before burial.  If it be a girl, it is the girls who do this.  When it happens to be a woman who


p. 361


loved her husband (this is very rare among these women, as it is everywhere else) and if her husband remarries a short time after his wife's death, taking a wife who does not belong to the family of the dead woman, the feminine relatives invade the husband's cabin and cut up all the skins and break the kettles, the man never making a motion.  They do the same thing when the husbands, without sufficient reason, leave their wives and take others of different families.


Although this nation is much given to debauchery, especially the men, the reverend Jesuit fathers, who speak their language perfectly, manage (if one may say so) to impose some check on this by instructing a number of girls in Christianity, who often profit by their teaching, and mock the superstitions of their nation.  This often greatly incenses the old men and daily exposes these fathers to ill-treatment, and even to being killed.  I must say to their glory that they must be saints indeed to take as much trouble as they do for these people.  Every day as soon as the sun rises they go into the cabins to find out if anyone is sick; 


p. 362


they give them medicines, and if necessary bleed them, and sometimes they even make broth for them, after which they have it cried through the village that they are about to say mass. Then they teach the catechism or they preach sermons; in the afternoon, after having applied themselves to the language, they return to the village to hear the catechism, which always takes two hours. The pieces of wood, husks of indian corn, and even the stones which are sometimes thrown at them do not dismay them; they continue their discourse, contenting themselves with saying that it is the master of life who orders them to do what they are doing, and those that do not wish to hear his word may stay away while those who wish to listen to it may do so. In the evening they come again to call to prayer, which is followed by a prayer service for the French.  No weather prevents them from going through with the same exercises.  Sometimes they are sent for at night to come to the edge of the village, which is more than an eighth of a league long, to assist the dying.  I have even had some differences with


p. 363


some of these reverend fathers as to this matter, on account of the dangers to which they exposed us in thus exposing themselves, fearing as I did that some medicine men, jealous at finding themselves cut off from what they might have gained by caring for the sick, might directly or indirectly do them some mischief. But their great zeal always carried them away, no matter what stipulations they made with me.


This nation as well as the Miami, has no religion. Some have the buffalo, the bear, others the cat, the buck, the lynx for their manitou.  Almost all the old men are medicine men and consequently healers, so that when a person is sick, the relatives hang up in the cabin a kettle, or a couple of guns, or a blanket, according to the severity of his disease and the amount of his property, after which they send for one of these old men who inspires them with the most confidence, and say to him: "Father" or "Brother" or "Uncle", (according to the tie of kinship existent between them. It should be stated that they almost all call each other relatives, and such degrees of kinship as I have just enumerated are


p. 364


often claimed by persons whom we should not even call cousins. I have seen men of eighty claim that young girls were their mothers.) "I beg of you to take pity on us and heal us.  Here is what we had hung up for this." The old man pretends not to notice what they show him, but approaches the sick man and asks him in what way he is ailing, and where and how long he has been ill.  After a thorough inspection, he returns home to get some of his medicine and his chichicoya, a little gourd from which the inside has been removed and into which they put some grains of little glass pearl, and they run a stick through it from the top   to the bottom, letting one end project a foot to hold it by.  This when shaken, makes a loud noise.  From a little bag in which he has a quantity of small packages, he takes out some pieces of tanned skin in which are his medicaments.  After spreading them out, he takes up his gourd and shakes it, intoning at the top of his voice a song in which he says: "The buffalo (or the buck, according to his manitou) has revealed this remedy to me and has told me that it was good for such and such a malady"- and he


p. 365


names the one by which the sick man is attacked - "whoever has it administered to him will be healed."  He reiterates this for sometimes half an hour, though often the patient has not slept for a whole week.  When the sickness is a desperate one, he calls for water, which he has warmed, and puts it into a micoine, mixing with it five or six kinds of powders which he takes from his packages.  This he has his patient swallow, then he takes some into his own mouth, and having the place pointed out to him which gives pain, he spouts this drug upon it, and then he bandages it.  He is careful to make two visits a day and to treat his patient in the same fashion, save that he does not sing unless the sick man is worse.  When he perceives an improvement, he brings his gourd and sings louder than the first time, asserting in his song that his manitou is the true manitou, who has never lied to him, wherefore thanks to the promise the latter has given him by night in his dreams, he is about to heal his patient by extracting the cause of his ill.  Having had the place pointed out, he fingers it carefully, and then all of a sudden throws himself mouth down upon it, crying out as if he were mad. He bites his patient sometimes so hard


p. 366


as to draw blood, but the latter does not budge for fear of manifesting lack of courage.  Meanwhile he inserts in his mouth the claw of a dog or an eagle, or the hair of the beard of a Kinousaoueine or a Richion, which he says he has drawn out from the sore spot.  The savages say that it is animals of this kind which send them these diseases because they have eaten their prey.  It sometimes happens that they pass by places where such animals have strangled bucks, and they make no scruple of appropriating and eating these if they have no meat, and they even consider it very good.  In spite of all these medicine men say of the matter, they are themselves the first to do so.  Then in a long song he thanks his manitou with his chichicoya for making it possible for him frequently to obtain merchandise through his favor.  He takes his patient out for a bath, or washes him in the cabin, according to the season.  He takes what had been hung up for him in the cabin and carries it off without saying anything.  The relatives arise and pass their hands over his head and his legs, as sign of profound


p. 367


gratitude.  Most often they do not cure the sick, although assuredly they have admirable drugs, because they are ignorant of internal maladies.  It is only a mere chance when they succeed.  Their medicines they use for purging have all the effectiveness possible.  There are some who use coloquinte, with which the wilderness abounds in autumn when they gather their seeds.  In the healing of wounds some of them are very skillful.  I have seen them cure some surprising ones and in a very short time.  The sucking process, which they all practice, has no doubt a large share in their success.  However full of pus a wound may be, they clean it out entirely without inflicting much pain.  They take the precaution of putting a little powder in their mouths; but when they have drawn out the worst of it they no longer do so, but continue to suck at the wound until it appears ruddy, after which they chew up some medicine which they spit upon the wound merely wrapping up the whole by day, while leaving the wound to suppurate.  At night they wrap it also.  When a man has been wounded by a gunshot or by an


p. 368


arrow through the body, at the bottom of the neck [or] opposite a rib, they open up his side, after taking care to raise the skin a little so that being lowered again the opening will be between two [ribs].  They pour into him a quantity of warm water, in which they have diluted some of their drugs, after which they have the patient make motions and inhale, and sometimes they even take hold of him by the arms and legs, pushing him to and fro between them, and then make him eject all this water through his wound, expelling along with it fragments of clotted blood, which otherwise, doubtless, would suffocate him.  Then they sprinkle him with some of their powdered herbs, which they put into their mouths, as I have already said, and they never close up the wound by day.  I have seen two men who were healed in this way.  As for those who have broken arms or legs, when they manage to get to the village, they are healed in less than two months.  They do not know what amputation is, as practiced by our surgeons, and we therefore see no Indians with one arm or with a wooden leg.


p. 369


Those who heal such wounds pass for manitous and inspire fear in the young men, and especially in the young girls, whom they often seduce, owing to their weakness in believing that these might cause their death by blowing medicine upon them, because of which they dare not refuse.  They have also an extraordinary and ridiculous manner of inspiring belief in the infallibility of their remedies, which however, has quite the effect they wish on the minds of the young.  Two or three times in the summer, in the most attractive spot in their village, they plant some poles in the ground, forming a sort of enclosure half an ardent square, which they furnish with mats.  All of them, the medicine men and the medicine women, remain for the time being in the cabin of their confrères, waiting for all this to be arranged, and planning together what to do in order to more easily hoodwink the young people and keep alive the faith in their magical powers, both for the rewards which they get for attending to the sick and also with a view of keeping the younger generation under their influence when they wish them to do some-


p. 370


thing for the security of their village or the repose of their wives and children.  After these preliminaries, they enter gravely into this enclosure, their dresses trailing, having their chichicoya in their hands and carrying bearskins in their arms.  They all sit on mats which are spread for them.  One of them rises, the chichicoya in his hand, and speaks in a chant before the whole assembly: "My friends, today you must manifest to men the power of our medicine so as to make them understand that they live only as long as we wish."  Then they all rise and, waving the chichicoya, chant: "This buffalo has told me this, the bear, the wolf, the buck, the big tail"-each one naming the beast he particularly venerates.  Then they sit down again still shaking the gourd.  Immediately three or four men get up as if possessed, among them some who resemble men who are on the point of dying.  Their eyes are convulsed, and they let themselves fall prostrate and grow rigid as if they were expiring.  Another falls also, and rises with an eagles feather in his hand, the barbs of which are reddened and form a


p. 371


figure suggesting he has been wounded therewith, but has been saved from the consequences by his medicines, and wishes to inject it into the body of one of the band, who then falls to the ground and expels a quantity of blood from his mouth.  The medicine men rush to give him help, tear away the feather which issues an inch out of his mouth, spout medicine all over his body, and then have him carried off with great solemnity to his cabin, where he is treated like men who have been poisoned.  They make him swallow a quantity of drugs, and five or six of them lay hold of him and pull him by the arms and legs, uttering loud yells.  They shake him for a long time in this manner without his coming to; finally he vomits a quantity of water, and they at the same moment throw down a little rattlesnake.  A medicine man picks it up and shows it to the spectators and chants: "Here is the manitou that killed him, but my medicine has restored him to life."  The whole assembly come like people filled with amazement to see this serpent and chant: "Medicine is the science of sciences."


p. 372


Rattlesnakes abound among them; not a summer passes but some one is bitten; this troubles them but little since they have an admirable root, which, as soon as it is applied to the wound, softens the swelling so that by the next day one is cured. This root is found in the prairies and is shaped like an onion. The stem grows two feet high; the leaves are very narrow and somewhat resemble those of the sumac. It forms large buds in which the seed is lodged. I have made a point of hunting for it in this country, but have never been able to find any. I have been told that they had still another kind, but I have not become acquainted with it.

As regards rattlesnakes, I had an amusing experience one day when I visited the most famous medicine man in the village of the Peoria, the evening before a great jugglery was to take place like the one I have just spoken of. I found my man busy putting medicines into packages. As it was summer, he was seated on a sort of scaffold. There was a heap of skins of bears, cats, and bucks, which he pushed back, not so quickly, however, but that I


p. 373


managed to sit down on it. After talking with him awhile, I felt stirring under me, but paid no attention to it at first, until, feeling it a second time, I asked him what it was. He began to laugh and begged me to have no fear as these were rattlesnakes. This startled me, but I took care not to let him see that it did. I asked him to show them to me. He showed me a buckskin which was tied in the middle and which enveloped these snakes, hardly anything but their heads being apparent through it. He told me that he had extracted their teeth. I had already heard of all this, but had never believed it, so I asked him to let me see the snakes. He was surprised at my courage, knowing that the French do not like to see animals of this kind. He rubbed his hands with the grass of which I have spoken and we got down. He untied the skins. The women and girls fled when they saw that we were in earnest. I endured as well as I could the sight of these animals, which I should not have done if I had not known that they had no teeth. They hardly stirred as long as he kept his hand on them.


p. 374


He took up one and pressed his neck. The serpent twisted itself about his wrist. He showed me that the snakes no longer had any teeth, and added that he would make use of them next day in the jesting which they were going to carry on- this is the name they give to these juggleries when they speak of them with the French, because the latter protest against them. He said that he would let the snakes run without fear of being bitten, and that his confrères would pick them up in the presence of the young men, who, looking on and not knowing that the teeth had been extracted, would regard them as manitous. He said that we ought not to blame this as we did, since it was done for a good purpose; it was necessary that the young men should fear them when the medicine men remonstrated with them for the robberies they sometimes committed among themselves and even among the French, for stealing of each other's wives, which often caused the death of some one of them, and even for the insults they offered to the Black Robe who kept the young girls from coming to sleep with them. I replied that, if he could prevent all this wickedness without offending God, it


p. 375


would be a very good thing, but that they ought to make use of their medicines without saying that it is the buffalo or the bear who has given them and that these beasts are manitous, since it is forbidden to commit one sin in order to prevent another. To this he would not listen, considering only the present advantage. Very few young men busy themselves with sorcery. When there is one of them who does, it is a sign that he lacks courage. Unless he excels in the profession, lie is despised.

Besides the animals I have already mentioned as manitous, they have also several birds which they use when they go to war and as to which they cherish much superstition. They use the skins of stone falcons, crows, carrion crows, turtledoves, ducks, swallows, martins, parrots, and many others that I do not name.

Every young man has a little mat made of the round reeds I have mentioned which grow in the marshes. The women dye them black, yellow, and red, and make them three feet long and two feet wide. They fold over one end about a foot in the form


p. 376


of a comb case and in which they put some of these birds of which I have spoken.  It is ordinarily in February that they prepare to go to war.  Before starting, that in each village there are several chiefs of young men who dispose of thirty, forty, and sometimes as many as fifty men.  That is why, at the time I have spoken of, they invite them to feast and tell them that the time is approaching to go in search of men; so it is well to pay homage, according to their custom, to their birds so that these may be favorable.  They all answer with a loud "Ho!" and after eating with great appetite they all go to get their mats and spread out their birds on a skin stretched in the middle of the cabin and with the chichicoyas they sing a whole night, saying: stone falcon, or crow, I pray to you that when I pursue the enemy I may go in the same speed in running as you do in flying, in order that I may be admired by my comrades and feared by our enemies.  At break of day they bring back their birds.  When they wish


p. 377


to go to war, one of them, or the one who is their chief, offers them a feast, usually of dog.  After all are placed, they observe a great silence and the host says: "My comrades, you know that I have wept for a long time; I have not laughed since the time that my brother, father, or uncle died.  He was your relative as well as mine, since we are all comrades.  If my strength and my courage equaled yours, I believe that I would go to avenge a relative as brave and as good as he was, but being as feeble as I am, I cannot do better than address myself to you.  It is from your arms, brothers, that I expect vengeance for our brother.  The birds that we prayed to some days ago have assured me of victory. Their protection, along with your courage, should induce us to undertake anything."  Then he rises and, going up to each one, passes his hand over his head and over his shoulders.  Then the assembled guests say: "Ho, ho! It is well.  We are ready to die: you have only to speak."  They thank him, and then depart at night and go about two leagues from the village to sleep. It is a


p. 378


maxim with them never to set out by day when they go in small parties, because, they say, if they went by day, they would be discovered before making their attack.  Their band does not ordinarily exceed twenty.  The youngest, who is always the one who has shared fewest ventures, carries the kettle and has charge of the cooking and mends moccasins for all of them, which is no slight task.  Accordingly, he hardly ever sleeps at night; but since this is the custom, they always do it amicably.  They take the precaution of hiding in two or three places stores of bacon and flour and some small kettles, to serve in case they should be pursued by the enemy, so as not to have to stop to hunt in order to keep alive.  They also mark places for joining each other in case they are obliged to go by several different routes, and in such cases those who arrive first take a little of what they have left, if they need it, and leave their marks, which they never mistake.  They paint a portrait of themselves for this purpose on the nearest tree.  Although several of them have heads of hair that look just alike,


p. 379


the mark of their names identifies them.  They all have significant ones; one, the Buck, another the Buffalo, the Wolf, the Sun, the Earth, the Water, the Woman, the Child, the Girl, or something formed from these names as, Buck Feet, Bear's Head, Woman's Breast, Buffalo Hump, the Eclipsed Moon or Sun and so forth.  Thus after painting themselves, as I have related, they draw a line above the head, at the end of which they draw a buffalo or it's hump, a buck or it's feet, the sun or a cloud above it, and so forth.  When they approach the enemy, the one who leads the party sends out two of the most active a league ahead to reconnoiter the places through which they must pass.  If they see smoke or other traces that lead them to believe that the enemy is not far off, they come to report to the chief, who calls a halt.


I have forgotten to say that the commander carries his mat, into which all his men have put their birds, along with a good stock of herbs for healing the wounded.  As soon as they stop the chief takes out the birds and, after offering a short prayer to them, sends out three or four of the most active and brave to


p. 380


reconnoiter for the enemy. If by chance they find but a man or two, they attack these without warning their comrades. If the number is very considerable they return to report, and after thoroughly examining the place where they are to attack them, they invariably wait until morning when the day is beginning to break, and they never fail to paint themselves and to give attention to their footgear, as a precaution in case they should be obliged to flee. Two or three of the youngest remain with the baggage in the most hidden spot. At a couple of arpents' distance from the enemy they emit the most astonishing yells in order to frighten him, running at him when he takes to flight. In this they triumph, for they know that the enemy cannot run as well as they- I speak of the Iroquois. They give the same cry as their birds in running after them. If they are three in pursuit of one man and are in doubt which of the two will lay hands on him, the first who can touch him with some missile is the one to whom the prisoner belongs, even if another should lay hands on him first. They then


p. 381


utter several cries to attract the attention of their comrades who are fighting elsewhere, or who are in pursuit of others, who thus learn what they have done. When they have bound their prisoners and have reassembled, the leader makes a little harangue in which he exhorts his men to thank the spirit for having favored them, and to make every effort to get speedily away from the spot where they are. They march ordinarily for two days and nights without stopping, resting only at their meals. If their captives are women who cannot march, which happens very often, they smash their heads or burn them on the spot, which they do only in extreme cases, as the man who brings a prisoner to the village is more esteemed than the one who kills six men among the enemy. If unhappily some of themselves have been killed, the leader of the band paints himself with mud all along the road and weeps frequently as he marches and, on reaching the village, is obliged to carry presents to the relatives of those that have been killed to pay for their death, and he is expected soon to go back to avenge the slain. If some one is again killed of those with him, he has great


p. 382


difficulty in finding men willing to accompany him a third time, which causes him to be hated by the kinsfolk of the dead, unless by dint of presents he finds means (to use their language) to mend their hearts.

To return to their manner of behaving when they return victorious to the village: two men go ahead, and when they are near enough to make themselves heard, they utter cries for as many persons as they have killed, and they name these. Many people run out to meet them, and the first to arrive take everything that the warriors carry, which they appropriate. Those who are unwilling to part with some arm or other object which they like, take care to hide it the day before their arrival; but they are taxed with avarice. As I have said, if someone of them has been killed, the leader of the party carries in his hand some broken bows and arrows, and those who precede the party utter cries saying: "We are dead!" whereupon the women utter terrible howls until it is learned who the dead are, and then it is only the relatives who redouble their outcries.


p. 383


As soon as the news has become known, a man of consideration makes preparations to regale the warriors, who are invited to enter. When they have arrived in the cabin which has been prepared for them, oil is immediately brought to them in dishes, with which they lubricate their legs. The one who gives the feast goes weeping to pass his hands over their heads to make known to them that some of his relatives have been killed by warriors of the nation from which they bring back prisoners, and that they would give him pleasure in killing them. During this time the prisoners are outside the cabin (for it is a maxim with them never to admit slaves into their cabins unless they have been granted their lives.) These sing their death song, holding in one hand a stick ten or twelve feet long, filled with feathers from all the kinds of birds that the warriors killed on the road. This is after having them sing at the doors of the cabins of all those who have most recently had relatives killed.


p. 384


The old men and party leaders assemble and decide to whom these slaves shall be given. This settled, they lead one of them opposite the door of the cabin of the one to whom they give him, and bringing along some merchandise, they enter and say that they are delighted that the young men have brought back some men to replace, if they desire it, those whom the fate of war has taken away. For this offer great thanks are returned. A little later these people assemble and decide what they will do with the prisoner who has been given to them, and whether they wish to give him his life, a thing rarely done among the Illinois. When he is a man, they admit him and send for the principal men of the village who have brought them the prisoners. They thank these and give them some merchandise. When they want him put to death, they bring him back to the cabin of the most considerable of those who have offered him, giving the captive to them, with a kettle and a hatchet which they have colored red to represent blood. From there he is taken to others, and according to their decision he dies or lives. When he is condemned to die, it is always by fire. I have never seen any other kind of torment used by this nation.


p. 385


They plant a little tree in the earth, which they make him clasp; they tie his two wrists, and with torches of straw or firebrands they burn him, sometimes for six hours. When they find his strength far gone, they unfasten him and cut his thumbs off, after which they let him, if he wishes, run after those who are throwing stones at him, or who wish to burn him. They even give him sticks which he holds with great difficulty. If he tries to run after anybody, they push him and he falls on his face, at which they hoot. He sometimes furnishes a whole hour's diversion to these barbarians. Finally he succumbs under the strain of his torments, and sometimes drops down motionless. The rabble run to get firebrands, which they poke into the most sensitive parts of his body; they trail him over hot embers, which brings him back to life, at which they renew their hooting, as if they had performed some fine exploit. When they are tired of their sport, an old rascal cuts his flesh from the top of the nose to the chin and leaves it hanging, which gives him a horrible appearance. In this state they play a thousand tricks on him, and finally stone him or


p. 386


cut open his stomach. Some drink his blood. Women bring their male children still at the breast and place their feet in his body and wash them with his blood. They eat his heart raw.


There are men and women that might be called cannibals, and who are called man-eaters because they never fail to eat of all those who are put to death in their villages. When evening has come, everybody, big and little, knocks loudly with big sticks on the cabins and on their scaffolds in order, so they say, to drive away from their village the soul of the one whom they have killed.


When they go to war among the Pawnee or Quapaw, who are established on the river of the Missouri, almost all the village marches, and even many women accompany them. Thus they take along whole villages. When they are ready to leave, several young men go about dancing at the doors of all the cabins, one of whom has a drum on his back. They usually use an earthen pot, which they half fill with water and cover with a buckskin, which they stretch as tight as they can, and they turn the pot upside down


p. 387


from time to time to moisten the skin, which gives it a better sound. A man stands behind and beats it. Everybody dances round them and each one gives them something. When the women see that they are preparing for this dance, they lead away all their dogs to a distance, for any of them that they find they kill and feast on.

They always spare the lives of the women and children unless they have lost many of their own people. In that case they sacrifice some to the names of their dead, throwing them suddenly into the fire to consume the bodies of their slain ones.

This Missouri River, of which I have just spoken, has many nations along its banks, and there are still more inland. It comes from the west. It is very beautiful and very wide. It empties into the Mississippi eight leagues from the mouth of the Illinois River. Several Indians of the nations that live there who often come to trade among the Illinois, have assured me that it comes


p. 388


from a great lake, which has still another outlet on the other side, which would lead one to believe from their report that it falls into the Western Sea. The Pawnee and Wichita, who live in the territory and the neighborhood of this river, have relations with the Spaniards, from whom they get horses of which they make use sometimes to pursue the buffalo in the hunt. Those which they get from the Spaniards are all differently marked on the buttocks with letters. They call them, so I have heard, Canatis, having no other special name for them in their languages. These two nations have an abundance of turquoises, looking like our little glass beads. They make use of them as ornaments hung from their noses and ears, spinning out the beads to the length of a finger with [buffalo] sinew, afterwards joining the two ends together, at the bottom of which they hang a turquoise, triangular shaped, of the thickness of about two crowns and not quite as big as a half franc piece. They call them their pendants and esteem them, according to their beauty, of the value of a slave, who in those regions is worth sometimes a hundred francs. Prisoners from these nations have


p. 389


told us that they traded these turquoises with Europeans, who probably can only be Spaniards. From some leagues above its mouth, the river is very rapid, and the soil is so loose that in spring, when the water is high, it carries off this soil in such great quantity that it renders the Mississippi turbid for more than 200 leagues. The Indians of whom I have spoken who come to trade among the Illinois are the Osage and Missouri, who not long ago had war with them, and who, aside from their need of hatchets, knives, and awls, and other necessary things, are very glad to keep on the good side of this nation, which is much more warlike than theirs. They never fail every year to come among them and to bring them the calumet, which is the symbol of peace among all the nations of the south.

I believe I shall do well to tell in detail how they proceed when they wish to sing the calumet to some nations. Two leagues from the village to which they are going they send ahead some of their best known people to announce their arrival, how many they are,


p. 390


and to whom they come to sing the calumet. Messengers are sent back to them with orders to tell them how many men are to lodge at the village of the Peoria, how many at that of the Kaskaskia, and so on, and whether the one to whom these strangers have the intention of giving the calumet is in condition to receive it; for, boastful as these savages are, they are not ashamed to confess when they are poverty-stricken and to designate a proper person to whom to sing the calumet. Good cheer is not lacking on their arrival, and later in the same evening they go off to the cabin of the one to whom they are to give the calumet and sing until day. They do this four nights consecutively, after which they make scaffolds outside if it is fine weather and go in search of the man or of his wives to whom they sing the calumet, and they take him up on this scaffold and all place themselves beside him and beat drums and shake their chichicoya and sing all day long. Two of them push him gently to and fro between them as a still more significant mark of the honor they do him. During all this time


p. 391


everybody comes to knock at a post, which has been planted purposely, to recite his exploits, and afterwards they give gifts in such degree as each one can and in accordance with the honor deserved by the one to whom they sing the calumet and the esteem in which they hold him. I should have said that this calumet is made in the form of a hatchet, of a red stone that is found in the direction of the Sioux. It has a very long handle, from which are hung several feathers painted red, yellow, and black, brought together in the form of a fan. This handle is moreover covered with the skins of ducks' necks. During the whole time consumed by the singing, one of them holds the calumet, which he shakes continually before the one to whom it is given. They cease to sing when they see that no one comes any longer to strike the post. They then escort their chief to his cabin and leave him the calumet and several beaver skins or skins of bears, bucks, or cats. The ones who accompany him sometimes receive a load of merchandise. When they return this compliment it gives pleasure to the Illinois, and it even makes them exultant to see strangers come to recognize some of their people as chiefs.

p. 392

During four consecutive years that I remained with the Wea at Chicago, which is the most considerable village of the Miami, who have been settled there for ten or twelve years, I have found no difference between their manners and those of the Illinois, nor in their language either. The only difference is that they remain settled in one place only a very short time.

The year that I first came from France, they were settled on this side of the old fort. A year later they separated, part to go to the upper Mississippi, and the others to the St. Joseph River and to the mouth of the Root River, which empties into Lake Michigan, twenty leagues on this side of Chicago toward the north. These latter remained only a very short time, as well as those who went to the Mississippi. They went to form a village at the river Grand Calumet, which also empties into this lake twelve leagues from the Chicago toward the south and at the fork of the Kankakee River. Three years later part of them left to go to

p. 393


the banks of the Wabash, where they still remained when I came down in obedience to the orders which Monsieur the Marquis de Vaudreuil had sent me. Those who went to the St. Joseph River remained there up to the time when Monsieur de la Mothe invited them to come nearer to the Strait. This nation was not useless to us at the time when we had war with the Iroquois. This is especially true of those on the St. Joseph River, owing to the frequency with which parties of these Indians went among them, who rarely returned without making a successful attack.


This nation, I believe, is as populous as the Illinois. It is composed of six villages which are the Chachakingoya, Aouciatenons, Anghichia, formerly Marineoueia, Kiratikas, Minghakokias, and Pepikokia; they are better beaver hunters than the Illinois, and esteem the beaver more highly also.


The Wabash River, of which I have just spoken, on which part of the Miami are settled, is a very beautiful river, and all the savages call it such. I do not know where it has its source, but I know that it is not very far from the Iroquois country. It flows


p. 394


continuously southwest and empties into the Mississippi sixty leagues from the mouth of the Illinois River. It is wider than the Mississippi. The late Monsieur de Juchereau had made his fort two leagues within the country. From the village of the Illinois there is an overland distance of sixty leagues to cross southward in order to get there. It is the most beautiful country in the world as regards soil. We begin to see here those reeds which serve instead of canes and which shoot up to a height of fifteen feet. On the other side there are no more prairies. The woods which grow on the banks are mostly made up of those fruit trees of which I have spoken, the rest are whitewood, hard walnut, chestnuts, some ash, Norway maples, and hardwood trees. All these varieties of trees attest the fertility of these lands. Spring arrives a month earlier than among the Illinois. At most there are never more than two inches of snow, which disappears in two days. Although I have been there only in summer, I can speak authoritatively owing to the knowledge which I have got from the Illinois, most of whom go there every year to hunt.


p. 395


I had forgotten to say, in the place where I talked of war, that the Illinois as well as the Miami have the maxim when they are on the march to go among the enemy in small parties never to make more than one fire, a fairly long one so that all the warriors may profit by it. They always lie down with their feet to the fire, and never put anything on themselves. Those who are designated to serve the rest are those of the band who have seen least of war. These circulate about the fire. They never unload their packs from their backs to make water, or for any other necessities, and never when going toward the enemy. When they are returning home they unload, but never do they sit down on their pack. Nor do they ever make use of knives when their meat is cooked, a thing they do not observe when they make general marches, believing that no one can resist them, in which they are often mistaken.

I desire with all my heart, Monsieur, that this memorial may give you pleasure, and prove worthy of your curiosity.

MONTREAL, CANADA, October 20, 1721.

                                                                        Signed:  DE GANNES