Marquette and Jolliet's Voyage

Transcribed by:

Jennifer L. Harnish
Parkland College
Anthropology 101

© 2005 by the Center For Social Research, Parkland College

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents



Secretary of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin

Vol. LIX.

The Imperial Press, Cleveland

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CXXXVI. — Le premier Voÿage qu’a fait ie P.
Marquette vers le nouueau Mexique; [Baye des Puants, 1674]

SOURCES: These documents are published by us
from the original MSS. by Marquette and Dablon, which
rest in the archives of St. Mary’s College, Montreal.

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Thwaites’ Preface to CXXXVI:

One of the most valuable and important documents in our series is the journal of Father Marquette, describing the voyage in which he and Joliet discovered and explored the Mississippi River. It is prefaced with a brief note by Dablon, which mentions Marquette’s early desire to carry the gospel to the Southern tribes, and his opportunity for doing so when Joliet is chosen by Frontenac and Talon to explore the then unknown water-routes beyond Lake Michigan. Dablon also praises the fitness of Joliet for this undertaking.

Marquette recounts the details of their voyage, which begins May 17, 1673, at the St. Ignace mission. They journey via Green Bay, visiting on the way the Menomonee Indians, who endeavor to dissuade them from their enterprise — saying that there are ferocious tribes on the great river, some of whom are at war together, who will kill any stranger; that horrible monsters and demons will endanger their lives, etc.

Passing through the bay, and ascending the Fox River, they arrive at the Mascouten village June 7. Marquette describes at length two remarkable plants, the wild rice and snake-root. The Frenchmen at once call the elders, and ask them for guides on their way, which is readily granted. These savages conduct them to the Fox-Wisconsin portage, whence

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the travelers make their way alone. On June 17, they enter the Mississippi, “with a Joy that I cannot express.” Marquette gives a minute description of the great river, the lands through which it passes, and the fauna of that region, most of which are strange and curious to the Canadians. Among these animals, he gives especial attention to the buffalo.

The voyagers proceed more than sixty leagues without seeing any human being, until June 25, when they discover a beaten path from the river inland. Marquette and Joliet follow this, and reach an Illinois village, the people of which receive them most hospitably, and with elaborate ceremonies, which are fully described. A chapter is devoted to an account of their customs and usages. Marquette praises the gentleness and docility of the Illinois savages. They use guns, and carry on an extensive trade in slaves, whom they capture from more remote tribes. They raise abundant crops of Indian corn and other vegetables. The calumet, or ceremonial pipe, and the dance in honor of it, are fully described. One of these pipes is given to Marquette and his party, as a safeguard for their passage through the hostile nations farther down the river.

After remaining several days with the friendly Illinois savages, the explorers resume their voyage. They find new and curious plants, and agreeable fruits. Near Alton, Illinois, they see on the smooth face of a bluff paintings of strange monsters, so frightful in appearance that “the boldest savages dare not Long rest their eyes” upon them. Shortly after passing these grotesque figures, they narrowly escape being wrecked in the swollen and turbid flood poured forth at the mouth of the Missouri River.

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The reports which they have already heard from the savages regarding this stream lead them to hope that, by ascending it far enough, they may gain other rivers which will furnish the long- sought Passage to the Western Sea, Near the mouth of the Ohio, they find rich deposits Of iron ore. They now begin to experience the torment of mosquitoes.

Somewhat farther down, they encounter a band of savages, who at first appear to be hostile; they prove, however, to be “as frightened as we were,” and soon become pacified. Again, at the mouth of St. Francis River, they are in danger of losing their lives being attacked by the Mitchigameas, who dwell there. In this emergency, they are saved by displaying the calumet which the Illinois gave them. On the next day they proceed to the mouth of the Arkansas, where another tribe dwells. These savages are friendly, and warn them that they cannot go farther without great danger.

At this point, Marquette and Joliet take counsel together as to their next proceeding. They are now well satisfied that the great river, on which they have voyaged more than a thousand miles, flows into the Gulf of Mexico. If they advance, they are in danger of imprisonment, and perhaps death, — thus risking the loss of all that they have gained from their long and perilous journey. Accordingly, they begin (July 17) their return voyage; but this time they ascend the Illinois and Des Plaines rivers, and enter Lake Michigan by the Chicago River. They stop on the way to visit a Kaskaskia band, who desire Marquette to come again to instruct them; also the Peorias, where he baptizes a dying child, which alone repays the missionary for his long and

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toilsome journey. At the close of September, they reach the De Pere mission.

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Of the first Voyage made by Father Marquette toward new Mexico, and How the idea thereof was conceived.

The Father had long premeditated This Undertaking, influenced by a most ardent desire to extend the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and to make him Known and adored by all the peoples of that country. He saw himself, As it were, at the door of these new Nations when, as early as the year 1670, he was laboring in the Mission at the point of st. Esprit, at the extremity of lake superior, among the outaouacs; he even saw occasionally various persons belonging to these new peoples, from whom he obtained all the Information that he could. This induced him to make several efforts to commence this undertaking, but ever in vain; and he even lost all hope of succeeding therein, when God brought about for him the following opportunity.

In The year 1673, Monsieur The Count De Frontenac, Our Governor, and Monsieur Talon, then Our Intendant, Recognizing The Importance of this discovery, — either that they might seek a passage from here to the sea of China, by the river that discharges into the Vermillion, or California Sea; or because they desired to verify what has for some time been said concerning the 2 Kingdoms of Theguaio And Quiuira, which Border on Canada, and in which numerous gold mines are reported to exist, — these Gentlemen, I say, appointed at the same time

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for This undertaking Sieur Jolyet, whom they considered very fit for so great an enterprise; and they were well pleased that Father Marquette should be of the party.[15]

They were not mistaken in the choice that they made of Sieur Jolyet, For he is a young man, born in this country, who possesses all the qualifications that could be desired for such an undertaking. He has experience and Knows the Languages spoken in the Country of the Outaouacs, where he has passed several years. He possesses Tact and prudence, which are the chief qualities necessary for the success of a voyage as dangerous as it is difficult, Finally, he has the Courage to dread nothing where everything is to be Feared. Consequently, he has fulfilled all The expectations entertained of him; and if, after having passed through a thousand dangers, he had not unfortunately been wrecked in the very harbor, his Canoe having upset below sault st. Louys, near Montreal, — where he lost both his men and his papers, and whence he escaped only by a sort of Miracle, — nothing would have been left to be desired in the success of his Voyage.


The feast of The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION of the BLESSED VIRGIN — whom I have always Invoked since I have been in this country of the outaouacs, to obtain from God the grace of being able to visit the Nations who dwell along the Missisipi River — was precisely the Day on which Monsieur Jollyet

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arrived with orders from Monsieur the Count de frontenac, Our Governor, and Monsieur Talon, Our Intendant, to accomplish This discovery with me. I was all the more delighted at This good news, since I saw that my plans were about to be accomplished; and since I found myself in the blessed necessity of exposing my life for the salvation of all these peoples, and especially of the Ilinois, who had very urgently entreated me, when I was at the point of st. Esprit, to carry the word of God to Their country.

We were not long in preparing all our Equipment, although we were about to Begin a voyage, the duration of which we could not foresee. Indian Corn, with some smoked meat, constituted all our provisions; with these we Embarked — Monsieur Jollyet and myself, with 5 men — in 2 Bark Canoes, fully resolved to do and suffer everything for so glorious an Undertaking.

Accordingly, on The 17th day of may, 1673, we started from the Mission of st. Ignace at Michilimakinac, where I Then was. The Joy that we felt at being selected for This Expedition animated our Courage, and rendered the labor of paddling from morning to night agreeable to us. And because We were going to seek Unknown countries, We took every precaution in our power, so that, if our Undertaking were hazardous, it should not be foolhardy. To that end, we obtained all the Information that we could from the savages who had frequented those regions; and we even traced out from their reports a Map of the whole of that New country; on it we indicated the rivers which we were to navigate, the names of the peoples and of the places through [Page 91] which we were to pass, the Course of the great River, and the direction we were to follow when we reached it.

Above all, I placed our voyage under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Immaculate, promising her that, if she granted us the favor of discovering the great River, I would give it The Name of the Conception, and that I would also make the first Mission that I should establish among Those New peoples, bear the same name. This I have actually done, among the Ilinois.[16]


With all these precautions, we Joyfully Plied our paddles on a portion of Lake huron, on That of the Ilinois and on the bay des Puants.

The first Nation that we came to was That of the folle avoine. I entered Their river, to go and visit these peoples to whom we have preached The Gospel for several years, — in consequence of which, there are several good Christians among Them. The wild oat, whose name they bear because it is found in their country, is a sort of grass, which grows naturally in the small Rivers with muddy bottoms, and in Swampy Places. It greatly resembles the wild oats that Grow amid our wheat. The ears grow upon hollow stems, jointed at Intervals; they emerge from the Water about the month of June, and continue growing until they rise About two feet above it. The grain is not larger than That

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of our oats, but it is twice as long, and The meal therefrom is much more abundant. The Savages Gather and prepare it for food as Follows. In The month of September, which is the suitable time for The harvest, they go in Canoes through These fields of wild oats; they shake its Ears into the Canoe, on both sides, as they pass through. The grain falls out easily, if it be ripe, and they obtain their supply In a short time. But, in order to clean it from the straw, and to remove it from a husk in which it is Enclosed, they dry it in the smoke, upon a wooden grating, under which they maintain a slow fire for some Days. When The oats are thoroughly dry, they put them in a skin made into a bag, thrust It into a hole dug in the ground for This purpose, and tread it with their feet — so long and so vigorously that The grain separates from the straw, and is very easily winnowed. After this, they pound it to reduce it to flour, — or even, without pounding it, they Boil it in water, and season it with fat. Cooked in This fashion, The wild oats have almost as delicate a taste as rice has when no better seasoning is added.

I told these peoples of the folle avoine of My design to go and discover Those Remote nations, in order to Teach them the Mysteries of Our Holy Religion. They were Greatly surprised to hear it, and did their best to dissuade me. They represented to me that I would meet Nations who never show mercy to Strangers, but Break Their heads without any cause; and that war was kindled Between Various peoples who dwelt upon our Route, which Exposed us to the further manifest danger of being killed by the bands of Warriors who are ever in the

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Field. They also said that the great River was very dangerous, when one does not know the difficult Places; that it was full of horrible monsters, which devoured men and Canoes Together; that there was even a demon, who was heard from a great distance, who barred the way, and swallowed up all who ventured to approach him; Finally that the Heat was so excessive In those countries that it would Inevitably Cause Our death.

I thanked them for the good advice that they gave me, but told them that I could not follow it, because the salvation of souls was at stake, for which I would be delighted to give my life; that I scoffed at the alleged demon; that we would easily defend ourselves against those marine monsters; and, moreover, that We would be on our guard to avoid the other dangers with which they threatened us. After making them pray to God, and giving them some Instruction, I separated from them. Embarking then in our Canoes, We arrived shortly afterward at the bottom of the Bay des puants, where our Fathers labor successfully for the Conversion of these peoples, over two thousand of whom they have baptized while they have been there.

This bay bears a Name which has a meaning not so offensive in the language of the savages; For they call it la baye sallé [“salt bay “] rather than Bay des Puans, — although with Them this is almost the same and this is also The name which they give to the Sea. This led us to make very careful researches to ascertain whether there were not some salt-Water springs in This quarter, As there are among the hiroquois, but we found none. We conclude, therefore, *that This name has been given to

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it on account of the quantity of mire and Mud which is seen there, whence noisome vapors Constantly arise, Causing the loudest and most Continual Thunder that I have ever heard.

The Bay is about thirty leagues in depth and eight in width at its Mouth; it narrows gradually to the bottom, where it is easy to observe a tide which has its regular ebb and flow, almost Like That of the Sea. This is not the place to inquire whether these are real tides; whether they are Due to the wind, or to some other cause; whether there are winds, The precursors of the Moon and attached to her suite, which consequently agitate the lake and give it an apparent ebb and flow whenever the Moon ascends above the horizon. What I can Positively state is, that, when the water is very Calm, it is easy to observe it rising and falling according to the Course of the moon; although I do not deny that This movement may be Caused by very Remote Winds, which, pressing on the middle of the lake, cause the edges to Rise and fall in the manner which is visible to our eyes.[17]

We left This bay to enter the river that discharges into it; it is very beautiful at its Mouth, and flows gently; it is full Of bustards, Ducks, Teal, and other birds, attracted thither by the wild oats, of which they are very fond. But, after ascending the river a short distance, it becomes very difficult of passage, on account of both the Currents and the sharp Rocks, which Cut the Canoes and the feet of Those who are obliged to drag them, especially when the Waters are low. Nevertheless, we successfully passed Those rapids; and on approaching Machkoutens, the fire Nation, I had the Curiosity to drink the mineral

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Waters of the River that is not Far from That village. I also took time to look for a medicinal plant which a savage, who knows its secret, showed to Father Alloues with many Ceremonies. Its root is employed to Counteract snake-bites, God having been pleased to give this antidote Against a poison which is very common in these countries. It is very pungent, and tastes like powder when crushed with the teeth; it must be masticated and placed upon the bite inflicted by the snake. The reptile has so great a horror of it that it even flees from a Person who has rubbed himself with it. The plant bears several stalks, a foot high, with rather long leaves; and a white flower, which greatly resembles The wallflower.[18] I put some in my Canoe, in order to examine it at leisure while we continued to advance toward Maskoutens, where we arrived on The 7th of June.


Here we are at Maskoutens. This Word may, in Algonquin, mean “the fire Nation,“ — which, indeed, is the name given to this tribe. Here is the limit of the discoveries which the french have made, For they have not yet gone any farther.

This Village Consists of three Nations who have gathered there — Miamis, Maskoutens, and Kikabous. The former are the most civil, the most liberal, and the most shapely. They wear two long locks over their ears, which give them a pleasing appearance.

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They are regarded as warriors, and rarely undertake expeditions without being successful. They are very docile, and listen quietly to What is said to Them; and they appeared so eager to Hear Father Alloues when he Instructed them that they gave Him but little rest, even during the night. The Maskoutens and Kikabous are ruder, and seem peasants in Comparison with the others. As Bark for making Cabins is scarce in this country, They use Rushes; these serve Them for making walls and Roofs, but do not afford them much protection against the winds, and still less against the rains when they fall abundantly. The Advantage of Cabins of this kind is, that they make packages of Them, and easily transport them wherever they wish, while they are hunting.

When I visited them, I was greatly Consoled at seeing a handsome Cross erected in the middle of the village, and adorned with many white skins, red Belts, and bows and arrows, which these good people had offered to the great Manitou (This is the name which they give to God). They did this to thank him for having had pity On Them during The winter, by giving Them an abundance of game When they Most dreaded famine.[19]

I took pleasure in observing the situation of this village. It is beautiful and very pleasing; For, from an Eminence upon which it is placed, one beholds on every side prairies, extending farther than the eye can see, interspersed with groves or with lofty trees. The soil is very fertile, and yields much indian corn. The savages gather quantities of plums and grapes, wherewith much wine could be made, if desired.

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No sooner had we arrived than we, Monsieur Jollyet and I, assembled the elders together; and he told them that he was sent by Monsieur Our Governor to discover New countries, while I was sent by God to Illumine them with the light of the holy Gospel. He told them that, moreover, The sovereign Master of our lives wished to be known by all the Nations; and that in obeying his will I feared not the death to which I exposed myself in voyages so perilous. He informed them that we needed two guides to show us the way; and We gave them a present, by it asking them to grant us the guides. To this they very Civilly consented; and they also spoke to us by means of a present, consisting of a Mat to serve us as a bed during the whole of our voyage.

On the following day, the tenth of June, two Miamis who were given us as guides embarked with us, in the sight of a great crowd, who could not sufficiently express their astonishment at the sight of seven frenchmen, alone and in two Canoes, daring to undertake so extraordinary and so hazardous an Expedition.

We knew that, at three leagues from Maskoutens, was a River which discharged into Missisipi. We knew also that the direction we were to follow in order to reach it was west-southwesterly. But the road is broken by so many swamps and small lakes that it is easy to lose one’s way, especially as the River leading thither is so full of wild oats that it is difficult to find the Channel. For this reason we greatly needed our two guides, who safely Conducted us to a portage of 2,700 paces, and helped us to transport our Canoes to enter That river; after

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which they returned home, leaving us alone in this Unknown country, in the hands of providence.[20]

Thus we left the Waters flowing to Quebeq, 4 or 500 Leagues from here, to float on Those that would thenceforward Take us through strange lands. Before embarking thereon, we Began all together a new devotion to the blessed Virgin Immaculate, which we practiced daily, addressing to her special prayers to place under her protection both our persons and the success of our voyage; and, after mutually encouraging one another, we entered our Canoes.

The River on which we embarked is called Meskousing. It is very wide; it has a sandy bottom, which forms various shoals that render its navigation very difficult. It is full of Islands Covered with Vines. On the banks one sees fertile land, diversified with woods, prairies, and Hills. There are oak, Walnut, and basswood trees; and another kind, whose branches are armed with long thorns. We saw there neither feathered game nor fish, but many deer, and a large number of cattle. Our Route lay to the southwest, and, after navigating about 30 leagues, we saw a spot presenting all the appearances of an iron mine; and, in fact, one of our party who had formerly seen such mines, assures us that The One which We found is very good and very rich. It is Covered with three feet of good soil, and is quite near a chain of rocks, the base of which is covered by very fine trees. After proceeding 40 leagues on This same route, we arrived at the mouth of our River; and, at 42 and a half degrees Of latitude, We safely entered Missisipi on The 17th of June, with a Joy that I cannot Express. [Page 107]

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Here we are, then, on this so renowned River, all of whose peculiar features I have endeavored to note carefully. The Missisipi River takes its rise in various lakes in the country of the Northern nations. It is narrow at the place where Miskous empties; its Current, which flows southward, is slow and gentle. To the right is a large Chain of very high Mountains, and to the left are beautiful lands; in various Places, the stream is Divided by Islands. On sounding, we found ten brasses of Water. Its Width is very unequal; sometimes it is three-quarters of a league, and sometimes it narrows to three arpents. We gently followed its Course, which runs toward the south and southeast, as far as the 42nd degree of Latitude. Here we plainly saw that its aspect was completely changed. There are hardly any woods or mountains; The Islands are more beautiful, and are Covered with finer trees. We saw only deer and cattle, bustards, and Swans without wings, because they drop Their plumage in This country. From time to time, we came upon monstrous fish, one of which struck our Canoe with such violence that I Thought that it was a great tree, about to break the Canoe to pieces.[21] On another occasion, we saw on The water a monster with the head of a tiger, a sharp nose Like That of a wildcat, with whiskers and straight, Erect ears; The head ‘was gray and The Neck quite black; but We saw no

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more creatures of this sort. When we cast our nets into the water we caught Sturgeon, and a very extraordinary Kind of fish. It resembles the trout, with This difference, that its mouth is larger. Near its nose — which is smaller, as are also the eyes — is a large Bone shaped Like a woman’s busk, three fingers wide and a Cubit Long, at the end of which is a disk as Wide As one’s hand. This frequently causes it to fall backward when it leaps out of the water[22] When we reached the parallel of 41 degrees 28 minutes, following The same direction, we found that Turkeys had taken the place of game; and the pisikious, or wild cattle, That of the other animals.

We call them “wild cattle,” because they are very similar to our domestic cattle. They are not longer, but are nearly as large again, and more Corpulent. When Our people killed one, three persons had much difficulty in moving it. The head is very large; The forehead is flat, and a foot and a half Wide between the Horns, which are exactly like Those of our oxen, but black and much larger. Under the Neck They have a Sort of large dewlap, which hangs down; and on The back is a rather high hump. The whole of the head, The Neck, and a portion of the Shoulders, are Covered with a thick Mane Like That of horses; It forms a crest a foot long, which makes them hideous, and, falling over their eyes, Prevents them from seeing what is before Them. The remainder of the Body is covered with a heavy coat of curly hair, almost Like That of our sheep, but much stronger and Thicker. It falls off in Summer, and The skin becomes as soft As Velvet. At that season, the savages Use the hides for making fine

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Robes, which they paint in various Colors. The flesh and the fat of the pisikious are Excellent, and constitute the best dish at feasts. Moreover, they are very fierce; and not a year passes without their killing some savages. When attacked, they catch a man on their Horns, if they can, toss Him in the air, and then throw him on the ground, after which they trample him under foot, and kill him. If a person fire at Them from a distance, with either a bow or a gun, he must, immediately after the Shot, throw himself down and hide in the grass; For if they perceive Him who has fired, they Run at him, and attack him. As their legs are thick and rather Short, they do not run very fast, As a rule, except when angry. They are scattered about the prairie in herds; I have seen one of 400.

We continued to advance, but, As we knew not whither we were going, — for we had proceeded over one Hundred leagues without discovering anything except animals and birds, — we kept well on our guard. On this account, we make only a small fire on land, toward evening, to cook our meals; and, after supper, we remove Ourselves as far from it as possible, and pass the night in our Canoes, which we anchor in the river at some distance from the shore. This does not prevent us from always posting one of the party as a sentinel, for fear of a surprise. Proceeding still in a southerly and south-southwesterly direction, we find ourselves at the parallel of 41 degrees, and as low as 40 degrees and some minutes, — partly southeast and partly southwest, — after having advanced over 60 leagues since We Entered the River, without discovering anything.

Finally, on the 25th of June, we perceived on the

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water’s edge some tracks of men, and a narrow and somewhat beaten path leading to a fine prairie. We stopped to Examine it; and, thinking that it was a road which Led to some village of savages, We resolved to go and reconnoiter it. We therefore left our two Canoes under the guard of our people, strictly charging Them not to allow themselves to be surprised, after which Monsieur Jollyet and I undertook this investigation — a rather hazardous one for two men who exposed themselves, alone, to the mercy of a barbarous and Unknown people, We silently followed The narrow path, and, after walking About 2 leagues, We discovered a village on the bank of a river, and two others on a Hill distant about half a league from the first.[23] Then we Heartily commended ourselves to God, and, after imploring his aid, we went farther without being perceived, and approached so near that we could even hear the savages talking. We therefore Decided that it was time to reveal ourselves. This We did by Shouting with all Our energy, and stopped, without advancing any farther. On hearing the shout, the savages quickly issued from their Cabins, And having probably recognized us as frenchmen, especially when they saw a black gown, — or, at least, having no cause for distrust, as we were only two men, and had given them notice of our arrival, — they deputed four old men to come and speak to us. Two of these bore tobacco-pipes, finely ornamented and Adorned with various feathers. They walked slowly, and raised their pipes toward the sun, seemingly offering them to it to smoke, — without, however, saying a word. They spent a rather long time in covering the short distance between their village

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and us. Finally, when they had drawn near, they stopped to Consider us attentively. I was reassured when I observed these Ceremonies, which with them are performed only among friends; and much more so when I saw them clad in Cloth, for I judged thereby that they were our allies. I therefore spoke to them first, and asked them who they were. They replied that they were Ilinois; and, as a token of peace, they offered us their pipes to smoke. They afterward invited us to enter their Village, where all the people impatiently awaited us. These pipes for smoking tobacco are called in this country Calumets. This word has come so much into use that, in order to be understood, I shall be obliged to use it, as I shall often have to mention these pipes.


At the Door of the Cabin in which we were to be received was an old man, who awaited us in a rather surprising attitude, which constitutes a part of the Ceremonial that they observe when they receive Strangers. This man stood erect, and stark naked, with his hands extended and lifted toward the sun, As if he wished to protect himself from its rays, which nevertheless shone upon his face through his fingers. When we came near him, he paid us This Compliment: “How beautiful the sun is, O frenchman, when thou comest to visit us! All our village awaits thee, and thou shalt enter all our Cabins in peace.” Having said this, he made us enter his own, in which were a crowd of people; they devoured us with their eyes, but, nevertheless, observed profound silence. We could, however, hear these words,

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which were addressed to us from time to time in a low voice: “How good it is, My brothers, that you should visit us.”

After We had taken our places, the usual Civility of the country was paid to us, which consisted in offering us the Calumet. This must not be refused, unless one wishes to be considered an Enemy, or at least uncivil; it suffices that one make a pretense of smoking. While all the elders smoked after us, in order to do us honor, we received an invitation on behalf of the great Captain of all the Ilinois to proceed to his Village where he wished to hold a Council with us. We went thither in a large Company, For all these people, who had never seen any frenchmen among Them, could not cease looking at us. They Lay on The grass along the road; they preceded us, and then retraced their steps to come and see us Again. All this was done noiselessly, and with marks of great respect for us.

When we reached the Village of the great Captain, We saw him at the entrance of his Cabin, between two old men, — all three erect and naked, and holding their Calumet turned toward the sun. He harangued us In a few words, congratulating us upon our arrival. He afterward offered us his Calumet, and made us smoke while we entered his Cabin, where we received all their usual kind Attentions.

Seeing all assembled and silent, I spoke to them by four presents that I gave them. By the first, I told them that we were journeying peacefully to visit the nations dwelling on the River as far as the Sea. By the second, I announced to them that God, who had Created them, had pity on Them, inasmuch as, after they had so long been ignorant of him, he

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wished to make himself Known to all the peoples; that I was Sent by him for that purpose; and that it was for Them to acknowledge and obey him. By the third, I said that the great Captain of the French informed them that he it was who restored peace everywhere; and that he had subdued The Iroquois. Finally, by the fourth, we begged them to give us all The Information that they had about the Sea, and about the Nations through Whom we must pass to reach it.

When I had finished my speech, the Captain arose, and, resting His hand upon the head of a little Slave whom he wished to give us, he spoke thus: “I thank thee, Black Gown, and thee, O frenchman, “addressing himself to Monsieur Jollyet,” for having taken so much trouble to come to visit us. Never has the earth been so beautiful, or the sun so Bright, as to-day; Never has our river been so Calm, or so clear of rocks, which your canoes have Removed in passing: never has our tobacco tasted so good, or our corn appeared so fine, as We now see Them. Here is my son, whom I give thee to Show thee my Heart. I beg thee to have pity on me, and on all my Nation. It is thou who Knowest the great Spirit who has made us all. It is thou who speakest To Him, and who hearest his word. Beg Him to give; me life and health, and to come and dwell with us* in order to make us Know him.” Having said this, he placed the little Slave near us, and gave us a second present, consisting of an altogether mysterious Calumet, upon which they place more value than upon a Slave. By this gift, he expressed to us The esteem that he had for Monsieur Our Governor, from the account which we had given of him; and, by a

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third, he begged us on behalf of all his Nation not to go farther, on account of the great dangers to which we Exposed ourselves.

I replied that I Feared not death, and that I regarded no happiness as greater than that of losing my life for the glory of Him who has made all. This is what these poor people cannot Understand.

The Council was followed by a great feast, Consisting of four dishes, which had to be partaken of in accordance with all their fashions. The first course was a great wooden platter full of sagamité, — that is to say, meal of indian corn boiled in water, and seasoned with fat. The Master of Ceremonies filled a Spoon with sagamité three or 4 times, and put it to my mouth As if I were a little Child. He did The same to Monsieur Jollyet. As a second course, he caused a second platter to be brought, on which were three fish. He took some pieces of them, removed the bones therefrom, and, after blowing upon them to cool Them, he put them in our mouths As one would give food to a bird. For the third course, they brought a large dog, that had just been killed; but, when they learned that we did not eat this meat, they removed it from before us. Finally, the 4th course was a piece of wild ox, The fattest morsels of which were placed in our mouths.

After this feast, we had to go to visit the whole village, which Consists of fully 300 Cabins. While we walked through the Streets, an orator Continually harangued to oblige all the people to come to see us without Annoying us. Everywhere we were presented with Belts, garters, and other articles made of the hair of bears and cattle, dyed red, Yellow, and gray. These are all the rarities they possess.

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As they are of no great Value, we did not burden ourselves with Them.

We Slept in the Captain’s Cabin, and on the following day we took Leave of him, promising to pass again by his village, within four moons. He Conducted us to our Canoes, with nearly 600 persons who witnessed our Embarkation, giving us every possible manifestation of the joy that Our visit had caused them. For my own part, I promised, on bidding them Adieu, that I would come the following year, and reside with Them to instruct them. But, before quitting the Ilinois country, it is proper that I should relate what I observed of their Customs and usages.


When one speaks the word “Ilinois,” it is as if one said in their language, “the men,“ — As if the other Savages were looked upon by them merely as animals[24] It must also be admitted that they have an air of humanity which we have not observed in the other nations that we have seen upon our route. The shortness Of my stay among Them did not allow me to secure all the Information that I would have desired; among all Their customs, the following is what I have observed.

They are divided into many villages, some of which are quite distant from that of which we speak, which is called peouarea. This causes some difference in their language, which, on the whole,

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resembles allegonquin, so that we easily understood each other. They are of a gentle and tractable disposition; we Experienced this in the reception which they gave us. They have several wives, of whom they are Extremely jealous; they watch them very closely, and Cut off Their noses or ears when they misbehave. I saw several women who bore the marks of their misconduct. Their Bodies are shapely; they are active and very skillful with bows and arrows. They also use guns, which they buy from our savage allies who Trade with our french. They use them especially to inspire, through their noise and smoke, terror in their Enemies; the latter do not use guns, and have never seen any, since they live too Far toward the West. They are warlike, and make themselves dreaded by the Distant tribes to the south and west, whither they go to procure Slaves; these they barter, selling them at a high price to other Nations, in exchange for other Wares.[25] Those very Distant Savages against whom they war have no Knowledge of Europeans; neither do they know anything of iron, or of Copper, and they have only stone Knives. When the Ilinois depart to go to war, the whole village must be notified by a loud Shout, which is uttered at the doors of their Cabins, the night and The Morning before their departure. The Captains are distinguished from the warriors by wearing red Scarfs. These are made, with considerable Skill, from the Hair of bears and wild cattle. They paint their faces with red ocher, great quantities of which are found at a distance of some days’ journey from the village. They live by hunting, game being plentiful in that country, and on indian corn, of which they always have a good crop;

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consequently, they have never suffered from famine. They also sow beans and melons, which are Excellent, especially those that have red seeds. Their Squashes are not of the best; they dry them in the sun, to eat them during The winter and the spring. Their Cabins are very large, and are Roofed and floored with mats made of Rushes. They make all Their utensils of wood, and Their Ladles out of the heads of cattle, whose Skulls they know so well how to prepare that they use these ladles with ease for eating their sagamité.

They are liberal in cases of illness, and Think that the effect of the medicines administered to them is in proportion to the presents given to the physician. Their garments consist only of skins; the women are always clad very modestly and very becomingly, while the men do not take the trouble to Cover themselves. I know not through what superstition some Ilinois, as well as some Nadouessi, while still young, assume the garb of women, and retain it throughout their lives. There is some mystery in this, For they never marry and glory in demeaning themselves to do everything that the women do. They go to war, however, but can use only clubs, and not bows and arrows, which are the weapons proper to men. They are present at all the juggleries, and at the solemn dances in honor of the Calumet; at these they sing, but must not dance. They are summoned to the Councils, and nothing can be decided without their advice. Finally, through their profession of leading an Extraordinary life, they pass for Manitous, — That is to say, for Spirits, — or persons of Consequence.[26]

There remains no more, except to speak of the Calumet. There is nothing more mysterious or more

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respected among them. Less honor is paid to the Crowns and scepters of Kings than the Savages bestow upon this. It seems to be the God of peace and of war, the Arbiter of life and of death. It has but to be carried upon one’s person, and displayed, to enable one to walk safely through the midst of Enemies — who, in the hottest of the Fight, lay down Their arms when it is shown. For That reason, the Ilinois gave me one, to serve as a safeguard among all the Nations through whom I had to pass during my voyage. There is a Calumet for peace, and one for war, which are distinguished solely by the Color of the feathers with which they are adorned; Red is a sign of war. They also use it to put an end to Their disputes, to strengthen Their alliances, and to speak to Strangers.[27] It is fashioned from a red stone, polished like marble, and bored in such a manner that one end serves as a receptacle for the tobacco, while the other fits into the stem; this is a stick two feet long, as thick as an ordinary cane, and bored through the middle. It is ornamented with the heads and necks of various birds, whose plumage is very beautiful. To these they also add large feathers, — red, green, and other colors, — wherewith the whole is adorned. They have a great regard for it, because they look upon it as the calumet of the Sun; and, in fact, they offer it to the latter to smoke when they wish to obtain a calm, or rain, or fine weather. They scruple to bathe themselves at the beginning of Summer, or to eat fresh fruit, until after they have performed the dance, which they do as follows:

The Calumet dance, which is very famous among these peoples, is performed solely for important reasons; sometimes to strengthen peace, or to unite

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themselves for some great war; at other times, for public rejoicing. Sometimes they thus do honor to a Nation who are invited to be present; sometimes it is danced at the reception of some important personage, as if they wished to give him the diversion of a Ball or a Comedy. In Winter, the ceremony takes place in a Cabin; in Summer, in the open fields. When the spot is selected, it is completely surrounded by trees, so that all may sit in the shade afforded by their leaves, in order to be protected from the heat of the Sun. A large mat of rushes, painted in various colors, is spread in the middle of the place, and serves as a carpet upon which to place with honor the God of the person who gives the Dance; for each has his own god, which they call their Manitou. This is a serpent, a bird, or other similar thing, of which they have dreamed while sleeping, and in which they place all their confidence for the success of their war, their fishing, and their hunting. Near this Manitou, and at its right, is placed the Calumet in honor of which the feast is given; and all around it a sort of trophy is made, and the weapons used by the warriors of those Nations are spread, namely: clubs, war-hatchets, bows, quivers, and arrows.

Everything being thus arranged, and the hour of the Dance drawing near, those who have been appointed to sing take the most honorable place under the branches; these are the men and women who are gifted with the best voices, and who sing together in perfect harmony. Afterward, all come to take their seats in a circle under the branches; but each one, on arriving, must salute the Manitou. This he does by inhaling the smoke, and blowing it from his

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mouth upon the Manitou, as if he were offering to it incense. Every one, at the outset, takes the Calumet in a respectful manner, and, supporting it with both hands, causes it to dance in cadence, keeping good time with the air of the songs. He makes it execute many differing figures; sometimes he shows it to the whole assembly, turning himself from one side to the other. After that, he who is to begin the Dance appears in the middle of the assembly, and at once continues this.[28] Sometimes he offers it to the sun, as if he wished the latter to smoke it; sometimes he inclines it toward the earth; again, he makes it spread its wings, as if about to fly; at other times, he puts it near the mouths of those present, that they may smoke. ‘The whole is done in cadence; and this is, as it were, the first Scene of the Ballet.

The second consists of a Combat carried on to the sound of a kind of drum, which succeeds the songs, or even unites with them, harmonizing very well together. The Dancer makes a sign to some warrior to come to take the arms which lie upon the mat, and invites him to fight to the sound of the drums. The latter approaches, takes up the bow and arrows, and the war-hatchet, and begins the duel with the other, whose sole defense is the Calumet. This spectacle is very pleasing, especially as all is done in cadence; for one attacks, the other defends himself; one strikes blows, the other parries them; one takes to flight, the other pursues; and then he who was fleeing faces about, and causes his adversary to flee. This is done so well — with slow and measured steps, and to the rhythmic sound of the voices and drums — that it might pass for a very fine

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opening of a Ballet in France. The third Scene consists of a lofty Discourse, delivered by him who holds the Calumet; for, when the Combat is ended without bloodshed, he recounts the battles at which he has been present, the victories that he has won, the names of the Nations, the places, and the Captives whom he has made. And, to reward him, he who presides at the Dance makes him a present of a fine robe of Beaver-skins, or some other article. Then, having received it, he hands the Calumet to another, the latter to a third, and so on with all the others, until every one has done his duty; then the President presents the Calumet itself to the Nation that has been invited to the Ceremony, as a token of the everlasting peace that is to exist between the two peoples.

Here is one of the Songs that they are in the habit of singing. They give it a certain turn which cannot be sufficiently expressed by Note, but which nevertheless constitutes all its grace.

Ninahani, ninahani, ninahani, nani ongo.[29]


We take leave of our Ilinois at the end of June, about three o’clock in the afternoon. We embark in the sight of all the people, who admire our little Canoes, for they have never seen any like them.

We descend, following the current of the river called Pekitanoui, which discharges into the Mississipy, flowing from the Northwest. I shall have

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something important to say about it, when I shall have related all that I observed along this river.[31]

While passing near the rather high rocks that line the river, I noticed a simple [plant] which seemed to me very Extraordinary. The root is like small turnips fastened together by little filaments, which taste like carrots. From this root springs a leaf as wide As one’s hand, and half a finger thick, with spots. From the middle of this leaf spring other leaves, resembling the sconces used for candles in our halls; and each leaf bears Five or six yellow flowers shaped like little Bells.

We found quantities of mulberries, as large as Those of france; and a small fruit which we at first took for olives, but which tasted like oranges; and another fruit as large As a hen’s egg. We cut it in halves, and two divisions appeared, in each of which 8 to 10 fruits were encased; these are shaped like almonds, and are very good when ripe. Nevertheless, The tree that bears them has a very bad odor, and its leaves resemble Those of the walnut-tree. In These prairies there is also a fruit similar to Hazelnuts, but more delicate; The leaves are very large, and grow from a stalk at the end of which is a head similar to That of a sunflower, in which all its Nuts are regularly arranged. These are very good, both Cooked and Raw.[32]

While Skirting some rocks, which by Their height and Length inspired awe, We saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made Us afraid, and upon Which the boldest savages dare not Long rest their eyes. They are as large As a calf; they have Horns on their heads Like those of deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard Like a tiger’s, a face

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somewhat like a man’s, a body Covered with scales, and so Long A tail that it winds all around the Body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a Fish’s tail. Green, red, and black are the three Colors composing the Picture. Moreover, these 2 monsters are so well painted that we cannot believe that any savage is their author; for good painters in france would find it difficult to paint so well, — and, besides, they are so high up on the rock that it is difficult to reach that place Conveniently to paint them. Here is approximately The shape of these monsters, As we have faithfully Copied It.[33]

While conversing about these monsters, sailing quietly in clear and calm Water, we heard the noise of a rapid, into which we were about to run. I have seen nothing more dreadful. An accumulation of large and entire trees, branches, and floating islands, was issuing from The mouth of The river pekistanouï, with such impetuosity that we could not without great danger risk passing through it. So great was the agitation that the water was very muddy, and could not become clear.

Pekitanouï is a river of Considerable size, coming from the Northwest, from a great Distance; and it discharges into the Missisipi. There are many Villages of savages along this river, and I hope by its means to discover the vermillion or California sea.

Judging from The Direction of the course of the Missisipi’, if it Continue the same way, we think that it discharges into the mexican gulf. It would be a great advantage to find the river Leading to the southern sea, toward California; and, As I have said, this is what I hope to do by means of the Pekitanouï,

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according to the reports made to me by the savages. From them I have learned that, by ascending this river for 5 or 6 Days, one reaches a fine prairie, 20 or 30 Leagues Long. This must be crossed in a Northwesterly direction, and it terminates at another small river, — on which one may embark, for it is not very difficult to transport Canoes through so fine a country as that prairie. This 2nd River Flows toward The southwest for 10 or 15 Leagues, after which it enters a Lake, small and deep [the source of another deep river — substituted by Dablon], which flows toward the West, where it falls into The sea.[34] I have hardly any doubt that it is The vermillion sea, and I do not despair of discovering It some day, if God grant me the grace and The health to do so, in order that I may preach The Gospel to all The peoples of this new world who have so Long Groveled in the darkness of infidelity.

Let us resume our Route, after Escaping As best We could from the dangerous rapid Caused by The obstruction which I have mentioned.


After proceeding about 20 Leagues straight to the south, and a little less to the southeast, we found ourselves at a river called ouaboukigou, The mouth of which is at the 36th degree of latitude. Before reaching it, we passed by a Place that is dreaded by the Savages, because they believe that a manitou is there, — that is to say, a demon, — that

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devours travelers; and The savages, who wished to divert us from our undertaking, warned us against it. This is the demon: there is a small cove, surrounded by rocks 20 feet high, into which The whole Current of the river rushes; and, being pushed back against the waters following It, and checked by an Island near by, the Current is Compelled to pass through a narrow Channel. This is not done without a violent Struggle between all these waters, which force one another back, or without a great din, which inspires terror in the savages, who fear everything. But this did not prevent us from passing, and arriving at Waboukigou.[35] This river flows from the lands of the East, where dwell the people called Chaouanons in so great numbers that in one district there are as many as 23 villages, and 15 in another, quite near one another. They are not at all warlike, and are the nations whom the Iroquois go so far to seek, and war against without any reason: and, because these poor people cannot defend themselves, they allow themselves to be captured and taken Like flocks of sheep; and, innocent though they are, they nevertheless sometimes experience The barbarity of the Iroquois, who cruelly burn Them.[36]

A short distance above the river of which I have just spoken are cliffs, on which our frenchmen noticed an iron mine, which they consider very rich. There are several veins of ore, and a bed a foot thick, and one sees large masses of it united with Pebbles, A sticky earth is found there, of three different colors — purple, violet, and Red. The water in which the latter is washed assumes a bloody tinge. There is also very heavy, red sand. I placed some on a

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paddle, which was dyed with its color — so deeply that The water could not wash it away during the 15 days while I used it for paddling.

Here we Began to see Canes, or large reeds, which grow on the bank of the river; their color is a very pleasing green; all the nodes are marked by a Crown of Long, narrow, and pointed leaves. They are very high, and grow so thickly that The wild cattle have some difficulty in forcing their way through them.

Hitherto, we had not suffered any inconvenience from mosquitoes; but we were entering into their home, as it were. This is what the savages of this quarter do to protect themselves against them. They erect a scaffolding, the floor of which consists only of poles, so that it is open to the air in order that the smoke of the fire made underneath may pass through, and drive away those little creatures, which cannot endure it; the savages lie down upon the poles, over which bark is spread to keep off rain. These scaffoldings also serve them as protection against The excessive and Unbearable heat of this country; for they lie in the shade, on the floor below, and thus protect themselves against the sun’s rays, enjoying the cool breeze that circulates freely through the scaffolding.

With the same object, we were compelled to erect a sort of cabin on The water, with our sails as a protection against the mosquitoes and the rays of the sun. While drifting down with The current, in this condition, we perceived on land some savages armed with guns, who awaited us. I at once offered them my plumed calumet, while our frenchmen prepared for defense, but delayed firing, that The savages might be the first to discharge their guns. I spoke

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to them in huron, but they answered me by a word which seemed to me a declaration of war against us. However, they were as frightened as we were; and what we took for a signal for battle was an Invitation that they gave us to draw near, that they might give us food. We therefore landed, and entered their Cabins, where they offered us meat from wild cattle and bear’s grease, with white plums, which are very good. They have guns, hatchets, hoes, Knives, beads, and flasks of double glass, in which they put Their powder. They wear Their hair long, and tattoo their bodies after the hiroquois fashion. The women wear head-dresses and garments like those of the huron women. They assured us that we were no more than ten days’ journey from The sea; that they bought cloth and all other goods from the Europeans who lived to The east, that these Europeans had rosaries and pictures; that they played upon Instruments; that some of them looked Like me, and had been received by these savages kindly. Nevertheless, I saw none who seemed to have received any instruction in the faith; I gave Them as much as I could, with some medals.[37]

This news animated our courage, and made us paddle with Fresh ardor. We thus push forward, and no longer see so many prairies, because both shores of The river are bordered with lofty trees. The cottonwood, elm, and basswood trees there are admirable for Their height and thickness. The great numbers of wild cattle, which we heard bellowing, lead us to believe that The prairies are near. We also saw Quail on the water’s edge. We killed a little parroquet, one half of whose head was red, The other half and The Neck yellow, and The whole

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body green, We had gone down to near the 33rd degree of latitude having proceeded nearly all the time in a southerly direction, when we perceived a village on The water’s edge called Mitchigamea.[38] We had recourse to our Patroness and guide, The Blessed VIRGIN IMMACULATE; and we greatly needed her assistance, For we heard from afar The savages who were inciting one another to the Fray by their Continual yells. They were armed with bows, arrows, hatchets, clubs, and shields. They prepared to attack us, on both land and water; part of them embarked in great wooden canoes — some to ascend, others to descend the river, in order to Intercept us and surround us on all sides. Those who were on land came and went, as if to commence The attack. In fact, some Young men threw themselves into The water, to come and seize my Canoe; but the current compelled Them to return to land. One of them then hurled his club, which passed over without striking us. In vain I showed The calumet, and made them signs that we were not coming to war against them. The alarm continued, and they were already preparing to pierce us with arrows from all sides, when God suddenly touched the hearts of the old men, who were standing at the water’s edge. This no doubt happened through the sight of our Calumet, which they had not clearly distinguished from afar; but as I did not cease displaying it, they were influenced by it, and checked the ardor of their Young men. Two of these elders even, — after casting into our canoe, as if at our feet, Their bows and quivers, to reassure us — entered the canoe, and made us approach the shore, whereon we landed, not without fear on our part. At first, we had to

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speak by signs, because none of them understood the six languages which I spoke. At last, we found an old man who could speak a little Ilinois.

We informed them, by our presents, that we were going to the sea. They understood very well what we wished to say to Them, but I know not whether they apprehended what I told them about God, and about matters pertaining to their salvation. This is a seed cast into the ground, which will bear fruit in its time. We obtained no other answer than that we would learn all that we desired at another large village, called Akamsea, which was only 8 or 10 leagues lower down. They offered us sagamité and fish, and we passed The night among them, with some anxiety.


We embarked early on the following day, with our interpreter; a canoe containing ten savages went a short distance ahead of us. When we arrived within half a league of the Akamsea,[39] we saw two canoes coming to meet us. He who commanded stood upright, holding in his hand The calumet, with Which he made various signs, according to the custom of the country. He joined us, singing very agreeably, and gave us tobacco to smoke; after that, he offered us sagamité, and bread made of indian corn, of which we ate a little. He then preceded us, after making us a sign to follow Him slowly. A place had been prepared for us under The scaffolding of the chief of the warriors; it was

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clean, and carpeted with fine rush mats. Upon These we were made to sit, having around us the elders, who were nearest to us; after them, The warriors; and, finally, all The common people in a crowd. We fortunately found there a Young man who understood Ilinois much better than did The Interpreter whom we had brought from Mitchigamea. Through him, I spoke at first to the whole assembly by The usual presents. They admired what I said to Them about God and the mysteries of our holy faith. They manifested a great desire to retain me among them, that I might instruct Them.

We afterward asked them what they knew about the sea. They replied that we were only ten days’ journey from it — we could have covered the distance in 5 days; that they were not acquainted with The Nations who dwelt There, because Their enemies prevented Them from Trading with those Europeans; that the hatchets, Knives, and beads that we saw were sold to Them partly by Nations from The east, and partly by an Ilinois village situated at four days’ journey from their village westward. They also told us that the savages with guns whom we had met were Their Enemies, who barred Their way to the sea, and prevented Them from becoming acquainted with the Europeans, and from carrying on any trade with them; that, moreover, we exposed ourselves to great dangers by going farther, on account of the continual forays of their enemies along the river, — because, as they had guns and were very warlike, we could not without manifest danger proceed down the river, which they constantly occupy.

During this conversation, food was continually

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brought to us in large wooden platters, consisting sometimes of sagamité, sometimes of whole corn, sometimes of a piece of dog’s flesh. The entire day was spent in feasting. These people are very obliging and liberal with what they have; but they are wretchedly provided with food, for they dare not go and hunt wild cattle, on account of Their Enemies. It is true that they have an abundance of indian corn, which they sow at all seasons. We saw at the same time some that was ripe, some other that had only sprouted, and some again in the Milk, so that they sow it three times a year. They cook it in great earthen jars, which are very well made.[40] They have also plates of baked earth which they use in various ways. The men go naked, and wear Their hair short; they pierce their noses, from which, as well as from Their ears, hang beads. The women are clad in wretched skins; they knot Their hair in two tresses which they throw behind their ears, and have no ornaments with which to adorn themselves. Their feasts are given without any ceremony. They offer the Guests large dishes, from which all eat at discretion and offer what is left to one another. Their language is exceedingly difficult, and I could succeed in pronouncing only a few words notwithstanding all my efforts. Their Cabins, which are made of bark, are Long and Wide; they sleep at the two ends, which are raised two feet above the ground. They keep Their corn in large baskets made of Canes, or in gourds as large as half- barrels. They know nothing of the Beaver. Their wealth consists in the skins of wild cattle. They never see snow in their country, and recognize The winter only through The

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rains, which there fall more frequently than in summer. We ate no other fruit there than watermelons. If they knew how to till their soil, they would have fruits of all kinds.

In the evening, the elders held a secret council, in regard to the design entertained by some to break our heads and rob us; but the Chief put a stop to all these plots. After sending for us, he danced the calumet before us, in the manner I have already described, as a token of our entire safety; and, to relieve us of all fear, he made me a present of it.

Monsieur Jolliet and I held another Council, to deliberate upon what we should do — whether we should push on, or remain content with the discovery which we had made. After attentively considering that we were not far from the gulf of Mexico, the basin of which is at the latitude of 31 degrees 60 minutes, while we were at 33 degrees 40 minutes, we judged that we could not be more than 2 or 3 days’ journey from it; and that, beyond a doubt, the Missisipi river discharges into the florida or Mexican gulf, and not to The east in Virginia, whose sea-coast is at 34 degrees latitude, — which we had passed, without, however, having as yet reached the sea, — or to the west in California, because in that case our route would have been to The west, or the west-southwest, whereas we had always continued It toward the south. We further considered that we exposed ourselves to the risk of losing the results of this voyage, of which we could give no information if we proceeded to fling ourselves into the hands of the Spaniards who, without doubt, would at least have detained us as captives. Moreover, we saw very plainly that we were not in a condition to resist Savages allied to

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The Europeans, who were numerous, and expert in firing guns, and who continually infested the lower part of the river. Finally, we had obtained all the information that could be desired in regard to this discovery. All these reasons induced us to decide upon Returning; this we announced to the savages, and, after a day’s rest, made our preparations for it.


After a month’s Navigation, while descending Missisipi from the 42nd to the 34th degree, and beyond, and after preaching the Gospel as well as I could to the Nations that I met, we start on the 17th of July from the village of the akensea, to retrace our steps. We therefore reascend the Missisipi which gives us much trouble in breasting its Currents. It is true that we leave it, at about the 38th degree, to enter another river, which greatly shortens our road, and takes us with but little effort to the lake of the Ilinois.

We have seen nothing like this river that we enter, as regards its fertility of soil, its prairies and woods; its cattle, elk, deer, wildcats, bustards, swans, ducks, parroquets, and even beaver. There are many small lakes and rivers. That on which we sailed is wide, deep, and still, for 65 leagues. In the spring and during part of The summer there is only one portage of half a league.[41] We found on it a village of Ilinois called Kaskasia, consisting of 74 Cabins. They received us very well, and obliged me to promise that I would return to instruct them. One of the chiefs of this nation, with his young men, escorted us to the Lake of the Ilinois, whence, at last, at The

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end of September, we reached the bay des puants, from which we had started at the beginning of June.

Had this voyage resulted in the salvation of even one soul, I would consider all my troubles well rewarded, and I have reason to presume that such is the case. For, when I was returning, we passed through the Ilinois of Peouarea,[42] and during three days I preached the faith in all their Cabins; after which, while we were embarking, a dying child was brought to me at The water’s edge, and I baptized it shortly before it died, through an admirable act of providence for the salvation of that Innocent soul.

Thwaite’s Footnotes:

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[15] (p. 89). — “The gulf of California was called by the Spaniards Mar de Cartes, or more commonly Mar Bermejo, from its resemblance in shape and color to the Red Sea.... In ignorance of this fact, the French translated Bermejo by Vermeille, and English writers Vermillion.” “Theguaio, or commonly Tiguex, and sometimes apparently Tejas, and Quivira... [which] lay east of the country north of the river Gila, and are probably the present New Mexico and Texas, were first made known by the attempt of a Franciscan missionary [Fray Marc, in 1539] to reach the rich countries of the interior.“” — Shea’s notes, Disc. of Miss. Valley, p. 4.

Winship, in his admirable monograph on Coronado’s expedition (U.S. Bur. Ethol. Rep., 1892-93), locates Quivira (following Bandelier) in N. E. Kansas, beyond Arkansas River, and more than 100 miles N. E. of Great Bend; and the village of Tiguex at or near the present town of Bernalillo, N. Mex. (ut supra, pp. 391, 394-399).

The wording of this passage would indicate Joliet as the official leader of the expedition; but the authorities doubtless regarded Marquette as a valuable assistant to the enterprise, on account of his

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knowledge of the Indian tongues and the savage character, as well as of the information regarding the great river which he had acquired while connected with the Ottawa missions.

[16] (p. 93). — The name of La Conception appears also on Marquette’s map, herewith presented; but he is apparently the only explorer or writer who thus named the Mississippi. Shea remarks, in a note upon this passage of our text (Disc. of Miss. Valley, p. 8): “The name of Immaculate Conception, which he gave to the mission among the Kaskaskias, was retained as long as that mission lasted, and is now the title of the church in the present town of Kaskaskia.”

[17] (p. 99). — cf. Andrés account of these tides (vol. lvi., pp. 137-139; vol. lvii., pp. 301-305); see also vol. xxxviii., note 19.

[18] (p. 101). — The description here given is insufficient for the identification of the plant. Various plants have been regarded as specifics for the bites of venomous serpents, especially Aristolochia serpentaria and Polygala Senega; but their virtues have apparently been somewhat exaggerated. Regarding the plants above named, see Charlevoix’s Plantes Amer. Sept., pp. 35, 36; his Journ. Hist., p. 159; Rafinesque’s Medical Flora, vol. i., pp. 60-65, and ii., pp. 63-65; and Pickering’s Chron. Hist. of Plants, pp. 748, 768.

[19] (p. 103). — W. J. Hoffman thus explains (U.S. Bur. Ethnol. Rep., 1885-86, p. 155) the character of the cross erected by the savages: “Marquette was without doubt ignorant of the fact that the cross is the sacred post, and the symbol of the fourth degree of the Midê’wiwin, as will be fully explained in connection with that grade of the society. [Marquette’s conclusion] was a natural one, but this same symbol of the Midê Society had probably been erected and bedecked with barbaric emblems and weapons months before anything was known of him.” The Midê’wiwin is “the society of the Midê or Shamans, popularly designated as the ‘Grand Medicine Society;’” it is found in many Algonkin tribes. Its ritual, and “the traditions of Indian genesis and cosmogony,... constitute what is to them a religion, even more powerful and impressive than the Christian religion is to the average civilized man.” — See Hoffman, ut supra, pp. 155, 256, and plate xv. (facing p. 240), in which are depicted the “sacred posts” above referred to. Cf. vol. xxx., p. 23, where a similar society is mentioned by Ragueneau as existing among the Hurons; and note 1 to same volume.

[20] (p. 107). — Reference is here made to the Fox-Wisconsin portage (vol. lviii., note 7). The name “Meskousing” is but one of numerous variants of “Wisconsin.”

[21] (p. 109). — “This was probably the cat fish of the Mississippi

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(Silurus Mississippiensis). They sometimes grow enormously large, and strike with great force any object that comes in their way.” — B. F. French’s note, Disc. of Miss. Valley, p. 17.

[22] (p. 111). — The “monster” was “probably an American tigercat, the pichou du sud of Kalm. They differ from those of Africa and South America, because they have no spots.” The fish was “the polyodon spatula of Linn. It is now very rare, and but seldom found in the Mississippi. It is also called by the French le spatule” (French, ut supra, p. 18).

[23] (p. 115). — “These villages are laid down on the map on the westerly side of the Mississippi, and the names of two are given, Peouarea and Moingwena, whence it is generally supposed that the river on which they lay, is that now called the Desmoines. The upper part of that river still bears the name Moingonan, while the latitude of the mouth seems to establish the identity. It must, however, be admitted that the latitude given at that day differs from ours generally from 30’ to a degree, as we see in the case of the Wisconsin and the Ohio. This would throw Moingwena some what higher up.” — Shea, ut supra, p. 20.

[24] (p. 125). — Nearly all the aboriginal tribes assumed for themselves names of similar meaning, in much the same boastful spirit as the Greeks applied the term “barbarian” to all peoples outside of Greece.

[25] (p. 127). — Captives taken in war were generally treated as slaves, among all aboriginal nations. The transition from this method of securing slaves to that of raids upon weaker tribes was, of course, an easy one; and not only the Illinois, but the Iroquois and other powerful nations, seem to have been habitual stealers and sellers of men. — See Carr’s Mounds of Miss. Valley, pp. 30-33, where are cited many references to early writers, regarding this subject.

A note in U.S. Cath. Hist. Mag., vol. xiv., p. 140, cites the finding by the Jesuit Grelon (vol. xxx., note 26), in Chinese Tartary, of a Huron woman whom he had known in America. She had been sold as a slave from tribe to tribe until she reached that place.”

[26] (p. 129). — The custom here described appears to have been prevalent among the Southern and Western tribes, and is mentioned by many travelers and writers, even down to comparatively recent times. See Membré’s narrative in Shea’s Disc. of Miss. Valley, p. 151; Lafitau’s Mœurs des Sauvages, t. i., pp. 52-53; Charlevoix’s Journ. Hist., p, 303; Long’s Expedition, vol. i., p. 129; Parkman’s La Salle, p. 207; Carr’s Mounds of Miss. Valley, p. 33; and Coues’s Henry and Thompson Journals (N.Y., 1897), vol. i., pp. 53, 163-165.

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Charlevoix and Long, among others, suppose that the assumption of feminine garb and occupations by men proceeded from a superstition or a dream, or was the observance of some religious rite; some other writers assert that these men were set aside for infamous purposes — a statement apparently verified by much evidence, especially as this class of men were held in the utmost contempt, even among the savages. They were called by the French bardache (a word originally from Arabic bardaj, “slave”), or berdache; the English corruption of this word, “berdash” (a word used, in various forms, as early as 1548), is everywhere in use in the West and North, to designate the men referred to.

Catlin (N. Amer. Inds., vol. ii., pp. 213, 215) describes the annual “dance to the Berdashe,” as seen among the Indians whom he visited on the Upper Mississippi, and has a sketch (plate 296) illustrating it. He says of the “berdashe:” “For extraordinary privileges which he is known to possess, he is driven to the most servile and degrading duties, which he is not allowed to escape; and he being the only one of the tribe submitting to this disgraceful degradation, is looked upon as medicine and sacred, and a feast is given to him annually.... This is one of the most unaccountable and disgusting customs, that I have ever met in the Indian country, and so far as I have been able to learn, belongs only to the Sioux and Sacs and Foxes.”

[27] (p. 131). — In the MS. at St. Mary’s College, which we follow, two leaves are here lacking — a lacuna supplied from Thevenot’s Recueil (see Bibliographical Data for this volume).

The red stone of which the calumet was made has been, from an early period, obtained by the Indians from the celebrated “Pipe-stone Quarry,” in Pipestone county, in the southwestern corner of Minnesota. This place was first described by George Catlin, who visited it in 1836; see his interesting account of the quarry and the surrounding region (with sketch of locality), in his N. Amer. Inds., vol. ii., pp. 160, 164-177, 201-206. The stone was named in honor of him, “catlinite;” it is a red quartzite, regarded by Winchell as the equivalent of the New York Potsdam sandstone. See the latter’s account of the stone and quarry, in Minn. Geol. Survey Rep., 1877, pp. 97-109.

[28] (p. 135). — This sentence is transposed by Martin (in the Douniol edition, and by a marginal correction on the original MS.) to take the place of Chacun.

[29] (p. 137). — Martin, in Douniol edition (t. ii., p. 273), gives the entire chant (of which but one sentence is found in the Montreal MS.), with both words and musical notation. He gives as his

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authority “a manuscript preserved by the Jesuits, at Paris, in which appear the notation of the song in the calumet dance, and the beginning of the seventh section.” The song is as follows:

Cf. illustrated description of calumet dance, as practiced among the Omaha Indians, given in U.S. Bur. Ethnol. Rep., 1881-82, pp. 276-282.

[30] (p. 137). — This is the heading of section 7 given in the Lenox edition — a made-up title, however, as the Thevenot text is not divided into sections, but continues throughout without a break. Martin made another heading, given in the Douniol edition (and also in his copy from the Thevenot text, with which he supplied the gap in the Montreal MS.), which reads as follows, in translation: “Continuation of the voyage: various rarities encountered along the route; of the Pekitanoui river, by which one can proceed to California.” Shea omits any section division at this point, and in his translation numbers the succeeding sections vii., viii., and ix., respectively.

[31] (p. 139). — Here ends the lacuna supplied from the Thevenot text. Pekitanoui: the Missouri River. “The name here given by Marquette, [meaning] ‘muddy water,’ prevailed till Marest’s time (1712). A branch of Rock river is still called Pekatonica. The Récollect’s called the Missouri, the river of the Ozages.” — Shea’s note in Disc. of Miss. Vally, p. 38.

[32] (p. 139). — French, ut supra, p. 38, thus identifies these plants

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and fruits: “Probably Cactus opuntia, several species of which grow in the western states; Diospyros Virginiana, or Persimmon-tree; Castanea pumila, or chincapin.”

[33] (p. 141). — Parkman says (La Salle, p. 59, note 1): “The rock where these figures were painted is immediately above the city of Alton [Ill.]. The tradition of their existence remains, although they are entirely effaced by time. In 1867, when I passed the place, a part of the rock had been quarried away.” But Amos Stoddard observes, in Sketches of Louisiana (Phila., 1812), p. 17: “What they [Joliet and Marquette] call Painted Monsters on the side of a high perpendicular rock, apparently inaccessible to man, between the Missouri and Illinois, and known to the moderns by the name of Piesa, still remain in a good state of preservation.” Parkman mentions (ut supra) a map made for the intendant Duchesneau, soon after Marquette’s voyage, "which is decorated with the portrait of one 'of the monsters,' answering to Marquette’s description, and probably copied from his drawing.”

[34] (p. 143). — This supposition of Marquette’s has been confirmed by later explorations, which show that the headwaters of the Platte, tributary to the Missouri, closely approach those of the Colorado, which falls into the Gulf of California.

[35] (p. 145). — Ouaboukigou (Ouabouskigou, on the maps of both Joliet and Marquette): corrupted by the French into Ouabache, and Anglicized as Wabash. By early writers and map-makers the name was applied to both the present Wabash river and the Ohio below their junction; it was also called by the French Rivière de St. Jéroumme. By 1746, we see on D’Anville’s map of that date “Ohohio, ou la Belle Riv.,” applied to the entire course of the Ohio, and “Ouabache” to the Wabash, as now known; and Winsor cites (Mississippi Basin, p. 17) James Logan, of Pennsylvania, as making that discrimination as early as 1718.

[36] (p. 145). — Chaouanons: the Algonkin name, meaning “people of the South,” for the tribe now known as Shawnees (a corruption of the above word); also called Ontouagannha; see vol. xlvii., note 9. Shea, in his note (Disc. of Miss. Valley, p. 41) on this passage of our text, argues that this tribe is that of the Eries after their dispersion by the Iroquois. Cf. observation on the Attiwendaronk in vol. xviii., note 19; also vol. viii., note 34, and vol. xxi., note 11.

[37] (p. 149). — “The missionary gives no name to this tribe or party, but from their dress and language, apparently of the Huron-Iroquois family, they may have been a Tuscarora party, and referred to the Spaniards of Florida with whom they traded in trinkets for skins.” — Shea’s note in Disc. of Miss. Valley, p, 44.

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“Marquette had now reached the country of the warlike Chicachas [Chickasaws], whose territory extended several hundred miles along the banks of the Mississippi, and far to the eastward, where they carried on a traffic with tribes who traded with Europeans.” — French’s note, ut supra, p. 43.

[38] (p. 151). — The Mitchigameas were located about the mouth of the St. Francis River in Arkansas. As for the latitude given to this place by Marquette, it varies somewhat, as might reasonably be expected, from that of modern surveys.

[39] (p. 153). — “It is probable that Akamsea was not far from the Indian village of Guachoya, where De Soto breathed his last, one hundred and thirty years before; and Mitchigamca, the village of Aminoya, where Alvarado de Moscoso built his fleet of brigantines to return to Mexico” (1543). — French’s note, ut supra, p. 46.

Later (1886), Shea locates Guachoya, following Del’Isle’s map of 1707, at the mouth of the Red River; see his paper on “Ancient Florida,” in Winsor’s N and C. Hst., vol. ii., pp. 253, 294.

[40] (p. 157). — Regarding the pottery manufactured by the tribes of this region, see Holmes’s “Ancient Pottery of the Mississippi Valley,” in U.S. Bur. Ethnol. Rep., 1882-83, pp. 360-436; it contains numerous illustrations of specimens obtained from mounds and other sources in the Central States. See also Butler’s “Prehistoric Pottery — Middle Mississippi Valley,” and Seever’s “Prehistoric Remains in St. Francis Valley,” — both papers describing and illustrating the pottery collection in the museum of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, — in Proceedings of that Society for 1893, pp. 70-78. Cf. Thomas Wilson’s “Prehistoric Art,” in U. S. Natl. Mus. Rep., 1896, pp. 475- 430. It is probable that the earthen jars and vessels used by the Arkansas tribes at the time of Marquette’s visit did not essentially differ, in form, process of manufacture, or use, from the specimens now on our museum shelves, obtained from mounds. Holmes says (ut supra, p. 371): “There can be no reasonable doubt that the manufacture of this ware began many centuries before the advent of the white race, but it is equally certain that the art was extensively practiced until quite recent times. The early explorers of Louisiana saw it in use, and the processes of manufacture arc described by Dumont and others.” And Hoffman (U.S. Bur. Ethol. Rep., 1892-93, p. 257) says: “Earthenware is no longer made by the Menomini, though some of the oldest women remember when pottery-making was engaged in.”

[41] (p. 161). — Reference is here made to the Illinois river; from its upper waters, the traveler obtained access to Lake Michigan by several portages. That between its northern fork (the Des Plaines

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River) and the Chicago River was, owing to the southward current along the west shore of Lake Michigan, the usual route on the outward voyage from Mackinac and other northern points. The Des Plaines might also be reached by a similar portage to the Calumet River, which falls into Lake Michigan at the present South Chicago. On early maps the Chicago and Calumet rivers are sometimes confounded with each other. On the return trip, the voyager couid reach the great lake not only by these routes, but by a third — via the Kankakee (the southern fork of the Illinois) and a portage (at the present South Bend, Ind.) to St. Joseph River, at the S. E. corner of Lake Michigan. This was often used when returning to Mackinac, as the lake current runs northward along the east shore. — See Winsor’s Mississippi Basin, pp. 24- 26.

The Chicago-Des Plaines route involved a “carry” of from four to nine miles, according to the season of the year; in a rainy spring season, it might not be over a mile; and during a freshet, a canoe might be paddled over the entire route, without any portage. A canal between these rivers was opened in 1848, which gave a strong impetus to Chicago’s early growth; and the government drainage Canal, now (December, 1899) nearing completion, follows the same route, from Chicago to Joliet, a distance of 36 miles southwest to the Des Plaines River — a waterway 14 feet deep, and 100 feet wide, which will not only insure proper drainage to Chicago, but greatly facilitate her commerce.

[42] (p. 163). — These villages of the partly nomadic Illinois savages were not situated at the places afterward known by their names. The Kaskaskia village is placed by Shea (Disc. of Miss. Valley, p. 74, note) “near Rockport” (by which he apparently means the so-called “Starved Rock,” on which La Salle built Fort St. Louis); and Parkman locates it (La Salle, pp. 65, 156)” about seven miles below the site of the present town of Ottawa [Ill.].”