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Miami Archives 1640-1669
LaPOTHERIE HISTORY of the SAVAGE PEOPLES
WHO ARE ALLIES OF NEW FRANCE: Part 1 of 3

From his Histoire de l'Amerique septrionale, Paris 1753. Blair ed.:
Indian Tribes of the Upper Mississippi and the Great Lakes Region, Volume II, pp. 56-64.

All spelling & errors have remained as printed in the original book text.


CHAPTER XVIII (p.56)

Perrot made them several presents, and spoke to them in nearly the following words: "My brothers, I delight in your speech, and war is odious when you fight against the Maskoutech; he is brave, and will slay your young men. I do not doubt that you could destroy him, for you are more numerous and more warlike than he; but desperation will drive him to extremity, and he has arrows and war-clubs, which he can handle with skill. Besides, the war-fire has been lighted against the Iroquois, and will be extinguished only when he ceases to exist. War was declared on your account when he swept away your families at Chikagon; those dead persons are seen no longer, for they are covered by those of (p.59) the Frenchmen whom the Iroquois have betrayed through the agency of the Englishman, who was our ally, and upon whom we have undertaken to avenge ourselves for his treacherous conduct. We have also for an enemy the Loup, who is his son. Accordingly, we shall not be able to assist you if you undertake war against the Maskoutechs."

After he had delivered this speech, to them he also made two heaps of merchandise; and, displaying these, continued thus: "I place a mat under your dead and ours, that they may sleep in peace; and this other present is to cover them with a piece of bark, in order that bad weather and rain may not disturb them. Onontio, to whom I will make known this assassination, will consider and decide what is best to do."

The Miamis, then, had reason to be satisfied; since they begged him to locate his establishment upon the Mississippi, near Ouiskensing (Wisconsin), so that they could trade with him for their peltries. The chief made him a present of a piece of ore which came from a very rich lead mine, which he had found on the bank of a stream which empties into the Mississippi; and Perrot promised them that he (p.60) would within twenty days establish a post below the Ouiskonche (Wisconsin) River. The chief then returned to his village. All the Saki chiefs and the Poutewouatemis assembled near the Jesuit house. Perrot gave them presents of guns, tobacco, ammunition, and encouraged them to deal harder blows than ever at the Iroquois, to whom no one was a friend; and he told them how utterly knavish the Iroquois were. He said that the allies should distrust their artful words and their fine collars, which were only so many baits to lure them into their nets; and that, if they should unfortunately fall into those snares, Onotio could not any longer draw them out. He told them that they had cause to be glad that they had continued in their fidelity notwithstanding all the foolish proceedings of the Outaouaks, who had tried to induce the allies to espouse their interests instead of his. He repeated to them the details of all that he had said to the tribes on Lake Huron; and also made them understand that, if they undertook to declare themselves in favor of the Iroquois, they could go to live among them, since we would not suffer them to remain upon our lands. They protested that they would never stray from their duty; and that, although the Ouaouaks had always been their friends, they were resolved to perish rather than to abandon the cause of the French. When Perrot had reached a small Puan village which was near the Outagamis, the chief on the Maskoutechs and two of his lieutenants arrived there. They entered Perrot's cabin, excusing them for not having brought any present by which they could talk to him, as their village was upon his route; the chief entreated him to sojourn there, as he had something of importance to communicate to him. Although we were greatly of (p.61) fended with both them and the Outagamis, who had sworn the ruin of the French who were among the Nadouissioux, Perrot promised to stop at their village in order to forget the resentment that he felt toward them and to pardon them their error, which had been made only through the fault of the Renards. The Sakis returned by way of the Outagamis, to whom they reported all that had been said to them. Perrot encountered two Ouagami chiefs, who came to meet him; they approached him trembling, and begged him, in the most submissive terms, to land, in order to hear them for a little while.

After he had landed, they lit a fire, and lay on the ground a beaver robe to serve him as a carpet, on which he seated himself; they were so beside themselves that for a time they could not speak. Finally one of them began to talk, saying: "The Outagamis have done wrong not to remember what thou didst formerly tell them; and when they do not see thee they let themselves be carried away by the solicitations of the Outaouaks and others who try to induce them to abandon the French. I have tried to prevent our people from undertaking anything against thy young men; but they would not believe me, and I have be alone in my opinion. When they learned that thou wert coming, they were afraid of thee, and have begged me to tell thee on their behalf that they wish to see thee in their village, in order to reunite themselves to thy person--which they have not altogether abandoned since if they had carried out the scheme with which the Outaouaks inspired them against the French, they would have taken care of thy children. As for me, I have taken no part in their conspiracy; and on that account I have come to meet thee to entreat that, if thou wilt not grant (p.62) me anything for them, thou wilt at least not refuse to come and listen to them, out of consideration for me." It was very difficult to obtain from those peoples all the satisfaction which we had desired. Their great distance from us prevents us from reducing them to obedience; and the blustering manner which must be assumed with them was the best policy that could be adopted to make them fear us. Perrot, who understood their character, yielded the point out of consideration for this chief, and promised to remain with them half a day, in order to listen to their words. The chief went away to console his people; he came back alone to meet Perrot, to ask him that he would land at the village. Another chief, seeing that the French did not leave their canoes, said that they were afraid. Our men answered that we did not fear them, and that the weapons of the French were able to make them repent, if they had the temerity to offer us any affront. The first-named chief was greatly incensed against this one, and said to his countrymen; "O Outagamis, will you always be fools You will make the French and embark, and he will abandon us. What will become of us? Can we plant our fields if he will not allow it?" Throughout the village there were endless harangues, to quiet those who were seditious, and to induce the others to give Sieur Perrot a good reception.

The head chief conducted him to his own cabin, where were present the most influential men of the tribe, who said to him "Welcome!" while offering him every token of kind feeling. Two young men entirely banked, armed as warriors, laid at his feet two packages of beaver-skins; and, sitting down, cried out to him, "We submit to thy wishes, and entreat thee by this beaver to remember no more our foolish acts. If thou art not content with this atonement, strike us down; we (p.63) will suffer death, for we are willing to atone with our blood for the fault that our nation has committed." All these acts of submission had no other object than to procure ammunition and weapons for the peltries, foreseeing that he would refuse these supplies to them. Perrot made them understand that he had come to their village only to hear them; that, if they repented of their inconsiderate demands, he would pardon them; that, although they might escape from one hand, he would hold them tightly with the other; that he was holding them by no more than one finger, but that, if they would bestir themselves a little, he would take them by the arms and gradually bring them into a safe place where they could dwell in peace. All the chiefs begged him, one after another, to receive them under his protection, imploring him to give them ammunition for their peltries so that they could kill game to make soup for their children. He would not grant them more than a small amount (apres-dine). A war-chief carried in his hand a dagger, thought that Perrot's clerk had not given him enough powder, and spoke fiercely to him that the clerk yielded all he asked. Perrot was greatly irritated against them, and gave orders to have everything taken back to the canoes; but after some explanation he recognized that the chief had no bad intention. Those peoples are so brutal that persons who do not understand them suppose that they are always full of anger when they are speaking.

In this connection may be mentioned a most interesting relic owned by the Roman Catholic diocese of Green Bay, and deposited in the State Historical Museum at Madison, Wis. It is an ostensorium or monstrance of silver, fifteen inches high, of elaborate workmanship. Around the rim of its oval base is an inscription in French, somewhat rudely cut on the metal, which translated reads: This monstrance (French, soleil, referring to its shape) was given by Mr. Nicholas Perrot to the mission of St. Francois Xavier at the bay of Puants (i.e., Green Bay), 1686. This is, so far, the oldest relic existing of French occupancy in Wisconsin. For description and illustration of this ostensorium, (see Wis. Hist. Colls., Vol. VIII, 199-206; and Jesuit Relations, Vol. IXVI, 347). The Jesuit Mission was located a little above the mouth of Fox River, at the present Depere, Ed. This was probably the Galena River. It is not probable that the Indians of early days worked these mines along the upper Mississippi that now yield so great a supply of lead; but after they learned from the French, the use of firearms, they began to place much value on this metal, and probably obtained supplies of it in some crude on this metal, and probably obtained supplies of it in some crude fashion from out cropping ores. From them the French early learned the location of lead deposits and during the eighteenth century worked mines here and there along the Mississippi, often employing Indians to do the work under their direction.



CHAPTER XIX

On the next day they presented to the Frenchmen a buffalo and some Indian corn, and fire, which were of great assistance to them during the rest of their journey. He disclosed to (p. 65) them the project formed by all the tribes-- the Miamiís, the Outagamis, the Kickapooís, and many of the Islinois. All these tribes were to assemble at the Mississippi, to march against the Nadouaissioux. The Miamiís were to command the army; the Maskoutechs also were under obligation to join them, in order to avenge the assassination of the Miami slaves. At that moment some Ouagamis brought the news of the defeat of their people by the Nadouaissioux; and they secretly tried to induce the Maskoutechs to unite with them against the French, who had furnished weapons to their enemies. The Maskoutechs were careful not to embroil themselves with the French; and the difficulty which they had already experienced in reinstating themselves in the good graces of the latter hindered them from undertaking any enterprise which would displease the French.

These Outagamis, who had got wind of Perrot's sending to the bay a canoe loaded with peltries, went to inform their chief of it; he sent out some men to carry it away. The Frenchmen in the canoe, hearing at night the noise of paddles, and suspecting that the savages were going to capture them, hastily slipped among the tall reeds, which they traversed without being perceived. Perrot embarked, with all his men, in good order; he encountered at the [Fox-Wisconsin] portage a canoe of Frenchmen who were coming from the country of the Nadouaissioux. He warned them not to trust the Maskoutechs, who would plunder them; but his warning was in vain. Some of that tribe, discovering them, bestowed upon them every kindness, entreating them to stop and rest themselves, on their way, at their village; but the Frenchmen had no sooner arrived there than they were pillaged. The other Frenchmen reached the Mississippi; Perrot sent out ten men to warn, in behalf of (p. 66) Monsieur de Frontenac, the Frenchmen who were among the Nadouaissioux to proceed to Michilimakinak. Perrot's establishment was located below the Ouiskonche, in a place very advantageously situated for security from attacks by the neighboring tribes.

The great chief of the Miamiís, having learned that Perrot was there, sent him a war-chief and ten young warriors, to tell him that, as his village was four leagues farther down, he was anxious to sit down with Perrot at the latter's fire. That chief proceeded thither two days later, accompanied by twenty men and his women, and presented to the Frenchman a piece of ore from a lead mine. Perrot even reproached the Miami for a similar present by which he pretended to cover the death of the two Frenchmen whom the Maskoutechs had assassinated with the three Miami women who had escaped from an Iroquois village. The chief was utterly astonished at such discourse, since he knew of that affair; he would do whatever Perrot wished in the matter. The chief also assured him that, when the allies were assembled, he would make them turn the hatchet against the Iroquois; but that until they came to the general rendezvous it was necessary that he himself should be ignorant of their design, in order that he might be there with his tribe and be able to raise a large troop against the Iroquois.

The ice was now strong enough to support a man; and the Maskoutech chiefs had sent him a warrior to inform him that the Outagamis were far advanced into the country of the Nadouaissioux, (p. 67) and prayed the Miamiís to hasten to join them; but the latter had replied that they would do nothing without the Frenchman's consent. The Tchiduakouingoues, the Ouaouiartanons, the Pepikokis (Wea Band/Clan), the Mangakekis, the Pouankikias, and the Kilataks (Wea Band/Clan), all Miami tribes, coming from all directions, marched by long stages to reach that rendezvous. The first five of these tribes were the first to arrive, with their families at the French post; if the Tchiduakouingoues had not been at hand with a good supply of provisions, the other bands would have perished from hunger; Perrot made them many presents, to induce them to turn their war-club against the Iroquois, the common enemy. They excused themselves from a general advance, asserting, nevertheless, that all their young men would go in various detachments to harass the Iroquois youth and carry away some of their heads. But, far from keeping their promise, they amused themselves for an entire month with hunting cattle; meanwhile, all the warriors who had joined the Outagamis and Maskoutechs were intending to march against the Nadouaissioux, while the old men, women, and children would remain with the French. "The savage's mind is difficult to understand; he speaks in one way and thinks in another. If his friend's interests accord with his own, he is ready to render him a service; if not, he always takes the path by which he can most easily attain his own ends; and he makes all his courage consist in deceiving the enemy by a thousand artifices and knaveries.

The French were warned of all (p. 68) the savages' intrigues by a Miami woman; all these hostile actions would have greatly injured Perrot's scheme that they should turn their weapons against the Iroquois-- who, moreover, were delighted that these peoples should be thus divided among themselves, for whatever discord could be aroused among them was the only way by which their plans could be made to fail. Perrot sent for the chief of the Miamiís; he made him believe that he had just received a letter which informed him that the Maskoutechs -- jealous at seeing themselves obliged, by way of satisfaction, to join their war-clubs to that of their allies -- had won over the Outagamis, and that they would by common consent attack the Miamiís while on the general march against the Nadouaissioux. The chief, believing Perrot's statement, did not fail to break up the band of his warriors, and sent them the next day to hunt buffalo; they also held a war feast, at which they saw the ruin of the Maskoutechs. The Outagamis, who had displayed more steadfast courage than did the other allies, finding that they were advanced in to the enemy's country, consulted the medicine-men to ascertain whether they were secure. Those jugglers delivered their oracles, which were that the spirits had showed them that the Sauteurs and the Nadouaissioux were assembling to march against them.

Whether the (p. 69) devil had really spoken to these men (as is believed in all Canada), or the Outagamis were seized with fear at finding themselves along, without assistance --however that might be, they built a fort, and sent their chiefs and two warriors to Perrot, begging that he would go among the Nadouaissioux to check their advance, and thus enable the Outagamis, with their families, to take refuge in their own village. The Miamiís would actually have engaged in battle with the Maskoutechs, if the Frenchman had not dissuaded their chief from doing so. They received the Outagamis chief with all possible honors; he told them that their people were dead. Perrot asked him how many the dead were. He replied: "I do not know anything positively; but I believe that they all are dead, for our diviners saw the Nadouaissioux assemble together (p. 70) in order to come against us; they are very numerous, and we are greatly troubled on account of our women and children, who are with us. The old men have sent me to thee, to beg thee to deliver us from the danger into which we have too blindly rushed; they hope that thou wilt go among the Nadouaissioux to stop their advance." Perrot told him that they ought not to place any confidence in their jugglers, who are liars; and that it was only the Spirit who could see so far. "Not at all," replied the Outagami; "the Spirit has enabled them to see what they have divined, and that is sure to happen."

The Miamiís were strongly in favor of advancing. The Frenchman, who felt obliged by the orders that he had received from Monsieur de Frontenac to keep everything quiet among the allies, concluded that it would be best to avert an attack so fatal to the Outagamis; their destruction would have been very detrimental to the Frenchmen who happened to be in those regions, because the savages, who are naturally unruly, would have taken the opportunity to vent their resentment against them. He made them understand, however, that since the safety of a band of their tribe was concerned, he would go to make some attempt at ameliorating their situation. He encountered on the voyage five cabins of Maskoutechs, a village which was preparing to go to the French establishment to trade there for ammunition. He told them the reason for his departure, and warned them not to trust themselves with the Nadouaissioux.

Perrot finally arrived at the French fort, where he learned that the Nadouaissioux were forming a large war-party to seek out the Outagamis or some of their allies. As he was then in a place under his own authority (p. 71), he made known his arrival to the Naduouaisaioux, whom he found to the number of four hundred, ranging along the Mississippi in order to carry on some warlike enterprise. They would not allow his men to return to him, and themselves came to the fort, to which they flocked from all sides in order to pillage it. The commandant demanded why their young men appeared so frightened at the very time when he came to visit his brothers in order to give them life. A chief, arising, made the warriors retire, and ordered them to encamp. When their camp was made, Perrot summoned their leading men, and told them that he had come to inform them that the Miamiís, the Outagamis, the Islinois, the Maskoutechs, and the Kikabous (Kickapoo) had formed an army of four thousand men to fight with them; that they were to march in three parties -- one along the Mississippi, another at a day's journey farther inland, but following the river, and third at a similar distance from the second. He told them that he had stayed this torrent that was going to carry them away; but finding them by chance in this locality, he exhorted them to return to their families them to return to their families and hunt beavers.

They replied with much haughtiness that they had left home in order to seek death; and, since there were men, they were going to fight against them, and would not have to go far to find them. They exchanged some peltries; when that was done, they sent to ask Perrot to visit their camp, and there manifested to him the joy that they felt at his saying that they would find their enemies, entreating him to allow them to continue their route. He tried all sorts of means to dissuade them from this purpose; but they still replied that they had gone away to die; that the Spirit had given them men to eat, at three days' journey from the French; and that Perrot had invented a falsehood to them, since their jugglers had seen great fires far away. They even pointed out the places where these fires were: one was on this side and at some distance inland; another at some distance and farther inland; and a third, which they believed to be the fire of the Outagamis. All these statements were true, for the five cabins of the Maskoutechs were at three days' journey from the French establishment; their village was on one side, the fort of the Outagami opposite, and the Miamiís and Islinois at a considerable distance farther. It is believed that the demon often speaks to the savages; our missionaries even claim to have recognized him on several occasions. There was much truth in what the evil spirit had communicated to the jugglers. Other expedients must be employed to stop them; to gain their attention, Perrot gave them two kettles and some other wares, saying to them with these.



CHAPTER XXI

As this tale, mingled with insulting language, made evident the evil intentions of those peoples, it was [considered] proper to come to an understanding [with them] in regard to the many insolent utterances which were heard on every side. The more prominent chiefs tried to justify themselves, and in truth there were some of them who had taken no part in this dissension; the author of it nevertheless caused all these disorders. He assembled a general council, to which all the Nerpiciriniens were summoned. They came to see the French, with five collars, and asked them by the first, to forget their error; by the second, they assured us never to be detached from him. Buy the third, that he would know in the following spring, by the war-parties that they would send against the Iroquois; by the fourth, that they submitted to Onotio; and by the fifth, that they renounced the English and their trade. "Reply was made, by five presents, to all that they had said; and it was represented to them that the trade with the English, which they so eagerly sought to obtain, would deliver them into the hands of the Iroquois, whose only endeavor was to deceive them."

The long stay made at Montreal by four canoes which had been sent thither to learn news of the colony made the savages suspect threat [our] affairs were going ill; they made a feast in the village, which was attended by the chiefs only. A Frenchman who passed that way was invited to it, and the most distinguished among the chiefs said to (p. 85) him: "Thou who meddlest in thwarting us, cast a spell to learn what has become of our men whom thy chief sent into thy country to be eaten there." This savage had had secret connections with the English, in order to secure for them entrance into the beaver-trade; and he made them a present of ten packets of pelts, as a pledge for the promise that he had given them. All the allied tribes acted only by his order; he was the originator of all that was done among those peoples; and he had rendered himself so influential that whatever he required was blindly followed. In his childhood he had been carried away [from his home] as a slave.

This Frenchman whom he told to play the juggler replied that; "The Frenchmen were not in the habit of eating me; that if this man were a chief he would answer him, but he was a slave; and that it was not a dog like him with whom the Frenchman compared, he who bore one the message of one of the greatest captains who had ever been heard of." This savage replied [to the other savages: "You who are here behold the insults which I meet in your village from this man who is troubling our peace, when I am trying to maintain our common interest." All the guest began to show their discontent, and matters would perhaps have turned to the disadvantage of the Frenchman if he had not instantly found some expedient for rendering this very chief odious to them. He had been a slave of a man named Jason [sc. Talon] (of whom I have already spoken), who had been the first to go from the north to Three Rivers, the second government district in Canada, and who for all the services which he had rendered to the tribe had been chosen its head chief.

At his death he left several children, who could not maintain that (p. 81) high position because this slave, who was freed, had by his ability acquired the general esteem of all those peoples. This Frenchman, I say, began to call out in the middle of the feast: "where are thou, Talon? Where art thou, Brochet?" Another head chief replied; ĒIt was you two who ruled over tall this country; but your slave has usurped your authority and is making your children his slaves, although they ought to be the real masters. But I will sacrifice everything to maintain their rights, and Onontio will favor us; he will know how to restore them to the rank that they ought to occupy." Hardly had he spoken when the sons and relatives of those two chiefs arose, and took the Frenchman's part, uttering threats against this seditious man; and it lacked little of their reaching the utmost violence of conduct. Those young chiefs, remembering what their ancestors had been, compelled this old man to render satisfaction to the Frenchman; and the fear which they also felt of being exposed to unpleasant results constrained them to entreat the missionary fathers to adjust all these matters.

The French themselves did not know what to think of the delay of these canoes; at last they arrived, after a three months; wait. They reported that a battle had been fought at the Prairie de la Madeleine, three leagues from and opposite Montreal, against the Iroquois and the English, in which we had gained all the advantage -- it might be said that the enemy had suffered extreme injury. This news made some impression on the minds of the Outaouaks, but the Miamiís of the Saint Joseph River easily forgot what they had promised to execute against the Iroquois; they no longer thought of anything except of opening the way to the Loups, who had opened a commerce with the English. Those of Maramek (p. 82) were somewhat unsettled; they were reminded that the bow and war-club of Onotio had been delivered to them in order to attack the Iroquois and avenge their own dead.

The story of the battle at the Prairie and of the raising of the siege of Quebec [1690] by the English (who had come thither with all the forces of New England) was related to them. "Your father," it was said to them, "does not cease to labor for your peace; but you have always remained active since he undertook war against the Iroquois. The Spirit favors his arms; his enemies fear him, but he does not heed them." They were counseled to avail themselves of his aid while he was willing to favor them; and they were told that there was reason to complain of their indifference while he was sacrificing his young man. They promised to send out three hundred warriors, who would not spare either the Loups or the English. The Maskoutechs, who had seemed to have our interest so strongly at heart, gave very unsatisfactory evidence of their fidelity; they amused themselves with making raids into the lands of the Nadeuaissioux, where they carried away captive some Puans and some Ayoes who had made a settlement there, without troubling themselves whether those two tribes were their allies. The jealousy which they felt because some Frenchmen had promised to barter merchandise among the Miamiís in preference to them inspired them to send to that people ten large kettles, to warn them to distrust the Frenchmen, who were going to form a large band of Abenaquis and their [other] allies to deal a blow on the families of the Miamiís after their men had set out on the march against the Iroquois. This present put an end to all their war-parties, excepting only their chief, who went away with eighty warriors. The Outagamis, who had been very quiet, not withstanding (p. 83) the promise that they had given to join with that tribe against the common enemy, promised to do so when the Sakis, the Puans, and the Pouteouatemis should take the war-path.

For this purpose an Iroquois scalp and a gun were given to them and this speech was made to them: "Here is an Iroquois who is given to you to eat; this scalp is his head, and this gun is his body. We wish to know whether you are French or Iroquois, in order to send a word to Onontio; if you go to war we shall believe that you are French, if you do not go we shall declare you an enemy."




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