THE OHIO VALLEY-GREAT LAKES ETHNOHISTORY
ARCHIVES: THE MIAMI COLLECTION
It is noted that the following work from the Miami Archives should be read and considered within the historical context in which it was composed and printed. The opinions expressed and the language used do not reflect the opinions or standards of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, but are, rather, indicative of thought in that historical moment during which the document was published.
Vol. I, pp. 310-320.
We then continued our route to the Miami country. . . We met an (page 311) Indian who, as we afterwards found, had been despatched by Pondiac with belts from the Shawanese and Delawares; but he would not stop to talk to us.
[These belts going to western tribes Miamis, Ottawas, etc.]
On our arrival at the fort, the chiefs assembled, and passed me by, when they presented the pipe of friendship; on which I looked at Godfroi, and said: "Mauvais augure pour moi." A bad omen for me. Nor was I mistaken; for they led my Indians to the village, on the other side of the water, and told me to stay in the fort with the French inhabitants; though care had been taken to forbid them to receive me into their houses, and some strings of wampum, on which the French had spoken to spare my life, had been refuted. We wondered at this treatment, as we expected that I should be civilly received; but soon earned that this change of temper was owing to the Shawanese and Delawares, a deputation of fifteen of them having come there with fourteen belts and six strings of wampum; who, in the name of their nations, and of the Senecas, declared they would perish to a man before they would make peace with the English: seven of them had returned to their villages; five were gone to Wyaut (Ouiatonon); and three had set out the morning I had arrived for St. Joseph, (a fortunate circumstance for me, for they had determined to kill me). The Shawanese and Delawares begged of the Miamis either to put (page 314) us to death (the Indians and myself) or to tie us and send us prisoners to their villages, or at least to make us return. They loaded the English with the Heaviest reproaches; and added, that while the sun shone they would be at enmity with us. The Kiccapoos, Mascoutins, and Wiatanons, who happened to be at the Miamis village declared, that they would dispatch me at their villages, if the Miamis should let me pass. The Shawanese and Delawares concluded their speeches with saying: "This is the last belt we shall send you, till we fend the hatchet; which will be about the end of next month (October)." Doubtless their design was to amuse General Bradstreet with fair language, to cut off his army at Sandusky, when least expected, and then to send the hatchet to the nations: a plan well laid; but of which it was my good fortune to prevent them from attempting the execution.
. . . my thoughts were taken up during this day's journey in admiring the fine policy of the French with respect to the Indian nations; of which, from among a thousand, I shall select two remarkable instances, which I mention as not only worthy of imitation, but to wear out the minds of such of my countrymen as have good sends and humanity the prejudices conceived against the innocent, much-abused, and once happy people; who have as deep a sense of justice and benevolence of the French, as of the wrongs and haughty treatment which they have received from their present masters. The first of these is the encouragement given by the French court betwixt its subjects and Indian women; by which means Lewis got admission into their councils, and all their designs were known from their very birth. Add to this, that the French so entirely won their affections by this step, that to this hour the (page 319) savages say, that the French and they are one people. The next instance is, prohibiting the sale of spirituous liquors to the Indians, under pain of not receiving absolution: it is what the French call a cas reserve; none but a bishop can absolve a person guilty of its. This prevented many mischiefs too frequent among the unfortunate tribes of savages, who had fallen to our lot. From drunkeness arise quarrels, murders, and what not? for there is nothing, however shocking or abominable, that the most innocent of that innocent people are not madly bent on when drunk. From imposing on the drunken Indian in trade, abusing his drunken wife, daughter, or other female relation, and other such scandalous practices arise greater evils. When such things are done (and they are done) can we wonder that the Indians seek revenge? The ill conduct of a few dissolute pedlars has often cost the lives of thousands of his Majesty's most industrious subjects, who were just emerging from the gloom of toil and want, to the fair prospect of ease and contentment.
The following day, while we were shooting at some turkeys we discovered the cabins of a hunting party on the opposite side of the Miamis river; the men were in the woods; but a squaw came over to us, who proved to be the wife of the little chief. Godefroi told her that I was gone to the Illinois country with her son. She informed us that the Indians were returned from Detroit; and added that there were four hundred Delawares and three hundred Shawanese (as she had been told) at the Uttawaw villages, who wanted to go and set fire to that place. We were sure that this piece of news about the Shawanese and Delawares was false, as the Uttawaws themselves wanted provisions: but my Indians believed it, and it served to bring them over at once to my way of thinking, which was to pass through the woods, and avoid the villages of the Uttawwas.
Return to TOC, p. 17
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