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[ Introduction ] [ Part 1 ] [Part 2 ] [Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ]
[ Part 6 ] [ Part 7 ] [ Part 8 ] [ Part 9 ] [ Part 10 ]
HOW THE ILINOIS RECEIVED THE FATHER IN THEIR VILIAGE.
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 Strangin. 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, 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 Se& Sy the second, I announced to them that God, who bad Created them, had pity on Them, inasmuch as, after they had so long been ignorant of him, he 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, 0 frenchman, "addressing himself to Monsieur Jolyet,---." 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 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 Tegarded 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 sagamit6,that is to say, meal of indian com boiled in water, and seasoned with fat. The Master of Ceremonies filled a Spoon with sagamit6 three or 4 times, and put it to my mouth As if I were a little Child. He did The same to Monsieur Jolyet. As a second course, he caused a second platter to be breught, on which were three fish. He took som, 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 thev 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 pomm. 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 6oo 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.