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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 ]
RECEPTION GIVEN TO THE FRENCH IN THE LAST VILLAGE WHICH THEY SAW.
THE MANNERS AND CUSTOMS OF THOSE SAVAGES.
REASONS FOR NOT GOING FARTHER.
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,'* 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 sagamit6, 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 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 brought to us in large wooden platters, consisting sometimes of sagamith, 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 earthern 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 crnaments 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, we L,ong and Wide; they sleep at the two ends, whiah 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 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 3 1 degrees 6o minutes, while we were at 33 degrees 4o 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 Ring 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 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.