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Robert E. Warren
Historical Research and Narrative

When French explorers, fur traders, and missionaries ventured into the Illinois Country during the late 1600s, they entered a land well-populated with Native American people. The Illinois Indians, composed of a dozen affiliated tribes, were a power to be reckoned with in the central Mississippi River Valley. As members of the two societies met and interacted, they saw opportunity in one another. The French had visions of economic development and colonial expansion along the Mississippi. The Illinois sought sophisticated weapons needed to defend their villages from attacks by hostile tribes.

With these incentives, a cultural collaboration emerged that would endure for nearly a century. Both societies—native and newcomer—changed during the period of interaction. So did the cultural relationship between them. The collaboration was built on three cornerstones: economy, military, and religion. The Illinois and the French became co-dependent trade partners and military allies, while at the same time the French sought to "civilize" the Illinois by converting them to Christianity. These interactions spawned changes in other aspects of life, including technology, settlement, marriage, and population size. The effects of collaboration were uneven in the sense that the Illinois changed to a greater degree than did the French colonists. However, both societies were affected in important ways.

It is difficult to say exactly when the collaboration began. The Illinois and the French were cognizant of one another decades before they actually met. Samuel de Champlain, the explorer who has been called the "Father of New France," took baby steps toward the Illinois when he began charting the St. Lawrence River valley and the eastern Great Lakes in the early 1600s. Champlain also initiated the French fur trade. Animal skins, especially beaver, were in great demand in Europe. Champlain sent itinerant fur traders— coureurs de bois—to travel among the Indians exchanging French trade goods for pelts. When beaver populations were depleted in the St. Lawrence trapping grounds, traders sought new suppliers among the pays d'en haut or "upper-country" tribes of the Great Lakes.

In 1634 multilingual fur trader Jean Nicollet became the first Euro-American to see Lake Michigan. While visiting a Winnebago Indian village in the Green Bay region, he sought information on undocumented Indians who lived beyond that point to the west and south. Among the groups reported by Nicollet and his successors was a large nation living well south of Green Bay called "Eriniouai," "Liniouek," or "Aliniouek," names signifying the Illinois or Illiniwek Indians.

French Traders and Their American Indian Trading Partners Exchanging European Goods for Furs. Decorative detail from Map of the inhabited part of Canada, from the French surveys engraved by William Faden, 1777. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division (G1105.F22 1777).


If peace had prevailed, French contact with the Illinois might have occurred by mid-century. But contact was postponed when warfare interrupted the fur trade in the 1640s. Iroquois Indians, well armed by Dutch traders at Fort Orange (present-day Albany, New York), began attacking villages of the Huron, Erie, and other Great Lakes tribes to secure new resources when the beaver supply in their own territory became depleted. Most targets of the Iroquois were out-gunned Indian allies of the French who could not withstand the attacks. Some tribes were decimated; others fled to remote areas of the western Great Lakes. It was not until 1665, when a thousand-man French infantry regiment arrived in the St. Lawrence Valley, that prospects for peace brightened and the fur trade revived.

In that same year, fur traders established a new trading post (La Pointe) on the southwestern shore of Lake Superior among refugee villages of Huron and Ottawa Indians. Father Claude Allouez, a Jesuit priest who accompanied the fur traders, founded a mission there called St. Esprit. News of the trading post spread quickly to distant Illinois villages. The Illinois desired access to the French trade, but to get to the new post they would have to travel through hostile Sioux territory. After negotiating peace with the Sioux, the Illinois sent a delegation of eighty merchants on a thirty-day journey north to Lake Superior. It was there, in 1666, that the first known face-to-face meeting occurred between the Illinois and the French.

At La Pointe, the Illinois exchanged furs for guns, gunpowder, kettles, hatchets, and knives. They also met Father Allouez, who queried them about their homeland, their history, and their belief system. Allouez noted in his journal that the Illinois used bows and arrows in hunting and warfare but rarely muskets. He added that "these people ... used to be a populous nation, divided into ten large Villages; but now they are reduced to two, continual wars with the Nadouessi [Sioux] on one side and the Iroquois on the other having well-nigh exterminated them." The Illinois became regular visitors to La Pointe until a new post, closer to home, was established in 1670 at Green Bay. The desire for firearms and other trade goods was so strong that some Illinois settled near the new post among villages of the Mascouten and Miami tribes.

Soon the fur trade came to the Illinois. In the 1680s, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, and Henri de Tonti undertook an ambitious campaign of exploration and commerce in the Mississippi Valley. La Salle and Tonti descended

Social setting of the Illinois Indians during the Early French Colonial Period.


the Mississippi to its mouth in 1682 and claimed title to Louisiana in the name of King Louis XIV. After returning to the Illinois Country they built a center of operations, Fort St. Louis, atop a prominent sandstone cliff (Le Rocher, present Starved Rock) overlooking the Illinois River. Then they recruited a huge colony of Indians to supply them with hides and furs. The prime village location—across the river from the fort— was reserved for the Kaskaskia, Peoria, and other Illinois tribes. Four other Algonquian-speaking tribes (Miami, Piankashaw, Wea, and Shawnee) also joined the colony and established villages in the surrounding region. At its peak, the colony comprised an estimated twenty thousand Indians. It disbanded a few years after La Salle's death in 1687. However, Tonti and others maintained forts or trading posts among the Illinois from then on.

Once the Illinois gained access to French trade goods, they became middlemen in an extensive trade network. They received hides and furs from the Osage and Missouri tribes, for example, which they passed along to the French for guns and other goods. One "currency" of the trade network was Native American slaves. Illinois warriors often brought home captives when they raided villages of the Pawnee and Quapaw tribes. Some captives were adopted by Indian families to replace family members who had died. Others became the property of whites living in Canada or in the Illinois Country. La Salle, for example, kept several slaves given to him by the Michigamea Illinois. One was a woman who had been captured from the Panneassa (Pawnee) tribe; another was a teenage boy from the Pana (Wichita?) tribe.

The military alliance between the Illinois and the French was the second cornerstone of their collaboration. Throughout the historic period the Illinois were surrounded by tribes hostile to them, including the Winnebago to the north and the Sioux to the northwest. Among their most bitter enemies were the five tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy (Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca). The Iroquois lived southeast of Lake Ontario in what is today central New York. In the 1640s, Iroquois warriors began attacking Great Lakes tribes to capture a greater share of the fur trade. Armed with muskets, they had a clear military advantage. According to Ottawa informants, the first Iroquois attack on the Illinois occurred about 1655. Although the Illinois soundly defeated that war party, they did suffer losses and most took refuge west of the Mississippi River. At the time of Jolliet and Marquette's 1673 voyage, only the Kaskaskia Illinois had returned to the Illinois valley.

The Iroquois returned to the Illinois Country in 1680, when they killed or captured more than seven hundred Tamaroa Illinois near the mouth of the Illinois River. La Salle's fur-trade colony, with power in numbers, provided a measure of protection for several years. Fort St. Louis withstood an Iroquois attack in 1684. Three years later, a force of 279 Illinois, Miami, and Shawnee warriors joined Tonti and the French Canadian army in a victorious raid on four Seneca Iroquois villages south of Lake Ontario. Eight hundred Illinois warriors set out to attack Iroquois hunting parties in 1688 and returned after killing or capturing sixty men. Then, in 1691, the Kaskaskia and Peoria tribes fought off an Iroquois war party near Fort St. Louis.

The threat of Iroquois attacks finally subsided at the end of the century, when a peace treaty was concluded between the Iroquois, the French, and their Native American allies. Representatives of six Illinois tribes traveled to Montreal to sign the treaty in 1701. However, new enemies emerged in the 1700s as the population and territory of the Illinois began to shrink. A coalition of tribes— Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, Powatatomi, and Sioux— attacked them from the north. Meanwhile, Chickasaw, Shawnee, and Quapaw warriors applied pressure from the south.

The Illinois were also drawn into military struggles between France and Great Britain in the Ohio Valley. These conflicts erupted in the French and Indian War (1754-1760), in which French and British armies fought one another with the assistance of Native American warriors. The Illinois were faithful allies of the French in these battles, while other tribes sided with the British. For example, three hundred Illinois joined the French army that defeated George Washington at Fort Necessity in 1754. In subsequent years Illinois war parties raided English troops and settlers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Despite the efforts of the Illinois warriors, Great Britain ultimately won the war and in 1763 seized control of lands east of the Mississippi River.

Religion was the third cornerstone of the Illinois-French collaboration. Traditionally, the Illinois worshiped one god (Kitchesmanetoa) above all others. This belief in a supreme deity attracted the attention of Father Allouez and other Catholic missionaries. In the singularity of Kitchesmanetoa the priests saw a parallel between their own religious beliefs and those of the Illinois, and they hoped that this similarity would make the Illinois receptive to Christianity. The principal motivation of the priests was to save souls. Another was to pacify the Indians and thereby minimize the hazards of French colonization.


Father Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit priest, founded the first mission to the Illinois (Mission of the Immaculate Conception) at a Kaskaskia Illinois village in 1675. Additional missions, one of which was affiliated with the Seminary of Foreign Missions of Quebec, were established among the Peoria, Cahokia, and other tribes as the French colony grew. Some missions were more successful than others at attracting converts. In 1707 Father Jacques Gravier reported that all but about forty of the 2,200 Indian inhabitants of the Kaskaskia village "profess the catholic faith with the greatest piety and constancy." Members of the Peoria tribe, however, often resisted the new faith and held to the traditions of their grandfathers. Despite these differences, the missions became an important communication link between French and Illinois societies.

The cultural collaboration between the Illinois and their French neighbors changed aspects of life in both societies. Some changes were thought to be beneficial and were actively pursued—at times with mixed results. Others, unforseen and unforeseeable, had devastating consequences.

Changes in technology, particularly among the Illinois, are evident in historical documents as well as in archaeological excavations at Illinois village sites. Traditional Illinois technology was well suited to an independent existence because it was based on resources that could be obtained in their natural environment. The situation changed when European trade goods were made available to them at French trading posts. Guns and gunpowder appeared to be, and perhaps were, critical to their survival. On the other hand, acceptance of firearms may have thrust the Illinois into some conflicts that were more beneficial to the French than to themselves.

Other trade goods had minimal survival value, but were adopted by the Illinois because they offered a perceived advantage over traditional objects. Brass kettles, for example, probably became desirable trade items because they were more durable and easier to carry than fragile earthen pots. Also, kettles had value even after they wore out and could no longer be used as containers. The Illinois cut up old kettles to make brass arrowheads, tinkling cones, and beads.

Settlement locations were also affected by inter-cultural collaboration. In the late 1600s and early 1700s French forts, missions, and villages were invariably established at or near large Illinois summer villages. Clustered settlement offered mutual protection and also maximized social interaction between the two societies. New settlement locations were chosen by mutual consent after considering such factors as defense and resource abundance. For example, in 1691 the French commander of Fort St. Louis met at Le Rocher with chiefs of the nearby Illinois village to consider moving. Both parties were concerned about the vulnerability of their settlements to Iroquois attack. Another problem, voiced by the Illinois, was that firewood was no longer available near their village. All agreed to relocate the entire complex downstream at Lake Pimitoui (present Peoria), where there was an abundance of game and other resources.

Clustered settlement had a predictable, but controversial, effect on marriage patterns. Many of the French habitants (settlers) who occupied multiethnic villages along the Mississippi River in the early 1700s were former coureurs de bois who wished to settle down and raise families. However, few French women of marriageable age lived in their villages. Even when French women were available, the habitants often turned their affections to Illinois women, and inter-ethnic marriages became common. Archives of the Kaskaskia parish indicate that of twenty-one infants baptized between 1701 and 1713, twenty were born to French fathers and eighteen were born to Indian mothers. Although mixed marriages were banned in 1735, they created the nucleus from which the French colony grew.

One tragic outcome of cultural collaboration in the Illinois Country was the spread of epidemic diseases. Various European diseases, unwittingly introduced by the French, caused numerous deaths among the Illinois Indians. Many children became ill and died in the winter of 1692-1693 from a disease that has not been identified. This was followed by a smallpox epidemic in 1704, a possible measles outbreak in 1714 that killed two hundred Kaskaskia Illinois, and additional smallpox epidemics in 1732 and 1756.


Together, disease and warfare caused a massive population decline. Nearly eighty percent of the Illinois population evaporated between the time of European contact and the end of the French colonial era in 1763. Meanwhile, the French colony grew slowly and steadily but evidently never attained a total population of more than two thousand people.

Cultural changes brought on by social interaction had lasting effects on the Illinois Indians as well as their French colonial neighbors. The Illinois became increasingly dependent on the French with every fur they traded and every cultural tradition they abandoned. The road to dependency was also hastened by losses of population, territory, and political power. For their part, French activities in the Illinois Country relied on the Illinois—some-times heavily—for economic and military support. The practical benefits of cultural collaboration may have decreased for the French as the size and power of the Illinois population shrank. Nevertheless, the Illinois Indians left an indelible mark on the French and their colonial history in Illinois.



Sara L. Werckle


Main Ideas

Over three hundred years ago a broken board was found deep in the North American wilderness at Fort Crevecoeur. On it were scrawled the words "nous sommes tous sauvages"—"We are all savages." The board was a remnant of an expedition launched in 1679 by Frenchmen who dreamed of founding an empire to extend across the heart of the continent. They entered the wilderness with dreams: fur traders with dreams of fortune, explorers with dreams of conquest, missionaries with dreams of converting the Native Americans to Christianity. All encountered hardships and dangers in a wild region we know today as the Midwest. The French fell victim to shipwreck, hunger, desertion, and Indian attack. Finally, they offered this cryptic surrender to the all-encompassing wilderness: "We are all savages."

It is interesting to examine how the French explorers, traders, and missionaries ventured into the Illinois Country during the late 1600s and encountered a land well-populated with the Illinois Indians—a dozen affiliated tribes who had already been looking for opportunities to interact, especially economically. While the Illinois and the French eventually became trade partners and military allies, both viewed the other's cultural practices with vivid curiosity and often disparagement.

Connections with the Curriculum

Studies exploring Native American cultural practices have become increasingly important to teaching history, especially as the stress on cultural historical studies in general has expanded and intensified. The following activities may be used in units about Native Americans in Illinois as well as in units covering the seventeenth-century French search for a northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean. It is also possible to use these lessons when examining issues of cultural variation, ethnocentrism, and cultural relativism. The activities may be appropriate for meeting the Illinois Learning Standards 15.C.4a,5b; 15.D.3a,b,c,5a; 15.E.4b,c; 16.A.3a,b,c,4a,b,c; 16.B.3a,d,4a,5b,c; 16.C.3a,b,c4a,5b,c; 16.D.3a,4,5; 16.E.a; 17.A.3a,b; 17.B.5; 17.C.3a,c,4a,b,c,5b,c; 17.D.3a,4; 18.A.3,4,5; 18.B.3a,b,4,5; 18.C.4a,5.

Teaching Level

These activities were designed for learners in grades 8-12.

Materials for Each Student

Each student will need a copy of the narrative portion of this article and a copy of the activites.

Lessons are designed according to the article's three major topics of Native American and French encounters: economic, religious and military. Activity One is a brief research activity designed to increase students' knowledge of what France was like under the Sun King, Louis XIV, who ruled from 1643-1715, the period of greatest early French activity in Illinois Country. Activity Two involves interpreting the journals of Jesuit missionaries such as Father Jacques Marquette as he and fur trader Louis Jolliet explored the river they hoped would lead to the Pacific. Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle completes this examination of seventeenth-century French interaction with Illinois Native Americans as he opened the heart of North America to France, driving a wedge between the English and Spanish possessions.

Objectives for Each Student

• Describe the political and economic background of France during the reign of Louis XIV and analyze how they were reflected in the early French exploration efforts in Illinois.

Illinois Indian of the Kaskaskia Tribe, 1796. Engraving from a sketch by General Georges-Henri-Victor Collot when he visited the Illinois Country in 1796. Courtesy of the Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield.


• Examine the French Jesuits' beliefs and evaluate their reactions to the cultural variations they encountered with the Illini Native Americans.

• Identify geographically the routes that the French explorers took when exploring the Mississippi River.

• Evaluate the French and Illinois Indians' interactions by examining artifacts that have been collected at key shared settlements.


Opening the Lesson

Ask the students to recollect briefly on paper their reactions to a totally unfamiliar situation they once experienced when they were younger. These could be shared as a class or collected and then shared anonymously by the instructor. Another possible introduction might be to ask if any of the students had ever represented a larger group in an unfamiliar setting, and if so, what their initial feelings were. What, if anything, happened to put them at ease? Suggest that the group try to project how the tension might have risen, knowing that there were representing their nation and its leader in a high-stakes competition and must not fail, even though their mission was an unknown quantity.

Developing the Lesson

The lesson opening and the narrative portion of the article will prepare the students for the activities that follow. The activities were written so that each activity can be used separately Certainly, all three activities can be done in order, depending upon subject and time constraints. After the students have read the narrative, they should be prepared to complete one or all of the activities.

Activity One: The Age of an Absolute Monarch, 1643-1715

• In small groups, briefly research (a) the French "Sun King" Louis XIV (b) the characteristics of absolutism in government (c) the impact of Louis's minister of finance Jean Baptiste Colbert's mercantilism (d) important European and New World events from 1643 to1715 outside of France, and (e) the history of the Roman Catholic monastic Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Share your findings with the class.

• Together, create a large graphic organizer that depicts how these five significant influences affected each other in France during this time period.

• Discuss how the French attitudes during this time evolved to express a feeling of pride and self-confidence, although having little preparation for unknown societies and their cultural practices.

Activity Two: Missions

• Review the Jesuit emphasis on missionary efforts that would lead to conversion to Catholicism.

• With the students discuss the fact that variations in cultural practices have both positive and negative consequences. On the positive side, cultural variations are what make different societies interesting to study. On the negative side, however, diversity gives rise to the problem of ethnocentrism. This would be a good time to remind students of the graphic organizer's conclusions from Activity One, emphasizing that absolutism leaves little room for relativism of any kind.

• Students then should read the primary sources by Jesuit Father Claude Allouez (1666-1667) and Father Jacques Marquette (1673). See their journal excerpts provided.

• Either singly or in small groups, answer the questions for Activity Two.

Activity Three: Toilsome Journey

As Father Membre wrote in 1681 after La Salle had once again achieved a major diplomatic and military triumph over France's archenemy the Iroquois, "Anyone else would have thrown up his hands and abandoned the enterprise—but far from this, with firmness and constancy that never had equal I saw him more resolved than ever to continue his work and push forward his discovery."

Yet, a later historian wrote that LaSalle "often failed in his dealing with his equals and inferiors among his countrymen, but with the Indians his arrogance and love of solitude and silence made him a hero whose advice they eagerly accepted."

Either in pairs or on your own, discuss how you could reconcile these two assessments of the explorer who on April 9,1682, had claimed the Louisiana Territory for France.

• Locate on the map the following French towns, forts, missions and portages: Fort Frontenac (now Kingston, Ontario), Sault de Conty (now Niagara Falls), Michilimackinac, St. Ignace, Ft. Chicago, Wisconsin portage, Immaculate Conception, Ft. Miamis, Ft. St. Joseph, Ft. St. Louis or Le Rocher (now Starved Rock), Ft. Crevecoeur, Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Ft. Prudhomme. What do


all of these early locations have in common? Do you think the French like La Salle were primarily looking for Native Americans, or were they surveying land to claim for Louis XIV? Why?

• Examine the artifacts that have been collected from Starved Rock, Kaskaskia, Cahokia and a later fort—Fort de Chartres—located near Kaskaskia. In addition, other findings include: shell- tempered pottery, brass beads, coiled-brass hair ornaments, a brass compass, iron ax heads, iron knives, an iron tomahawk head, French pottery sherds (some turned into necklace pendants), embossed lead baling seals, an infant's grave containing a leather necklace strung with the ten brass Jesuit rings in the picture, as well as chipped-stone arrow points, bone tools, and stone pipes. Based on these discoveries, what conclusions would you make regarding the impact of French explorers like La Salle and the Illini on each other?

Concluding the Lesson

An appropriate finish to this set of activities might be to ask if anyone, given the opportunity, would have liked to travel with Marquette and Jolliet or La Salle. Would they rather have been a Jesuit priest or a fur trader? If you had a chance to leave just one message behind after abandoning a fort for possible later discovery, what would it be? Why do you think that the unknown French explorer only left the message "We are all savages" instead of a more specific communication, like "Help!"? What would have been the difference, in roles, if any, if you were a priest or a fur trader? If such a situation were still possible today and the United States were doing the exploring, would the kinds of emissaries change? If so, how? Remember, Marquette was a Catholic monk, Jolliet was a fur trader, and La Salle was a political adventurer. To wrap up the discussion, ask students how they think these men's pursuits reflected their country and the times.

Extending the Lesson

• Increase the students' knowledge of the interactions in the period 1643 to 1715 between the French and the Illinois Country Native Americans by briefly studying the history of trade beads—a common early European trade item. A good site might be

• Another possible opportunity for research would be the impact of smallpox on the Indians. This information may be found on the same web site.

• Other usable sites might be, and

• One interesting extension would be to learn more about an ancient cliff drawing now called "the piasa bird" first seen by Marquette and Jolliet as they were moving downriver. Check out

• In small groups, create board games depicting Marquette and Jolliet's trip into Illinois Country and down the Mississippi River.

• Write a letter as if composed by either/and Marquette and Jolliet to La Salle, informing him of the situations he might expect as he makes his later journey.

• Research other explorations of America going on at the same time by other European countries. Perhaps creating and displaying a map of all exploration from 1643 to 1715 might be useful.

• More research into the conflicts between the Illini and the Iroquois would clarify the situation in which the French found themselves as they explored Illinois Country.

Assessing the Lesson

• In addition to several of the extension activities, one further effective mechanism to evaluate the historical knowledge and reasoning of students is for them to create either singly or in small groups, charts with the headings: Political, Economic, and Social. Using the narrative portion of this article for insights and information gathered as a result of this lesson, the chart, when filled in, would substantially exhibit the extent of their new-found knowledge.

Sources useful could include:

Central Illinois History, http://pjstar.Com/services/jounalistic/peoriahistory/html

The Illini Confederation: Lords of the Mississippi Valley.

The Illinois.

Legend of the Piasa Bird.

Light, Christopher. The Original People of Northwest Indiana.


Father Claude Allouez

(This Jesuit priest, young and resourceful, carried the Gospel to the south coast of Lake Superior and beyond In his letters, Father Allouez described the religious beliefs of the Native Americans he encountered He reported that their world was alive with spirits, deities and demons.)

There is a false and hateful religion, like the beliefs of some of the ancient pagans. The savages of these regions recognize no sovereign master of heaven and earth, but believe there are many spirits: some good, like the sun, moon, lake, river and woods; others evil, like the snake, dragon, cold and storms. Whatever seems helpful or hurtful, they call a manitou, and pay it the worship that we render only to the true God . . .

I have seen an idol set up in the middle of a village. Among other gifts, the savages sacrificed ten dogs to it, so that this false god would send away a disease that was killing the people. Everyone went daily to make offerings to the idol. Besides public sacrifices, they have some that are private. Often in their lodges, they throw tobacco into the fire, as an offering to their false gods. During storms and tempests, they sacrifice a dog by throwing it into the lake. "This is to calm you," they say to the lake. "Keep quiet." At dangerous places in the rivers, they pacify the eddies and rapids by offering them gifts. They are convinced that they honor their false gods by this external worship, and those who are converted to Christianity observe these same rituals to the one true God.

As these people are of gross nature, they recognize no purely spiritual god ... They believe the souls of the dead rule the fishes of the lake. From earliest times they have believed in the immortality and reincarnation of the souls of dead fishes. . . They never throw fish bones into the fire, for fear they might offend the souls, and the fish will no longer enter their nets . . . Who would think that people could believe such absurd stories? Yet they regard them as true beyond dispute. They fast in honor of their ridiculous spirits, to learn some future outcome. I have seen men, planning for war or the hunt, pass a whole week eating nothing . . . They will not stop until they see in a dream that which they desire—not very difficult for an empty brain, exhausted from hunger. . .

They believe evil little spirits cause illness . . . they say a manitou has entered a part of the body and must be drawn or driven out. The most common remedy is to summon the sorcerer, who consults with the old men regarding the ailment. He then puts his mouth to the diseased part and, by sucking, pretends to draw something from it. This may be a pebble, a bit of string, or something else which he has put into his mouth beforehand. He shows this object, saying, "There is the manitou. Now you are cured. It only remains to give a feast."

A young man was seized by a contagious disease, prevalent at the end of winter. He was an important man, so no kind of jugglery was spared for his cure. The sorcerer came to tell me that he had drawn from the sick man's body two dogs' teeth. I told him, "That is not what causes his illness. Rather, it is the tainted blood in his body.". . . The next day I baptized him in the name of St. Ignace, hoping the great saint would confound the evil spirit and the sorcerer. Indeed, I bled him, and showing the blood to the sorcerer I said, "Here is what is killing this sick man. You should have drawn from him every drop of this corrupt blood, and not some alleged dog's teeth.". . . This man was not forsaken by his patron, St. Ignace, who restored him to life and confounded the superstitions of those infidels."


Great River
Father Jacques Marquette

(Indians who visited Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior in 1670 told Jesuit Father Jacques Marquette about a mighty river flowing south through the wilderness. Marquette wrote, "It runs so far to the south that the Illinois have not heard of its mouth. It is hardly credible that this large river empties at Virginia, and we rather believe that it has its mouth in California. If the savages make me a canoe, we shall travel on this river as far as possible." In 1673 Father Marquette joined the expedition of explorer Louis Jol(/)iet, to discover the river the Indians called "Mississippi," or Great River.)

I put our voyage under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Immaculate, promising her that if she did us the grace to discover the great river, I would give it the name "Conception." With these precautions, we made our paddles play merrily over the Lake of the Illinois (Lake Michigan).

(The Menominees on the Menominee River) said I would meet nations that never spare strangers,. . . that the Great River is very dangerous, full of frightful monsters who swallow up men and canoes together; that there is even a demon there who can be heard from afar, who engulfs all who dare approach; and that the heat is so great in those countries that it would cause our death.

I thanked them for their kind advice, but assured them I could not follow it, because the salvation of souls was at stake. I said that for those souls, I would be too happy to lay down my life. . . .

(After encountering Illinois Indians on the banks of either the Iowa River or Des Moines River and again hearing warnings about great dangers ahead, Marquette responds). . . I replied that I did not fear death, and that I regarded no happiness greater than that of losing my life for the glory of God. This they could not understand . . .

When they say "Illinois," it means "the men," as if other savages are merely animals . . . They go to capture slaves in the west. They sell these slaves to other nations at a high price in exchange for wares ...

Nothing among the Illinois is more mysterious or more esteemed than the sacred pipe. They honor it more than Europeans honor the crowns and scepters of kings . . . The pipe dance is famous among these people. A place of honor is made for the god of a person who gives the dance, which they call a manitou. (The dance) is done so well, with slow and measured steps to the cadence of voices and drums, that it might pass for the opening of a very fine ballet in France.


Activity Two: Questions

The French were few in number and different in character. They came to Illinois Country for power, wealth, land, freedom, or to convert the area Native Americans to Christianity. Answer the following questions to help reveal the varying attitudes of the Jesuits who first ventured into the Midwest.

1. The writings in this activity are just portions of longer journals both men kept. What would be the reasons that explorer priests wrote their observations?

2. Based on these journal sections, in what ways were these two men the same? How were they different?

3. Explain how you think their attitudes might have shaped later French travelers to Illinois Country.

4. Their impressions of manitou were somewhat different. What was Allouez's perception compared to that of Marquette? What might be some reasons their conjectures differed?

5. What is ethnocentrism? In what ways did both Allouez and Marquette display this trait? Based on their own European background, why weren't they more open-minded toward the Illinois Indians' cultural variations?


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