« AnteriorContinuar »
into the interior in the year 1728,) an armament, consisting of four hundred French, with eight hundred of their native allies, against a nation called the Fox Indians; and in order, no doubt, that their enemies might be converted as well as conquered, Father Crespel and Bertonière, assisted by another priest, were attached to the expedition. The report which Crespel has given of this crusade against the Infidels is a curious one.
After a march, or voyage, of no less than four hundred leagues, they reached the country of their enemies, having achieved nothing of importance in their route, unless it was the surprising a village of the Saukies, (allies of the Fox Indians,) four of whom were taken prisoners by the French ; and, being presented by them to their Indian confederates, were put to death with the most cruel torments.
“ After this little coup-de-main,” says Père Crespel, we ascended the Fox river, and arrived at a village (of the Winnebagos), well disposed to destroy all the inhabitants whom we might discover ; but they had fled. We could therefore only burn their cabins to the ground, and destroy all their Indian corn, the food upon which they principally subsist. Next day, being the Fête of St. Louis, after mass, we entered a little river, on the border of which was situated the principal residence of the nation we were in quest of. Their allies, the Saukies, had, no doubt, given them information of our approach:
they did not choose to wait our arrival, and we only found in their village some women, whom our Indians made captives; and an old man, whom they burnt alive at a slow fire.”
Crespel then proceeds to detail the arguments he urged, at full length, to the savages, through an interpreter, against these barbarous proceedings. One of the Indians, in justification of himself and his comrades, replied that when they fell into the hands of their enemies, they were always treated in the same manner, and that it was their immemorial custom to conduct themselves towards their foe as he behaved towards them. “ I wished much, continued Crespel, “to have known the language of the Indian who gave this reply, in order to have exposed to him the weakness and fallacy of his
I was under the necessity of having it represented to him, that nature and religion required of us to be humane to one another; that moderation should guide us in every thing; and, that to forgive and forget the evils which are done to us was a virtue expressly ordained by Heaven.
“I do not know,” adds the missionary, “if my interpreter explained properly all that I said, but these Indians would not allow that they were acting upon a false principle: I therefore was going to urge some further arguments, when orders were issued that we should immediately march towards the last fort of our enemies, situated in a small river
that runs into the Wisconsing. Here we found nobody; and as we had not been ordered to advance any further, we employed some time in entirely ruining the crops, that the Indians might be starved. This is a fine country, and the land fertile. After this expedition-if we can give that name to a measure which was absolutely uselesswe set out to return to Montreal.” * the modes adopted by the French in Canada, in order to convert and civilize the Indians of North America.
Voyage du Père Crespel au Nouveau Monde, p. 21.
TREACHEROUS CONDUCT OF THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT WITH REGARD TO THE INDIAN NATIONS
ABSURD ACCOUNTS OF THE JESUIT MISSIONARIES, RELATIVE TO THEIR SUCCESS IN CONVERTING THE HEATHEN.
In defence of one branch of the injudicious policy adopted with respect to the Indians by the government of New France, it has often been alleged that, to secure their support in time of war, it was requisite for the French to shut their eyes, as much as possible, to the sanguinary cruelties of their Indian allies.
This excuse might in some degree be admitted, had the wars which France waged with the Indians been necessary, and had Indian alliances been indispensable in carrying them on.
But this by no means appears to have been the case ; and the French, as we have seen, were not satisfied with permitting the barbarous acts of their Indian confederates to pass unrestrained, but they even copied those barbarities themselves. The result of this system might have been anticipated, and it evidently operated to the serious disadvantage of the Europeans in all their subsequent proceedings. The sagacity of the Indians, in penetrating into the character, as well as appreciating the conduct, of the adventurers from Europe, and their boldness in declaring their opinions regarding thein, has often been noticed in the early North American annals. The celebrated instance of it which is recorded as having occurred in the conference held on the shores of Lake Ontario, between Monsieur de la Barre, the governor-general of Canada, and some of the Iroquois, may be noticed.
In the year 1684, De la Barre resolving, like several other governors of New France, to annihilate the Five Nations, marched a large force into the interior, at a time when that people were at peace with the French. Before he had reached Fort Cadarackui,* a dangerous sickvess had broken out in his army, in consequence chiefly of want of provisions. This circumstance totally frustrated his operations. His next object was to obtain a conference with some of the Iroquois chiefs, imagining that they were entirely ignorant of his plans, and would willingly enter into any arrangement he might propose to them. He accordingly crossed over the lake with a guard and party of officers ; and having sent Le Moine, a French missionary, into the country of the Onondagas, in order to prevail upon some of their sachems to meet him, he remained in his camp until Le Moine's return.
* Cadarackui, on Lake Ontario, vamed by the French Fort Frontenac, now Kingston in Upper Canada.