Part 1: Pre- and Early Colonial Literature
1.1 LEARNING OUTCOMES
After reading this chapter, students will be able to
- Categorize the types of Native American tales and their contribution to their respective tribes’ cultures.
- Identify significant tropes and motifs of movement in Native American creation stories.
- Identify the cultural characteristics of Native American creation, trickster, and first contact stories distinct from European cultural characteristics.
- Identify elements of trickster stories.
- Understand how the search for the Westward passage to Asia led to the European discovery of the Americas.
- Understand how the search for commodities led to territorial appropriation of North American land by various European countries.
- Understand the role religion played in European settlement in North America.
- Understand how their intended audience and purpose affected the content and tone of European exploration accounts.
1.2.1 Native American Accounts
It is well to bear in mind that the selections here should not be understood as representative of Native American culture as a whole. There are thousands of different Native American tribes, all with distinct practices. It would not be possible in the space of a typical anthology to represent just the tribes with whom the colonists had the most contact during the early years of European settlement, or even to say with any precision exactly how many tribes the colonists did interact with since European colonists were often unable to distinguish among different tribes. Additionally, we must realize that these works come to us with omissions and mediations. Many Native American tales are performative as well as oral—the meanings of the words supplemented by expressions, movements, and shared cultural assumptions—and so the words alone do not represent their full significance. That being said, the examples of Native American accounts that follow give us some starting points to consider the different ways in which cultures explain themselves to themselves.
First among a culture’s stories are the tales of how the earth was created and how its geographical features and peoples came to be. The Native American creation stories collected here demonstrate two significant tropes within Native American creation stories: the Earth Diver story and the Emergence story. Earth Diver stories often begin with a pregnant female falling from a sky world into a watery world, such as the ones here from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people of the eastern United States and from the Cherokee people from the southern United States. Various animals then work together to create dry land so that the woman may give birth there, starting the process of creating the familiar world and its population. With Emergence stories, here represented by the Zuni creation story, animals and people emerge from within the earth, a distinction from the Earth Diver story that is likely connected to the topography familiar to this tribe from the southwestern United States. Creation stories feature a “culture hero,” an extraordinary being who is instrumental in shaping the world in its current form. Other examples in addition to the works here are the Wampanoag culture hero Moshup or Maushop, a giant who shared his meals of whale with the tribe and created the island of Nantucket out of tobacco ash, and Masaw, the Hopi skeleton man and Lord of the Dead who helped the tribe by teaching them agriculture in life and caring for them in death. Some creation tales show similarities to Judeo‑Christian theology and suggest parallel development or European influence, quite possible since many of these stories were not put into writing until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Some Native American creation tales show motifs of movement from chaos to duality to order and beings of creation and destruction paired together, themes also found in European accounts of creation. However, these tales feature significant differences to the European way of understanding the world. These tales often show the birth of the land and of the people as either contemporaneous events, as with the Earth Diver stories, or as the former figuratively birthing the latter, as with the Emergence stories. This suggests the context for some tribes’ beliefs in the essentialness of land to tribal and personal identity. As Paula Gunn Allen (Laguna Pueblo) asserts in The Sacred Hoop (1986), “The land is not really the place (separate from ourselves) where we act out the drama of our isolate destinies . . . It is rather a part of our being, dynamic, significant, real.” In addition, Native American creation tales often depict the relationship between man and animals in ways sharply different from European assumptions. In the Haudenosaunee tale and many other Earth Diver tales like it, animals and cultural heroes create the earth and its distinctive features collaboratively.
Like creation stories, Native American trickster stories fulfill an explanatory function about the world; they also explain why social codes exist and why they are needed. The trickster character—often represented as an animal such as a coyote, a raven, or a hare—is a figure of scatological humor, frequently focused on fulfilling and over‑fulfilling physical needs to the detriment of those around him. However, above all things the trickster represents fluid boundaries. The trickster can shift between sexes, interacts with both humans and animals, rarely settles down for any period of time, and is crafty and foolish at the same time. Furthermore, the Trickster transgresses what is socially acceptable and often what is physically possible. In one of the best known trickster cycle, that of the Winnebago tribe originating in the Wisconsin region, the trickster Wakdjunkaga has a detachable penis that can act autonomously and sometimes resides in a box. These tales entertain but also function as guides to acceptable social behavior. Through the mishaps the trickster causes and the mishaps s/he suffers, the trickster tends to reinforce social boundaries as much as s/he challenges them and also can function as a culture hero. Much like the culture heroes described previously, the Winnebago trickster Wakdjunkaga also benefits the tribe. In the last tale of the cycle, s/he makes the Mississippi River Valley safe for occupation by killing malevolent spirits and moving a waterfall.
As is apparent in both the creation stories and the Trickster stories, Native American cultures did not differentiate between animal behavior and human behavior to the extent that Europeans did. While the European concept of the Great Chain of Being established animals as inferior to humans and the Bible was understood to grant man dominion over the animals, the Native American stories to follow suggest a sense of equality with the animals and the rest of nature. Animals contributed to the creation of the world upon which humans live, were able to communicate with humans until they chose not to, and followed (or refused to follow) the same social codes as humans, such as meeting in councils to discuss problems as a group and agreeing together on a course of action. Nonetheless, like with the laxative bulb story, there is tension between the helpful and harmful aspects of nature, and these works teach the lesson that nature must be given due respect lest one lose its benefits and suffer its anger.
“In fourteen hundred ninety‑two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”: the European perspective on the first contact between Native peoples and European explorers has been taught to Americans from pre‑school onward, but the Native American perspective on these events is less familiar. Just like their counterparts, Native American depictions of first contact with European explorers situated them within their accustomed natural, spiritual, and social contexts. The explorers’ large ships were interpreted as whales, houses, or islands; their paler complexions were a sign of illness or divinity. The gifts or drinks offered by the strangers are accepted out of politeness and social custom, not naiveté or superstition. As these tales were recorded with hindsight, they often ruefully trace how these explorers and colonists disingenuously relied on the natives’ help while appropriating more and more land to themselves and their introduction of alcohol and European commodities into native culture.
1.2.2 European Exploration Accounts
Spain, the first European country to establish a significant foothold in the Americas in the fifteenth century, was not looking for previously unknown lands at all. It was looking for a westward passage to Asia. Earlier in the century, the Ottoman Empire had captured Constantinople and after that point, controlled the territory through which the traditional land‑based trade routes to China and India ran, effectively giving the Ottoman Empire a monopoly on trade between Europe and Asia. Spain, like other European nations, looked for a solution by seeking a westward route. Spain at that time did not exist as a unified nation but rather was a collection of kingdoms, sometimes collaborating but more often competing with each other. The move toward nationhood began when King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile married in 1469 and unified two of the more powerful Iberian kingdoms. To consolidate their economic and regional power, these monarchs were very interested in securing trade routes for the very lucrative commodities coming from the east. Additional motivation came from a powerful rival within the same peninsula. Portugal had already circumnavigated Africa and looked poised to discover that westward passage. Those influences encouraged King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to support Christopher Columbus’ proposal of finding a western route. Unaware that a landmass intervened between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and miscalculating the distance between western Europe and eastern Asia, Columbus thought he had succeeded in his quest when he landed on islands in the Caribbean. He hadn’t, but Spain discovered that the New World had desirable commodities too, namely gold and silver mines that funded Spain’s empire‑building aspirations.
Just as the powerful European nations fought for supremacy within the confines of the European continent, they also grappled over territory in the Americas. Like Spain, other European countries sought new trade routes and, failing that, coveted the new land as a source of commodities such as precious metals, fur, timber, and agricultural products and as an extension of their empires. Spain primarily explored and appropriated areas in South and Central America and in the southeastern and southwestern parts of North America. Holland has the smallest territory for the briefest amount of time in the Americas, controlling the Hudson River Valley from New York City to Albany as well as the western tip of Long Island for little more than fifty years before losing it to the English in 1664 as part of the settlement of the Second Anglo‑Dutch War. The French territories concentrated primarily in the Canadian areas of Newfoundland to Quebec as well as around the Great Lakes and a large swath of land in the midsection of the country from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River delta. England, one of the last major European powers to create settlements in North America, ultimately ended up having the largest and most lasting colonial reach, starting with their first permanent settlement in Jamestown in 1608, and expanding along the eastern seaboard where they frequently clashed with Spanish territories to the south and Dutch and French territories to the north and west. A small and densely populated island with a system of primogeniture which increasingly invested land in fewer and fewer hands, England was the European country most in need of agricultural settlements in North America. In addition to supplying food and goods to a mother country, it provided land for younger sons and those without prospects at home as well as a convenient place to send unruly groups within the population.
The relationship between imperialism and the spread of religion in the new world was first cemented during Spanish exploration. In a 1493 papal bull, Pope Alexander VI granted Ferdinand and Isabella and their heirs the right to any lands they “discovered towards the west and south” of a demarcation line that was not already in the possession of a Christian monarch so that “the Catholic faith and the Christian religion [would] be exalted and be everywhere increased and spread.” Like the Spanish, French explorers were also accompanied by missionaries to convert North American natives to Catholicism, though they did so with less fervor and less coercion than their co‑religionists from Spain. Dutch explorers showed little interest in converting the natives, as Holland had a policy of religious toleration during the time in which it colonized North America. The Church of England had already seceded from the authority of the Catholic Church by the time Jamestown was established, and though the charter from King James emphasized the motive of spreading the Christian faith and church attendance was mandatory in Jamestown’s early years, more energy was put into survival and trade than into proselytizing the natives. It was the later colonies founded by Separatists and Puritans that came to the new world with the primary intention of spreading the beliefs of their denominations.
The initial function of the exploration accounts to follow in this section was to report back to the governments and organizations that funded the expeditions. However, the invention of the Gutenberg press with its movable type and increased productivity meant that these accounts could be more easily printed and more widely disseminated. Speaking to a wider audience, these accounts fulfilled other purposes as well. They served as written records of a nation’s claim to a territory, as tales of exotic lands and thrilling adventure, and as testimonials to lure more people into investing in and emigrating to these fledgling colonies.
1.3 NATIVE AMERICAN
The selections of this section come from six tribes whose home‑ lands cover the majority of the United States’ eastern seaboard as well as regions in the midwest and southwest. The Micmac or Mi’kmaq tribe belonged to the Wabanaki Confederacy and occupied a region in southeastern Canada’s maritime provinces as well as parts of New York and New Jersey. One of the oldest political entities in the new world, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy were called the Iroquois by the French and the Five Nations by the English. The latter refers to the five tribes that made up the confederacy: the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca tribes. The name was changed to Six Nations when the Tuscarora tribe joined in the eighteenth century. Their territory covered the majority of New York with some inroads in southern Canada and northern Pennsylvania. Called the Delaware by Europeans, the Lenape tribe’s territory included what became New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, southeastern New York, northern Delaware, and a bit of southern Connecticut. The Cherokee tribe occupied the southeastern United States as far north as Kentucky and Virginia and as far south as Georgia and Alabama. The Winnebago, or the Ho‑chunks, lived in Wisconsin. Finally, the Zuni or the A:shimi were descendants of the ancient Anasazi and Mogollon cultures of the southwestern United States and occupied the area called New Mexico.
Image 1.1 | Flag of the Wabanaki Confederacy
Artist | User “GrahamSlam”
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | CC BY-SA 4.0
Missionaries and ethnologists were some of the first collectors of Native American tales. The missionaries often learned Native American languages and customs as a way to better proselytize the tribes, and some became at least as interested in these studies as in their religious missions. Moravian missionary John Heckewelder recorded the Lenape account of first contact before the American Revolution and published it early in the next century as part of the transactions of the American Philosophical Society, an outgrowth of the Federal era’s zeal for knowledge and scientific study. Baptist missionary Silas Rand ministered to the Micmac tribe and recorded the first contact story told to him by Micmac man Josiah Jeremy. A self‑taught linguist, Rand also published a Micmac dictionary. Toward the latter half of the nineteenth century, the developing field of ethnology—the analytic study of a culture’s customs, religious practices, and social structures—fueled the study of Native American culture. The Cherokee accounts recorded by James Mooney and the Zuni accounts recorded by Ruth Bunzel were first published as part of the annual reports produced by the Bureau of American Ethnology, a federal office in existence from 1879 to 1965 that authorized ethnological studies of tribes throughout America. Paul Radin—like Bunzel, a student of cultural anthropology pioneer Franz Boas—did his fieldwork for his doctorate among the Winnebago and there recorded the tribe’s trickster tales. While many of the accounts come from outsiders embedded for a time within tribes, some accounts were recorded by tribe members themselves. Though previously recounted by others, the Haudenosaunee creation story here is from Tuscarora tribal member David Cusick. A physician and artist, Cusick was one of the first Native American writers to preserve tribal history in his Sketches of the Ancient History of the Six Nations (1826). The Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address comes from University of Victoria professor Gerald Taiaiake Alfred, a member of the Kahnawake (Mohawk) tribe. Alfred has published several works about Native American culture in the early 21st century.
Image 1.2 | Wampum Belt Commemorating the Iroquis Confederacy
Artist | Unknown
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
1.3.1 Creation Story (Haudenosaunee (Iroquois))
In the great past, deep water covered all the earth. The air was filled with birds, and great monsters were in possession of the waters, when a beautiful woman was seen by them falling from the sky. Then huge ducks gathered in council and resolved to meet this wonderful creature and break the force of her fall. So they arose, and, with pinion overlapping pinion, unitedly received the dusky burden. Then the monsters of the deep also gathered in council to decide which should hold this celestial being and protect her from the terrors of the water, but none was able except a giant tortoise, who volunteered to endure this lasting weight upon his back. There she was gently placed, while he, constantly increasing in size, soon became a large island. Twin boys were after a time brought forth by the woman—one the spirit of good, who made all good things, and caused the maize, fruit, and tobacco to grow; the other the spirit of evil, who created the weeds and all vermin. Ever the world was increasing in size, although occasional quakings were felt, caused by the efforts of the monster tortoise to stretch out, or by the contraction of his muscles.
After the lapse of ages from the time of his general creation Ta‑rhuⁿ‑hiă‑wăh‑kuⁿ, the Sky Holder, resolved upon a special creation of a race which should surpass all others in beauty, strength, and bravery; so from the bosom of the great island, where they had previously subsisted upon moles, Ta‑rhuⁿ‑hiă‑wăh‑kuⁿ brought out the six pairs, which were destined to become the greatest of all people.
The Tuscaroras tell us that the first pair were left near a great river, now called the Mohawk. The second family were directed to make their home by the side of a big stone. Their descendants have been termed the Oneidas. Another pair were left on a high hill, and have ever been called the Onondagas. Thus each pair was left with careful instructions in different parts of what is now known as the State of New York, except the Tuscaroras, who were taken up the Roanoke River into North Carolina, where Ta‑rhuⁿ‑hiă‑wăh‑kuⁿ also took up his abode, teaching them many useful arts before his departure. This, say they, accounts for the superiority of the Tuscaroras. But each of the six tribes will tell you that his own was the favored one with whom Sky Holder made his terrestrial home, while the Onondagas claim that their possession of the council fire prove them to have been the chosen people.
Later, as the numerous families became scattered over the State, some lived in localities where the bear was the principal game, and were called from that circumstance the clan of the Bear. Others lived where the beavers were trapped, and they were called the Beaver clan. For similar reasons the Snipe, Deer, Wolf, Tortoise, and Eel clans received their appellations.
1.3.2 How the World Was Made (Cherokee)
The earth is a great floating island in a sea of water. At each of the four corners there is a cord hanging down from the sky. The sky is of solid rock. When the world grows old and worn out, the cords will break, and then the earth will sink down into the ocean. Everything will be water again. All the people will be dead. The Indians are much afraid of this.
In the long time ago, when everything was all water, all the animals lived up above in Galun’lati, beyond the stone arch that made the sky. But it was very much crowded. All the animals wanted more room. The animals began to wonder what was below the water and at last Beaver’s grandchild, little Water Beetle, offered to go and find out. Water Beetle darted in every direction over the surface of the water, but it could find no place to rest. There was no land at all. Then Water Beetle dived to the bottom of the water and brought up some soft mud. This began to grow and to spread out on every side until it became the island which we call the earth. Afterwards this earth was fastened to the sky with four cords, but no one remembers who did this.
At first the earth was flat and soft and wet. The animals were anxious to get down, and they sent out different birds to see if it was yet dry, but there was no place to alight; so the birds came back to Galun’lati. Then at last it seemed to be time again, so they sent out Buzzard; they told him to go and make ready for them. This was the Great Buzzard, the father of all the buzzards we see now. He flew all over the earth, low down near the ground, and it was still soft. When he reached the Cherokee country, he was very tired; his wings began to flap and strike the ground. Wherever they struck the earth there was a valley; whenever the wings turned upwards again, there was a mountain. When the animals above saw this, they were afraid that the whole world would be mountains, so they called him back, but the Cherokee country remains full of mountains to this day. [This was the original home, in North Carolina.]
When the earth was dry and the animals came down, it was still dark. Therefore they got the sun and set it in a track to go every day across the island from east to west, just overhead. It was too hot this way. Red Crawfish had his shell scorched a bright red, so that his meat was spoiled. Therefore the Cherokees do not eat it.
Then the medicine men raised the sun a handsbreadth in the air, but it was still too hot. They raised it another time; and then another time; at last they had raised it seven handsbreadths so that it was just under the sky arch. Then it was right and they left it so. That is why the medicine men called the high place “the seventh height.” Every day the sun goes along under this arch on the under side; it returns at night on the upper side of the arch to its starting place.
There is another world under this earth. It is like this one in every way. The animals, the plants, and the people are the same, but the seasons are different. The streams that come down from the mountains are the trails by which we reach this underworld. The springs at their head are the doorways by which we enter it. But in order to enter the other world, one must fast and then go to the water, and have one of the underground people for a guide. We know that the seasons in the underground world are different, because the water in the spring is always warmer in winter than the air in this world; and in summer the water is cooler.
We do not know who made the first plants and animals. But when they were first made, they were told to watch and keep awake for seven nights. This is the way young men do now when they fast and pray to their medicine. They tried to do this. The first night, nearly all the animals stayed awake. The next night several of them dropped asleep. The third night still more went to sleep. At last, on the seventh night, only the owl, the panther, and one or two more were still awake. Therefore, to these were given the power to see in the dark, to go about as if it were day, and to kill and eat the birds and animals which must sleep during the night.
Even some of the trees went to sleep. Only the cedar, the pine, the spruce, the holly, and the laurel were awake all seven nights. Therefore they are always green. They are also sacred trees. But to the other trees it was said, “Because you did not stay awake, therefore you shall lose your hair every winter.”
After the plants and the animals, men began to come to the earth. At first there was only one man and one woman. He hit her with a fish. In seven days a little child came down to the earth. So people came to the earth. They came so rapidly that for a time it seemed as though the earth could not hold them all.
1.3.3 Talk Concerning the First Beginning (Zuni)
Yes, indeed. In this world there was no one at all. Always the sun came up; always he went in. No one in the morning gave him sacred meal; no one gave him prayer sticks; it was very lonely. He said to his two children: “You will go into the fourth womb. Your fathers, your mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests, society ̂pekwins, society bow priests, you will bring out yonder into the light of your sun father.” Thus he said to them. They said, “But how shall we go in?” “That will be all right.” Laying their lightning arrow across their rainbow bow, they drew it. Drawing it and shooting down, they entered.
When they entered the fourth womb it was dark inside. They could not distinguish anything. They said, “Which way will it be best to go?” They went toward the west. They met someone face to face. They said, “Whence come you?” “I come from over this way to the west.” “What are you doing going around?” “I am going around to look at my crops. Where do you live?” “No, we do not live any place. There above our father the Sun, priest, made us come in. We have come in,” they said. “Indeed,” the younger brother said. “Come, let us see,” he said. They laid down their bow. Putting underneath some dry brush and some dry grass that was lying about, and putting the bow on top, they kindled fire by hand. When they had kindled the fire, light came out from the coals. As it came out, they blew on it and it caught fire. Aglow! It is growing light. “Ouch! What have you there?” he said. He fell down crouching. He had a slimy horn, slimy tail, he was slimy allover, with webbed hands. The elder brother said, “Poor thing! Put out the light.” Saying thus, he put out the light. The youth said, “Oh dear, what have you there?” “Why, we have fire,” they said. “Well, what (crops) do you have coming up?” “Yes, here are our things coming up.” Thus he said. He was going around looking after wild grasses.
He said to them, “Well, now, let us go.” They went toward the west, the two leading. There the people were sitting close together. They questioned one another. Thus they said, “Well, now, you two, speak. I think there is something to say. It will not be too long a talk. If you lotus know that we shall always remember it.” “That is so, that is so,” they said. “Yes, indeed, it is true. There above is our father, Sun. No one ever gives him prayer sticks; no one ever gives him sacred meal; no one ever gives him shells. Because it is thus we have come to you, in order that you may go out standing yonder into the daylight of your sun father. Now you will say which way (you decide).” Thus the two said. “Hayi! Yes, indeed. Because it is thus you have passed us on our roads. Now that you have passed us on our roads here where we stay miserably, far be it from us to speak against it. We can not see one another. Here inside where we just trample on one another, where we just spit on one another, where we just urinate on one another, where we just befoul one another, where we just follow one another about, you have passed us on our roads. None of us can speak against it. But rather, as the priest of the north says, so let it be. Now you two call him.” Thus they said to the two, and they came up close toward the north side.
They met the north priest on his road. “You have come,” he said. “Yes, we have come. How have you lived these many days?” “Here where I live happily you have passed me on my road. Sit down.” When they were seated he questioned them. “Now speak. I think there is something to say. It will not be too long a talk. So now, that you will let me know.” “Yes, indeed, it is so. In order that you may go out standing there into the daylight of your sun father we have passed you on your road. However you say, so shall it be.” “Yes, indeed, now that you have passed us on our road here where we live thus wretchedly, far be it from me to talk against it. Now that you have come to us here inside where, we just trample on one another, where we just spit on one another, where we just urinate on one another, where we just befoul one another, where we just follow one another about, how should I speak against it?” so he said. Then they arose. They came back. Coming to the village where they were sitting in the middle place, there they questioned one another. “Yes, even now we have met on our roads. Indeed there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. When you let me know that, I shall always remember it,” thus they said to one another. When they had spoken thus, “Yes, indeed. In order that you may go out standing into the daylight of your sun father, we have passed you on your road,” thus they said. “Hayi! Yes, indeed. Now that you have passed us on our road here where we cannot see one another, where we just trample on one another, where we just urinate on one another, where we just befoul one another, where we just follow one another around, far be it from me to speak against it. But rather let it be as my younger brother, the priest of the west shall say. When he says, ‘Let it be thus,’ that way it shall be. So now, you two call him.” Thus said the priest of the north and they went and stood close against the west side.
“Well, perhaps by means of the thoughts of someone somewhere it may be that we shall go out standing into the daylight of our sun father.” Thus he said. The two thought. “Come, let us go over there to talk with eagle priest.” They went. They came to where eagle was staying. “You have come.” “Yes.” “Sit down.” They sat down. “Speak!” “We want you.” “Where?” “Near by, to where our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, stay quietly, we summon you.” “Haiyi!” So they went. They came to where käeto·‑we stayed. “Well, even now when you summoned me, I have passed you on your roads. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now if you let me know that I shall always remember it,” thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. Our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests shall go out standing into the daylight of their sun father. You will look for their road.” “Very well,” he said, “I am going,” he said. He went around. Coming back to his starting place he went a little farther out. Coming back to his starting place again he went still farther out. Coming back to his starting place he went way far out. Coming back to his starting place, nothing was visible. He came. To where käeto·‑we stayed he came. After he sat down they questioned him. “Now you went yonder looking for the road going out. What did you see in the world?” “Nothing was visible.” “Haiyi!” “Very well, I am going now.” So he went.
When he had gone the two thought. “Come, let us summon our grandson, cokäpiso,” thus they said. They went. They came to where cokäpiso stayed. “Our grandson, how have you lived these days?” “Where I live happily you have passed me on my road. I think perhaps there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now when you let me know that, I shall always remember it,” thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. Our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests are about to come outstanding into the daylight of their sun father. We summon you that you may be the one to look for their road.” “Indeed?” Thus he said. They went. When they got there, they questioned them where they were sitting. “Even now you have summoned me. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now when you let me know that, I shall always remember it.” “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go forth standing into the daylight of their sun father, you will look for their road.” Thus the two said. He went out to the south. He went around. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. A second time he went, farther out. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. A third time, still farther out he went. Nothing was visible. A fourth time he went, way far, but nothing was visible. When he came to where käeto·‑we were staying, the two questioned him. “Now, our grandson, way off yonder you have gone to see the world. What did you see in the world?” Thus the two asked him. “Well, nothing was visible.” “Well indeed?” the two said. “Very well, I am going now.” Saying this, he went.
When cokäpiso had gone the two thought. “Come, let us go and talk to our grandson chicken hawk.” Thus they said. They went. They reached where chicken hawk stayed. “You have come.” “Yes.” “Sit down.” “How have you lived these days?” “Happily. Well now, speak. I think there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now, when you let me know it, I shall always remember that.” “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go out standing into the sunlight of their sun father, you will look for their road.” So they went. When they got there they sat down. There he questioned them. “Yes, even now you summoned me. Perhaps there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. When you let me know that, I shall always remember it.” Thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, you will look for their road.” “Is that so?” Saying this, he went out. He went to the south. He went where cokäpiso had been. Coming back to his starting place, nothing was visible. A second time he went, farther out. He came back to his starting place, nothing was visible. He went a third time, along the shore of the encircling ocean. A fourth time farther out he went. He came back to his starting place. Nothing was visible. To where käeto·‑we stayed he came. “Nothing is visible.” “Haiyi!” Yes, so I am going.” “Well, go.” So he went.
Then the two thought. “Come on, let us summon our grandson,” thus they said. They went. They came to where humming bird was staying. “You have come?” “Yes, how have you lived these days?” “Where I live happily these days you have passed me on my road. Sit down.” When they had sat down: “Well, now, speak. I think there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now if you let me know that, I shall always remember it.” “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, you shall be the one to look for their road; for that we have summoned you Is that so?” Saying this, they went. When they got there, he questioned them. “Well, even now you summoned me. Surely there is something to say. It will not be too long a talk. So now when you let me know that I shall always remember it.” Thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go out into the daylight of their sun father, that you shall be the one to look for their road, for that we have summoned you.” Thus the two said. He went out toward the south. He went on. Coming back to his starting place, nothing was visible. Farther out he went. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. Then for the third time he went. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. For the fourth time he went close along the edge of the sky. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. He came. Coming where käeto·‑we were staying, “Nothing is visible.” “Hayi!” “Yes. Well, I am going now.” “Very well, go.” He went.
The two said, “What had we better do now? That many different kinds of feathered creatures, the ones who go about without ever touching the ground, have failed.” Thus the two said. “Come, let us talk with our grandson, locust. Perhaps that one will have a strong spirit because he is like water.” Thus they said. They went. Their grandson, locust, they met. “You have come.” “Yes, we have come.” “Sit down. How have you lived these days?” “Happily.” “Well, even now you have passed me, on my road. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now when you let me know that, that I shall always remember.” Thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. In order that our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, may go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, we have come to you.” “Is that so?” Saying this, they went. When they arrived they sat down. Where they were sitting, he questioned them. “Well, just now you came to me. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now if you let me know that, that I shall always remember.” “Yes, indeed. In order that our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, may go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, we have summoned you.” “Indeed?” Saying this, locust rose right up. He goes up. He went through into another world. And again he goes right up. He went through into another world. And again he goes right up. Again he went through into another world. He goes right up. When he had just gone a little way his strength gave out, he came back to where käeto·‑we were staying and said, “Three times I went through and the fourth time my strength gave out.” “Hayi! Indeed?” Saying this, he went.
When he had gone the two thought. “Come, let us speak with our grandson, Reed Youth. For perhaps that one with his strong point will be all right.” Saying this, they went. They came to where Reed Youth stayed. “You have come?” “Yes; how have you lived these days.” “Where I stay happily you have passed me on my road. Sit down.” Thus he said. They sat down. Then he questioned them. “Yes. Well, even now you have passed me on my road. I think there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. When you let me know that, that I shall always remember.” Thus he said. “Yes, indeed, in order that our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, may go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, we have come to you.” “Hayi! Is that so?” Having spoken thus, they went. When they arrived they sat down. There he questioned them. “Yes, even now that you have summoned me I have passed you on your roads. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. When you let me know that, that I shall always remember Yes, indeed, it is so. In order that our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, may go forth standing into the daylight of their sun father, we have summoned you.” Thus they said. “Hayi! Is that so?” Saying this, he went out. Where Locust had gone out he went out. The first time he passed through, the second time he passed through, the third time he passed through. Having passed through the fourth time and come forth standing into the daylight of his sun father, he went back in. Coming back in he came to where käeto·‑we were staying. “You have come?” Thus they said. “Yes,” he said. “Far off to see what road there may be you have gone. How may it be there now?” Thus they said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. There it is as you wanted it. As you wished of me, I went forth standing into the daylight of my sun father now.” Thus he said. “Halihi! Thank you!” “Now I am going.” “Go.” Saying this, he went.
After he had gone they were sitting around. Now as they were sitting around, there the two set up a pine tree for a ladder. They stayed there. For four days they stayed there. Four days, they say, but it was four years. There all the different society priests sang their song sequences for one another. The ones sitting in the first row listened carefully. Those sitting next on the second row heard all but a little. Those sitting on the third row heard here and there. Those sitting last on the fourth row heard just a little bit now and then. It was thus because of the rustling of the dry weeds.
When their days there were at an end, gathering together their sacred things they arose. “Now what shall be the name of this place?” “Well, here it shall be sulphur‑smell‑inside‑world; and furthermore, it shall be raw‑dust world.” Thus they said. “Very well. Perhaps if we call it thus it will be all right.” Saying this, they came forth.
After they had come forth, setting down their sacred things in a row at another place, they stayed there quietly. There the two set up a spruce tree as a ladder. When the ladder was up they stayed there for four days. And there again the society priests sang their song sequences for one another. Those sitting on the first row listened carefully. Those sitting there on the second row heard all but a little. Those sitting there on the third row heard here and there. Those sitting last distinguished a single word now and then. It was thus because of the rustling of some plants. When their days there were at an end, gathering together their sacred things there they arose. “Now what shall it be called here?” “Well, here it shall be called soot‑inside‑world, because we still can not recognize one another.” “Yes, perhaps if it is called thus it will be all right.” Saying this to one another, they arose.
Passing through to another place, and putting down their sacred things in a row, they stayed there quietly. There the two set up a piñon tree as a ladder. When the piñon tree was put up, there all the society priests and all the priests went through their song sequences for one another. Those sitting in front listened carefully. Those sitting on the second row heard all but a little. Those sitting behind on the third row heard here and there. Those sitting on the fourth row distinguished only a single word now and then. This was because of the rustling of the weeds.
When their days there were at an end, gathering together their sacred things they arose. Having arisen, “Now what shall it be called here?” “Well, here it shall be fog‑inside‑world, because here just a little bit is visible.” “Very well, perhaps if it is called thus it will be all right.” Saying this, rising, they came forth.
Passing through to another place, there the two set down their sacred things in a row, and there they sat down. Having sat down, the two set up a cottonwood tree as a ladder. Then all the society priests and all the priests went through their song sequences for one another. Those sitting first heard everything clearly. Those sitting on the second row heard all but a little. Those sitting on the third row heard here and there. Those sitting last on the fourth row distinguished a single word now and then. It was thus because of the rustling of some plants.
When their days there were at an end, after they had been there, when their four days were passed, gathering together their sacred possessions, they arose. When they arose, “Now what shall it be called here?” “Well, here it shall be wing‑inner‑world, because we see our sun father’s wings.” Thus they said. They came forth.
Into the daylight of their sun father they came forth standing. Just at early dawn they came forth. After they had come forth there they set down their sacred possessions in a row. The two said, “Now after a little while when your sun father comes forth standing to his sacred place you will see him face to face. Do not close your eyes.” Thus he said to them. After a little while the sun came out. When he came out they looked at him. From their eyes the tears rolled down. After they had looked at him, in a little while their eyes became strong. “Alas!” Thus they said. They were covered all over with slime. With slimy tails and slimy horns, with webbed fingers, they saw one another. “Oh dear! is this what we look like?” Thus they said.
Then they could not tell which was which of their sacred possessions. Meanwhile, near by an old man of the Dogwood clan lived alone. Spider said to him, “Put on water. When it gets hot, wash your hair.” “Why?” “Our father, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests, into the daylight of their sun father have come forth standing. They can not tell which is which. You will make this plain to them.” Thus she said. “Indeed? Impossible. From afar no one can see them. Where they stay quietly no one can recognize them.” Thus he said. “Do not say that. Nevertheless it will be all right. You will not be alone. Now we shall go.” Thus she said. When the water was warm he washed his hair.
Meanwhile, while he was washing his hair, the two said, “Come let us go to meet our father, the old man of the Dogwood clan. I think he knows in his thoughts; because among our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, we can not tell which is which.” Thus they said. They went. They got there. As they were climbing tip, “Now indeed! They are coming.” Thus Spider said to him. She climbed up his body from his toe. She clung behind his ear. The two entered. “You have come,” thus he said. “Yes. Our father, how have you lived these days?” “As I live happily you pass me on my road. Sit down.” They sat down. “Well, now, speak. I think some word that is not too long, your word will be. Now, if you let me know that, remembering it, I shall live.” “Indeed it is so. Our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests, into the daylight of their sun father have risen and come out. It is not plain which is which. Therefore we have passed you on your road.” “Haiyi, is that so? Impossible! From afar no one can see them. Where they stay quietly no one can recognize them.” Thus he said. “Yes, but we have chosen you.” Thus the two said. They went. When they came there, “My fathers, my mothers, how have you lived these days?” “Happily, our father, our child. Be seated.” Thus they said. He sat down. Then he questioned them. “Yes, now indeed, since you have sent for me, I have passed you on your road. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. Now if you let me know that, remembering it, I shall always live.”
Thus he said. “Indeed, it is so. Even though our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, have come out standing into the daylight of their sun father, it is not plain which of these is which. Therefore we have sent for you.” Thus they said. “Haiyi. Well, let me try.” “Impossible. From afar no one can see them. Where they stay quietly no one can tell which is which.” “Well, let me try.” Thus he said. Where they lay in a row he stood beside them. Spider said to him, “Here, the one that lies here at the end is käeto·‑we and these next ones touching it are tcu‑eto·we, and this next one is łhe·‑eto‑we, and these next ones touching it are mu‑eto·we.” Thus she said. He said, “Now this is käeto·‑we, and these all touching it are tcu‑eto·we, and this one is łhe·‑eto‑we, and all these touching it are mu‑eto·we.” Thus he said. “Halihi! Thank you. How shall be the cycle of the months for them?” Thus he said: “This one Branches‑broken‑down. This one No‑snow‑on‑the‑road. This one Little‑sand‑storms. This one Great‑sand‑storms. This the Month‑without‑a‑name. This one Turn‑about. This one Branches‑broken‑down. This one No‑snow‑on‑the‑road. This one Little‑sand‑storms. This one Great‑sand‑storms. This the Month‑without‑a‑name. This one Turn‑about. Thus shall be all the cycle of the months.” “Halihi! Thank you. Our father, you shall not be poor. Even though you have no sacred possessions toward which your thoughts bend, whenever Itiwana is revealed to us, because of your thought, the ceremonies of all these shall come around in order. You shall not be a slave.” This they said. They gave him the sun. “This shall be your sacred possession.” Thus they said. When this had happened thus they lived.
Four days—four days they say, but it was four years—there they stayed. When their days were at an end, the earth rumbled. The two said, “Who was left behind?” “I do not know, but it seems we are all here.” Thus they said. Again the earth rumbled. “Well, does it not seem that some one is still left behind?” Thus the two said. They went. Coming to the place where they had come out, there they stood. To the mischief‑maker and the Mexicans they said, “Haiyi! Are you still left behind?” “Yes.” “Now what are you still good for?” Thus they said. “Well, it is this way. Even though käeto·‑we have issued forth into the daylight, the people do not live on the living waters of good corn; on wild grasses only they live. Whenever you come to the middle you will do well to have me. When the people are many and the land is all used up, it will not be well. Because this is so I have come out.” Thus he said. “Haiyi! Is that so? So that’s what you are. Now what are you good for?” Thus they said. “Indeed, it is so. When you come to the middle, it will be well to have my seeds. Because käeto·‑we do not live on the good seeds of the corn, but on wild grasses only. Mine are the seeds of the corn and all the clans of beans.” Thus he said. The two took him with them. They came to where käeto·‑we were staying. They sat down. Then they questioned him. “Now let us see what you are good for.” “Well, this is my seed of the yellow corn.” Thus he said. He showed an ear of yellow corn. “Now give me one of your people.” Thus he said. They gave him a baby. When they gave him the baby it seems he did something to her. She became sick. After a short time she died. When she had died he said, “Now bury her.” They dug a hole and buried her. After four days he said to the two, “Come now. Go and see her.” The two went to where they had come out. When they got there the little one was playing in the dirt. When they came, she laughed. She was happy. They saw her and went back. They came to where the people were staying. “Listen! Perhaps it will be all right for you to come. She is still alive. She has not really died.” “Well, thus it shall always be.” Thus he said.
Gathering together all their sacred possessions, they came hither. To the place called since the first beginning, Moss Spring, they came. There they set down their sacred possessions in a row. There they stayed. Four days they say, but it was four years. There the two washed them. They took from all of them their slimy tails, their slimy horns. “Now, behold! Thus you will be sweet.” There they stayed.
When their days were at an end they came hither. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, seeking Itiwana, yonder their roads went. To the place called since the first beginning Massed‑cloud Spring, they came. There they set down their sacred possessions in a row. There they stayed quietly. Four days they stayed. Four days they say, but it was four years. There they stayed. There they counted up the days. For käeto·‑we, four nights and four days. With fine rain caressing the earth, they passed their days. The days were made for łhe·‑eto‑we, mu‑eto·we. For four days and four nights it snowed. When their days were at an end there they stayed.
When their days were at an end they arose. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, hither their roads went. To the place called since the first beginning Mist Spring their road came. There they sat down quietly. Setting out their sacred possessions in a row, they sat down quietly. There they counted up the days for one another. They watched the world for one another’s waters. For käeto·‑we, four days and four nights, with heavy rain caressing the earth they passed their days. When their days were at an end the days were made for łhe·‑eto‑we and mu‑eto·we. Four days and four nights with falling snow the world was filled. When their days were at an end, there they stayed.
When all their days were passed, gathering together all their sacred possessions, hither their road went. To Standing‑wood Spring they came. There they sat down quietly. Setting out their sacred possessions in a row, they stayed quietly. There they watched one another’s days. For käeto·‑we, four days and four nights with fine rain caressing the earth, they passed their days. When all their days were at an end, the days were made for lhe‑eto:we and mu‑eto·we. For four days and four nights, with falling snow, the world was filled. When all their days were at an end, there they stayed.
When all their days were passed, gathering together their sacred possessions, and arising, hither they came. To the place called since the first beginning Upuilima they came. When they came there, setting down their sacred possessions in a row, they stayed quietly. There they strove to outdo one another. There they planted all their seeds. There they watched one another’s days for rain. For käeto·‑we, four days with heavy rain caressing the earth. There their corn matured. It was not palatable, it was bitter. Then the two said, “Now by whose will will our corn become fit to eat?” Thus they said. They summoned raven. He came and pecked at their corn, and it became good to eat. “It is fortunate that you have come.” With this then, they lived.
When their days were at an end they arose. Gathering together their sacred possessions, they came hither. To the place called since the first beginning, Cornstalk‑place they came. There they set down their sacred possessions in a row. There they stayed four days. Four days they say, but it was four years. There they planted all their seeds. There they watched one another’s days for rain. During käeto·‑we’s four days and four nights, heavy rain fell. During lhe‑eto:we’s and mu‑eto·we’s four days and four nights, the world was filled with falling snow. Their days were at an end. Their corn matured. When it was mature it was hard. Then the two said, “By whose will will our corn become soft? Well, owl.” Thus they said. They summoned owl. Owl came. When he came he pecked at their corn and it became soft.
Then, when they were about to arise, the two said, “Come, let us go talk to the corn priest.” Thus they said. They went. They came to where the corn priest stayed. “How have you lived these days?” “As we are living happily you have passed us on our road. Sit down.” They sat down. There they questioned one another. “Well, speak. I think some word that is not too long, your word will be. Now, if you let me know that, remembering it, I shall always live.” “Indeed, it is so. To‑morrow, when we arise, we shall set out to seek Itiwana. Nowhere have we found the middle. Our children, our women, are tired. They are crying. Therefore we have come to you. Tomorrow your two children will look ahead. Perhaps if they find the middle when our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, come to rest, there our children will rest themselves. Because we have failed to find the middle.” “Haiyi! Is that so? With plain words you have passed us on our road. Very well, then, thus it shall be.” Thus he said. The two went.
Next morning when they were about to set out they put down a split ear of corn and eggs. They made the corn priest stand up. They said, “Now, my children, some of you will go yonder to the south. You will take these.” Thus he said (indicating) the tip of the ear and the macaw egg. And then the ones that were to come this way took the base of the ear and the raven egg. Those that were to go to the south took the tip of the ear and the macaw egg. “Now, my children, yonder to the south you will go. If at any time you come to Itiwana, then some time we shall meet one another.” Thus they said. They came hither.
They came to the place that was to be Katcina village. The girl got tired. Her brother said, “Wait, sit down for a while. Let me climb up and look about to see what kind of a place we are going to.” Thus he said. His sister sat down. Her brother climbed the hill. When he had climbed up, he stood looking this way. “Eha! Maybe the place where we are going lies in this direction. Maybe it is this kind of a place.” Thus he said and came down. Meanwhile his sister had scooped out the sand. She rested against the side of the hill. As she lay sleeping the wind came and raised her apron of grass. It blew up and she lay with her vulva exposed. As he came down he saw her. He desired her. He lay down upon his sister and copulated with her. His sister awoke. “Oh, dear, oh, dear,” she was about to say (but she said,) “Watsela, watsela.” Her brother said, “Ah!” He sat up. With his foot he drew a line. It became a stream of water. The two went about talking. The brother talked like Koyemci. His sister talked like Komakatsik. The people came.
“Oh alas, alas! Our children have become different beings.” Thus they said. The brother speaking: “Now it will be all right for you to cross here.” Thus he said. They came and went in. They entered the river. Some of their children turned into water snakes.
Some of them turned into turtles. Some of them turned into frogs. Some of them turned into lizards. They bit their mothers. Their mothers cried out and dropped them. They fell into the river. Only the old people reached the other side. They sat down on the bank. They were half of the people. The two said, “Now wait. Rest here.” Thus they said. Some of them sat down to rest. The two said (to the others), “Now you go in. Your children will turn into some kind of dangerous animals and will bite you. But even though you cry out, do not let them go. If, when you come out on the other side, your children do not again become the kind of creatures they are now, then you will throw them into the water.” Thus they said to them. They entered the water. Their children became different creatures and bit them. Even though they cried out, they crossed over. Then their children once more became the kind of creatures they had been. “Alas! Perhaps had we done that it would have been all right.” Now all had crossed over.
There setting down their sacred possessions in a row, they stayed quietly. They stayed there quietly for four days. Thus they say but they stayed for four years. There each night they lived gaily with loud singing. When all their time was passed, the two said “Come, let us go and talk to Ne‑we‑kwe.” Thus they said. They went to where the Ne‑we‑kwe were staying. They came there. “How have you passed these days?’ “Happily. You have come? Be seated.” They sat down. Then they questioned them. “Now speak. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. If you let me know that, remembering it I shall always live.” “Indeed it is so. To‑morrow we shall arise. Our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, are going to seek the middle. But nowhere have we come to the middle. Our children and our women are tired. They are crying now. Therefore we have passed you on your road. To‑morrow you will look ahead. If perhaps somewhere you come to Itiwana there our children will rest.” Thus they said. “Alas! but we are just foolish people. If we make some mistake it will not be right.” Thus he said. “Well, that is of no importance. It can’t be helped. We have chosen you.” Thus they said. “Well indeed?’ “Yes. Now we are going.” “Go ahead.” The two went out.
They came (to where the people were staying). “Come, let us go and speak to our children.” Thus they said. They went. They entered the lake. It was full of katcinas. “Now stand still a moment. Our two fathers have come.” Thus they said. The katcinas suddenly stopped dancing. When they stopped dancing they said to the two, “Now our two fathers, now indeed you have passed us on our road. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. If you will let us know that we shall always remember it.” Thus he said. “Indeed it is so. Tomorrow we shall arise. Therefore we have come to speak to you.” “Well indeed? May you go happily. You will tell our parents, ‘Do not worry.’ We have not perished. In order to remain thus forever we stay here. To Itiwana but one day’s travel remains. Therefore we stay nearby. When our world grows old and the waters are exhausted and the seeds are exhausted, none of you will go back to the place of your first beginning. Whenever the waters are exhausted and the seeds are exhausted you will send us prayer sticks. Yonder at the place of our first beginning with them we shall bend over to speak to them. Thus there will not fail to be waters. Therefore we shall stay quietly near by.” Thus they said to them. “Well indeed?” “Yes. You will tell my father, my mother, ‘Do not worry.’ We have not perished.” Thus they said. They sent strong words to their parents. “Now we are going. Our children, may you always live happily.” “Even thus may you also go.” Thus they said to the two. They went out. They arrived. They told them. “Now our children, here your children have stopped. ‘They have perished,’ you have said. But no. The male children have become youths, and the females have become maidens. They are happy. They live joyously. They have sent you strong words. ‘Do not worry,’ they said.” “Haiyi! Perhaps it is so.”
They stayed overnight. Next morning they arose. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, they came hither. They came to Hanlhipingka. Meanwhile the two Ne‑we‑kwe looked ahead. They came to Rock‑in‑the‑river. There two girls were washing a woolen dress. They killed them. After they had killed them they scalped them. Then someone found them out. When they were found out, because they were raw people, they wrapped themselves in mist. There to where käeto·‑we were staying they came. “Alack, alas! We have done wrong!” Thus they said. Then they set the days for the enemy. There they watched one another’s days for rain. käeto·‑we’s four days and four nights passed with the falling of heavy rain. There where a waterfall issued from a cave the foam arose. There the two Ahaiyute appeared. They came to where käeto·‑we were staying. Meanwhile, from the fourth inner world, Unasinte, Uhepololo, Kailuhtsawaki, Hattungka, Oloma, Catunka, came out to sit down in the daylight. There they gave them the comatowe Song cycle. Meanwhile, right there, Coyote was going about hunting. He gave them their pottery drum. They sang comatowe.
After this had happened, the two said, “Now, my younger brother, Itiwana is less than one day distant. We shall gather together our children, all the beast priests, and the winged creatures, this night.” They went. They came yonder to Comk?äkwe. There they gathered together all the beasts, mountain lion, bear, wolf, wild cat, badger, coyote, fox, squirrel; eagle, buzzard, cokapiso, chicken hawk, baldheaded eagle, raven, owl. All these they gathered together. Now squirrel was among the winged creatures, and owl was among the beasts. “Now my children, you will contest together for your sun father’s daylight. Whichever side has the ball, when the sun rises, they shall win their sun father’s daylight.” Thus the two said. “Indeed?” They went there. They threw up the ball. It fell on the side of the beasts. They hid it. After they had hidden it, the birds came one by one but they could not take it. Each time they paid four straws. They could not take it.
At this time it was early dawn. Meanwhile Squirrel was lying by the fireplace. Thus they came one by one but they could not take it. Eagle said, “Let that one lying there by the fireplace go.” They came to him and said, “Are you asleep?” “No. I am not asleep.” “Oh dear! Now you go!” Thus they said. “Oh no, I don’t want to go,” he said. He came back. “The lazy one does not wish to.” Thus they said. Someone else went. Again they could not take it. Now it was growing light. “Let that one lying by the fireplace go.” Thus they said. Again Buzzard went. “Alas, my boy, you go.” “Oh, no, I don’t feel like it.” Thus he said. Again he went back. “He does not want to,” he said. Again some one else went. Again they did not take it. Now it was growing light. Spider said to him, “Next time they come agree to go.” Thus she said. Then again they said, “Let that one lying by the fireplace go.” Thus they said; and again someone went. When he came there he said, “Alas, my boy, you go.” “All right, I shall go.” Thus he said and arose. As he arose Spider said to him, “Take that stick.” He took up a stick, so short. Taking it, he went. Now the sun was about to rise. They came there. Spider said to him, “Hit those two sitting on the farther side.” Thus she said. Bang! He knocked them down. He laid them down. Then, mountain lion, who was standing right there, said, “Hurry up, go after it. See whether you can take it.” Thus he said. Spider said to him, “Say to him, ‘Oh, no, I don’t want to take it.’ So she said.” “Oh, no, I don’t want to take it. Perhaps there is nothing inside. How should I take it? There is nothing in there.” “That is right. There is nothing in there. All my children are gathered together. One of them is holding it. If you touch the right one, you will take it.” “All right.” Now Spider is speaking: “No one who is sitting here has it. That one who goes about dancing, he is holding it.” Thus she said. He went. He hit Owl on the hand. The white ball came out. He went. He took up the hollow sticks and took them away with him. Now the birds hid the ball. Spider came down. Over all the sticks she spun her web. She fastened the ball with her web. Now the animals came one by one. Whenever they touched a stick, she pulled (the ball) away. Each time they paid ten straws. The sun rose. After sunrise, he was sitting high in the sky. Then the two came. They said, “Now, all my children, you have won your sun father’s daylight, and you, beasts, have lost your sun father’s daylight. All day you will sleep. After sunset, at night, you will go about hunting. But you, owl, you have not stayed among the winged creatures. Therefore you have lost your sun father’s daylight. You have made a mistake. If by daylight, you go about hunting, the one who has his home above will find you out. He will come down on you. He will scrape off the dirt from his earth mother and put it upon you. Then thinking, ‘Let it be here,’ you will come to the end of your life. This kind of creature you shall be.” Thus they said. They stayed there overnight. The animals all scattered.
The two went. They came to where käeto·‑we were staying. Then they arose. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, they arose. Lhe‑eto:we said, “Now, my younger brothers, hither to the north I shall take my road. Whenever I think that Itiwana has been revealed to you, then I shall come to you.” Thus he said, and went to the north. Now some woman, seeing them, said, “Oh dear! Whither are these going?” Thus she said:
Naiye heni aiye
Naiye heni aiye.
In white stripes of hail they went.
Meanwhile käeto·‑we came hither. They came to House Mountain. When they came there they would not let them pass through. They fought together. A giant went back and forth before them. Thus they fought together. Thus evening came. In the evening they came back to Hanlhipingka. Next day they went again. In heavy rain they fought together. In the evening they went back again. Next morning they went again for the third time. Again they fought together. The giant went back and forth in front. Even though she had arrows sticking in her body she did not die. At sunset they went back again. Next morning they went. They came there, and they fought together. Still they would not surrender. The giant went back and forth in front. Although she was wounded with arrows, she would not surrender. Ahaiyute said, “Alas, why is it that these people will not let us pass? Wherever may her heart be, that one that goes back and forth? Where her heart should be we have struck her, yet she does not surrender. It seems we can not overcome her. So finally go up to where your father stays. Without doubt he knows.” Thus he said. His younger brother climbed up to where the sun was.
It was nearly noon when he arrived. “You have come?” “Yes, I have come.” “Very well, speak. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. So if you let me know that, I shall always remember it.” Thus he said. “Indeed, it is so. Our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, have issued forth into the daylight. Here they go about seeking Itiwana. These people will not let them pass. Where does she have her heart, that one who goes back and forth before them? In vain have we struck her where her heart should be. Even though the arrows stick in her body, she does not surrender.” “Haiyi! For nothing are you men! She does not have her heart in her body. In vain have you struck her there. Her heart is in her rattle.” Thus he said. “This is for you and this is for your elder brother.” Thus he said, and gave him two turquoise rabbit sticks. “Now, when you let these go with my wisdom I shall take back my weapons.’ “Haiyi! Is that so? Very well, I am going now.” “Go ahead. May you go happily.” Thus he said. He came down. His elder brother said to him, “Now, what did he tell you?” “Indeed, it is so. In vain do we shoot at her body. Not there is her heart; but in her rattle is her heart. With these shall we destroy her.” Thus he said, and gave his brother one of the rabbit sticks. When he had given his brother the rabbit stick, “Now go ahead, you.” Thus he said. The younger brother went about to the right. He threw it and missed. Whiz! The rabbit stick went up to the sun. As the rabbit stick came up the sun took it. “Now go ahead, you try.” Thus he said. The elder brother went around to the left. He threw it. As he threw it, zip! His rabbit stick struck his rattle. Tu ‑‑‑ n! They ran away. As they started to run away, their giant died. Then they all ran away. The others ran after them. They came to a village. They went into the houses. “This is my house;” “This is my house;” and “This is mine.” Thus they said. They went shooting arrows into the roof. Wherever they first came, they went in. An old woman and a little boy this big and a little girl were inside.
In the center of their room was standing a jar of urine. They stuffed their nostrils with känaite flowers and with cotton wool. Then they thrust their noses into the jar. The people could see them. “Oh, dear! These are ghosts!” Thus they said. Then the two said to them, “Do not harm them, for I think they know something. So even though it is dangerous they are still alive.” Thus they said. The two entered. As they came in they questioned them. “And now do you know something? Therefore, even though it is dangerous, you have not perished.” “Well, we have a sacred object.” “Indeed! Very well, take them. We shall go. Your fathers, your mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, you will pass on their roads. If your days are the same as theirs you will not be slaves. It does not matter that he is only a little boy. Even so, he will be our father. It does not matter that she is a little girl, she will be our mother.” Thus he said. Taking their sacred object they went. They came to where käeto·‑we were staying. There they said to them, “Now make your days.” “Oh, no! We shall not be first. When all your days are at an end, then we shall add on our days.” Thus they said. Then they worked for käeto·‑we. käeto·‑we’s days were made. Four days and four nights, with fine rain falling, were the days of käeto·‑we. When their days were at an end, the two children and their grandmother worked. Their days were made. Four days and four nights, with heavy rain falling, were their days. Then they removed the evil smell. They made flowing canyons. Then they said, “Halihi! Thank you! Just the same is your ceremony. What may your clan be?” “Well, we are of the Yellow Corn clan.” Thus they said. “Haiyi! Even though your eton:e is of the Yellow Corn clan, because of your bad smell, you have become black. Therefore you shall be the Black Corn clan.” Thus they said to them.
Then they arose. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, they came hither, to the place called, since the first beginning, Halona‑Itiwana, their road came. There they saw the Navaho helper, little red bug. “Here! Wait! All this time we have been searching in vain for Itiwana. Nowhere have we seen anything like this.” Thus they said. They summoned their grandchild, water bug. He came. “How have you lived these many days?” “Where we have been living happily you have passed us on our road. Be Seated.” Thus they said. He sat down. Then he questioned them. “Now, indeed, even now, you have sent for me. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. So now, if you will let me know that, I shall always remember it.” “Indeed, it is so. Our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, having issued forth into the daylight, go about seeking the middle. You will look for the middle for them. This is well. Because of your thoughts, at your heart, our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, will sit down quietly. Following after those, toward whom our thoughts bend, we shall pass our days.” Thus they said. He sat down facing the east. To the left he stretched out his arm. To the right he stretched out his arm, but it was a little bent. He sat down facing the north. He stretched out his arms on both sides. They were just the same. Both arms touched the horizon. “Come, let us cross over to the north. For on this side my right arm is a little bent.” Thus he said. They crossed (the river). They rested. He sat down. To all directions he stretched out his arms. Everywhere it was the same. “Right here is the middle.” Thus he said. There his fathers, his mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, the society p̂ekwins, the society bow priests, and all their children came to rest. Thus it happened long ago.
1.3.4 From the Winnebago Trickster Cycle
1.3.5 Origin of Disease and Medicine (Cherokee)
In the old days quadrupeds, birds, fishes, and insects could all talk, and they and the human race lived together in peace and friendship. But as time went on the people increased so rapidly that their settlements spread over the whole earth and the poor animals found themselves beginning to be cramped for room. This was bad enough, but to add to their misfortunes man invented bows, knives, blowguns, spears, and hooks, and began to slaughter the larger animals, birds and fishes for the sake of their flesh or their skins, while the smaller creatures, such as the frogs and worms, were crushed and trodden upon without mercy, out of pure carelessness or contempt. In this state of affairs the animals resolved to consult upon measures for their common safety.
The bears were the first to meet in council in their townhouse in Kuwa´hĭ, the “Mulberry Place,” and the old White Bear chief presided. After each in turn had made complaint against the way in which man killed their friends, devoured their flesh and used their skins for his own adornment, it was unanimously decided to begin war at once against the human race. Some one asked what weapons man used to accomplish their destruction. “Bows and arrows, of course,” cried all the bears in chorus. “And what are they made of?” was the next question. “The bow of wood and the string of our own entrails,” replied one of the bears. It was then proposed that they make a bow and some arrows and see if they could not turn man’s weapons against himself. So one bear got a nice piece of locust wood and another sacrificed himself for the good of the rest in order to furnish a piece of his entrails for the string. But when everything was ready and the first bear stepped up to make the trial it was found that in letting the arrow fly after drawing back the bow, his long claws caught the string and spoiled the shot. This was annoying, but another suggested that he could overcome the difficulty by cutting his claws, which was accordingly done, and on a second trial it was found that the arrow went straight to the mark. But here the chief, the old White Bear, interposed and said that it was necessary that they should have long claws in order to be able to climb trees. “One of us has already died to furnish the bowstring, and if we now cut off our claws we shall all have to starve together. It is better to trust to the teeth and claws which nature has given us, for it is evident that man’s weapons were not intended for us.”
No one could suggest any better plan, so the old chief dismissed the council and the bears dispersed to their forest haunts without having concerted any means for preventing the increase of the human race. Had the result of the council been otherwise, we should now be at war with the bears, but as it is the hunter does not even ask the bear’s pardon when he kills one.
The deer next held a council under their chief, the Little Deer, and after some deliberation resolved to inflict rheumatism upon every hunter who should kill one of their number, unless he took care to ask their pardon for the offense. They sent notice of their decision to the nearest settlement of Indians and told them at the same time how to make propitiation when necessity forced them to kill one of the deer tribe. Now, whenever the hunter brings down a deer, the Little Deer, who is swift as the wind and can not be wounded, runs quickly up to the spot and bending over the blood stains asks the spirit of the deer if it has heard the prayer of the hunter for pardon. If the reply be “Yes” all is well and the Little Deer goes on his way, but if the reply be in the negative he follows on the trail of the hunter, guided by the drops of blood on the ground, until he arrives at the cabin in the settlement, when the Little Deer enters invisibly and strikes the neglectful hunter with rheumatism, so that he is rendered on the instant a helpless cripple. No hunter who has regard for his health ever fails to ask pardon of the deer for killing it, although some who have not learned the proper formula may attempt to turn aside the Little Deer from his pursuit by building a fire behind them in the trail.
Next came the fishes and reptiles, who had their own grievances against humanity. They held a joint council and determined to make their victims dream of snakes twining about them in slimy folds and blowing their fetid breath in their faces, or to make them dream of eating raw or decaying fish, so that they would lose appetite, sicken, and die. Thus it is that snake and fish dreams are accounted for.
Finally the birds, insects, and smaller animals came together for a like purpose, and the Grubworm presided over the deliberations. It was decided that each in turn should express an opinion and then vote on the question as to whether or not man should be deemed guilty. Seven votes were to be sufficient to condemn him. One after another denounced man’s cruelty and injustice toward the other animals and voted in favor of his death. The Frog (walâ´sĭ) spoke first and said: “We must do something to check the increase of the race or people will become so numerous that we shall be crowded from off the earth. See how man has kicked me about because I’m ugly, as he says, until my back is covered with sores;” and here he showed the spots on his skin. Next came the Bird (tsi´skwa; no particular species is indicated), who condemned man because “he burns my feet off,” alluding to the way in which the hunter barbecues birds by impaling them on a stick set over the fire, so that their feathers and tender feet are singed and burned. Others followed in the same strain. The Ground Squirrel alone ventured to say a word in behalf of man, who seldom hurt him because he was so small; but this so enraged the others that they fell upon the Ground Squirrel and tore him with their teeth and claws, and the stripes remain on his back to this day.
The assembly then began to devise and name various diseases, one after another, and had not their invention finally failed them not one of the human race would have been able to survive. The Grubworm in his place of honor hailed each new malady with delight, until at last they had reached the end of the list, when some one suggested that it be arranged so that menstruation should sometimes prove fatal to woman. On this he rose up in his place and cried: “Wata´n Thanks! I’m glad some of them will die, for they are getting so thick that they tread on me.” He fairly shook with joy at the thought, so that he fell over backward and could not get on his feet again, but had to wriggle off on his back, as the Grubworm has done ever since.
When the plants, who were friendly to man, heard what had been done by the animals, they determined to defeat their evil designs. Each tree, shrub, and herb, down even to the grasses and mosses, agreed to furnish a remedy for some one of the diseases named, and each said: “I shall appear to help man when he calls upon me in his need.” Thus did medicine originate, and the plants, every one of which has its use if we only knew it, furnish the antidote to counteract the evil wrought by the revengeful animals. When the doctor is in doubt what treatment to apply for the relief of a patient, the spirit of the plant suggests to him the proper remedy.
1.3.6 Thanksgiving Address (Haudenosaunee (Iroquois))
1.3.7 The Arrival of the Whites (Lenape (Delaware))
1.3.8 The Coming of the Whiteman Revealed: Dream of the White Robe and Floating Island (Micmac)
When there were no people in this country but Indians, and before they knew of any others, a young woman had a singular dream. She dreamed that a small island came floating in towards the land, with tall trees on it and living beings, and amongst others a young man dressed in rabbit‑skin garments. Next day she interpreted her dream and sought for an interpretation. it was the custom in those days, when any one had a remarkable dream, to consult the wise men and especially the magicians and soothsayers. These pondered over the girl’s dream, but they could make nothing of it; but next day an event occurred that explained it all. Getting up in the morning, what should they see but a singular little island, as they took it to be, which had drifted near to land, and had become stationery there. There were trees on it, and branches to the trees, on which a number of bears, as they took them to be, were crawling about. They all seized their bows and arrows and spears and rushed down to the shore, intending to shoot the bears. What was their surprise to find that these supposed bears were men, and that some of them were lowering down into the water a very singular constructed canoe, into which several of them jumped and paddled ashore. Among them was a man dressed in white—a priest with his white stole on, who came towards them making signed of friendliness, raising his hand towards heaven and addressing them in an earnest manner, but in a language which they could not understand. The girl was now questioned respecting her dream. “was it such an island as this that she had seen? was this the man?” She affirmed that they were indeed the same. Some of them, especially the necromancers, were displeased. They did not like it that the coming of the foreigners should have been intimated to this young girl and not to them. Had an enemy of the Indian tribes, with whom they were at war, been about about to make a descent upon them they could have foreseen and foretold it by th epoer of their magic. But of the coming of this teacher of a new religion they could know nothing. The new teacher was gradually received into favor, though the magicians opposed him. The ep[;e received his instructions and submitted to the rite of baptism. The priest learned their tongue, and gave them the prayer‑book written in what they call Abòotŭloveëgăsĭk—ornamental mark‑writing, a mark standing for a word, and rendering it so difficult to learn that it may be said to be impossible. And this was manifestly done for the purpose of keeping the Indians in ignorance. Had their language been reduced to writing in the ordinary way, the Indians would have learned the use of writing an reading, and would have so advanced knowledge as to have been able to cope with their more enlightened invaders, and it would have been a more difficult matter for the latter to have cheated them out of their lands, etc.
Such was Josiah’s story. Whatever were the motives of the priests who gave them their pictorial writing, it is one of the grossest literary blunders that was ever perpetrated. it is bad enough for the Chinese, who language is said to be monosyllabic and unchanged by grammatical inflection. But Micmac is partly syllabic, “endless,” in its compounds and grammatical changes, and utterly incapable of being represented by signs.
1.3.9 Reading and Review Questions
- In the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), Cherokee, and Zuni Origin Tales, what values of their respective tribes emerge in each tale? How?
- In the Trickster Cycle, what is the cause of/who causes disruptions? Why? To what effect?
- What concept of justice, if any, does “Origin of Disease and Medicine” illustrate? How?
- What do you think is the overall message or purpose of the “Thanksgiving Address?” How does its refrain contribute to this message or purpose? Why?
- What do “The Arrival of the Whites” and “The Coming of the Whiteman Revealed” suggest the Lenape (Delaware) and the Micmac clearly understood about the meaning of the white man’s arrival? What, if anything, about the white man’s arrival, is not understood? How do you know?
1.4 CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
A sailor from his youth, Christopher Columbus sought to discover a mercantile route to Asia via the Atlantic Ocean, a route he calculated as only 3,000 miles across the Atlantic. Winning support in 1492 from Ferdinand and Isabella, monarchs of Spain, Columbus embarked on his historic voyage that failed to discover the route to Asia but instead discovered the New World, where he first landed at what is now the Bahamas. After that voyage with three caravels, Columbus returned to the New World three more times in 1494, 1496, and 1500, founding settlements at Hispaniola and the West Indies and exploring parts of Central and South America.
Image 1.3 | Christopher Columbus
Artist | Sebastiano del Piombo
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
Columbus compensated for his original mission’s failure by taking possession of these new lands and the people he first encountered there—people Columbus significantly noted as wearing gold adornments. Although he hoped to bring peace with him to what he described as paradisiacal landscapes, Columbus’s first settlement at Hispaniola, “Villa de la Navidad,” proved too grounded in the earthly desires and ambitions of the Old World. The first settlers demanded riches and women from the Native Americans and were in turn massacred. The second settlement, governed by Columbus’s brothers, fell into such disorder that Columbus was forced to return to Spain to defend his own activities. Upon his later return to Hispaniola, Columbus had to defend his authority over the settlers and claim authority over the Native Americans, whom he enslaved as laborers and searchers for gold.
In 1500, Columbus returned once more to Spain to defend his reputation and then sought to secure his reputation and fortunes in the New World through further explorations there. This foray into what is now Panama and Jamaica led to disaster, both physical (in a shipwreck) and emotional (in a breakdown). Columbus made his final return to Europe where he died in 1506.
His 1493 Letter of Discovery derives from Columbus’s manuscripts, was translated into Latin by Aliander de Cosco, and was printed by Stephan Plannck. It is addressed to Lord Raphael Sanchez, treasurer to Ferdinand and Isabella, who clearly determines the rhetorical approaches Columbus makes in this letter. It describes the New World in terms amenable to his patrons’ desires and ambitions but detrimental to the people he mistakenly named Indians.
Image 1.4 | Map of Columbus’s First Voyage
Artist | Keith Pickering
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | CC BY-SA 3.0
1.4.1 Letter of Discovery
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS TO THE NOBLE LORD RAPHAEL SANCHEZ ANNOUNCING THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA
As I know that it will afford you pleasure that I have brought my undertaking to a successful result, I have determined to write you this letter to inform you of everything that has been done and discovered in this voyage of mine.
On the thirty‑third day after leaving Cadiz I came into the Indian Sea, where I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous people. I took possession of all of them for our most fortunate King by making public proclamation and unfurling his standard, no one making any resistance. To the first of them I have given the name of our blessed Saviour, trusting in whose aid I had reached this and all the rest; but the Indians call it Guanahani. To each of the others also I gave a new name, ordering one to be called Sancta Maria de Concepcion, another Fernandina, another Hysabella, another Johana; and so with all the rest. As soon as we reached the island which I have just said was called Johana, I sailed along its coast some considerable distance towards the West, and found it to be so large, without any apparent end, that I believed it was not an island, but a continent, a province of Cathay. But I saw neither towns nor cities lying on the seaboard, only some villages and country farms, with whose inhabitants I could not get speech, because they fled as soon as they beheld us. I continued on, supposing I should come upon some city, or country‑houses. At last, finding that no discoveries rewarded our further progress, and that this course was leading us towards the North, which I was desirous of avoiding, as it was now winter in these regions, and it had always been my intention to proceed Southwards, and the winds also were favorable to such desires, I concluded not to attempt any other adventures; so, turning back, I came again to a certain harbor, which I had remarked. From there I sent two of our men into the country to learn whether there was any king or cities in that land. They journeyed for three days, and found innumerable people and habitations, but small and having no fixed government; on which account they returned. Meanwhile I had learned from some Indians, whom I had seized at this place, that this country was really an island. Consequently I continued along towards the East, as much as 322 miles, always hugging the shore. Where was the very extremity of the island, from there I saw another island to the Eastwards, distant 54 miles from this Johana, which I named Hispana; and proceeded to it, and directed my course for 564 miles East by North as it were, just as I had done at Johana.
The island called Johana, as well as the others in its neighborhood, is exceedingly fertile. It has numerous harbors on all sides, very safe and wide, above comparison with any I have ever seen. Through it flow many very broad and health‑giving rivers; and there are in it numerous very lofty mountains. All these islands are very beautiful, and of quite different shapes; easy to be traversed, and full of the greatest variety of trees reaching to the stars. I think these never lose their leaves, as I saw them looking as green and lovely as they are wont to be in the month of May in Spain. Some of them were in leaf, and some in fruit; each flourishing in the condition its nature required. The nightingale was singing and various other little birds, when I was rambling among them in the month of November. There are also in the island called Johana seven or eight kinds of palms, which as readily surpass ours in height and beauty as do all the other trees, herbs and fruits. There are also wonderful pinewoods, fields and extensive meadows; birds of various kinds, and honey; and all the different metals, except iron.
In the island, which I have said before was called Hispana, there are very lofty and beautiful mountains, great farms, groves and fields, most fertile both for cultivation and for pasturage, and well adapted for constructing buildings. The convenience of the harbors in this island, and the excellence of the rivers, in volume and salubrity, surpass human belief, unless one should see them. In it the trees, pasture‑lands and fruits differ much from those of Johana. Besides, this Hispana abounds in various kinds of spices, gold and metals. The inhabitants of both sexes of this and of all the other islands I have seen, or of which I have any knowledge, always go as naked as they came into the world, except that some of the women cover their private parts with leaves or branches, or a veil of cotton, which they prepare themselves for this purpose. They are all, as I said before, unprovided with any sort of iron, and they are destitute of arms, which are entirely unknown to them, and for which they are not adapted; not on account of any bodily deformity, for they are well made, but because they are timid and full of terror. They carry, however, canes dried in the sun in place of weapons, upon whose roots they fix a wooden shaft, dried and sharpened to a point. But they never dare to make use of these; for it has often happened, when I have sent two or three of my men to some of their villages to speak with the inhabitants, that a crowd of Indians has sallied forth; but when they saw our men approaching, they speedily took to flight, parents abandoning their children, and children their parents. This happened not because any loss or injury had been inflicted upon any of them. On the contrary I gave whatever I had, cloth and many other things, to whomsoever I approached, or with whom I could get speech, without any return being made to me; but they are by nature fearful and timid. But when they see that they are safe, and all fear is banished, they are very guileless and honest, and very liberal of all they have. No one refuses the asker anything that he possesses; on the contrary they themselves invite us to ask for it. They manifest the greatest affection towards all of us, exchanging valuable things for trifles, content with the very least thing or nothing at all. But I forbade giving them a very trifling thing and of no value, such as bits of plates, dishes, or glass; also nails and straps; although it seemed to them, if they could get such, that they had acquired the most beautiful jewels in the world. For it chanced that a sailor received for a single strap as much weight of gold as three gold solidi; and so others for other things of less price, especially for new blancas, and for some gold coins, for which they gave whatever the seller asked; for instance, an ounce and a half or two ounces of gold, or thirty or forty pounds of cotton, with which they were already familiar. So too for pieces of hoops, jugs, jars and pots they bartered cotton and gold like beasts. This I forbade, because it was plainly unjust; and I gave them many beautiful and pleasing things, which I had brought with me, for no return whatever, in order to win their affection, and that they might become Christians and inclined to love our Kino; and Queen and Princes and all the people of Spain; and that they might be eager to search for and gather and give to us what they abound in and we greatly need.
They do not practice idolatry; on the contrary, they believe that all strength, all power, in short all blessings, are from Heaven, and that I have come down from there with these ships and sailors; and in this spirit was I received everywhere, after they had got over their fear. They are neither lazy nor awkward ; but, on the contrary, are of an excellent and acute understanding. Those who have sailed these seas give excellent accounts of everything; but they have never seen men wearing clothes, or ships like ours.
As soon as I had come into this sea, I took by force some Indians from the first island, in order that they might learn from us, and at the same time tell us what they knew about affairs in these regions. This succeeded admirably; for in a short time we understood them and they us both by gesture and signs and words; and they were of great service to us. They are coming now with me, and have always believed that I have come from Heaven, notwithstanding the long time they have been, and still remain, with us. They were the first who told this wherever we went, one calling to another, with a loud voice, Come, Come, you will see Men from Heaven. Whereupon both women and men, children and adults, young and old, laying aside the fear they had felt a little before, flocked eagerly to see us, a great crowd thronging about our steps, some bringing food, and others drink, with greatest love and incredible good will.
In each island are many boats made of solid wood; though narrow, yet in length and shape similar to our two‑bankers, but swifter in motion, and managed by oars only. Some of them are large, some small, and some of medium size; but most are larger than a two‑banker rowed by 18 oars. With these they sail to all the islands, which are innumerable; engaging in traffic and commerce with each other. I saw some of these biremes, or boats, which carried 70 or 80 rowers. In all these islands there is no difference in the appearance of the inhabitants, and none in their customs and language, so that all understand one another. This is a circumstance most favorable for what I believe our most serene King especially desires, that is, their conversion to the holy faith of Christ; for which, indeed, so far as I could understand, they are very ready and prone.
I have told already how I sailed in a straight course along the island of Johana from West to East 322 miles. From this voyage and the extent of my journeyings I can say that this Johana is larger than England and Scotland together. For beyond the aforesaid 322 miles, in that portion which looks toward the West, there are two more provinces, which I did not visit. One of them the Indians call Anan, and its inhabitants are born with tails. These provinces extend 180 miles, as I learned from the Indians, whom I am bringing with me, and who are well acquainted with all these islands. The distance around Hispana is greater than all Spain from Colonia to Fontarabia; as is readily proved, because its fourth side, which I myself traversed in a straight course from West to East, stretches 540 miles. This island is to be coveted, and not to be despised when acquired. As I have already taken possession of all the others, as I have said, for our most invincible King, and the rule over them is entirely committed to the said King, so in this one I have taken special possession of a certain large town, in a most convenient spot, well suited for all profit and commerce, to which I have given the name of the Nativity of our Lord; and there I ordered a fort to be built forthwith, which ought to be finished now. In it I left as many men as seemed necessary, with all kinds of arms, and provisions sufficient for more than a year; also a caravel and men to build others, skilled not only in this trade but in others. I secured for them the good will and remarkable friendship of the King of the island; for these people are very affectionate and kind; so much so that the aforesaid King took a pride in my being called his brother. Although they should change their minds, and wish to harm those who have remained in the fort, they cannot; because they are without arms, go naked and are too timid; so that, in truth, those who hold the aforesaid fort can lay waste the whole of that island, without any danger to themselves, provided they do not violate the rules and instructions I have given them.
In all these islands, as I understand, every man is satisfied with only one wife, except the princes or kings, who are permitted to have 20. The women appear to work more than the men; but I could not well understand whether they have private property, or not; for I saw that what every one had was shared with the others, especially meals, provisions and such things. I found among them no monsters, as very many expected; but men of great deference and kind; nor are they black like the Ethiopians; but they have long, straight hair. They do not dwell where the rays of the Sun have most power, although the Sun’s heat is very great there, as this region is twenty‑six degrees distant from the equinoctial line. From the summits of the mountains there comes great cold, but the Indians mitigate it by being inured to the weather, and by the help of very hot food, which they consume frequently and in immoderate quantities.
I saw no monsters, neither did I hear accounts of any such except in an island called Charis, the second as one crosses over from Spain to India, which is inhabited by a certain race regarded by their neighbors as very ferocious. They eat human flesh, and make use of several kinds of boats by which they cross over to all the Indian islands, and plunder and carry off whatever they can. But they differ in no respect from the others except in wearing their hair long after the fashion of women. They make use of bows and arrows made of reeds, having pointed shafts fastened to the thicker portion, as we have before described. For this reason they are considered to be ferocious, and the other Indians consequently are terribly afraid of them; but I consider them of no more account than the others. They have intercourse with certain women who dwell alone upon the island of Mateurin, the first as one crosses from Spain to India. These women follow none of the usual occupations of their sex; but they use bows and arrows like those of their husbands, which I have described, and protect themselves with plates of copper, which is found in the greatest abundance among them.
I was informed that there is another island larger than the aforesaid Hispana, whose inhabitants have no hair; and that there is a greater abundance of gold in it than in any of the others. Some of the inhabitants of these islands and of the others I have seen I am bringing over with me to bear testimony to what I have reported. Finally, to sum up in a few words the chief results and advantages of our departure and speedy return, I make this promise to our most invincible Sovereigns, that, if I am supported by some little assistance from them, I will give them as much gold as they have need of, and in addition spices, cotton and mastic, which is found only in Chios, and as much aloes‑wood, and as many heathen slaves as their majesties may choose to demand; besides these, rhubarb and other kinds of drugs, which I think the men I left in the fort before alluded to, have already discovered, or will do so; as I have myself delayed nowhere longer than the winds compelled me, except while I was providing for the construction of a fort in the city of Nativity, and for making all things safe.
Although these matters are very wonderful and unheard of, they would have been much more so, if ships to a reasonable amount had been furnished me. But what has been accomplished is great and wonderful, and not at all proportionate to my deserts, but to the sacred Christian faith, and to the piety and religion of our Sovereigns. For what the mind of man could not compass the spirit of God has granted to mortals. For God is wont to listen to his servants who love his precepts, even in impossibilities, as has happened to me in the present instance, who have accomplished what human strength has hitherto never attained. For if any one has written or told any‑ thing about these islands, all have done so either obscurely or by guesswork, so that it has almost seemed to be fabulous.
Therefore let King and Queen and Princes, and their most fortunate realms, and all other Christian provinces, let us all return thanks to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has bestowed so great a victory and reward upon us; let there be processions and solemn sacrifices prepared; let the churches be decked with festal boughs; let Christ rejoice upon Earth as he rejoices in Heaven, as he foresees that so many souls of so many people heretofore lost are to be saved; and let us be glad not only for the exaltation of our faith, but also for the increase of temporal prosperity, in which not only Spain but all Christendom is about to share.
As these things have been accomplished so have they been briefly narrated.
CHRISTOPHER COLOM, Admiral of the Ocean Fleet.
Lisbon, March 14th.
1.4.2 Reading and Review Questions
- Why does Columbus give the islands in the New World new names, even though he knows the names by which they were called by the Native Americans?
- What are the qualities of the islands’ topography to which Columbus brings attention? Why?
- What characteristics about the Native Americans does Columbus bring attention? Why?
- What behaviors of the men accompanying Columbus suggest their indifference to the Native Americans’ lives and culture? Why?
- What of Native American culture does Columbus take especial note? Why?
1.5 ALVAR NUNEZ CABEZA DE VACA
Alva Nunez Cabeza de Vaca carried a name bestowed upon his maternal grand‑ father who fought the Moors in Spain and who used a cow’s skull to mark a strategic pass through a mountain. Cabeza de Vaca fought in Italy and Spain before leaving with Panfilo de Narvaez (1478–1528) on his 1527 expedition to Florida. Narvaez proved an unwise captain, losing men and all of his six ships to desertion, hurricane, and a failed attempt to discover a port along the Florida shore.
Image 1.5 | Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca
Artist | Unknown
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
Stranded in Florida along with a fraction of Narvaez’s remaining sailors, Cabeza de Vaca was left to fend for himself against threatening Native Americans and an inhospitable land. The men journeyed to what is now Texas. Of the 600 men who undertook the expedition, only four ultimately survived, one of whom was Cabeza de Vaca. For ten years, Cabeza de Vaca faced extraordinary hardships as he traveled along the Texas coast, including being taken as a prisoner by Native Americans (the Karankawa) for over two years. Among the Native Americans, he gained a reputation as a trader and then as a healer, a power he himself attributed to his Christian faith. He ultimately gathered a following of Pimas and Opatas who traveled with him to what is now New Mexico and northern Mexico.
There, he once again encountered fellow Europeans who took Cabeza de Vaca prisoner and enslaved the Native Americans with him. In 1537, Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain where he vocally protested the predatory behavior of slave hunters like his captor Diego de Alcaraz (c. 1490–1540). He returned again to South America as leader of an expedition but saw his own colony devolve into predatory behaviors. In Rio de Plata, Cabeza de Vaca was removed as leader; he ultimately returned to Spain where he lived the remainder of his life.
The Relation of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca was begun in 1540 while he was still in Spain. In it, he describes the dangers and suffering he endured from the Narvaez expedition, the Europeans’ unjust treatment of Native Americans, and the opportunities for further exploration and colonization in the New World.
Image 1.6 | Map of Cabeza de Vaca’s Expedition
Artist | User “Lencer”
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | CC BY-SA 3.0
1.5.1 From The Relation of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca
WHAT BEFEL US AMONG THE PEOPLE OF MALHADO.
On an Island of which I have spoken, they wished to make us physicians without examination or inquiring for diplomas. They cure by blowing upon the sick, and with that breath and the imposing of hands they cast out infirmity. They ordered that we also should do this, and be of use to them in some way. We laughed at what they did, telling them it was folly, that we knew not how to heal. In consequence, they withheld food from us until we should practice what they required. Seeing our persistence, an Indian told me I knew not what I uttered, in saying that what he knew availed ‘nothing; for stones and other matters growing about in the fields, have virtue, and that passing a pebble along the stomach would take away pain and restore health, and certainly then we who were extraordinary men must possess power and efficacy over all other things. At last, finding ourselves in great want we were constrained to obey; but without fear lest we should be blamed for any failure or success.
Their custom is, on finding themselves sick to send for a physician, and after he has applied the cure, they give him not only all they have, but seek among their relatives for more to give. The practitioner scarifies over the seat of pain, and then sucks about the wound. They make cauteries with fire, a remedy among them in high repute, which I have tried on myself and found benefit from it. They afterwards blow on the spot, and having finished, the patient considers that he is relieved.
Our method was to bless the sick, breathing upon them, and recite a Pater‑ noster and an Ave‑Maria, praying with all earnestness to God our Lord that he would give health and influence them to make us some good return. In his clemency he willed that all those for whom we supplicated, should tell the others that they were sound and in health, directly after we made the sign of the blessed cross over them. For this the Indians treated us kindly; they deprived themselves of food that they might give to us, and presented us with skins and some trifles.
So protracted was the hunger we there experienced, that many times I was three days without eating. The natives also endured as much; and it appeared to me a thing impossible that life could be so prolonged, although afterwards I found myself in greater hunger and necessity, which I shall speak of farther on.
The Indians who had Alonzo del Castillo, Andrés Dorantes, and the others that remained alive, were of a different tongue and ancestry from these, and went to the opposite shore of the main to eat oysters, where they staid until the first day of April, when they returned. The distance is two leagues in the widest part. The island is half a league in breadth and five leagues in length.
The inhabitants of all this region go naked. The women alone have any part of their persons covered, and it is with a wool that grows on trees. The damsels dress themselves in deerskin. The people are generous to each other of what they possess. They have no chief. All that are of a lineage keep together. They speak two languages; those of one are called Capoques, those of the other, Han. They have a custom when they meet, or from time to time when they visit, of remaining half an hour before they speak, weeping; and, this over, he that is visited first rises and gives the other all he has, which is received, and after a little while he carries it away, and often goes without saying a word. They have other strange customs; but I have told the principal of them, and the most remarkable, that I may pass on and further relate what befel us.
THE CHRISTIANS LEAVE THE ISLAND OF MALHADO.
After Dorantes and Castillo returned to the Island, they brought together the Christians, who were somewhat separated, and found them in all to be fourteen. As I have said, I was opposite on the main, where my Indians had taken me, and where so great sickness had come upon me, that if anything before had given me hopes of life, this were enough to have entirely bereft me of them.
When the Christians heard of my condition, they gave an Indian the cloak of marten skins we had taken from the cacique, as before related, to pass them over to where I was that they might visit me. Twelve of them crossed; for two were so feeble that their comrades could not venture to bring them. The names of those who came were Alonzo del Castillo, Andres Dorantes, Diego Dorantes, Yaldevieso, Estrada, Tostado, Chaves, Gutierrez, Asturiano a clergyman, Diego de Huelva, Estevarico a black, and Benitez; and when they reached the main land, they found another, who was one of our company, named Francisco de Leon. The thirteen together followed along the coast. So soon as they had come over, my Indians informed me of it, and that Hieronymo de Alvaniz and Lope de Oviedo remained on the island. But sickness prevented me from going with my companions or even seeing them.
I was obliged to remain with the people belonging to the island more than a year, and because of the hard work they put upon me and the harsh treatment, I resolved to flee from them and go to those of Charruco, who inhabit the forests and country of the main, the life I led being insupportable. Besides much other labor, I had to get out roots from below the water, and from among the cane where they grew in the ground. From this employment I had my fingers so worn that did a straw but touch them they would bleed. Many of the canes are broken, so they often tore my flesh, and I had to go in the midst of them with only the clothing on I have mentioned.
Accordingly, I put myself to contriving how I might get over to the other Indians, among whom matters turned somewhat more favorably for me. I set to trafficing, and strove to make my employment profitable in the ways I could best contrive, and by that means I got food and good treatment. The Indians would beg me to go from one quarter to another for things of which they have need; for in consequence of incessant hostilities, they cannot traverse the country, nor make many exchanges. With my merchandise and trade I went into the interior as far as I pleased, and traveled along the coast forty or fifty leagues. The principal wares were cones and other pieces of sea‑snail, conches used for cutting, and fruit like a bean of the highest value among them, which they use as a medicine and employ in their dances and festivities. Among other matters were sea‑beads. Such were what I carried into the interior; and in barter I got and brought back skins; ochre with which they rub and color the face, hard canes of which to make arrows, sinews, cement and flint for the heads, and tassels of the hair of deer that by dyeing they make red. This occupation suited me well; for the travel allowed me liberty to go where I wished, I was not obliged to work, and was not a slave. Wherever I went I received fair treatment, and the Indians gave me to eat out of regard to my commodities. My leading object, while journeying in this business, was to find out the way by which I should go forward, and I became well known. The inhabitants were pleased when they saw me, and I had brought them what they wanted; and those who did not know me sought and desired the acquaintance, for my reputation. The hardships that I underwent in this were long to tell, as well of peril and privation as of storms and cold. Oftentimes they overtook me alone and in the wilderness; but I came forth from them all by the great mercy of God, our Lord. Because of them I avoided pursuing the business in winter, a season in which the natives themselves retire to their huts and ranches, torpid and incapable of exertion.
I was in this country nearly six years, alone among the Indians, and naked like them. The reason why I remained so long, was that I might take with me the Christian, Lope de Oviedo, from the island; Alaniz, his companion, who had been left with him by Alonzo del Castillo, Andrés Dorantes and the rest, died soon after their departure; and to get the survivor out from there, I went over to the island every year, and entreated him that we should go, in the best way we could contrive, in quest of Christians. He put me off every year, saying in the next coming we would start. At last I got him off, crossing him over the bay, and over four rivers in the coast, as he could not swim. In this way we went on with some Indians, until coming to a bay a league in width, and everywhere deep. From the appearance we supposed it to be that which is called Espiritu Sancto. We met some Indians on the other side of it, coming to visit ours, who told us that beyond them were three men like us, and gave their names. We asked for the others, and were told that they were all dead of cold and hunger; that the Indians farther on, of whom they were, for their diversion had killed Diego Dorantes, Valdevieso, and Diego de Huelva, because they left one house for another; and that other Indians, their neighbors with whom Captain Dorantes now was, had in consequence of a dream, killed Esquivel and Mendez. We asked how the living were situated, and they answered that they were very ill used, the boys and some of the Indian men being very idle, out of cruelty gave them many kicks, cuffs and blows with sticks; that such was the life they led.
We desired to be informed of the country ahead, and of the subsistence: they said there was nothing to eat, and that it was thin of people, who suffered of cold, having no skins or other things to cover them. They told us also if we wished to see those three Christians, two days from that time the Indians who had them would come to eat walnuts a league from there on the margin of that river; and that we might know what they told us of the ill usage to be true, they slapped my companion and beat him with a stick, and I was not left without my portion. Many times they threw lumps of mud at us, and every day they put their arrows to our hearts, saying that they were inclined to kill us in the way that they had destroyed our friends. Lope Oviedo, my comrade, in fear said that he wished to go back with the women of those who had crossed the bay with us, the men having remained some distance behind. I contended strongly against his returning, and urged my objections; but in no way could I keep him. So he went back, and I remained alone with those savages. They are called Quevenes, and those with whom he returned, Deaguanes.
OUR SEPARATION BY THE INDIANS.
When the six months were over, I had to spend with the Christians to put in execution the plan we had concerted, the Indians went after prickly pears, the place at which they grew being thirty leagues off and when we approached the point of flight, those among whom we were, quarreled about a woman. After striking with fists, heating with sticks and bruising heads in great anger, each took his lodge and went his way, whence it became necessary that the Christians should also separate, and in no way could we come together until another year.
In this time I passed a hard life, caused as much by hunger as ill usage. Three times I was obliged to run from my masters, and each time they went in pursuit and endeavored to slay me; but God our Lord in his mercy chose to protect and preserve me; and when the season of prickly pears returned, we again came together in the same place. After we had arranged our escape, and appointed a time, that very day the Indians separated and all went back. I told my comrades I would wait for them among the prickly pear plants until the moon should be full. This day was the first of September, and the first of the moon; and I said that if in this time they did not come as we had agreed, I would leave and go alone. So we parted, each going with his Indians. I remained with mine until the thirteenth day of the moon, having determined to flee to others when it should be full.
At this time Andrés Dorantes arrived with Estevanico and informed me that they had left Castillo with other Indians near by, called Lanegados; that they had encountered great obstacles and wandered about lost; that the next day the Indian’s, among whom we were, would move to where Castillo was, and were going to unite with those who held him and become friends, having been at war until then, and that in this way we should recover Castillo.
We had thirst all the time we ate the pears, which we quenched with their juice. We caught it in a hole made in the earth, and when it was full we drank until satisfied. It is sweet, and the color of must. In this manner they collect it for lack of vessels. There are many kinds of prickly pears, among them some very good, although they all appeared to me to be so, hunger never having given me leisure to choose, nor to reflect upon which were the best.
Nearly all these people drink rain‑water, which lies about in spots. Although there are rivers, as the Indians never have fixed habitations, there are no familiar or known places for getting water. Throughout the country are extensive and beautiful plains with good pasturage; and I think it would be a very fruitful region were it worked and inhabited by civilized men. We nowhere saw mountains.
These Indians told us that there was another people next in advance of us, called Camones, living towards the coast, and that they had killed the people who came in the boat of Peñalosa and Tellez, who arrived so feeble that even while being slain they could offer no resistance, and were all destroyed. We were shown their clothes and arms, and were told that the boat lay there stranded. This, the fifth boat, had remained till then unaccounted for. We have already stated how the boat of the Governor had been carried out to sea, and the one of the Comptroller and the Friars had been cast away on the coast, of which Esquevel narrated the fate of the men. We have once told how the two boats in which Castillo, I and Dorantes came, foundered near the Island of Malhado.
OF OUR ESCAPE.
The second day after we had moved, we commended ourselves to God and set forth with speed, trusting, for all the lateness of the season and that the prickly pears were about ending, with the mast which remained in the woods, we might still be enabled to travel over a large territory. Hurrying on that day in great dread lest the Indians should overtake us, we saw some smokes, and going in the direction of them we arrived there after vespers, and found an Indian. He ran as he discovered us coming, not being willing to wait for us. We sent the negro after him, when he stopped, seeing him alone. The negro told him we were seeking the people who made those fires. He answered that their houses were near by, and he would guide us to them. So we followed him. He ran to make known our approach, and at sunset we saw the houses. Before our arrival, at the distance of two cross‑bow shots from them, we found four Indians, who waited for us and received us well. We said in the language of the Mariames, that we were coming to look for them. They were evidently pleased with our company, and took us to their dwellings. Dorantes and the negro were lodged in the house of a physician, Castillo and myself in that of another.
These people speak a different language, and are called Avavares. They are the same that carried bows to those with whom we formerly lived, going to traffic with them, and although they are of a different nation and tongue, they understand the other language. They arrived that day with their lodges, at the place where we found them. The community directly brought us a great many prickly pears, having heard of us before, of our cures, and of the wonders our Lord worked by us, which, although there had been no others, were adequate to open ways for us through a country poor like this, to afford us people where oftentimes there are none, and to lead us through imminent dangers, not permitting us to be killed, sustaining us under great want, and putting into those nations the heart of kindness, as we shall relate hereafter.
OUR CURE OF SOME OF THE AFFLICTED.
That same night of our arrival, some Indians came to Castillo and told him that they had great pain in the head, begging him to cure them. After he made over them the sign of the cross, and commended them to God, they instantly said that all the pain had left, and went to their houses bringing us prickly pears, with a piece of venison, a thing to us little known. As the report of Castillo’s performances spread, many came to us that night sick, that we should heal them, each bringing a piece of venison, until the quantity became so great we knew not where to dispose of it. We gave many thanks to God, for every day went on increasing his compassion and his gifts. After the sick were attended to, they began to dance and sing, making themselves festive, until sunrise; and because of our arrival, the rejoicing was continued for three days.
When these were ended, we asked the Indians about the country farther on, the people we should find in it, and of the subsistence there. They answered us, that throughout all the region prickly pear plants abounded; but the fruit was now gathered and all the people had gone back to their houses. They said the country was very cold, and there were few skins. Reflecting on this, and that it was already winter, we resolved to pass the season with these Indians.
Five days after our arrival, all the Indians went off, taking us with them to gather more prickly pears, where there were other peoples speaking different tongues. After walking five days in great hunger, since on the way was no manner of fruit, we came to a river and put up our houses. We then went to seek the product of certain trees, which is like peas. As there are no paths in the country, I was detained some time. The others returned, and coming to look for them in the dark, I got lost. Thank God I found a burning tree, and in the warmth of it passed the cold of that night. In the morning, loading myself with sticks, and taking two brands with me, I returned to seek them. In this manner I wandered five days, ever with my fire and load; for if the wood had failed me where none could be found, as many parts are without any, though I might have sought sticks elsewhere, there would have been no fire to kindle them. This was all the protection I had against cold, while walking naked as I was born. Going to the low woods near the rivers, I prepared myself for the night, stopping in them before sunset. I made a hole in the ground and threw in fuel which the trees abundantly afforded, collected in good quantity from those that were fallen and dry. About the whole I made four fires, in the form of a cross, which I watched and made up from time to time. I also gathered some bundles of the coarse straw that there abounds, with which I covered myself in the hole. In this way I was sheltered at night from cold. On one occasion while I slept, the fire fell upon the straw, when it began to blaze so rapidly that notwithstanding the haste I made to get out of it, I carried some marks on my hair of the danger to which I was exposed. All this while I tasted not a mouthful, nor did I find anything I could eat. My feet were bare and bled a good deal. Through the mercy of God, the wind did not blow from the north in all this time, otherwise I should have died.
At the end of the fifth day I arrived on the margin of a river, where I found the Indians, who with the Christians, had considered me dead, supposing that I had been stung by a viper. All were rejoiced to see me, and most so were my companions. They said that up to that time they had struggled with great hunger, which was the cause of their not having sought me. At night, all gave me of their prickly pears, and the next morning we set out for a place where they were in large quantity, with which we satisfied our great craving, the Christians rendering thanks to our Lord that he had ever given us his aid.
1.5.2 Reading and Review Questions
- In Chapter XV, how does Cabeza de Vaca reconcile his practicing the Indians’ healing with his own cultural beliefs?
- In Chapter XV, what information about the Indians’ culture does Cabeza de Vaca convey? How?
- In Chapter XVI, how do the Indians treat the Spaniards? Why?
- In Chapter XIX, what does Cabeza de Vaca learn of the people who came in the boat of Peñalosa and Tellez? What is his attitude toward what he learns? How do you know?
- In Chapter XXI, separated from the Indians and his companions, naked and lost, how does Cabeza de Vaca survive the winter cold? What is his attitude toward his survival? How do you know?
1.6 THOMAS HARRIOT
Thomas Harriot began his professional life working for Sir Walter Raleigh (1552– 1618) as ship designer, navigational instructor, and accountant. In 1585, he extended his professional activities from England to America, where he served as cartographer and surveyor for Raleigh’s second expe‑ dition to Virginia which was based at the ill‑fated Roanoke, site of the infamous Lost Colony. Named after the English sovereign Queen Elizabeth I, Virginia and Roanoke is now modern day North Carolina. Harriot also served as the expedition’s historian, keeping a remarkably‑detailed account he later published as A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia. In it, he offered a firsthand account written by an Englishman for an English audience. He de‑ tailed crops and building materials both as commodities and as means to support colonists. He also offered some details of the culture and lives of the Native Americans he encountered.
Image 1.7 | Thomas Harriot
Artist | Unknown
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
His last stint with Raleigh was as manager of Raleigh’s estates in Waterford, Ireland. Harriot then worked for Henry Percy, the Ninth Earl of Northumberland (1564–1632). From Percy, Harriot received extensive lands and a substantial pension. He devoted the remainder of his life working for himself, so to speak, conducting experiments with the refraction of light and the trajectory of projectiles. His astronomical drawings recorded what later become known as Halley’s Comet, and his invention of the perspective trunk led to the invention of the telescope.
Harriot’s scientific objectivity, observational powers, and notice of concrete particulars contribute to the valuable record of his A Briefe and True Report. This work had an impact not only in England but also the Continent.
Image 1.8 | Thomas Harriot at Syon Park
Artist | Rita Greer
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Free Art License
1.6.1 From A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia
TO THE RIGHT WORTHIE AND HONORABLE, SIR WALTER RALEGH, KNIGHT, SENESCHAL OF THE DVCHIES OF CORNEWALL AND EXETER, AND L. WARDEN OF THE STANNARIES IN DEUON AND CORNEWALL, T.B. WISHETH TRUE FELICITIE.
SIR, seeing that the parte of the Worlde, which is betwene the FLORIDA and the Cap BRETON nowe nammed VIRGINIA, to the honneur of yours most souueraine Layde and Queene ELIZABETZ, hath ben descouuerd by yours meanes. And great chardges. And that your Collonye hath been theer established to your great honnor and prayse, and noelesser proffit vnto the common welth: Yt ys good raison that euery man euertwe him selfe for to showe the benefit which they haue receue of yt. Theerfore, for my parte I haue been allwayes Desirous for to make yow knowe the good will that I haue to remayne still your most humble særuant. I haue thincke that I cold faynde noe better occasion to declare yt, then takinge the paines to cott in copper (the most diligent ye and well that wear in my possible to doe) the Figures which doe leuelye represent the forme and maner of the Inhabitants of the sane countrye with theirs ceremonies, sollemne feastes, and the manner and situation of their Townes of Villages. Addinge vnto euery figure a brief declaration of the same, to that ende that cuerye man cold the better vnderstand that which is in liuely represented. Moreouer I haue thincke that the aforesaid figures wear of greater commendation, If somme Histoire which traitinge of the commodites and fertillitye of the rapport which Thomas Hariot hath lattely sett foorth, and haue causse them booth togither to be printed for to dedicated vnto you, as a thiuge which by reigtte dooth allreadye apparteyne vnto you. Therfore doe I creaue that you will accept this little Booke, and take yt In goode partte. And desiring that fauor that you will receue me in the nomber of one of your most humble seruantz, besechinge the lord to blese and further you in all yours good doinges and actions, and allso to preserue, and keepe you allwayes in good helthe. And so I comitt you unto the almyhttie, from Franckfort the first of Apprill 1590.
Your most humble seruant,
THEODORVS de BRY.
TO THE ADVENTVRERS, FAVORERS, AND VVELVVILLERS OF THE ENTERPRISE FOR THE INHABITTING AND PLANTING IN VIRGINIA.
SINCE the first vndertaking by Sir Walter Ralegh to deale in the action of discouering of that Countrey which is now called and known by the name of VIRGINIA; many voyages hauing bin thiter made at sundrie times to his great charge; as first in the yeere 1584. and afterwardes in the yeeres 1585. 1586. and now of late this last yeare of 1587. There haue bin diuers and variable reportes with some slaunderous and shamefull speeches bruited abroade by many that returned from thence. Especially of that discouery which was made by the Colony transported by Sir Richard Greinuile in the yeare 1585. being of all the others the most principal and as yet of most effect, the time of their abode in the countrey beeing a whole yeare, when as in the other voyage before they staied but sixe weekes; and the others after were onelie for supply and transportation, nothing more being discouered then had been before. Which reports haue not done a litle wrong to many that otherwise would have also fauoured & aduentured in the action, to the honour and benefite of our nation, besides the particular profite and credite which would redound to them selues the dealers therein; as I hope by the sequele of euents to the shame of those that haue auouched the contrary shalbe manifest: if you the aduenturers, fauourers, and welwillers do but either encrease in number, or in opinion continue, or hauing bin doubtfull renewe your good liking and furtherance to deale therein according to the worthinesse thereof alreadye found and as you shall vnderstand hereafter to be requisite. Touching which woorthines through cause of the diuersitie of relations and reportes, manye of your opinions coulde not bee firme, nor the mindes of some that are well disposed, bee setled in any certaintie.
I haue therefore thought it good beeing one that haue beene in the discouerie and in dealing with the natuall inhabitantes specially imploied; and hauing therefore seene and knowne more then the ordinaire: to imparte so much vnto you of the fruites of our labours, as that you may knowe howe iniuriously the enterprise is slaundered. And that in publike manner at this present chiefelie for two respectes.
First that some of you which are yet ignorant or doubtfull of the state thereof, may see that there is sufficiêt cause why the cheefe enterpriser with the fauour of her Maiestie, notwithstanding suche reportes; hath not onelie since continued the action by sending into the countrey againe, and replanting this last yeere a new Colony; but is also readie, according as the times and meanes will affoorde, to follow and prosecute the same.
Secondly, that you seeing and knowing the continuance of the action by the view hereof you may generally know & learne what the countrey is; & therevpon cõsider how your dealing therein if it proceede, may returne you profit and gaine; bee it either by inhabitting & planting or otherwise in furthering thereof.
And least that the substance of my relation should be doubtful vnto you, as of others by reason of their diuersitie: I will first open the cause in a few wordes wherefore they are so different; referring my selue to your fauourable constructions, and to be adiudged of as by good consideration you shall finde cause.
Of our companie that returned some for their misdemenour and ill dealing in the countrey, haue beene there worthily punished; who by reason of their bade natures, haue maliciously not onelie spoken ill of their Gouernours; but for their sakes slaundered the countrie it selfe. The like also haue those done which were of their confort.
Some beeing ignorant of the state thereof, nothwithstanding since their returne amongest their friendes and acquaintance and also others, especially if they were in companie where they might not be gainesaide; woulde seeme to know so much as no men more; and make no men so great trauailers as themselues. They stood so much as it maie seeme vppon their credite and reputation that hauing been a twelue moneth in the countrey, it woulde haue beene a great disgrace vnto them as they thought, if they coulde not haue saide much wheter it were true or false. Of which some haue spoken of more then euer they saw or otherwise knew to bee there; othersome haue not bin ashamed to make absolute deniall of that which although not by thê, yet by others is most certainely ãd there plêtifully knowne. And othersome make difficulties of those things they haue no skill of.
The cause of their ignorance was, in that they were of that many that were neuer out of the Iland where wee were seated, or not farre, or at the leastwise in few places els, during the time of our aboade in the countrey; or of that many that after golde and siluer was not so soone found, as it was by them looked for, had little or no care of any other thing but to pamper their bellies; or of that many which had little vnderstanding, lesse discretion, and more tongue then was needfull or requisite.
Some also were of a nice bringing vp, only in cities or townes, or such as neuer (as I may say) had seene the world before. Because there were not to bee found any English cities, norsuch faire houses, nor at their owne wish any of their olde accustomed daintie food, nor any soft beds of downe or fethers: the countrey was to them miserable, & their reports thereof according.
Because my purpose was but in briefe to open the cause of the varietie of such speeches; the particularities of them, and of many enuious, malicious, and slaûderous reports and deuises els, by our owne countrey men besides; as trifles that are not worthy of wise men to bee thought vpon, I meane not to trouble you withall: but will passe to the commodities, the substance of that which I haue to make relation of vnto you.
The treatise where of for your more readie view & easier vnderstanding I will diuide into three speciall parts. In the first I will make declaration of such commodities there alreadie found or to be raised, which will not onely serue the ordinary turnes of you which are and shall bee the plãters and inhabitants, but such an ouerplus sufficiently to bee yelded, or by men of skill to bee prouided, as by way of trafficke and exchaunge with our owne nation of England, will enrich your selues the prouiders; those that shal deal with you; the enterprisers in general; and greatly profit our owne countrey men, to supply them with most things which heretofore they haue bene faine to prouide, either of strangers or of our enemies: which commodities for distinction sake, I call Merchantable.
In the second, I will set downe all the cõmodities which wee know the countrey by our experience doeth yeld of its selfe for victuall, and sustenance of mans life; such as is vsually fed vpon by the inhabitants of the countrey, as also by vs during the time we were there.
In the last part I will make mention generally of such other cõmodities besides, as I am able to remember, and as I shall thinke behoofull for those that shall inhabite, and plant there to knowe of; which specially concerne building, as also some other necessary vses: with a briefe description of the nature and maners of the people of the countrey.
THE THIRD AND LAST PART, OF SVCH OTHER THINGES AS IS BE HOO‑ FULL FOR THOSE WHICH SHALL PLANT AND INHABIT TO KNOW OF; WITH A DESCRIPTION OF THE NATURE AND MANNERS OF THE PEOPLE OF THE COUNTREY.
Of commodities for building and other necessary uses.
THOSE other things which I am more to make rehearsall of, are such as concerne building, and other mechanicall necessarie vses; as diuers sortes of trees for house & ship timber, and other vses els: Also lime, stone, and brick, least that being not mentioned some might haue bene doubted of, or by some that are malicious reported the contrary.
Okes, there are as faire, straight, tall, and as good timber as any can be, and also great store, and in some places very great.
Walnut trees, as I haue saide before very many, some haue bene seen excellent faire timber of foure & fiue fadome, & aboue fourescore foot streight without bough.
Firre trees fit for masts of ships, some very tall & great. [Rakíock]
Rakíock, a kind of trees so called that are sweet wood of which the inhabitans that were neere vnto vs doe commonly make their boats or Canoes of the form of trowes; only with the helpe of fire, harchets of stones, and shels; we haue known some so great being made in that sort of one tree that they haue carried well xx. men at once, besides much baggage: the timber being great, tal, streight, soft, light, & yet tough enough I thinke (besides other vses) to be fit also for masts of ships.
Cedar, a sweet wood good for seelings, Chests, Boxes, Bedsteedes, Lutes, Virginals, and many things els, as I haue also said before. Some of our company which haue wandered in some places where I haue not bene, haue made certaine affirmation of Cyprus which for such and other excellent vses, is also a wood of price and no small estimation.
Maple, and also Wich-hazle; wherof the inhabitants vse to make their bowes.
Holly a necessary thing for the making of birdlime.
Willowes good for the making of weares and weeles to take fish after the English manner, although the inhabitants vse only reedes, which because they are so strong as also flexible, do serue for that turne very well and sufficiently.
Beech and Ashe, good for caske, hoopes: and if neede require, plow worke, as also for many things els.
Ascopo a kinde of tree very like vnto Lawrell, the barke is hoat in tast and spicie, it is very like to that tree which Monardus describeth to bee Cassia Lignea of the West Indies.
There are many other strange trees whose names I knowe not but in the Virginian language, of which I am not nowe able, neither is it so conuenient for the present to trouble you with particular relatiõ: seeing that for timber and other necessary vses I haue named sufficient: And of many of the rest but that they may be applied to good vse, I know no cause to doubt.
Now for Stone, Bricke and Lime, thus it is. Neere vnto the Sea coast where wee dwelt, there are no kind of stones to bee found (except a fewe small pebbles about foure miles off) but such as haue bene brought from farther out of the maine. In some of our voiages wee haue seene diuers hard raggie stones, great pebbles, and a kinde of grey stone like vnto marble, of which the inhabitants make their hatchets to cleeue wood. Vpon inquirie wee heard that a little further vp into the Countrey were all sortes verie many, although of Quarries they are ignorant, neither haue they vse of any store whereupon they should haue occasion to seeke any. For if euerie housholde haue one or two to cracke Nuttes, grinde shelles, whet copper, and sometimes other stones for hatchets, they haue enough: neither vse they any digging, but onely for graues about three foote deepe: and therefore no maruaile that they know neither Quarries, nor lime stones, which both may bee in places neerer than they wot of.
In the meane time vntill there bee discouerie of sufficient store in some place or other cõuenient, the want of you which are and shalbe the planters therein may be as well supplied by Bricke: for the making whereof in diuers places of the countrey there is clay both excellent good, and plentie; and also by lime made of Oister shels, and of others burnt, after the maner as they vse in the Iles of Tenet and Shepy, and also in diuers other places of England: Which kinde of lime is well knowne to bee as good as any other. And of Oister shels there is plentie enough: for besides diuers other particular places where are abundance, there is one shallowe sounde along the coast, where for the space of many miles together in length, and two or three miles in breadth, the grounde is nothing els beeing but halfe a foote or a foote vnder water for the most part.
This much can I say further more of stones, that about 120. miles from our fort neere the water in the side of a hill was founde by a Gentleman of our company, a great veine of hard ragge stones, which I thought good to remember vnto you.
Of the nature and manners of the people.
It resteth I speake a word or two of the naturall inhabitants, their natures and maners, leauing large discourse thereof vntill time more conuenient hereafter: nowe onely so farre foorth, as that you may know, how that they in respect of troubling our inhabiting and planting, are not to be feared; but that they shall haue cause both to feare and loue vs, that shall inhabite with them.
They are a people clothed with loose mantles made of Deere skins, & aprons of the same rounde about their middles; all els naked; of such as difference of statures only as wee in England; hauing no edge tooles or weapons of yron or steele to offend vs withall, neither know they how to make any: those weapõs that they haue, are onlie bowes made of Witch hazle, & arrowes of reeds; flat edged truncheons also of wood about a yard long, neither haue they any thing to defend themselues but targets made of barcks; and some armours made of stickes wickered together with thread.
Their townes are but small, & neere the sea coast but few, some cõtaining but 10. or 12. houses: some 20. the greatest that we haue seene haue bene but of 30. houses: if they be walled it is only done with barks of trees made fast to stakes, or els with poles onely fixed vpright and close one by another.
Their houses are made of small poles made fast at the tops in rounde forme after the maner as is vsed in many arbories in our gardens of England, in most townes couered with barkes, and in some with artificiall mattes made of long rushes; from the tops of the houses downe to the ground. The length of them is commonly double to the breadth, in some places they are but 12. and 16. yardes long, and in other some wee haue seene of foure and twentie.
In some places of the countrey one onely towne belongeth to the gouernment of a Wiróans or chiefe Lorde; in other some two or three, in some sixe, eight, & more; the greatest Wiróans that yet we had dealing with had but eighteene townes in his gouernmêt, and able to make not aboue seuen or eight hundred fighting men at the most: The language of euery gouernment is different from any other, and the farther they are distant the greater is the difference.
Their maner of warres amongst themselues is either by sudden surprising one an other most commonly about the dawning of the day, or moone light; or els by ambushes, or some suttle deuises: Set battels are very rare, except if fall out where there are many trees, where eyther part may haue some hope of defence, after the deliuerie of euery arrow, in leaping behind some or other.
If there fall out any warres betweê vs & them; what their fight is likely to bee, we hauing aduantages against them so many maner of waies, as by our discipline, our strange weapons and deuises els; especially by ordinance great and small, it may be easily imagined; by the experience we haue had in some places, the turning vp of their heeles against vs in running away was their best defence.
In respect of vs they are a people poore, and for want of skill and iudgement in the knowledge and vse of our things, doe esteeme our trifles before thinges of greater value: Notwithstanding in their proper manner considering the want of such meanes as we haue, they seeme very ingenious; For although they haue no such tooles, nor any such craftes, sciences and artes as wee; yet in those thinges they doe, they shewe excellencie of wit. And by howe much they vpon due consideration shall finde our manner of knowledges and craftes to exceede theirs in perfection, and speed for doing or execution, by so much the more is it probable that they shoulde desire our friendships & loue, and haue the greater respect for pleasing and obeying vs. Whereby may bee hoped if meanes of good gouernment bee vsed, that they may in short time be brought to ciuilitie, and the imbracing of true religion.
Some religion they haue alreadie, which although it be farre from the truth, yet beyng as it is, there is hope it may bee the easier and sooner reformed.
They beleeue that there are many Gods which they call Mantóac, but of different sortes and degrees; one onely chiefe and great God, which hath bene from all eternitie. Who as they affirme when hee purposed to make the worlde, made first other goddes of a principall order to bee as meanes and instruments to bee vsed in the creation and gouernment to follow; and after the Sunne, Moone, and Starres, as pettie goddes and the instruments of the other order more principall. First they say were made waters, out of which by the gods was made all diuersitie of creatures that are visible or inuisible.
For mankind they say a woman was made first, which by the woorking of one of the goddes, conceiued and brought foorth children: And in such sort they say they had their beginning.
But how manie yeeres or ages haue passed since, they say they can make no relation, hauing no letters nor other such meanes as we to keepe recordes of the particularities of times past, but onelie tradition from father to sonne.
They thinke that all the gods are of humane shape, & therfore they represent them by images in the formes of men, which they call Kewasowok one alone is called Kewás; Them they place in houses appropriate or temples which they call Mathicómuck; Where they woorship, praie, sing, and make manie times offerings vnto them. In some Machicómuck we haue seene but on Kewas, in some two, and in other some three; The common sort thinke them to be also gods.
They beleeue also the immortalitie of the soule, that after this life as soone as the soule is departed from the bodie according to the workes it hath done, it is eyther carried to heauê the habitacle of gods, there to enioy perpetuall blisse and happiness, or els to a great pitte or hole, which they thinke to bee in the furthest partes of their part of the worlde towarde the sunne set, there to burne continually: the place they call Popogusso.
For the confirmation of this opinion, they tolde mee two stories of two men that had been lately dead and reuiued againe, the one happened but few yeres before our comming in the countrey of a wicked man which hauing beene dead and buried, the next day the earth of the graue beeing seene to moue, was takê vp againe; Who made declaration where his soule had beene, that is to saie very neere entring into Popogusso, had not one of the gods saued him & gaue him leaue to returne againe, and teach his friends what they should doe to auiod that terrible place of tormenr.
The other happened in the same yeere wee were there, but in a towne that was threescore miles from vs, and it was tolde mee for straunge newes that one beeing dead, buried and taken vp againe as the first, shewed that although his bodie had lien dead in the graue, yet his soule was aliue, and had trauailed farre in a long broade waie, on both sides whereof grewe most delicate and pleasaût trees, bearing more rare and excellent fruites then euer hee had seene before or was able to expresse, and at length came to most braue and faire houses, neere which hee met his father, that had beene dead before, who gaue him great charge to goe backe againe and shew his friendes what good they were to doe to enioy the pleasures of that place, which when he had done he should after come againe.
What subtilty soeuer be in the Wiroances and Priestes, this opinion worketh so much in manie of the common and simple sort of people that it maketh them haue great respect to their Gouernours, and also great care what they do, to auoid torment after death, and to enjoy blisse; although nothwithstanding there is punishment ordained for malefactours, as stealers, whoremoongers, and other sortes of wicked doers; some punished with death, some with forfeitures, some with beating, according to the greatnes of the factes.
And this is the summe of their religion, which I learned by hauing special familiarity [miliarity] with some of their priestes. Wherein they were not so sure grounded, nor gaue such credite to their traditions and stories but through conuersing with vs they were brought into great doubts of their owne, and no small admiratiõ of ours, with earnest desire in many, to learne more than we had meanes for want of perfect vtterance in their language to expresse.
Most thinges they sawe with vs, as Mathematicall instruments, sea compasses, the vertue of the loadstone in drawing yron, a perspectiue glasse whereby was shewed manie strange sightes, burning glasses, wildefire woorkes, gunnes, bookes, writing and reading, spring clocks that seeme to goe of themselues, and manie other thinges that wee had, were so straunge vnto them, and so farre exceeded their capacities to comprehend the reason and meanes how they should be made and done, that they thought they were rather the works of gods then of men, or at the leastwise they had bin giuen and taught vs of the gods. Which made manie of them to haue such opinions of vs, as that if they knew not the trueth of god and religion already, it was rather to be had from vs, whom God so specially loued then from a people that were so simple, as they found themselues to be in comparison of vs. Whereupon greater credite was giuen vnto that we spake of concerning such matters.
Manie times and in euery towne where I came, according as I was able, I made declaration of the contentes of the Bible; that therein was set foorth the true and onelie GOD, and his mightie woorkes, that therein was contayned the true doctrine of saluation through Christ, which manie particularities of Miracles and chiefe poyntes of religion, as I was able then to vtter, and thought fitte for the time. And although I told them the booke materially & of itself was not of anie such vertue, as I thought they did conceiue, but onely the doctrine therein cõtained; yet would many be glad to touch it, to embrace it, to kisse it, to hold it to their brests and heades, and stroke ouer all their bodie with it; to shew their hungrie desire of that knowledge which was spoken of.
The Wiroans with whom we dwelt called Wingina, and many of his people would be glad many times to be with vs at our praiers, and many times call vpon vs both in his owne towne, as also in others whither he sometimes accompanied vs, to pray and sing Psalmes; hoping thereby to bee partaker in the same effectes which wee by that meanes also expected.
Twise this Wiroans was so greiuously sicke that he was like to die, and as hee laie languishing, doubting of anie helpe by his owne priestes, and thinking he was in such daunger for offending vs and thereby our god, sent for some of vs to praie and bee a meanes to our God that it would please him either that he might liue or after death dwell with him in blisse; so likewise were the requestes of manie others in the like case.
On a time also when their corne began to wither by reason of a drouth which happened extraordinarily, fearing that it had come to passe by reason that in some thing they had displeased vs, many woulde come to vs & desire vs to praie to our God of England, that he would perserue their corne, promising that when it was ripe we also should be partakers of the fruite.
There could at no time happen any strange sicknesse, losses, hurtes, or any other crosse vnto them, but that they would impute to vs the cause or meanes therof for offending or not pleasing vs.
One other rare and strange accident, leauing others, will I mention before I ende, which mooued the whole countrey that either knew or hearde of vs, to haue vs in wonderfull admiration.
There was no towne where we had any subtile deuise practised against vs, we leauing it vnpunished or not reuenged (because wee sought by all meanes possible to win them by gentlenesse) but that within a few dayes after our departure from euerie such towne, the people began to die very fast, and many in short space; in some townes about twentie, in some fourtie, in some sixtie, & in one sixe score, which in trueth was very manie in respect of their numbers. This happened in no place that wee could learne but where wee had bene, where they vsed some practise against vs, and after such time; The disease also so strange, that they neither knew what it was, nor how to cure it; the like by the report of the oldest men in the countrey neuer happened before, time out of minde. A thing specially obserued by vs as also by the naturall inhabitants themselues.
Insomuch that when some of the inhabitantes which were our friends & especially the Wiroans Wingina had obserued such effects in foure or fiue towns to follow their wicked practises, they were preswaded that it was the worke of our God through our meanes, and that wee by him might kil and slai whom we would without weapons and not come neere them.
And thereupon when it had happened that they had vnderstanding that any of their enemies had abused vs in our iourneyes, hearing that wee had wrought no reuenge with our weapons, & fearing vpon some cause the matter should so rest: did come and intreate vs that we woulde bee a meanes to our God that they as others that had dealt ill with vs might in like sort die; alleaging howe much it would be for our credite and profite, as also theirs; and hoping furthermore that we would do so much at their requests in respect of the friendship we professe them.
Whose entreaties although wee shewed that they were vngodlie, affirming that our God would not subiect him selfe to anie such praiers and requestes of mê: that in deede all thinges haue beene and were to be done according to his good pleasure as he had ordained: ãd that we to shew ourselues his true seruãts ought rather to make petition for the contrarie, that they with them might liue together with vs, bee made partakers of his truth & serue him in righteousnes; but notwitstanding in such sort, that wee referre that as all other thinges, to bee done according to his diuine will & pleasure, ãd as by his wisedome he had ordained to be best.
Yet because the effect fell out so sodainly and shortly after according to their desires, they thought neuertheless it came to passe by our meanes, and that we in vsing such speeches vnto them did but dissemble in the matter, and therefore came vnto vs to giue vs thankes in their manner that although wee satisfied them not in promise, yet in deedes and effect we had fulfilled their desires.
This maruelous accident in all the countrie wrought so strange opinions of vs, that some people could not tel whether to think vs gods or men, and the rather because that all the space of their sicknesse, there was no man of ours knowne to die, or that was specially sicke: they noted also that we had no women amongst vs, neither that we did care for any of theirs.
Some therefore were of opinion that wee were not borne of women, and therefore not mortall, but that wee were men of an old generation many yeeres past then risen againe to immortalitie.
Some woulde likewise seeme to prophesie that there were more of our generation yet to come, to kill theirs and take their places, as some thought the purpose was by that which was already done.
Those that were immediatly to come after vs they imagined to be in the aire, yet inuisible & without bodies, & that they by our intreaty & for the loue of vs did make the people to die in that sort as they did by shooting inuisible bullets into them.
To confirme this opinion their phisitions to excuse their ignorance in curing the disease, would not be ashemed to say, but earnestly make the simple people beleue, that the strings of blood that they sucked out of the sicke bodies, were the strings wherewithal the inuisible bullets were tied and cast.
Some also thought that we shot them ourselues out of our pieces from the place where we dwelt, and killed the people in any such towne that had offended vs as we listed, how farre distant from vs soeuer it were.
And other some saide that it was the speciall woorke of God for our sakes, as wee our selues haue cause in some sorte to thinke no lesse, whatsoeuer some doe or maie imagine to the contrarie, specially some Astrologers knowing of the Eclipse of the Sunne which wee saw the same yeere before in our voyage thytherward, which vnto them appeared very terrible. And also of a Comet which beganne to appeare but a few daies before the beginning of the said sicknesse. But to exclude them from being the speciall an accident, there are farther reasons then I thinke fit at this present to bee alleadged.
These their opinions I haue set downe the more at large that it may appeare vnto you that there is good hope they may be brought through discreet dealing and gouernement to the imbracing of the trueth, and nsequently to honour, obey, feare and loue vs.
And although some of our companie towardes the ende of the yeare, shewed themselues too fierce, in slaying some of the people, in some towns, vpon causes that on our part, might easily enough haue been borne withall: yet notwithstanding because it was on their part iustly deserued, the alteration of their opinions generally & for the most part concerning vs is the lesse to bee doubted. And whatsoeuer els they may be, by carefulnesse of our selues neede nothing at all to be feared.
The best neuerthelesse in this as in all actions besides is to be endeuoured and hoped, & of the worst that may happen notice to bee taken with consideration, and as much as may be eschewed.
NOW I haue as I hope made relation not of so fewe and smal things but that the countrey of men that are indifferent & wel disposed maie be sufficiently liked: If there were no more knowen then I haue mentioned, which doubtlesse and in great reason is nothing to that which remaineth to bee discouered, neither the soile, nor commodities. As we haue reason so to gather by the difference we found in our trauails: for although all which I haue before spoken of, haue bin discouered & experiemented not far from the sea coast where was our abode & most of our trauailing: yet somtimes as we made our iourneies farther into the maine and countrey; we found the soyle to bee fatter; the trees greater and to growe thinner; the grounde more firme and deeper mould; more and larger champions; finer grasse and as good as euer we saw any in England; in some places rockie and farre more high and hillie ground; more plentie of their fruites; more abondance of beastes; the more inhabited with people, and of greater pollicie & larger dominions, with greater townes and houses.
Why may wee not then looke for in good hope from the inner parts of more and greater plentie, as well of other things, as of those which wee haue alreadie discouered? Vnto the Spaniardes happened the like in discouering the maine of the West Indies. The maine also of this countrey of Virginia, extending some wayes so many hundreds of leagues, as otherwise then by the relation of the inhabitants wee haue most certaine knowledge of, where yet no Christian Prince hath any possession or dealing, cannot but yeeld many kinds of excellent commodities, which we in our discouerie haue not yet seene.
What hope there is els to be gathered of the nature of the climate, being answerable to the Iland of Iapan, the land of China, Persia, Jury, the Ilandes of Cyprus and Candy, the South parts Greece, Italy, and Spaine, and of many other notable and famous countreis, because I meane not to be tedious, I leaue to your owne consideration.
Whereby also the excellent temperature of the ayre there at all seasons, much warmer then in England, and neuer so violently hot, as sometimes is vnder & between the Tropikes, or neere them; cannot bee vnknowne vnto you without farther relation.
For the holsomnesse thereof I neede to say but thus much: that for all the want of prouision, as first of English victuall; excepting for twentie daies, wee liued only by drinking water and by the victuall of the countrey, of which some sorts were very straunge vnto vs, and might haue bene thought to haue altered our temperatures in such sort as to haue brought vs into some greeuous and dãgerous diseases: secondly the wãt of English meanes, for the taking of beastes, fishe, and foule, which by the helpe only of the inhabitants and their meanes, coulde not bee so suddenly and easily prouided for vs, nor in so great numbers & quantities, nor of that choise as otherwise might haue bene to our better satisfaction and contentment. Some want also wee had of clothes. Furthermore, in all our trauailes which were most speciall and often in the time of winter, our lodging was in the open aire vpon the grounde. And yet I say for all this, there were but foure of our whole company (being one hundred and eight) that died all the yeere and that but at the latter ende thereof and vpon none of the aforesaide causes. For all foure especially three were feeble, weake, and sickly persons before euer they came thither, and those that knewe them much marueyled that they liued so long beeing in that case, or had aduentured to trauaile.
Seing therefore the ayre there is so temperate and holsome, the soyle so fertile and yeelding such commodities as I haue before mentioned, the voyage also thither to and fro beeing sufficiently experimented, to bee perfourmed thrise a yeere with ease and at any season thereof: And the dealing of Sir Walter Raleigh so liberall in large giuing and graûting lande there, as is alreadie knowen, with many helpes and furtherances els: (The least that hee hath graunted hath beene fiue hundred acres to a man onely for the aduenture of his person): I hope there reamine no cause whereby the action should be misliked.
If that those which shall thither trauaile to inhabite and plant bee but reasonably prouided for the first yere as those are which were transported the last, and beeing there doe vse but that diligence and care as is requisite, and as they may with eese: There is no doubt but for the time following they may haue victuals that is excellent good and plentie enough; some more Englishe sortes of cattaile also hereafter, as some haue bene before, and are there yet remaining, may and shall bee God willing thiter transported: So likewise our kinde of fruites, rootes, and hearbes may bee there planted and sowed, as some haue bene alreadie, and proue wel: And in short time also they may raise of those sortes of commodities which I haue spoken of as shall both enrich theselues, as also others that shall deale with them.
And this is all the fruites of our labours, that I haue thought necessary to aduertise you of at this present: what els concerneth the nature and manners of the inhabitants of Virginia: The number with the particularities of the voyages thither made; and of the actions of such that haue bene by Sir Walter Raleigh therein and there imployed, many worthy to bee remembered; as of the first discouerers of the Countrey: of our generall for the time Sir Richard Greinuile; and after his departure, of our Gouernour there Master Rafe Lane; with diuers other directed and imployed vnder theyr gouernement: Of the Captaynes and Masters of the voyages made since for transporation; of the Gouernour and assistants of those alredie transported, as of many persons, accidêts, and thinges els, I haue ready in a discourse by it selfe in maner of a Chronicle according to the course of times, and when time shall bee thought conuenient shall be also published.
This referring my relation to your fauourable constructions, expecting good successe of the action, from him which is to be acknowledged the authour and gouernour not only of this but of all things els, I take my leaue of you, this moneth of Februarii, 1588.
1.6.2 Reading and Review Questions
- How does Harriot determine the value of the land’s resources in Virginia? Why?
- What is his attitude towards the British and their place in Virginia? Why?
- By what standards does Harriot evaluate the lifestyle of the Native Americans he encounters? Their government?
- Why does Harriot make a point of describing the warfare of the Native Americans he encounters? How do you know?
- What grounds the Native American’s virtues, ethics, and morality, according to Harriot’s depiction of them? Why do you think?
1.7 SAMUEL DE CHAMPLAIN
Samuel de Champlain was born at Brouage, Saintagone, France. His education focused on seamanship and navigation. In 1599, he undertook the first of several voy‑ ages to America, joining a Spanish fleet to the Caribbean. His record of this voyage, including illustrations and first‑hand de‑ scriptions of the Spanish empire and their rule over American Indians, won him the attention and support of Henry IV, king of France.
Image 1.3 | Samuel de Champlain
Artist | Samuel de Champlain
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
As Royal Geographer, he joined Francois Pont‑Grave’s expedition charged with establishing a French colony in America. He sailed up the Saint Lawrence River and proposed a settlement at what is now the lower town of Quebec City. His written reports on America, first with Des Sauvages (of the Indians) (1604) followed by his Les Voyages (1613) did much to encourage French interest in America.
He defended the small colony through alliances with the Montagnais, the Algonquians, and the Hurons, joining them in a fierce battle against the Mohawk in what is now central New York. He died on Christmas Day in 1635 and was buried at Notre Dame de la Recouvance, a Catholic church he founded in what is now Quebec City. He is still known as the father of New France.
1.7.1 From The Voyages and Explorations of Sieur de Champlain
Extent of New France and the excellence of its soil. Reasons for establishing Colonies in the New France of the West. Rivers, lakes, ponds, woods, meadows and islands of New France. Its fertility. Its peoples.
The labors that Sieur de Champlain has endured in discovering several countries, lakes, rivers, and islands of New France, during the last twenty‑seven years, have not made him lose courage because of the difficulties that have been encountered; but, on the contrary, the dangers and risks that he has met with, instead of lessening, have redoubled his courage. And two very strong reasons in particular have decided him to make new voyages there. The first is that under the reign of King Louis the Just, France should become enriched and increased by a country of which the extent exceeds sixteen hundred leagues in length and nearly five hundred in breadth; the second, that the richness of the soil and the useful things that can be derived from it, whether for commerce or to make life pleasant in that country, are such that one cannot estimate the advantage that the French would gain from it some day, if the French colonies that may be established there should be protected by the favor and authority of His Majesty.
The new discoveries led to the purpose of establishing colonies, which, though at first of little account, have nevertheless in course of time, by means of commerce, become equal to the states of the greatest Icings. One may put in this class several cities that the Spaniards have founded in Peru and other parts of the world within the last hundred and twenty years, which were nothing to begin with. Europe can offer the example of the city of Venice, which was originally a refuge for poor fishermen. Genoa, one of the most superb cities of the world, was built in a region surrounded by mountains, very wild, and so sterile that the inhabitants were obliged to have soil brought from outside to cultivate their garden plots, and their sea is without fish. The city of Marseilles, which formerly was nothing but a great marsh, surrounded by rugged hills and mountains, nevertheless in the course of time made its land fertile, and has become famous and an important seat of commerce. Similarly, many small colonies which had the convenience of ports and harbors have increased in wealth and in reputation.
It must be said also that the country of New France is a new world, and not a kingdom; perfectly beautiful, with very convenient locations, both on the banks of the great river St. Lawrence (the ornament of the country) and on other rivers, lakes, ponds and brooks. It has, too, an infinite number of beautiful islands, and they contain very pleasant and delightful meadows and groves where, during the spring and the summer, may be seen a great number of birds which come there in their time and season. The soil is very fertile for all kinds of grain; the pasturage is abundant; and a network of great rivers and lakes, which are like seas lying across the countries, lend great facility to all the explorations of the interior, whence one could get access to the oceans on the west, the east, the north, and even on the south.
The country is filled with immense tall forests composed of the same kinds of trees that we have in France. The air is salubrious and the water excellent in the latitudes corresponding to ours. The benefit that can be derived from this country, according to what Sieur de Champlain hopes to demonstrate, is sufficient to make the enterprise worth considering, since this country can supply for the service of the King the same advantages that we have in France, as will appear from the following account.
In New France there are a great many savage peoples; some of whom are sedentary, fond of cultivating the soil, and having cities and villages enclosed with palisades; others are roving tribes which live by hunting and fishing, and have no knowledge of God. But there is hope that the clergy who have been sent there and who are beginning to establish themselves and to found seminaries will be able in a few years to make great progress in the conversion of these peoples. This is the first care of His Majesty, who, turning his eyes toward Heaven rather than toward the earth, will support, if it is his good pleasure, such founders as engage to transport clergy to work at this sacred harvest, and propose to establish a Colony as being the only way of making the name of the true God recognized, and of establishing the Christian religion there: such founders, too, as would oblige the French who go there to work, first of all, at tilling the soil, in order to have the necessaries of life on the spot, without being forced to bring them from France. That done, the country will furnish in abundance all that can be wished in life, whether to satisfy needs or pleasures, as will be shown hereafter.
If one cares for hawking, one can find in these places all sorts of birds of prey in as great numbers as one could wish: falcons, gerfalcons, sakers, tassels, sparhawks, goshawks, marlins, muskets, two kinds of eagles, little and big owls, great horned owls of exceptional size, pyes, woodpeckers. And there are other kinds of birds of prey, less common than those named, with grey plumage on the back and white on the belly, as fat and large as a hen, with one foot like the talon of a bird of prey, with which it catches fish; the other like that of a duck. The latter serves for swimming in the water when he dives for fish. This bird is not supposed to be found except in New France.
For hunting with setters, there are three kinds of partridges: some are true pheasants, others are black, and still others white. These last come in winter and have flesh like wood‑pigeons, of a very excellent flavor.
As for hunting for other game, river birds abound there; all sorts of ducks, teal, white and grey geese, bustards, little geese, woodcock, snipe, little and big larks, plover, herons, cranes, swans, divers of two or three kinds, coots, ospreys, curlews, thrushes, white and grey sea gulls; and on the coasts and shores of the sea, cormorants, sea parrots, sea pyes, and others in infinite numbers which come there in their season.
In the woods and in the country which is inhabited by the Iroquois, a people of New France, there are many wild turkeys, and at Quebec a quantity of turtle‑ doves throughout the summer; also blackbirds, linnets, sky larks, and other kinds of birds of varied plumage, which in their season sing very sweetly.
After this kind of hunting may be mentioned another not less pleasant and agreeable, but more difficult. There are in this same country, foxes, common wolves and spotted lynxes, wild cats, porcupines, beavers, muskrats, otters, sables, martens, varieties of badgers, hares, bears, moose, stags, deer, caribous as big as wild asses, kids, flying squirrels, and other kinds of animals which we do not have in France. They can be caught either by lying in wait or with a trap, or, if one suddenly shouts on the islands where they resort most often, one can kill them easily as they throw themselves in the water when they hear the noise; or they can be caught in any other way that the ingenuity of those who take pleasure in it may suggest.
If one is fond of fishing, whether with the line, nets, warrens, weels or other inventions, there are rivers, brooks, lakes and ponds in as great number as one could desire, with an abundance of salmon; very beautiful trout, fine and large, of every kind; sturgeon of three sizes; shad; very good bass, some of which weigh twenty pounds. There are carp of all kinds and some of them are very large; and pike, some of them five feet long; turbot without scales, two or three kinds, big and little; white fish a foot long; gold fish, smelts, tench, perch, tortoises, seal, of which the oil is very good even for frying; white porpoises, and many others that we do not have and that are not found in our rivers and ponds. All these varieties of fish are found in the great river St. Lawrence; besides, cod and whales are caught on the coasts of New France in nearly all seasons. Thus one can judge of the pleasure that the French will have when once they are settled in these places; living a sweet, quiet life, with perfect freedom to hunt, fish, and make homes for themselves according to their desires; with occupation for the mind in building, clearing the ground, working gardens, planting them, grafting, making nurseries, planting all kinds of grains, roots, vegetables, salad greens and other potherbs, over as much land and in as great quantity as they wish. The vines there bear pretty good grapes, even though they are wild. If these are transplanted and cultivated they will yield fruit in abundance. And he who will have thirty acres of cleared land in that country, with the help of a few cattle, and of hunting and fishing, and trading with the savages in conformity to the regulations of the company of New France, will be able to live there with a family of ten as well as those in France who have an income of fifteen or twenty thousand livres.
That Kings and great Princes ought to take more pains to spread the knowledge of the true God and magnify His glory among barbarians than to multiply their states. Voyages of the French to the New World since the year 1504.
THE most illustrious palms and laurels that kings and princes can win in this world are contempt for temporal blessings and the desire to gain the spiritual. They cannot do this more profitably than by converting, through their labor and piety, to the catholic, apostolic and Roman religion, an infinite number of savages, who live without faith, without law, with no knowledge of the true God. For the taking of forts, the winning of battles, and the conquests of countries, are nothing in comparison with the reward of those who prepare for themselves crowns in heaven, unless it be fighting against infidels. In that case, war is not only necessary, but just and holy, since the safety of Christianity, the glory of God and the defence of the faith are at stake. These labors are, in themselves, praiseworthy and very commendable, besides being in conformity to the commandment of God, which says, That the conversion of an infidel is of more value than the conquest of a kingdom. And if all this cannot move us to seek after heavenly blessings at least as passionately as after those of the earth, it is because men’s covetousness for this world’s blessings is so great that most of them do not care for the conversion of infidels so long as their fortune corresponds to their desires, and everything conforms to their wishes. Moreover, it is this covetousness that has ruined and is wholly ruining the progress and advancement of this enterprise, which is not yet well under way, and is in danger of collapsing, unless His Majesty establishes there conditions as righteous, charitable and just as he is himself; and unless he himself takes pleasure in learning what can be done to increase the glory of God and to benefit his state, repelling the envy of those who should support this enterprise, but who seek its ruin rather than its success.
It is nothing new for the French to make sea voyages for conquest. We know very well that the discovery of new countries and noble enterprises on the sea were begun by our forefathers.
It was the Bretons and Normans who, in the year 1504, were the first Christians to discover the grand bank of the Codfish and the islands of the New World, as is noted in the histories of Niflet and of Antoine Maginus. It is also very certain that in the time of King Francis I, in the year 1523, he sent Verazzano, a Florentine, to discover the lands, coasts and harbors of Florida, as the accounts of his voyages bear testimony; where, after having explored the coast from latitude 33 to latitude 47, just as he was thinking of making a home there, death put an end to his life and his plans. After that, the same King Francis, persuaded by Messire Philip Chabot, Admiral of France, sent Jacques Cartier to discover new lands, and for this purpose he made two voyages in the years 1534 and 1535. In the first he discovered the Island of Newfoundland and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, with several other islands in this gulf, and he would have gone farther had not the severe season hastened his return. This Jacques Cartier was from the city of St. Malo. He was thoroughly versed and experienced in seamanship; the equal of any one of his times. And St. Malo is under obligation to preserve his memory, for it was his greatest desire to discover new lands. At the request of Charles de Mouy, Sieur de la Mailleres, at that time Vice‑Admiral, he undertook the same voyage for the second time; and in order to compass his purpose and to have His Majesty lay the foundation of a colony to increase the honor of God and his royal authority, he gave his commissions with that of the aforesaid Sieur Admiral, who had the direction of this embarkation and contributed all he could to it. When the commissions had been prepared, His Majesty put this same Cartier in charge, and he set sail with two vessels on May 16, 1535. His voyage was so successful that he arrived at the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, entered the river with his ships of 800 tons burden, and even got as far as an island a hundred and twenty leagues up the river, which he called the Isle of Orleans. From there he went some ten leagues farther up the same stream to winter on a small river which is almost dry at low tide. This he named St. Croix, because he arrived there on the day of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The place is now called the St. Charles River and at present the Recollect fathers and the Jesuit fathers are stationed there to found a seminary for the instruction of youth. From there Cartier went up the river some sixty leagues, as far as a place which was called Ochelaga in his time and is now called Grand Sault St. Louis. It was inhabited by savages who were sedentary and cultivated the soil. This they no longer do, because of the wars that have made them withdraw into the interior. When Cartier, according to his account, perceived the difficulty of passing up the rapids and that it was impossible, he returned where his vessels were; and the weather and the season were so urgent that he was obliged to winter on the St. Croix River, in the place where the Jesuits live now, on the border of another little river which empties into the St. Croix, called the Jacques Cartier River, as his narratives testify.
Cartier was made so unhappy in this voyage, particularly by the ravages of scurvy, of which the larger part of his men died, that when spring came he returned to France, saddened and disturbed enough at this loss and at the little progress that he thought he had made. He came to the conclusion, as a result of his winter’s experience with the scurvy, which he called the disease of the country, that the climate was so different from our own that we could not live in it without great difficulty.
So when he had made his report to the King and to the Sieur Admiral and De Mailleres, who did not go deeply into the matter, the enterprise bore no fruit. But if Cartier could have understood the cause of his sickness, and the beneficial and certain remedy for its prevention, although he and his men did receive some relief from an herb called aneda? just as we did when we were in the same plight, there is no doubt that the King from that time would not have neglected to forward the plan, as he had already done: for at that time the country was more peopled with sedentary tribes than now. It was this last fact that led His Majesty to have this second voyage made and the undertaking carried on, for he had a holy desire to send colonists there. This was what came of it.
This affair might well have been undertaken by some others than Cartier, who would not have been so soon daunted and would not, on that account, have abandoned an enterprise so well begun. For, to tell the truth, those who are the leaders of explorations are oftentimes those who can put an end to the execution of a praiseworthy project, if people stop to consider their reports. For, if they are believed, it is thought that the enterprise is impossible or so involved in difficulties that it cannot be brought to completion without almost unendurable outlay and trouble. This is the reason why this enterprise did not achieve success. Besides, there are sometimes affairs of so much importance in a state as to cause others to be neglected for awhile; or it may be that those who would gladly have gone on with them, die, and so the years pass with nothing done.
Arrival of the author at Quebec, where he made his place of abode. Habits of the savages of that country.
From the Island of Orleans to Quebec it is one league. When I arrived there on July 3, I looked for a suitable place for our buildings, but I could not find any more convenient or better situated than the point of Quebec, so called by the savages, which is filled with nut trees and vines. I immediately employed some of our workmen in cutting them down, in order to put our buildings there. Some I set to sawing boards, some to digging a cellar and making ditches, and others I sent to Tadoussac with the boat to get our supplies. The first thing that we made was the storehouse in which to put our provisions under cover, which was promptly finished through the diligence of each one and the care that I had of it. Near this place is a pleasant river, where formerly Jacques Cartier passed the winter.
While the ship‑carpenters, the woodsawers and other workmen, worked on our lodging I set all the others at clearing the land about the building, in order to make the garden‑plots in which to sow grain and seeds, to see how they would all turn out, for the soil appeared very good.
Meanwhile a great many savages were in cabins near us, fishing for eels, which begin to come about September 15 and go away on October 15. At this time all the savages live on this manna and dry enough of it to last through the winter to the month of February, when the snow is about two and a half feet deep, or three at the most. And when the eels and other things that they collect have been prepared they go to hunt the beaver, which they do until the beginning of January. They were not very successful in the beaver hunt, for the water was too high and the rivers had overflowed, as they told us. When their eels give out they have recourse to hunting the elk and other wild beasts, which they can find, while waiting for the spring. At that time I was able to supply them with several things. I made a special study of their customs.
All these people are so much in want that sometimes they are driven to live on certain kinds of shellfish and to eat their dogs and the skins with which they protect themselves against the cold. If some one should show them how to live and teach them how to till the soil, and other things, they would learn very easily, for there are a good many of them who have good judgment and reply intelligently to what is asked of them. There is an evil tendency among them to be revengeful, and to be great liars, and one cannot rely upon them, except with caution and when one is armed. They make promises enough, but keep few of them, most of them being without law, as far as I could see, and, besides, full of false beliefs. I asked them what ceremonies they employed in praying to their god; they told me that they made use of none, except that each prayed in his heart as he wished. This is why they have no law, and do not know what it is to worship God and pray to Him, but live like brute beasts; but I think that they would soon be converted to Christianity if some people would settle among them and cultivate their soil, which is what most of them wish. They have among them some savages whom they call Pilotois, who, they believe, talk with the devil face to face, who tells them what they must do, whether in case of war or in regard to other matters; and if he should command them to carry out a certain enterprise they would obey his command at once. They believe, also, that all the dreams that they have are true; and, in fact, there are a great many of them who say that they have seen and dreamed things which have come to pass or will take place. But, to tell the truth about the matter, these are diabolical visions, which deceive them and lead them astray. This is all that I have been able to learn about their brutish belief.
All these people are well‑built, without deformity, and are active. The women are equally well‑formed, plump, and of a tawny complexion, because of certain pigments which they put on which make them look olive‑colored. They are dressed in skins; a part of the body is covered, the rest is naked; but in winter they make up for it, for they are dressed in good furs, like elk, otter, beaver, bear, seal, deer and roe, which they have in great quantity. In winter, when there is a great deal of snow, they make a sort of racquets, which are three or four times as large as those in France, which they attach to their feet, and in this way they can go in the snow without sinking in; without them they could not hunt or go in many places. They have an odd sort of marriage, namely: when a girl is fourteen or fifteen years old, and she has several suitors, she may associate with all of them that she likes. Then at the end of five or six years she makes her own choice from them of a husband, and they live together to the end of their lives. But if, after living some time together, there are no children, then the man may unmarry himself and take another wife, saying that his own is good for nothing. Thus the girls are freer thar the women.
After marriage they are chaste, and the husbands are, for the most part, jealous. They give presents to the fathers or relatives of the girls whom they have married. These are the ceremonies and ways that they employ in their marriages.
As for their burials, when a man or a woman dies, they dig a big grave, where they put all the possessions that they had, such as kettles, furs, axes, bows, arrows, robes and other things; then they put the body in the grave and cover it with earth, and put a great many large pieces of wood on top, and one piece erect This they paint red on the upper part They believe in the immortality of the soul, and say that they will be happy in other lands with their relatives and friends who are dead. In the case of captains and others in positions of authority, they come, after the death, three times a year for a celebration and dance, and sing on the grave.
They are very timid and constantly fear their enemies, and scarcely sleep at all wherever they are, although I reassured them every day as much as I could and advised them to do as we do, namely: let some watch while others sleep, and let each one have his arms ready, like him who was on guard; and that they should not take dreams for the truth, on which to rely. But these teachings were of little use, and they said that we understood better than they how to protect ourselves against these things, and that in time, if we should come to live in their country, they would learn.
Journey from Quebec to the Island of St. Eloi, and the meeting that I had with some Algonquin and Ochtaiguin savages.
With this purpose I departed on the eighteenth of the month. The river begins to widen here, sometimes to a league and even a league and a half in some places. The country becomes more and more beautiful. The banks of the river are partly hills and partly level land without rocks, except a very few. As for the river, it is dangerous in many places, because of sandbars and rocks, and is not good to sail in without the lead in hand. The river is very abundantly supplied with several sorts of fish, not only such as we have on this side of the sea, but others that we have not. The country is all covered with large, high forests of the same kinds of trees that we have about our settlement. There are also many vines and nut trees on the bank of the river and a great many little brooks and rivers which are navigable only with canoes. We passed near Point St. Croix. This point is sandy. It projects a little into the river, and is exposed to the northwest wind, which beats upon it. There are some meadows, but they are submerged every time the tide is high. The tide falls nearly two and a half fathoms. This passage is very dangerous to go through, on account of the quantity of rocks that lie across the river, although there is a good channel which is very crooked, where the river runs like a mill‑race, and one must take plenty of time for the passage. This place has deceived a great many people, who thought that they could not go through it except at high tide for lack of a channel, but we have found the contrary. As for going down, one can do it at low tide; but to go up would be very difficult, unless there should be a high wind, because of the great current; and so it is necessary to wait until the tide is one‑third flood to pass, when the current in the channel is 6, 8, 10, 12 and 15 fathoms deep.
Continuing our course we came to a river which is very pleasant. It is nine leagues from St. Croix and twenty‑four from Quebec. We named it St. Mary’s River. The whole length of this river from St. Croix is very beautiful.
Continuing our route I met two or three hundred savages, who were in cabins near a little island called St. Eloi, a league and a half from St. Mary. We investigated and found that they were some tribes of savages called Ochateguins and Algonquins, who were going to Quebec, to assist us in exploration of the countries of the Iroquois, against whom they carry on mortal combat, sparing nothing that belongs to them.
After having recognized them I went ashore to see them and asked who their chief was. They told me that they had two of them one named Iroquet and the other Ochasteguin, whom they pointed out to me and I went to their cabin, where they received me well, according to their custom. I began to explain to them the purpose of my journey, with which they were very much pleased; and, after talking of several things, I withdrew. Some time afterward they came to my shallop, where they made me accept some skins, showing a good many signs of pleasure, and then they returned to land.
The next day the two chiefs came to find me. Then they remained some time without saying a word, meditating and smoking constantly. After having thought it all over, they began to harangue in a loud voice all their companions who were on the river bank, their arms in their hands, listening very attentively to what their chiefs said to them, namely: that nearly ten moons ago, as they reckoned, Iroquet’s son had seen me, and that I had given him a kind reception, and that we desired to assist them against their enemies, with whom they had been at war for a long time, because of a great deal of cruelty that the enemy had shown toward their tribe, on the pretext of friendship; and that, having always desired vengeance since that time, they had asked all the savages on the bank of the river to come to us, to form an alliance with us, and that they never had seen Christians, which had also induced them to come to see us, and that I might do as I wished with them and their companions; that they had no children with them, but men who knew how to fight and were full of courage, and who were familiar with the country and the rivers in the country of the Iroquois; and that now they begged me to return to our settlement, that they might see our houses; that after three days we should return all together to the war, and that for a sign of great friendship and joy I should have muskets and arquebuses fired, and that they would be very much pleased; which I did. They gave great cries of astonishment, and especially those who never had heard nor seen them before.
After I had heard them I replied to them that to please them I should be very glad to go back to our settlement, to give them more pleasure, and that they might infer that I had no other intention than to engage in war, since I carried with me nothing but arms, and not merchandise for barter, as they had been led to understand; that my desire was only to accomplish that which I had promised them; and that if I had known of any one who had made evil reports to them, I should regard such as enemies more than they themselves did. They told me that they did not believe any of it, and that they had heard nothing said; but the contrary was true, for there were some savages who told ours. I contented myself in waiting for an opportunity to be able to show them in reality something different from what they could have expected of me.
Departure from the rapids of the Iroquois River. Description of a large lake. Of tke encounter with the enemy that we had at this lake, and of the manner in which they attacked the Iroquois.
I left these rapids of the Iroquois River on July 2. All the savages began to carry their canoes, arms and baggage by land about half a league, in order to get by the swiftness and force of the rapids. This was quickly accomplished.
Then they put them all in the water, and two men in each boat, with their baggage; and they made one of the men from each canoe go by land about a league and a half, the length of the rapid, which is not so violent as at its mouth, except in certain places where rocks obstruct the river, which is not more than 300 or 400 paces wide. After we had passed the rapid, which was not without difficulty, all the savages who had gone by land by a pretty good path and level country, although there were a great many trees, re‑embarked in their canoes. My men went by land, too, and I by water, in a canoe. They had a review of all their men and found that they had twenty‑four canoes, with sixty men in them. When they had had their review, we continued on our way as far as an island three leagues long, covered with the most beautiful pines that I had ever seen. They hunted, and caught some wild animals there. Going on farther, about three leagues from there, we encamped, to rest that night.
Immediately they all began, some to cut wood, others to strip off the bark of trees to cover their cabins, to provide shelter for themselves; others began to fell big trees for a barricade on the bank of the river about their cabins. They know so well how to do this that in less than two hours five hundred of their enemy would have had a good deal of trouble to attack them without losing a great many of their number. They do not barricade the side toward the river, where their canoes are drawn up, so as to be able to embark, if occasion requires.
When they were lodged they sent three canoes with nine good men, as is their custom in all their encampments, to reconnoitre for two or three leagues, to see if they can discover anything. Later these come back. They sleep all night, relying upon the exploration of these scouts, which is a very bad custom among them; for sometimes they are surprised while asleep by their enemies, who knock them in the head before they have a chance to get up to defend themselves.
Being aware of that, I explained to them the mistake that they were making, and told them that they ought to watch, as they had seen us do every night, and have men on the lookout, to listen and see if they saw anything; and that they should not live like beasts. They told me that they could not keep watch, and that they worked enough by day in hunting; and, above all, when they go to war, they divide their bands into three parts, viz., one part to hunt, distributed in various places; one to constitute the main body, who are always under arms; and the other part as scouts, to explore along the rivers, to see if there is any mark or sign to indicate that their enemies have passed, or their friends. This they recognize by certain marks that the chiefs of different tribes exchange. These are not always alike, and they inform themselves from time to time when they are changed. In this way they recognize whether those who have passed are friends or enemies. The hunters never hunt in advance of the main body, or of the scouts, in order not to cause alarm or disorder, but in the rear, and in the direction where they do not expect their enemies; and they continue thus until they are two or three days journey from their enemies, when they go at night by stealth, all in a body, except the scouts. And by day they retire within the thickest part of the woods, where they rest, without wandering off, or making any noise, or lighting any fire, even when necessary for food, during this time, in order not to be noticed if, by chance, their enemies should pass. They do not make any fire, except for smoking; and they eat Indian meal cooked, which they soak in water, like porridge. They preserve this meal for times of need, and when they are near their enemies, or when they are retreating after an attack, they do not care to hunt, but retreat at once.
In all their encampments they have their Pilotois, or Ostemoy, a kind of persons who act as soothsayers, in whom these people believe. The soothsayer builds a cabin surrounded by sticks of wood, and covers it with his robe. When it is done he ensconces himself inside in such a way that he cannot be seen at all; then he takes hold of one of the posts of his cabin and shakes it, muttering some words between his teeth, by which he says he invokes the devil, who appears to him in the form of a stone and tells him whether they will find their enemies and kill many of them. This Pilotois lies flat on the ground, motionless, only making believe to speak to the devil; then suddenly he rises to his feet, talking and writhing in such a way that, although he is naked, he is all in a perspiration. All the people are about the cabin, seated on their buttocks like monkeys. They told me often that the shaking of the cabin that I saw was caused by the devil and not by the man who was inside, although I observed the contrary; for it was (as I have already said) the Pilotois who seized one of the props of the cabin and made it move so. They also told me that I should see fire come out of the top, which I did not see at all. These rogues also disguise their voices and make them sound big and clear and speak in a language that is unfamiliar to the other savages; and when they make it sound broken the savages believe that it is the devil who speaks, and that he is saying what is to happen in their war, and what they must do. Nevertheless, all these rascals who play soothsayer do not speak two true words out of a hundred and impose upon these poor folk, like plenty of others in the world, in order to get their living from the people. I often admonished them that all that they did was sheer folly, and that they ought not to put faith in it.
Now, after they have learned from their soothsayers what is to happen to them, they take as many sticks, a foot long, as they themselves number, and represent their chiefs by others a little longer. Then they go into the woods and clear a place five or six feet square, where the chief, as field sergeant, arranges all the sticks in the order that seems good to him; then he calls all his companions, who all come armed, and shows them the rank and order that they are to keep when they fight with their enemies. All the savages watch this attentively, noticing the figure which their chief has made with these sticks, and afterward they retire and begin to arrange themselves as they have seen these sticks, and then mingle with one another, and return directly to their order; continuing this two or three times, and doing it at all their encampments, without needing a sergeant to make them keep in their ranks, which they know well how to keep, without getting into confusion. This is the rule that they abide by in their warfare.
We left the next day, continuing our course in the river as far as the entrance to the lake. In this there are many pretty islands, which are low, covered with very beautiful woods and meadows, where there is a quantity of game, and animals for hunting, such as stags, fallow‑deer, fawns, roebucks, bears and other animals which come from the mainland to these islands. We caught a great many of them. There are also many beavers, not only in this river, but in many other little ones which empty into it. These places, although they are pleasant, are not inhabited by any savages, on account of their wars. They withdraw as far as possible from the river into the interior, in order not to be suddenly surprised. The next day we entered the lake, which is of great extent, perhaps 50 or 60 leagues long. There I saw four beautiful islands 10, 12 and 15 leagues long, which formerly had been inhabited by savages, like the River of the Iroquois; but they had been abandoned since they had been at war with one another. There are also several rivers which flow into the lake that are bordered by many fine trees, of the same sorts that we have in France, with a quantity of vines more beautiful than any I had seen in any other place; many chestnut trees, and I have not seen any at all before, except on the shores of the lake, where there is a great abundance of fish of a good many varieties. Among other kinds there is one called by the savages Chaousarou, which is of various lengths; but the longest, as these people told me, is eight or ten feet. I saw some of them five feet long, as big as a man’s thigh, with a head as large as two fists, a snout two and a half feet long, and a double row of very sharp and dangerous teeth. Its body is, in all respects, like that of the pike, but it is armed with scales so strong that a dagger could not pierce them, and it is silver grey in color. And the end of its snout is like that of a pig. This fish fights all the others in the lakes and rivers, and is wonderfully cunning, to judge from what the people have assured me, which is, that when it wishes to catch certain birds, it goes into the rushes or weeds which border the lake in several places, and puts its snout out of the water without moving at all, so that when the birds come to light on its snout, thinking that it is the trunk of a tree, the fish is so skillful in closing its snout, which had been half open, that it draws the birds under the water by the feet. The savages gave me a head of one of them. They set great store by them, saying that when they have a headache they Weed themselves with the teeth of this fish where the pain is, and it passes off at once.
Continuing our course in this lake on the west side I saw, as I was observing the country, some very high mountains on the east side, with snow on the top of them. I inquired of the savages if these places were inhabited. They told me that they were by the Iroquois and that in these places there were beautiful valleys and open stretches fertile in grain, such as I had eaten in this country, with a great many other fruits; and that the lake went near some mountains, which were perhaps, as it seemed to me, about fifteen leagues from us. I saw on the south others not less high than the first, but they had no snow at all. The savages told me that it was there that we were to go to find their enemies, and that these mountains were thickly peopled. They also said it was necessary to pass a rapid, which I saw afterward, and from there to enter another lake, three or four leagues long; and that when we had reached the end of that it would be necessary to follow a trail for four leagues, and to pass over a river which empties on the coast of the Almouchiquois, near the coast of Norumbegue; and that it was only two days journey by their canoes, as I have [also] learned since from some prisoners that we took, who described to me very much in detail all that they had found out themselves about the matter through some Algonquin interpreters who knew the Iroquois language.
Now, as we began to approach within two or three days’ journey of the home of their enemies, we did not advance more, except at night, and by day we rested. Nevertheless, they did not omit, at any time, the practice of their customary superstitions, to find out how much of their undertakings would succeed, and they often came to me to ask if I had dreamed, and if I had seen their enemies. I answered them “no,” and told them to be of good courage and to keep up hope. When night came we pursued our journey until daylight, when we withdrew into the thickest part of the woods and passed the rest of the day there. About ten or eleven o’clock, after having taken a little walk around our encampment, I went to rest; and I dreamed that I saw the Iroquois, our enemies, in the lake, near a mountain, drowning within our sight; and when I wished to help them our savage allies told me that we must let them all die, and that they were worthless. When I woke up they did not fail to ask me, as is their custom, if I had dreamed anything. I told them the substance of what I had dreamed. This gave them so much faith that they no longer doubted that good was to befall them.
When evening came we embarked in our canoes to continue on our way; and, as we were going along very quietly, and without making any noise, on the twenty‑ ninth of the month, we met the Iroquois at ten o’clock at night at the end of a cape that projects into the lake on the west side, and they were coming to war. We both began to make loud cries, each getting his arms ready. We withdrew toward the water and the Iroquois went ashore and arranged their canoes in line, and began to cut down trees with poor axes, which they get in war sometimes, and also with others of stone; and they barricaded themselves very well.
Our men also passed the whole night with their canoes drawn up close together, fastened to poles, so that they might not get scattered, and might fight all together, if there were need of it; we were on the water within arrow range of the side where their barricades were.
When they were armed and in array, they sent two canoes set apart from the others to learn from their enemies if they wanted to fight. They replied that they desired nothing else; but that, at the moment, there was not much light and that they must wait for the daylight to recognize each other, and that as soon as the sun rose they would open the battle. This was accepted by our men; and while we waited, the whole night was passed in dances and songs, as much on one side as on the other, with endless insults, and other talk, such as the little courage they had, their feebleness and inability to make resistance against their arms, and that when day came they should feel it to their ruin. Our men also were not lacking in retort, telling them that they should see such power of arms as never before; and much other talk, as is customary in the siege of a city. After plenty of singing, dancing, and parleying with one another, daylight came. My companions and I remained concealed for fear that the enemy should see us, preparing our arms the best that we could, separated, however, each in one of the canoes of the Montagnais savages. After arming ourselves with light armor, each of us took an arquebuse and went ashore. I saw the enemy come out of their barricade, nearly 200 men, strong and robust to look at, coming slowly toward us with a dignity and assurance that pleased me very much. At their head there were three chiefs. Our men also went forth in the same order, and they told me that those who wore three large plumes were the chiefs; and that there were only three of them; and that they were recognizable by these plumes, which were a great deal larger than those of their companions; and that I should do all I could to kill them. I promised them to do all in my power, and said that I was very sorry that they could not understand me well, so that I might give order and system to their attack of the enemy, in which case we should undoubtedly destroy them all; but that this could not be remedied; that I was very glad to encourage them and to show them the good‑will that I felt, when we should engage in battle.
As soon as we were ashore they began to run about 200 paces toward their enemy, who were standing firmly and had not yet noticed my companions, who went into the woods with some savages. Our men began to call me with loud cries; and, to give me a passageway, they divided into two parts a;ul put me at their head, where I marched about twenty paces in front of them until I was thirty paces from the enemy. They at once saw me and halted, looking at me, and I at them. When I saw them making a move to shoot at us, I rested my arquebuse against my cheek and aimed directly at one of the three chiefs. With the same shot two of them fell to the ground, and one of their companions, who was wounded and afterward died. I put four balls into my arquebuse. When our men saw this shot so favorable for them, they began to make cries so loud that one could not have heard it thunder. Meanwhile the arrows did not fail to fly from both sides. The Iroquois were much astonished that two men had been so quickly killed, although they were provided with armor woven from cotton thread and from wood, proof against their arrows. This alarmed them greatly. As I was loading again, one of my companions fired a shot from the woods, which astonished them again to such a degree that, seeing their chiefs dead, they lost courage, took to flight and abandoned the field and their fort, fleeing into the depths of the woods. Pursuing them thither I killed some more of them. Our savages also killed several of them and took ten or twelve of them prisoners. The rest escaped with the wounded. There were fifteen or sixteen of our men wounded by arrow shots, who were soon healed.
After we had gained the victory they amused themselves by taking a great quantity of Indian corn and meal from their enemies, and also their arms, which they had left in order to run better. And having made good cheer, danced and sung, we returned three hours afterward with the prisoners.
This place, where this charge was made, is in latitude 43 degrees and some minutes, and I named the lake Lake Champlain.
Return from the battle, and what happened on the way.
After going eight leagues, toward evening they took one of the prisoners and harangued him about the cruelties that he and his people had inflicted on them, without having any consideration for them; and said that similarly he ought to make up his mind to receive as much. They commanded him to sing, if he had any courage; which he did, but it was a song very sad to hear.
Meanwhile our men lighted a fire, and when it was blazing well, each one took a brand and burned this poor wretch little by little, to make him suffer greater torment. Sometimes they stopped and threw water on his back. Then they tore out his nails and put the fire on the ends of his fingers and on his privy member. Afterward they flayed the top of his head and dripped on top of it a kind of gum all hot; then they pierced his arms near the wrists, and with sticks pulled the sinews, and tore them out by force; and when they saw that they could not get them, they cut them. This poor wretch uttered strange cries, and I pitied him when I saw him treated in this way; and yet he showed such endurance that one would have said that, at times, he did not feel any pain.
They strongly urged me to take some fire and do as they were doing, but I explained to them that we did not use such cruelties at all, and that we killed them at once, and that if they wished me to fire a musket shot at him I would do it gladly. They said “no,” and that he would not feel any pain. I went away from them, distressed to see so much cruelty as they were practising upon this body. When they saw that I was not pleased at it, they called me and told me to fire a musket shot at him; which I did without his seeing it at all. After he was dead they were not satisfied, for they opened his belly and threw his entrails into the lake; then they cut off his head, his arms, and his legs, which they scattered in different directions, and kept the scalp, which they had skinned off, as they had done with all the others that they had killed in the battle.
They committed also another wickedness, which was to take the heart, which they cut into several pieces and gave to a brother of his and others of his companions, who were prisoners, to eat. They put it into their mouths, but would not swallow it. Some Algonquin savages, who were guarding them, made some of them spit it out and threw it into the water. This is how these people treat those whom they capture in war; and it would be better for them to die in fighting, or to kill themselves on the spur of the moment, as there are many who do, rather than fall into the hands of their enemies. After this execution we resumed our march to return with the rest of the prisoners, who always went along singing, without any hope of being better treated than the other. When we arrived at the rapids of the River of the Iroquois, the Algonquins returned to their country, and also the Ochateguins with some of the prisoners. They were well pleased with what had taken place in the war, and that I had gone with them readily. So we separated with great protestations of friendship, and they asked me if I did not wish to go into their country to aid them always as a brother. I promised that I would do so, and I returned with the Montagnais.
After informing myself, through the prisoners, about their country, and about how large it might be, we packed up the baggage to return; which we did with such speed that every day we made 25 or 30 leagues in their canoes, which is the ordinary rate. When we were at the mouth of the River Iroquois, there were some of the savages who dreamed that their enemies were pursuing them. This dream at once led them to move the camp, although the night was very bad on account of winds and rain; and they went to pass the night among some high reeds, which are in Lake St. Peter, until the next day. Two days afterward we reached our settlement, where I had them given bread, peas and beads, which they asked me for to ornament the heads of their enemies, in order to make merry on their arrival. The next day I went with them in their canoes to Tadous‑ sac, to see their ceremonies. As they approached the shore each one took a stick with the heads of their enemies hung on the ends, with these beads on them, singing one and all. When they were near the shore the women undressed entirely naked and threw themselves into the water, going in front of the canoes, to take the heads to hang afterward to their necks, like a precious chain. Some days afterward they made me a present of one of these heads and of two sets of their enemies’ weapons, to preserve, in order to show them to the King; which I promised to do, to give them pleasure.
1.7.2 Reading and Review Questions
- According to what criteria does Champlain value/evaluate New France? How do his criteria compare with those of John Smith?
- Why, and to what effect, does Champlain allude to Old World/European examples of successful colonization of places that at first seemed to promise little success ie Venice, Genoa, Marseilles?
- What cultural adaptations, if any, does Champlain foresee for Frenchmen who cultivate/colonize New France?
- Why do you think Champlain extolls converting Canadian Indians to Christianity as the true virtue of kings?
- What attitude does Champlain take to the Canadian Indians’ culture(s)? Why? How do you know? How does his attitude compare with that of de Vaca or Smith? Why and to what effect does Champlain detail the torturing of a Mohawk Iroquois prisoner of war by the Montagnais (with whom Champlain fought)?
1.8 JOHN SMITH
Born into a farming family in Lincoln‑ shire, John Smith early on sought a more adventurous life. At the age of sixteen, he joined in the (Protestant) Dutch War of Independence from the (Catholic) Philip II of Spain. He next saw action in the Mediterranean and in the Austrian war against the Turks. His service in this war earned him the rank of Captain. Wounded in battle and captured by the Turks, Smith escaped slavery by assassinating his owner and fleeing to Eastern Europe. He eventually returned to England in 1604.
Smith’s military experience led to his being appointed to the ruling council of the Virginia Company, a company of investors who supported colonizing efforts in North America. Himself somewhat unruly and bad‑ tempered, Smith was placed under arrest on the voyage over and was even threatened with execution. Once having reached their destination, Smith took his place on the governing council and became governor of the colony in 1607. Although active in maintaining the settlement, especially in the face of sickness and starvation, Smith made extensive explorations of Virginia.
Image 1.10 | Captain John Smith
Artist | Unknown
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
During one of these exploratory treks, Smith was captured by the Chesapeake Bay Indians, then ruled by Powhatan (1545– 1618) whose daughter Pocahontas (d. 1617) saved Smith from execution. He was almost executed by the Jamestown colonists for the death of two of his soldiers but escaped punishment upon the arrival of a much‑ needed supply ship. After suffering injury from an accidental explosion of gunpowder, Smith returned to England. There he wrote of his experiences and explorations of Virginia and New England in terms that captivated the imagination of future settlers. His own imagination may have colored many of the events he detailed, including his famous encounter with Pocahontas, an encounter that many modern‑day historians doubt ever occurred.
The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (1624) compiled previously‑published accounts with Smith’s own writing. In it, he offered lavish details of the land’s bountiful resources, countered biased views of Native Americans as simple savages and nomads by describing the Powhatan confederacy, and advocated strong leaders and leadership for maintaining colonies.
Image 1.11 | Pocahontas
Artist | Unknown
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
1.8.1 From The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles
Being thus left to our fortunes, it fortuned that within ten dayes scarce ten amongst vs could either goe, or well stand, such extreame weaknes and sicknes oppressed vs. And thereat none need marvaile, if they consider the cause and reason, which was this; whilest the ships stayed, our allowance was somewhat bettered, by a daily proportion of Bisket, which the sailers would pilfer to sell, giue, or exchange with vs, for money, Saxefras, furres, or loue. But when they departed, there remained neither taverne, beere‑house, nor place of reliefe, but the common Kettell. Had we beene as free from all sinnes as gluttony, and drunkennesse, we might haue beene canonized for Saints; But our President would never haue beene admitted, for ingrossing to his private, Oatmeale, Sacke, Oyle, Aquavitæ, Beefe, Egges, or what not, but the Kettell; that indeed he allowed equally to be distributed, and that was halfe a pint of wheat, and as much barley boyled with water for a man a day, and this having fryed some 26. weekes in the ships hold, contained as many wormes as graines; so that we might truely call it rather so much bran then corne, our drinke was water, our lodgings Castles in the ayre: with this lodging and dyet, our extreame toile in bearing and planting Pallisadoes, so strained and bruised vs, and our continuall labour in the extremitie of the heat had so weakned vs, as were cause sufficient to haue made vs as miserable in our natiue Countrey, or any other place in the world. From May, to September, those that escaped, liued vpon Sturgeon, and Sea‑crabs, fiftie in this time we buried, the rest seeing the Presidents proiects to escape these miseries in our Pinnace by flight (who all this time had neither felt want nor sicknes) so moved our dead spirits, as we deposed him; and established Ratcliffe in his place, (Gosnoll being dead) Kendall deposed, Smith newly recovered, Martin and Ratcliffe was by his care preserved and relieued, and the most of the souldiers recovered, with the skilfull diligence of Mr Thomas Wotton our Chirurgian generall. But now was all our provision spent, the Sturgeon gone, all helps abandoned, each houre expecting the fury of the Salvages; when God the patron of all good indevours, in that desperate extremitie so changed the hearts of the Salvages, that they brought such plenty of their fruits, and provision, as no man wanted.
And now where some affirmed it was ill done of the Councell to send forth men so badly provided, this incontradictable reason will shew them plainely they are too ill advised to nourish such ill conceits; first, the fault of our going was our owne, what could be thought fitting or necessary we had, but what we should find, or want, or where we should be, we were all ignorant, and supposing to make our passage in two moneths, with victuall to liue, and the advantage of the spring to worke; we were at Sea fiue moneths, where we both spent our victuall and lost the opportunitie of the time, and season to plant, by the vnskilfull presumption of our ignorant transporters, that vnderstood not at all, what they vndertooke.
Such actions haue ever since the worlds beginning beene subiect to such accidents, and every thing of worth is found full of difficulties, but nothing so difficult as to establish a Common‑wealth so farre remote from men and meanes, and where mens mindes are so vntoward as neither doe well themselues, nor suffer others. But to proceed.
The new President and Martin, being little beloved, of weake iudgement in dangers, and lesse industrie in peace, committed the managing of all things abroad to Captaine Smith: who by his owne example, good words, and faire promises, set some to mow, others to binde thatch, some to build houses, others to thatch them, himselfe alwayes bearing the greatest taske for his owne share, so that in short time, he provided most of them lodgings, neglecting any for himselfe. This done, seeing the Salvages superfluitie beginne to decrease (with some of his workemen) shipped himselfe in the Shallop to search the Country for trade. The want of the language, knowledge to mannage his boat without sailes, the want of a sufficient power, (knowing the multitude of the Salvages) apparell for his men, and other necessaries, were infinite impediments, yet no discouragement. Being but six or seauen in company he went downe the river to Kecoughtan, where at first they scorned him, as a famished man, and would in derision offer him a handfull of Corne, a peece of bread, for their swords and muskets, and such like proportions also for their apparell. But seeing by trade and courtesie there was nothing to be had, he made bold to try such conclusions as necessitie inforced, though contrary to his Commission: Let fly his muskets, ran his boat on shore, whereat they all fled into the woods. So marching towards their houses, they might see great heapes of corne: much adoe he had to restraine his hungry souldiers from present taking of it, expecting as it hapned that the Salvages would assault them, as not long after they did with a most hydeous noyse. Sixtie or seaventie of them, some blacke, some red, some white, some party‑coloured, came in a square order, singing and dauncing out of the woods, with their Okee (which was an Idoll made of skinnes, stuffed with mosse, all painted and hung with chaines and copper) borne before them: and in this manner being well armed, with Clubs, Targets, Bowes and Arrowes, they charged the English, that so kindly receiued them with their muskets loaden with Pistoll shot, that downe fell their God, and divers lay sprauling on the ground; the rest fled againe to the woods, and ere long sent one of their Quiyoughkasoucks to offer peace, and redeeme their Okee. Smith told them, if onely six of them would come vnarmed and loade his boat, he would not only be their friend, but restore them their Okee, and giue them Beads, Copper, and Hatchets besides: which on both sides was to their contents performed: and then they brought him Venison, Turkies, wild foule, bread, and what they had, singing and dauncing in signe of friendship till they departed. In his returne he discovered the Towne and Country of Warraskoyack.
Thus God vnboundlesse by his power,
Made them thus kind, would vs deuour.
Smith perceiving (notwithstanding their late miserie) not any regarded but from hand to mouth (the company being well recovered) caused the Pinnace to be provided with things fitting to get provision for the yeare following; but in the interim he made 3. or 4. iournies and discovered the people of Chickahamania: yet what he carefully provided the rest carelesly spent Wingfield and Kendall liuing in disgrace, seeing all things at randome in the absence of Smith, the companies dislike of their Presidents weaknes, and their small loue to Martins never mending sicknes, strengthened themselues with the sailers, and other confederates to regaine their former credit and authority, or at least such meanes abord the Pinnace, (being fitted to saile as Smith had appointed for trade) to alter her course and to goe for England. Smith vnexpectedly returning had the plot discovered to him, much trouble he had to prevent it, till with store of sakre and musket shot he forced them stay or sinke in the riuer, which action cost the life of captaine Kendall. These brawles are so disgustfull, as some will say they were better forgotten, yet all men of good iudgement will conclude, it were better their basenes should be manifest to the world, then the busines beare the scorne and shame of their excused disorders. The President and captaine Archer not long after intended also to haue abandoned the country, which proiect also was curbed, and suppressed by Smith. The Spaniard never more greedily desired gold then he victuall, nor his souldiers more to abandon the Country, then he to keepe it. But finding plentie of Corne in the riuer of Chickahamania where hundreds of Salvages in diuers places stood with baskets expecting his comming. And now the winter approaching, the rivers became so covered with swans, geese, duckes, and cranes, that we daily feasted with good bread, Virginia pease, pumpions, and putchamins, fish, fowle, and diverse sorts of wild beasts as fat as we could eate them: so that none of our Tuftaffaty humorists desired to goe for England. But our Comœdies never endured long without a Tragedie; some idle exceptions being muttered against Captaine Smith, for not discovering the head of Chickahamania river, and taxed by the Councell, to be too slow in so worthy an attempt. The next voyage hee proceeded so farre that with much labour by cutting of trees in sunder he made his passage, but when his Barge could passe no farther, he left her in a broad bay out of danger of shot, commanding none should goe a shore till his returne: himselfe with two English and two Salvages went vp higher in a Canowe, but hee was not long absent, but his men went a shore, whose want of government, gaue both occasion and opportunity to the Salvages to surprise one George Cassen, whom they slew, and much failed not to haue cut of the boat and all the rest. Smith little dreaming of that accident, being got to the marshes at the rivers head, twentie myles in the desert, had his two men slaine (as is supposed) sleeping by the Canowe, whilst himselfe by fowling sought them victuall, who finding he was beset with 200. Salvages, two of them hee slew, still defending himselfe with the ayd of a Salvage his guid, whom he bound to his arme with his garters, and vsed him as a buckler, yet he was shot in his thigh a little, and had many arrowes that stucke in his cloathes but no great hurt, till at last they tooke him prisoner. When this newes came to Iames towne, much was their sorrow for his losse, fewe expecting what ensued. Sixe or seuen weekes those Barbarians kept him prisoner, many strange triumphes and coniurations they made of him, yet hee so demeaned himselfe amongst them, as he not onely diverted them from surprising the Fort, but procured his owne libertie, and got himselfe and his company such estimation amongst them, that those Salvages admired him more then their owne Quiyouckosucks. The manner how they vsed and deliuered him, is as followeth.
The Salvages hauing drawne from George Cassen whether Captaine Smith was gone, prosecuting that oportunity they followed him with. 300. bowmen, conducted by the King of Pamavnkee, who in diuisions searching the turnings of the riuer, found Robinsonand Emry by the fire side, those they shot full of arrowes and slew. Then finding the Captaine, as is said, that vsed the Salvage that was his guide as his sheld (three of them being slaine and diuers other so gauld) all the rest would not come neere him. Thinking thus to haue returned to his boat, regarding them, as he marched, more then his way, slipped vp to the middle in an oasie creeke & his Salvage with him, yet durst they not come to him till being neere dead with cold, he threw away his armes. Then according to their composition they drew him forth and led him to the fire, where his men were slaine. Diligently they chafed his benummed limbs. He demanding for their Captaine, they shewed him Opechankanough, King of Pamavnkee, to whom he gaue a round Ivory double compass Dyall. Much they marvailed at the playing of the Fly and Needle, which they could see so plainely, and yet not touch it, because of the glasse that covered them. But when he demonstrated by that Globe‑like Iewell, the roundnesse of the earth, and skies, the spheare of the Sunne, Moone, and Starres, and how the Sunne did chase the night round about the world continually; the greatnesse of the Land and Sea, the diversitie of Nations, varietie of complexions, and how we were to them Antipodes, and many other such like matters, they all stood as amazed with admiration. Notwithstanding, within an houre after they tyed him to a tree, and as many as could stand about him prepared to shoot him, but the King holding vp the Compass in his hand, they all laid downe their Bowes and Arrowes, and in a triumphant manner led him to Orapaks, where he was after their manner kindly feasted, and well vsed.
Their order in conducting him was thus; Drawing themselues all in fyle, the King in the middest had all their Peeces and Swords borne before him. Captaine Smith was led after him by three great Salvages, holding him fast by each arme: and on each side six went in fyle with their Arrowes nocked. But arriving at the Towne (which was but onely thirtie or fortie hunting houses made of Mats, which they remoue as they please, as we our tents) all the women and children staring to behold him, the souldiers first all in fyle performed the forme of a Bissom so well as could be; and on each flanke, officers as Serieants to see them keepe their order. A good time they continued this exercise, and then cast themselues in a ring, dauncing in such severall Postures, and singing and yelling out such hellish notes and screeches; being strangely painted, every one his quiver of Arrowes, and at his backe a club; on his arme a Fox or an Otters skinne, or some such matter for his vambrace; their heads and shoulders painted red, with Oyle and Pocones mingled together, which Scarlet‑like colour made an exceeding handsome shew; his Bow in his hand, and the skinne of a Bird with her wings abroad dryed, tyed on his head, a peece of copper, a white shell, a long feather, with a small rattle growing at the tayles of their snaks tyed to it, or some such like toy. All this while Smith and the King stood in the middest guarded, as before is said, and after three dances they all departed. Smith they conducted to a long house, where thirtie or fortie tall fellowes did guard him, and ere long more bread and venison was brought him then would haue served twentie men, I thinke his stomacke at that time was not very good; what he left they put in baskets and tyed over his head. About midnight they set the meate againe before him, all this time not one of them would eate a bit with him, till the next morning they brought him as much more, and then did they eate all the old, & reserved the new as they had done the other, which made him thinke they would fat him to eat him. Yet in this desperate estate to defend him from the cold, one Maocassater brought him his gowne, in requitall of some beads and toyes Smith had given him at his first arrivall in Virginia.
Two dayes after a man would haue slaine him (but that the guard prevented it) for the death of his sonne, to whom they conducted him to recover the poore man then breathing his last. Smith told them that at Iames towne he had a water would doe it, if they would let him fetch it, but they would not permit that; but made all the preparations they could to assault Iames towne, crauing his advice, and for recompence he should haue life, libertie, land, and women. In part of a Table booke he writ his minde to them at the Fort, what was intended, how they should follow that direction to affright the messengers, and without fayle send him such things as he writ for. And an Inventory with them. The difficultie and danger, he told the Salvages, of the Mines, great gunnes, and other Engins exceedingly affrighted them, yet according to his request they went to Iames towne, in as bitter weather as could be of frost and snow, and within three dayes returned with an answer.
But when they came to Iame towne, seeing men sally out as he had told them they would, they fled; yet in the night they came againe to the same place where he had told them they should receiue an answer, and such things as he had promised them, which they found accordingly, and with which they returned with no small expedition, to the wonder of them all that heard it, that he could either divine, or the paper could speake: then they led him to the Youthtanunds, the Mattapanients, the Payankatanks, the Nantaughtacunds, and Onawmanients vpon the rivers of Rapahanock, and Patawomek, over all those rivers, and backe againe by divers other severall Nations, to the Kings habitation at Pamavnkee, where they entertained him with most strange and fearefull Coniurations;
As if neare led to hell,
Amongst the Devils to dwell.
Not long after, early in a morning a great fire was made in a long house, and a mat spread on the one side, as on the other, on the one they caused him to sit, and all the guard went out of the house, and presently came skipping in a great grim fellow, all painted over with coale, mingled with oyle; and many Snakes and Wesels skins stuffed with mosse, and all their tayles tyed together, so as they met on the crowne of his head in a tassell; and round about the tassell was as a Coronet of feathers, the skins hanging round about his head, backe, and shoulders, and in a manner covered his face; with a hellish voyce and a rattle in his hand. With most strange gestures and passions he began his invocation, and environed the fire with a circle of meale; which done, three more such like devils came rushing in with the like antique tricks, painted halfe blacke, halfe red: but all their eyes were painted white, and some red stroakes like Mutchato’s, along their cheekes: round about him those fiends daunced a pretty while, and then came in three more as vgly as the rest; with red eyes, and white stroakes over their blacke faces, at last they all sat downe right against him; three of them on the one hand of the chiefe Priest, and three on the other. Then all with their rattles began a song, which ended, the chiefe Priest layd downe fiue wheat cornes: then strayning his armes and hands with such violence that he sweat, and his veynes swelled, he began a short Oration: at the conclusion they all gaue a short groane; and then layd down three graines more. After that, began their song againe, and then another Oration, ever laying downe so many cornes as before, till they had twice incirculed the fire; that done, they tooke a bunch of little stickes prepared for that purpose, continuing still their devotion, and at the end of every song and Oration, they layd downe a sticke betwixt the divisions of Corne. Till night, neither he nor they did either eate or drinke, and then they feasted merrily, with the best provisions they could make. Three dayes they vsed this Ceremony; the meaning whereof they told him, was to know if he intended them well or no. The circle of meale signified their Country, the circles of corne the bounds of the Sea, and the stickes his Country. They imagined the world to be flat and round, like a trencher, and they in the middest. After this they brought him a bagge of gunpowder, which they carefully preferved till the next spring, to plant as they did their corne; because they would be acquainted with the nature of that seede. Opitchapam the Kings brother invited him to his house, where, with as many platters of bread, foule, and wild beasts, as did environ him, he bid him wellcome; but not any of them would eate a bit with him, but put vp all the remainder in Baskets. At his returne to Opechancanoughs, all the Kings women, and their children, flocked about him for their parts, as a due by Custome, to be merry with such fragments.
But his waking mind in hydeous dreames did oft see wondrous shapes,
Of bodies strange, and huge in growth, and of stupendious makes.
At last they brought him to Meronocomoco, where was Powhatan their Emperor. Here more then two hundred of those grim Courtiers stood wondering at him, as he had beene a monster; till Powhatan and his trayne had put themselues in their greatest braveries. Before a fire vpon a seat like a bedsted, he sat covered with a great robe, made of Rarowcun skinnes, and all the tayles hanging by. On either hand did sit a young wench of 16 to 18 yeares, and along on each side the house, two rowes of men, and behind them as many women, with all their heads and shoulders painted red; many of their heads bedecked with the white downe of Birds; but every one with something: and a great chayne of white beads about their necks. At his entrance before the King, all the people gaue a great shout. The Queene of Appamatuck was appointed to bring him water to wash his hands, and another brought him a bunch of feathers, in stead of a Towell to dry them: having feasted him after their best barbarous manner they could, a long consultation was held, but the conclusion was, two great stones were brought before Powhatan: then as many as could layd hands on him, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head, and being ready with their clubs, to beate out his braines, Pocahontas the Kings dearest daughter, when no intreaty could prevaile, got his head in her armes, and laid her owne vpon his to saue him from death: whereat the Emperour was contented he should liue to make him hatchets, and her bells, beads, and copper; for they thought him as well of all occupations as themselues. For the King himselfe will make his owne robes, shooes, bowes, arrowes, pots; plant, hunt, or doe any thing so well as the rest.
They say he bore a pleasant shew
But sure his heart was sad.
For who can pleasant be, and rest
That liues in feare and dread
And having life suspected, doth
It still suspected lead.
Two dayes after, Powhatan having disguised himselfe in the most fearefullest manner he could, caused Capt Smith to be brought forth to a great house in the woods, and there vpon a mat by the fire to be left alone. Not long after from behinde a mat that divided the house, was made the most dolefullest noyse he ever heard; then Powhatan more like a devill then a man with some two hundred more as blacke as himselfe, came vnto him and told him now they were friends, and presently he should goe to Iames towne, to send him two great gunnes, and a gryndstone, for which he would giue him the Country of Capahowosick, and for ever esteeme him as his sonne Nantaquoud. So to Iames towne with 12 guides Powhatan sent him. That night they quarterd in the woods, he still expecting (as he had done all this long time of his imprisonment) every houre to be put to one death or other: for all their feasting. But almightie God (by his divine providence) had mollified the hearts of those sterne Barbarians with compassion. The next morning betimes they came to the Fort, where Smith having vsed the Salvages with what kindnesse he could, he shewed Rawhunt, Powhatans trusty servant two demi‑Culverings & a millstone to carry Powhatan: they found them somewhat too heavie; but when they did see him discharge them, being loaded with stones, among the boughs of a great tree loaded with Isickles, the yce and branches came so tumbling downe, that the poore Salvages ran away halfe dead with feare. But at last we regained some conference with them, and gaue them such toyes; and sent to Powhatan, his women, and children such presents, as gaue them in generall full content. Now in Iames Towne they were all in combustion, the strongest preparing once more to run away with the Pinnace; which with the hazzard of his life, with Sakrefalcon and musket shot, Smith forced now the third time to stay or sinke. Some no better then they should be, had plotted with the President, the next day to haue put him to death by the Leviticall law, for the liues of Robinson and Emry, pretending the fault was his that had led them to their ends: but he quickly tooke such order with such Lawyers, that he layd them by the heeles till he sent some of them prisoners for England. Now ever once in foure or fiue dayes, Pocahontas with her attendants, brought him so much provision, that saved many of their liues, that els for all this had starved with hunger.
Thus from numbe death our good God sent reliefe,
The sweete asswager of all other griefe.
His relation of the plenty he had seene, especially at Werawocomoco, and of the state and bountie of Powhatan, (which till that time was vnknowne) so revived their dead spirits (especially the loue of Pocahontas) as all mens feare was abandoned. Thus you may see what difficulties still crossed any good indevour: and the good successe of the businesse being thus oft brought to the very period of destruction; yet you see by what strange means God hath still delivered it. As for the insufficiency of them admitted in Commission, that error could not be prevented by the Electors; there being no other choise, and all strangers to each others education, qualities, or disposition. And if any deeme it a shame to our Nation to haue any mention made of those inormities, let them pervse the Histories of the Spanyards Discoveries and Plantations, where they may see how many mutinies, disorders, and dissentions haue accompanied them, and crossed their attempts: which being knowne to be particular mens offences; doth take away the generall scorne and contempt, which malice, presumption, covetousnesse, or ignorance might produce; to the scandall and reproach of those, whose actions and valiant resolutions deserue a more worthy respect.
Now whether it had beene better for Captaine Smith, to haue concluded with any of those severall proiects, to haue abandoned the Countrey, with some ten or twelue of them, who were called the better sort, and haue left Mr Hunt our Preacher, Master Anthony Gosnoll, a most honest, worthy, and industrious Gentleman, Master Thomas Wotton, and some 27 others of his Countrymen to the fury of the Salvages, famine, and all manner of mischiefes, and inconveniences, (for they were but fortie in all to keepe possession of this large Country;) or starue himselfe with them for company, for want of lodging: or but adventuring abroad to make them provision, or by his opposition to preserue the action, and saue all their liues; I leaue to the censure of all honest men to consider. But
We men imagine in our Iolitie
That ‘tis all one, or good or bad to be.
But then anone wee alter this againe
If happily wee feele the sence of paine;
For then we’re turn’d into a mourning vaine.
1.8.2 Reading and Review Questions
- How does Smith’s account of his experiences in the New World compare with the descriptions and assumptions of Columbus, Cabeza de Vaca, or Harriot?
- What grounds Smith’s assessment of events that he recounts, events like the men’s starving at the settlement? Does he ground his assessment in cause and effect? In Providence? Why, either way, do you think?
- Compare the way the Native Americans treat Smith after capturing him with the way his own men treat him before he leaves to follow the Council’s bidding. What, if anything, causes the differences, do you think?
- How does Smith use scientific knowledge against the Native Americans or for his own defense? Why?
- What introduction, if any, does Smith give to Pocahontas? Why? What purpose lies behind Smith’s probably inventing his rescue by Pocahontas? What role, if any, does it play in legitimizing a cultural as well as military conquest?
1.9 ADRIAEN VAN DER DONCK
Adriaen van der Donck was born in Breda, Netherlands. His maternal grand‑ father, Adrian van Bergen took part in the Eighty Years’ War against Spain and helped capture the city of Breda in 1590. Starting in 1638, van der Donck attended the University of Leiden, where he studied law, earning a degree in both civil and canon law.
Image 1.12 | Presumed Portrait of Adriaen van der Donck
Artist | Unknown
Source | Wikimedia Commons
License | Public Domain
Van der Donck’s interest in the New World led him to obtain a post as schout, a sheriff and prosecutor, from Kiliaen van Rensselaer, who owned territory near what is now Albany. He later worked for the Dutch West India Company. As a reward for negotiating peace with American Indian tribes, the Dutch West India Company gifted van der Donck land north of what is now the island of Manhattan. There, he became known as the Gentleman, or Jonker in Dutch, from which the modern day Yonkers derives.
He worked as administrator to Peter Stuyvesant and was appointed to the Council of Nine, New Amsterdam’s governing body. His petitioning for democratic reform in the colony won him the ire of Peter Stuyvesant, who briefly jailed van der Donck. Van der Donck returned to the Netherlands, where he continued to petition the Dutch government for democratic reform. He also wrote A Description of New Netherland, the Country. He returned to America in 1653 and lived on his estate until his death in 1655.
1.9.1 From A Description of New Netherland, the Country
Where, and by whom, New-Netherlands was first discovered.
This country was first found and discovered in the year of our Lord 1609; when, at the cost of the incorporated East India Company, a ship named the Half‑Moon was fitted out to discover a westerly passage to the kingdom of China. This ship was commanded by Hendrick Hudson, as captain and supercargo, who was an Englishman by birth, and had resided many years in Holland, during which he had been in the employment of the East India Company. This ship sailed from the Canary Islands, steering a course north by west; and, after sailing twenty days with good speed, land was discovered, which, by their calculation, lay 320 degrees by west. On approaching the land, and observing the coast and shore convenient, they landed, and examined the country as well as they could at the time, and as opportunity offered; from which they were well satisfied that no Christian people had ever been there before, and that they were the first who by Providence had been guided to the discovery of the country.
The Netherlanders the First Possessors of New‑Netherland.
Although the possession and title which the Netherlanders have to New‑ Netherlands are amply treated of in their length and breadth, in the Representation of the Commonalty, and little more can be said in relation to them unless access be had to the Registers of the Honorable West India Company, we will nevertheless, touch upon them briefly, en passant. When this country was first discovered by the Netherlanders in the year 1609, and it was told them by the natives that they were the first Christian explorers in that region, they took possession of it in the name and on behalf of their High Mightinesses, the Lords of the States‑General of the United Netherlands, first in the South Bay at Cape Hinloopen, which they so called at that time, and which still retains that name; and so all along the coast and up the rivers, giving names to the different places as far as the great North River, a great distance up which they sailed, and which some of the English will still call Hudson’s River, but which was then named Mauritius River after Prince Maurice, who at that time was governor in Netherland; from whence they sailed further along till they went beyond Cape Cod, of which they also took possession, and which they named New Holland. And our Netherlanders have sailed there and traded at the same places thus taken into possession from time to time since then, until the charter was granted to the West Indian Company, when they passed under its jurisdiction. And although before we had there in our favor the circumstances of fifty families and cattle, yet since the year 1622 several forts have been built, farms and plantations taken up, much of the land bought of the natives, and then tokens of possession shown as is to be seen at length in the Representation of the Commonalty of New-Netherland, to which we refer the curious reader. It is therefore unusual, unhandsome, and unreasonable for any other nation to assert title or jurisdiction over these places or over those situated between such as were first discovered by the Netherlanders.
Of Agricultural Production
The pursuit of agriculture is not heavy and expensive there, as it is in the Netherlands. First, because the fencing and enclosing of the land does not cost much; for, instead of the Netherlands dykes and ditches, they set up post and rail, or palisado fences, and when new clearings are made, they commonly have fencing timber enough on the land to remove, which costs nothing but the labour, which is reasonably cheap to those who have their own hands, and without domestic labour very little can be effected. The land whereon there are few standing trees, and which has been grubbed and ploughed twice, we hold to be prepared for a crop of winter grain. For summer grain one ploughing is sufficient. If it is intended to sow the same field again with winter grain, then the stubble is ploughed in, and the land is sowed with wheat or rye, which in ordinary seasons will yield a fine crop.
I can affirm that during my residence of nine years in the country I have never seen land manured, and it is seldom done. The land is kept in order by tillage, which is often done to keep down weeds and brush, but for which it would have rest. Some persons (which I also hold to be good management), when their land becomes foul and weedy, break it up and sow the same with peas, because a crop of peas softens the land and makes it clean; but most of the land is too rich for peas, which when sown on the same grow so rank that the crop falls and rots on the land. Some of the land must be reduced by cropping it with wheat and barley, before it is proper to sow the same with peas. We have frequently seen the straw of wheat and barley grow so luxuriant that the crops yielded very little grain.
I deem it worthy of notice that with proper attention, in ordinary seasons, two ripe crops of peas can be raised on the same land in one season, in the New‑ Netherlands. It has frequently been done in the following manner, viz. The first crop was sown in the last of March or first of April, which will ripen about the first of July; the crop is then removed, and the land ploughed, and sowed again with peas of the first crop. The second crop will ripen in September, or about the first of October, when the weather is still fine and warm. The same can also be done with buckwheat, which has frequently been proved; but the first crop is usually much injured by finches and other birds, and, as wheat and rye are plenty, therefore there is very little buckwheat sown. The maize (Indian corn) is carefully attended to, and is sufficient to the wants of the country.
The Turkey wheat, or maize, as the grain is named, many persons suppose to be the same kind of grain which Jesse sent parched by his son David to his other sons of the army of Israel. This is a hardy grain, and is fit for the sustenance of man and animals. It is easily cultivated and will grow in almost every kind of land . . . .
After a corn crop is gathered, the land may be sowed with winter grain in the fall without previous ploughing. When this is intended, the corn is gathered, the stalks are pulled up and burnt, the hills levelled, and the land sown and harrowed smooth and level. Good crops are raised in this manner. I have seen rye sown as before described, which grew so tall that a man of common size would bind the ears together above his head, which yielded seven and eight schepels, Amsterdam measure, per vin of 108 sheaves, of which two vins made a wagon load.
The Rev. Johannis Megapolensis, Junior, minister of the colony of Rensselaerwyck, in certain letters which he has written to his friends, which were printed (as he has told me) without his consent, but may be fully credited,—he being a man of truth and of great learning, who writes in a vigorous style,—states, with other matters, that a certain farmer had cropped one field with wheat eleven years in succession, which to many persons will seem extraordinary, and may not be credited. Still it is true, and the residents of the place testify to the same, and they add that this same land was ploughed but twelve times in the eleven seasons,—twice in the first year, and once in every succeeding year, when the stubble was ploughed in, the wheat sown and harrowed under. I owned land adjoining the land referred to, and have seen the eleventh crop, which was tolerably good. The man who did this is named Brandt Pelen; he was born in the district of Utrecht, and at the time was a magistrate (schepen) of the colony of Rensselaerwyck. We acknowledge that this relation appears to be marvellous, but in the country it is not so, for there are many thousand morgens of as good land there as the land of which we have spoken.
During the period when I resided in the New‑Netherlands, a certain honorable gentleman, named John Everts Bout (who was recommended to the colonists by their High Mightinesses, &c.), laid a wager that he could raise a crop of barley on a field containing seven morgens of land, which would grow so tall in every part of the field that the ears could easily be tied together above his head. I went to see the field of barley, and found that the straw, land by land, was from six to seven feet high, and very little of it any shorter. It has also been stated to me as a fact that barley has frequently been raised, although not common, which yielded eleven schepel, Amsterdam measure, per vin of 108 sheaves. Therefore, all persons who are acquainted with the New‑Netherlands judge the country to be as well adapted for the cultivation of grain as any part of the world which is known to the Netherlanders, or is in their possession.
With the other productions of the land we must include tobacco, which is also cultivated in the country, and is, as well as the maize, well adapted to prepare the land for other agricultural purposes, which also, with proper attention, grows fine, and yields more profit. Not only myself, but hundreds of others, have raised tobacco the leaves of which were three‑fourths of a yard long. The tobacco raised here is of different kind, but principally of the Virginia kind, from which it differs little in flavour, although the Virginia is the best. Still it does not differ so much in quality as in price. Next to the Virginia it will be the best; many persons esteem it better, and give it a preference. It is even probable that when the people extend the cultivation of the article, and more tobacco is planted, that it will gain more reputation and esteem. Many persons are of opinion that the defect in flavour arises from the newness of the land, and hasty cultivation, which will gradually be removed.
Barley grows well in the country, but it is not much needed. Cummin seed, canary seed, and the like, have been tried, and Commander Minuit testifies that those articles succeed well, but are not sought after. Flax and hemp will grow fine, but as the women do not spin much, and the Indians have hemp in abundance in the woods from which they make strong ropes and nets, for these reasons very little flax is raised; but the persons who do sow the seed find that the land is of the proper quality for such articles.
Of their bodily form and appearance, and why we named them (Wilden) Wild Men.
Having briefly remarked on the situation and· advantages of the country, we deem it worth our attention to treat concerning the nature of the original native inhabitants of the land; that after the Christians have multiplied and the natives have disappeared and melted away, a memorial of them may be preserved.
Their appearance and bodily form, as well of the men as of the women, are well proportioned, and equal in height to the Netherlanders, varying little from the common size. Their limbs are properly formed, and they are sprightly and active. They can run very fast for a long time, and they can carry heavy packs. To all bodily exertions they are very competent, as far as their dispositions extend; but to heavy slavish labour the men have a particular aversion, and they manage their affairs accordingly, so that they need not labour much. Misshapen or ill‑formed persons are very rare amongst them. During the whole time of my residence in the country, I have not seen more than one who was born deformed. Cripples, hunch‑backed, or other bodily infirmities, are so rare, that we may say that there are none amongst them; and when we see or hear of one who is crippled or lame, we on inquiry find the same to have originated by accident or in war. They are all properly formed and well proportioned persons. None are gross or uncommonly heavy. Although nature has not given them abundant wisdom, still they exercise their talents with discretion. No lunatics or fools are found amongst them, nor any mad or raving persons of either sex. The men and women commonly have broad shoulders and slender waists. Their hair, before old age, is jet black, sleek and uncurled, and nearly as coarse as a horse’s tail. Hair of any other colour they dislike and despise. On the skin, the breast, under the arms, and on other parts of the body, they have little or no hair, and if any appear on their chins they pluck it out by the roots, and it seldom sprouts again. Their old men sometimes have a little stubble on their chins. The men and women all have fine brown eyes, and snow white teeth. Purblind, cross‑ eyed persons are rare objects, and I have never heard of a native who was born blind, and they seldom lose their sight by accident. One I have seen who had lost his eye‑sight by the small pox; and when they become old, their sight does not fail so early in life as ours. The colour of their skin is not so white as ours; still we see some of them who have a fine skin, and they are mostly born with good complexions; otherwise they have a yellowish colour like the Tartars, or heathen who are seen in Holland, or like the Outlanders who keep in the fields and go uncovered as they do. Their yellowness is no fault of nature, but it is caused by the heat of the scorching sun, which is hotter and more powerful in that country than in Holland, which from generation to generation has been shining on that people, and exhibits its effects stronger. Although this yellowness of the skin appears more or less on all this race, still we find very comely men and women amongst them. It is true that they appear singular and strange to our nation, because their complexion, speech and dress are so different, but this, on acquaintance, is disregarded. Their women are well favoured and fascinating. Several of our Netherlanders were connected with them before our women came over, and remain firm in their attachments. Their faces and countenances are as various as they are in Holland, seldom very handsome, and rarely very ugly, and if they were instructed as our women are, there then would be little or no difference in their qualifications.
The original natives of the country, (for now there are native born Christians also,) although they are composed of different tribes, and speak different tongues, all pass by the appellation of (Wilden) wild men; and this name was given them, as far as we can learn, at the first discovery of the country, which for various reasons seems very appropriate. First, on account of their religion, of which they have very little, and that is very strange; and secondly, on account of their marriages, wherein they differ from civilized societies; thirdly, on account of their laws, which are so singular as to deserve the name of wild regulations. And the Christians hold different names necessary to distinguish different nations, such as Turks, Mamelukes, and Barbarians; and as the name of Heathen is very little used in foreign lands, therefore they would not distinguish the native Americans by either of these names;. and as they trade in foreign countries with dark and fair coloured people, and with those who resemble ourselves, in distinction from negroes, and as the American tribes are bordering on an olive colour, the name of wild men suits them best. Thus without deliberation, and as it were by chance at the first word, (as we suppose,) they were called Wild Men. And as unlearned persons never reflect much but speak their first thoughts in this manner, it has probably happened that this people received their national name, because they seemed to be wild and strangers to the Christian religion.
Of the Nature and Diversions of the Indians
The Indians are naturally (with few exceptions) of taciturn, steady and pensive dispositions and tempers, and of few words, which are well considered, uttered slowly, and long remembered; they say no more than is necessary to the subject in hand. When they want to buy or to sell any article, they say no more than is necessary to the bargain. On the other occasions, they talk of no subjects except hunting, fishing, and war. Their young men frequently entertain each other on their gallantry with young female connections. They despise lying, and still they are not very precise in the performance of their engagements. Swearing and scolding are not heard among them, unless it be among those who have learned those habits from us. They do not possess great wisdom or extensive knowledge, but reasonable understanding, resulting from practical experience, which they certainly possess without any desire for further instruction; they are naturally civil and well disposed, and quick enough to distinguish between good and evil, but after they have associated amongst us, they become cunning and deceitful, They are slovenly, careless, and dirty of their persons, and are troubled with the evils which attend filthiness. They are very revengeful and obstinate even unto death, and when in trouble they disregard and despise all pain and torture that can be done to them, and will sing with proud contempt until death terminates their sufferings. They are all stingy and inclined to beggary, and cannot be trusted too far because they also are thievish; denying them the least trifle does not offend them. They are all free by nature and will not bear any domineering or lording over them; they will not bear any insult, unless they have done wrong, and they will bear chastisement without resentment. Delicious food or drink they disregard; they fear no accidents, and can endure heat, cold, hunger, and thirst, in a wonderful manner, and they can all swim like ducks from their childhood. When abroad, they spend their time in hunting, fishing or war; at home they smoke tobacco, and play a game with pieces of reeds, resembling our card playing. The old men knit nets, and make wooden bowls and ladles. Labour among the young men is uncommon, and nearly all the necessary labour is done by the females.
Of their Religion, and whether they can be brought over to the Christian Faith.
The natives are all heathen and without any religious devotions. Idols are neither known nor worshipped among them. When they take an oath they swear by the sun, which, they say, sees all things. They think much of the moon, and believe it has great influence over vegetation. Although they know all the planets from the other stars, by appropriate names, still they pay no idolatrous worship to the same, yet by the planets and other signs they are somewhat weatherwise. The offering up of prayers, or the making of any distinction between days, or any matter of the kind, is unknown among them. They neither know or say any thing of God; but they possess great fear of the devil, who they believe causes diseases, and does them much injury. When they go on a hunting or fishing excursion they usually cast a part of what is first taken into the fire, without using any ceremony on the occasion, then saying “stay thou devil, eat thou that.” They love to hear usspeak of God and of our religion; and are very attentive and still during divine service and prayers, and apparently are inclined to devotion; but in truth they know nothing about it, and live without any religion, or without any inward or outward godly fear, nor do they know of any superstition or idolatry; they only follow the instilled laws of nature, therefore some suppose they can easily be brought to the knowledge and fear of God. Among some nations the word Sunday is known by the name of Kintowen. The oldest among them say that in former times the knowledge and fear of God had been known among them, and they remark, that since they can neither read nor write, in process of time the Sunday will be forgotten, all knowledge of the same lost. Their old men, when we reason earnestly with them on the matter, seem to feel pensive or sorrowful, but manifest no other emotions or agitations—when we reprove them for bad conduct and reason with them on its impropriety, and say that there is a God in heaven above whom they offend, their common answer is—‘We do not know that God, we have never seen him, we know not who he is—if you know him and fear him, as you say you do, how does it then happen that so many thieves, drunkards, and evil‑doers are found among you. Certainly that God will punish you severely, because he has warned you to beware of those deeds, which he has never done to us. We know nothing about it, and therefore we do not deserve such punishment.’ Very seldom do they adopt our religion, nor have there been any political measures taken for their conversion. When their children are young some of them are frequently taken into our families for assistants, who are, according to opportunity, instructed in our religion, but as soon as they are grown up, and turn lovers and associate again with the Indians, they forget their religious impressions and adopt the Indian customs. The Jesuits have taken great pains and trouble in Canada to convert the Indians to the Roman Church, and outwardly many profess that religion; but inasmuch as they are not well instructed in its fundamental principles, they fall off lightly and make sport of the subject and its doctrine.
In the year 1639, when a certain merchant, who is still living with us, went into that country to trade with an Indian chief who spoke good French, after he had drank two or three glasses of wine, they began to converse on the subject of religion. The chief said that he had been instructed so far that he often said mass among the Indians, and that on a certain occasion the place where the altar stood caught fire by accident, and our people made preparations to put out the fire, which he forbade them to do, saying that God, who stands there, is almighty, and he will put out the fire himself; and we waited with great attention, but the fire continued till all was burned up, with your almighty God himself and with all the fine things about him. Since that time I have never held to that religion, but regard the sun and moon much more, as being better than all your Gods are; for they warm the earth and cause the fruits to grow, when your lovely Gods cannot preserve themselves from the fire. In the whole country I know no more than one Indian who is firm in his religious profession, nor can any change be expected among them, as long as matters are permitted to remain as heretofore. If they are to be brought over to the Christian faith, then the public hand must be extended to them and continued; we must establish good schools at convenient places among them, for the instruction of their children; let them learn to write our catechism, and let them be thoroughly instructed in the fundamental principles of our religion, so that in process of time they may be enabled to instruct each other and become attached thereto. It certainly would be attended with some trouble and expense to the government, still, without such means and measures, it will be difficult to do any good, among them. Our negligence on those matters is very reprehensible, for the Indians themselves say that they are very desirous to have their children instructed in our language and religion.
Of their hope after this present life.
It is a wonderful truth which affords strong evidence against unbelievers and free‑thinking spirits, that this barbarous wild race of people of whom we have treated, should know that there is a distinction between the body and the soul, and believe, as they actually do, that the one is perishable and the other immortal. The soul, they say, is that spirit which directs all the actions of the body, and is the producing cause of all good and evil conduct, which, when the body dies, separates from it and removes to a place towards the south, where the climate is so fine that no covering against the cold will be necessary, and where the heat will never be troublesome. To this place the souls of all those who have been good and valuable in this life will go, where they will be satisfied and have an abundance of good things, without any trouble or labour for the same, forever; and they who have been bad in this life, after death will go to another place, where their condition will be directly contrary to the first; where they will never enjoy peace and contentment, as the good will do. But I have never been able rightly to discover whether they believe the soul will be hereafter united to the body. I have, however, spoken with Christians who remark, that they have heard them state such to be their belief. But they do not affirm to this fact. When they hear voices or noises in the woods at night, which frequently happens, and which, we believe, usually proceed from wild animals, but which they declare, with fear and astonishment, are made by the wicked, the souls of whom are thus doomed to wander at night in the woods and solitary palaces for punishment in unhappy situations. The Indians, because they fear those subjects, do not travel by night unless it be necessary, and then go in parties or companies; when they go alone they always carry a fire‑brand with them, with which they believe they can keep off those evil spirits and prevent them from doing them any injury, which, they say, are always disposed to frighten them and do them wrong. They acknowledge also that the soul proceeds from God, and that the same is his gift. This we sometimes learn from their old men of understanding, when an opportunity presents itself in conversation and we probably would discover more of them in relation to this matter, if we did perfectly understand their languages. Among their common or young people we do not hear those spoken of. In this we still see the providence of God, who, by the common light of nature, has given to this people the knowledge that there is, after this life, a reward for the just, and a punishment for the unjust, which all mankind may expect.
1.9.2 Reading and Review Questions
- How, why, and to what effect does van der Donck assert the right of the Dutch to possess New Netherland? What assumptions about law and jurisdiction does he make, and why?
- What details of Dutch culture can be inferred by van der Donck’s description of the land, crops, and people in New Netherland? How does van der Donck’s description in this way differ from that of other New World accounts?
- Van der Donck records details of American Indian lives and culture to prevent regret over their inevitable disappearance. According to van der Donck, who will feel this regret? Why?
- Why did the Dutch “name” American Indians the “wilden?” How does van der Donck justify this name as appropriate, even as he acknowledges that different tribes and groups exist, each with their own distinct name?
- Van der Donck recounts an American Indian noting how the Christian God allows himself to be burnt (when a Christian altar and relics catch fire and burn). Van der Donck declares that the American Indian mocked the Christian God. Why does van der Donck recount this event and this so‑called mockery? What do you think is van der Donck’s point?