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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
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Chapter V.— France Resumes Her Discoveries. The Algonquins are Found to Inhabit the Atlantic Coast, North, Up to the River St. Lawrence. They are Succeeded in Position, in Ascending That Valley, by the Iroquois.


THE voyage of Verrazani, under the French flag, promising but trifling, or no advantage to the revenues of France, attracted little attention, and was, for some time, forgotten. In 1534, the admiral, Philip Chabot, represented to the king the advantages to be derived from sharing, with Spain, the rich prize of North America, by establishing a colony. In accordance with this suggestion, Jacques Cartier, of St. Malo, in Normandy, was presented to the king, and approved as a person suitable for the undertaking.

He sailed from the port of St. Malo on the 20th of April, 1534, with two ships, and one hundred and twenty two men. His crew took a solemn oath, before sailing, "to behave themselves truly and faithfully, in the service of the most Christian king, Francis I." The excitement concerning American discoveries was still the order of the day in the European courts. The conquest of Mexico had been completed but thirteen years before, and Pizarro was now in the height of his triumphs at Truxillo, Guanuco, and Caxamarca.

After an unusually prosperous voyage, of twenty days, Cartier made Cape "Buona Vista" in Newfoundland, which he states to be in north latitude 48° 30'. Here, meeting with ice, he made the haven of St. Catherine's, where he was detained ten days. This coast had been known since the voyage of Cabot in 1497, and had been frequently resorted to by fishing vessels. Jean Denis, a native of Rouen, one of these fishermen, is said to have published the first chart of it in 1506. Two years afterwards, Thomas Aubert brought the first natives from Newfoundland to Paris, and this is the era, 1508, commonly assigned as the discovery of Canada. The St. Lawrence remained, however, undiscovered; nor does it appear that anything, beyond a general and vague knowledge of the coast, and of its islands, had then been ascertained. The idea was still entertained (indeed, it will be seen, by subsequent facts), that America was an island, and that a passage to the Asiatic continent existed in those latitudes.

On the 21st of May, Cartier continued his voyage, sailing "north and by east" from

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cape Buona Vista, and arrived at the Isle of Birds, so named on account of the unusual abundance of sea-fowl found upon it, with the young of which the men filled two boats; "so that," in the quaint language of the journal, "besides them which we did eat fresh, every ship did powder and salt five or six barrels." He also observed the godwit, and a larger, but vicious bird, which received the name of margaulx. While at this island, they descried a polar bear, which, in their presence, leaped into the sea, and thus escaped. Subsequently, while crossing to the main land, they encountered, as supposed, the same animal, swimming towards land, and, "by main strength overtook her, whose flesh was as good to be eaten as the flesh of a calf two years old." This bear is described to have been, "as large as a cow, and as white as a swan."

On the 27th, Cartier reached the harbor of "Carpunt," in the bay of "Les Chasteaux," latitude 51°, where, on account of the accumulation of ice, he was constrained to lay by until the 9th of June. The narrator of the voyage describes certain parts of the coast of Newfoundland, and adjoining seas, the islands of St. Catherine, Blanc Sablon, Brest, the Isle of Birds, and a numerous group of islands, called The Islets; but these memoranda are unconnected with any important observations or discoveries. Speaking of the island of Brest and Bird island, he says, they afford "great store of godwits, and crows with red beaks and red feet," which "make their nests in holes underground, even as conies." Near this locality "there is great

On the 10th of June, he entered a port in the newly discovered island of Brest, to procure wood and water. Meantime, boats were despatched to explore the islands, which were found to be so numerous "that it was not possible they might be told, for they continued about ten leagues beyond the said port." The explorers slept on an island, and the following day continued their discoveries along the coast. Having passed the islands, they found a haven, which was named
St. Anthony, and, one or two leagues beyond, discovered a small river named St. Servansport, where they reared a cross. Distant about three leagues from the last mentioned, another river of larger size was discovered, in which salmon was found. Upon this stream they bestowed the name of St. Jacques.

While at St. Jacques, they descried a ship from Rochelle, on a fishing cruise, and, rowing out in their boats, directed it to a port near at hand, in what is called "Jacques Cartier's Sound," "which," adds the narrator, "I take to be one of the best in all the world." The face of the country examined by the explorers was, however, of the most sterile and forbidding character, being little else than "stones and wild crags, and a place fit for wild beasts; for in all the north island," he continues, "I did not see a cart-load of good earth. Yet went I on shore, in many places, and in the island of White Sand (Blanc Sablon) there is nothing else but moss and small thorns, scattered here and there, withered and dry. To be short, I believe that this was the land that God allotted to Cain."

Immediately following this, we have the first account of the natives. The new

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are described as being "of an indifferent good stature and bigness, but wild and unruly. They wear their hair tied on the top, like a wreath of hay, and put a wooden pin within it, or any other such thing, instead of a nail, and with them they bind certain birds' feathers. They are clothed with beast skins, as well the men as women, but that the women go somewhat straiter and closer in their garments than the men do, with their waistes girded. They paint themselves with certain roan colours; their boats are made of the bark of birch trees, with which they fish, and take great store of seals. And, as far as we could understand since our coming thither, that is not their habitation, but they came from the main land, out of hotter [39] countries, to catch the said seals, and other necessaries for their living."

From this exploratory trip, the boats returned, on the 13th, to the newly styled harbor of Brest. On the 14th, being the Sabbath, service was read, and the following day Cartier continued his voyage, steering southerly, along the coast, which still wore a most barren and cheerless aspect. Much of this part of the narrative is occupied with the details of distances and soundings, as well as the denomination of capes and islands, of very little interest at the present day. On the 18th, the voyagers saw a few huts upon the cliffs, and named this part of the coast "Les Granges," but they did not stop to form any acquaintance with their tenants. Cape Royal was passed, and duly named, on the 17th, and is described as "the greatest fishery of cods there possibly may be, for in less than an hour we took an hundred of them." On the 24th, the island of St. John was discovered. Myriads of birds were seen upon the group of islands named "Margaulx." five leagues westward of which they discovered a large, fertile, and well-timbered island, to which the name of "Brion" was given. The contrast presented by the soil and productions of this island, compared with the bleak and waste shores they had previously visited, aroused their warm admiration; and, under the influence of this excitement, they here saw "wild corn," peas, gooseberries, strawberries, damask roses, and parsley, "with other sweet and pleasant herbs." Here, also, they observed the walrus, bear, and wolf.

Very little can be gleaned from the subsequent details of the voyage, until the arrival of the expedition in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Mists, head winds, barren rocks, sandy shores, storms, and sunshine, alternate in the landscape presented to view. Much caution was observed in tacking back and forth, on an iron-bound coast, and the boats were frequently made use of in exploring the shores of the main land. While thus employed near a shallow stream, called the "River of Boats," they saw natives crossing it in their canoes, but the wind commencing to blow toward the land, they were compelled to retire to their vessels without opening any communication with them. On the following day, while the boats were traversing the coasts, they saw a native running

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after them along the beach, who made signs directing them, as they supposed, to return toward the cape they had left. As soon as the boats turned, however, he fled, but, notwithstanding, they landed, and fastening a knife and a woollen girdle to an upright staff, as a good-will offering, returned to their vessels.

This part of the Newfoundland coast impressed them as being greatly superior, both in soil and temperature, to the portions which they had before seen. In addition to the productions previously found at Brion's island, they noticed cedars, pines, white elm, ash, willow, and what are denominated "ewe trees." Among the feathered tribes, the "thrush and stockdove" are mentioned; the latter, without doubt, being the passenger pigeon. The "wild corn," here again mentioned, is said to be "like unto rye," from which it may be inferred that it was the zizania, although the circumstance of its being an aquatic plant is not mentioned.

While running along this coast, Cartier appears to have been engrossed with the idea, so prevalent among the mariners of that era, of finding a passage to India, and it was probably on this account, that he made such a minute examination of every inlet and bay, as well as of the productions of the soil. Whenever the latter afforded anything favorable, there appears to have been a strong predisposition to admiration, and to derive inferences therefrom correspondent with the pre-existing theory. It must be recollected that, seventy-five years later, Hudson entertained similar notions, while sailing up the North River. Hence, the application of several improper names to the animals, as well as to the productions of these latitudes, and the apparently constant expectation of beholding trees laden with fruits and spices, "goodly trees," and "very sweet and pleasant herbs." That the barren and frigid shores of Labrador, and the northern parts of Newfoundland, should have been characterized as a region subject to the Divine curse, is not calculated to excite so much surprise, as the disposition evinced, with every considerable change of soil and verdure, to convert the favored region into a land of oriental fruitfulness. It does not appear to have been sufficiently understood, that the increased verdure and elevation of temperature were, in a great measure, owing to the advancing state of the season. Cartier arrived off the coast on the 10th of May, and prolonged his stay through July. Now, however, it is very generally known, that the summers in high northern latitudes, although short, are attended with a great degree of heat.

On the 3d of July, Cartier entered the gulf, to which, during a subsequent voyage, he gave the name, St. Lawrence, the centre of which he states to be in latitude 47° 30'. On the 4th, he proceeded up the bay to a creek called St. Martin, near Baie du Chaleur, where he was detained eight days by stress of weather. While at anchor there, one of the ship's boats being sent off to make explorations in advance, proceeded seven or eight leagues, to a cape of the bay, where two parties of Indians, "in about forty or fifty canoes," were observed crossing the channel. One of the parties landed, and beckoned to the explorers to follow their example, "making a great noise," and showing

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"certain skins upon pieces of wood," i. e. fresh-stretched skins; but, fearing their numbers, the seamen kept aloof. The Indians in two canoes prepared to follow them, in which movement they were joined by five canoes of the other party, "who were coming from the sea side." They approached in a friendly manner, "dancing, and making many manifestations of joy, saying, in their tongue, Napew tondamen assuatah." [40] The seamen, however, suspecting their intentions, and finding it impossible to elude them by flight, discharged two shots among them, by which they were so terrified, that they fled precipitately to the shore, "making a great noise." After pausing some time, the "wild men" re-embarked and renewed the pursuit, but, after coming alongside, they were so terrified by the thrusts of two lances, that they again fled in haste, and made no further attempt to follow.

This appears to have been the first rencontre of the ship's crews with the natives. On the following day, by the approach of said "wild men" in nine canoes, an interview was brought about, which is thus described: "We being advertised of their coming, went to the point, where they were with our boats; but so soon as they saw us they began to flee, making signs that they came to traffic with us, showing us such skins as they clothed themselves withal, which are of small value. We likewise made signs unto them that we wished them no evil, and in sign thereof, two of our men ventured to go on land to them and carry them knives, with other iron wares, and a red hat to give unto their captain. Which, when they saw, they also came on land, and brought some of their skins, and so began to deal with us, seeming to be very glad to have our iron wares and other things, still dancing, with many other ceremonies, as with their hands to cast sea water on their heads. They gave us whatever they had, not keeping anything, so that they were constrained to go back again naked, and made signs that the next day they would come again, and bring more skins with them."

Observing a spacious bay, extending beyond the cape where this interview had been opened, and the wind proving adverse to the vessels quitting the harbor, Cartier despatched his boats to examine it, for the purpose of ascertaining whether it might not afford the desired passage; for it must be kept in mind, that he was diligently seeking the long-sought passage to the Indian Ocean. While engaged in this examination, his men discovered "the smokes and fires" of wild men" (the term constantly used in the narrative to designate the natives). These signs were observed upon the shores of a small lake, communicating with the bay. An amicable interview resulted, the natives presenting to the navigators cooked seal, and the French making a suitable return "in hatchets, knives and beads." After these preliminaries, which were conducted with considerable caution, by deputies from both sides, the male natives approached in their canoes, for the purpose of trafficking, leaving most of their families behind. About 300

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Indian men, women, and children, were estimated to have been congregated at this place. They evinced their friendship by singing and dancing, as also by rubbing their hands upon the arms of their European visitors, and then lifting them up towards the heavens. An opinion is expressed that these people (who were in the position assigned to the Micmacs, in 1600, in Mr. Gallatin's ethnological map,) might very easily be converted to Christianity. "They go," says the narrator, "from place to place. They live only by fishing. They have an ordinary time to fish for their provisions. The country is hotter than the country of Spain, and the fairest that can possibly be found; altogether smooth and level." In addition to the productions before noticed, as indigenous on Brion's island, &c., and which were likewise found here, he enumerates "white and red roses, with many other flowers of very sweet and pleasant smell." "There be also," says the journalist, "many goodly meadows full of grass, and lakes wherein plenty of salmon be." The natives called a hatchet, Cochi, and a knife, Bacon. [41] It was at this time near the middle of July, and the degree of heat experienced on the excursion induced Cartier to name the inlet, Baie du Chaleur; a name it still retains.

On the 12th of July, Cartier left his moorings at St. Martin's creek, and proceeded up the gulf; but encountering bad weather, he was forced into a bay, which appears to have been Gaspe, where one of the vessels lost her anchor. They were forced to take shelter in a river of that bay, and were there detained thirteen days. Meanwhile, they opened an intercourse with the natives, who were found in great numbers,
engaged in fishing for mackerel. Forty canoes, and two hundred men, women, and children, were estimated to have been seen during their detention at this place. Presents of "knives, combs, beads of glass, and other trifles of small value," were made to the Indians, for which they expressed great thankfulness, lifting up their hands, and dancing and singing.

These Gaspe Indians are represented as differing, both "in nature and language," from those before mentioned, being abjectly poor, but partially clothed in "old skins," and possessed of no tents to protect them from the weather. "They may," says the journalist, "very well and truly be called wild, because there is no poorer people in the world; for, I think, all they had together, besides their boats and nets, was not worth five sous." They shaved their heads, with the exception of a tuft on the crown; sheltered themselves at night under their canoes, on the bare ground, and ate their provisions but partially cooked. They were unacquainted with the use of salt, and "ate nothing that had any taste of salt." On Cartier's first landing among them, the men expressed their joy, as those at Baie du Chaleur had done, by singing and dancing; but they had sent all their women, except two or three, into the woods. A comb and a tin bell, given to each of the women who had ventured to remain, excited the avarice

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of the men, who quickly brought their women, to the number of about twenty, from the woods, to each of whom the same present was made. They caressed Cartier by touching and rubbing him with their hands, and also sung and danced. Their nets were made of a kind of indigenous hemp; and they also possessed a species of "millet" called "Kapaige," beans called "Sahu," and nuts called "Cahehya." If anything was exhibited with which they were unacquainted, they shook their heads, saying, "Nohda." It is added that they never come to the sea, except in fishing time; which, we may remark, was probably the reason why they had no lodges, or much other property about them. They would naturally desire to disencumber their canoes as much as possible, in these summer excursions, that they might carry a large return freight of dried fish. The language spoken by these Gaspe Indians is manifestly of the Iroquois type. "Cahehya" is, with a slight difference, the term for fruit in the Oneida.

On the 24th of July, Cartier erected a cross, thirty feet high, bearing the inscription, "Vive le Roy de France." The natives, who were present at the ceremony, seem, on a little reflection, to have conceived the true intent of it, and their chief complained of it in a "long oration," saying, in effect "that the country was his, and that he should not set up any cross without his leave." Having quieted the old chief's fears, and used a little duplicity to induce him to come alongside, Cartier seized two of the natives, named Domaigaia and Taignoagny (Iroquois), with the view of conveying them to France, and, on the following day, set sail up the gulf. After making some further explorations, and being foiled in an attempt to enter the mouth of a river, Cartier began to think of returning. Being alarmed by the rapidity of the tide setting out of the St. Lawrence river, and the weather becoming remarkably tempestuous, he assembled his captains and principal men in council, "to put the question as to the expediency of continuing the voyage." The result of their deliberations was as follows: Considering the easterly winds began to prevail, "that there was nothing to be gotten;" the impetuosity of the tides was such "that they did but fall," and storms and tempests beginning to reign, it was evident that they must either promptly return home, or else remain where they were until spring. Under these circumstances it was decided to be expedient to return; and with this counsel Cartier complied. No time was lost in retracing their route along the Newfoundland coast, and they arrived at the port of "White Sands" on the 9th of August. On the 15th, being "the feast of the Assumption of our Lady," after the religious services of the day were concluded, Cartier set sail for France. "About the middle of the sea" he encountered a heavy storm of three days' continuance, and arrived at the port of St. Malo, on the 5th of September, after an absence of four months and sixteen days. [42]

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
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