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America's History in the Making

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Marquette Journal

Section 9th, Reception given to the French in the Last Village which they saw. The manners and customs of those savages. Reasons for not going farther.
We embarked early on the following day, with our interpreter; a canoe containing ten savages went a short distance ahead of us. When we arrived within half a league of the Akamsea,'* we saw two canoes coming to meet us. He who commanded stood upright, holding in his hand The calumet, with Which he made various signs, according to the custom of the country. He joined us, singing very agreeably, and gave us tobacco to smoke; after that, he offered us sagamit, and bread made of indian corn, of which we ate a little. He then preceded us, after making us a sign to follow Him slowly.

A place had been prepared for us under The scaffolding of the chief of the warriors; it was clean, and carpeted with fine rush mats. Upon These we were made to sit, having around us the elders, who were nearest to us; after them, The warriors; and, finally, all The common people in a crowd.

We fortunately found there a Young man who understood Ilinois much better than did The Interpreter whom we had brought from Mitchigamea. Through him, I spoke at first to the whole assembly by The usual presents. They admired what I said to Them about God and the mysteries of our holy faith. They manifested a great desire to retain me among them, that I might instruct Them

We afterward asked them what they knew about the sea. They replied that we were only ten days' journey from it we could have covered the distance in 5 days; that they were not acquainted with The Nations who dwelt There, because Their enemies prevented Them from Trading with those Europeans; that the hatchets, Knives, and beads that we saw were sold to Them partly by Nations from The east, and partly by an Illinois village situated at four days' journey from their village westward.

They also told us that the savages with guns whom we had met were Their Enemies, who barred Their way to the sea, and prevented Them from becoming acquainted with the Europeans, and from carrying on any trade with them; that, moreover, we exposed ourselves to great dangers by going farther, on account of the continual forays of their enemies along the river,- because, as they had guns and were very warlike, we could not without manifest danger proceed down the river, which they constantly occupy.

Father Jacques Marquette, "Unfinished Journal Addressed to the Reverend Father Claude Dablon, Superior of the Missions," In The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. Edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites. Originally published 1675. (New York:Pagent). www.archive.org/details/jesuits42jesuuoft.

Creator Père Jacques Marquette
Context In 1673, Marquette participated in a French party's exploration of the Mississippi River.
Audience Reverend Father Claude Dablon, Superior of the Missions
Purpose To expand knowledge of the area and to show himself in a favorable light

Historical Significance

Father Jacques Marquette was one of many Jesuit priests to play a key role in France's expansion into North America's interior. Unusually adept at learning Indian languages, he was stationed on Lake Superior when he learned of the Mississippi River from some visiting Illinois Indians.

In the spring of 1673, Marquette left the Great Lakes area with Louis Joliet and a party of Frenchmen. They hoped to find the mouth of the Mississippi and to challenge Spanish claims further South and West. From Green Bay, they paddled up the Fox River and then down the Wisconsin River to the Mississippi, which they followed to the mouth of the Arkansas River, where they were obliged to turn back.

Marquette kept a diary, rewriting passages from memory after the original was lost when his canoe capsized. In this excerpt, Marquette explains why the expedition turned back�and reveals the web of political relations between various Native American groups and Europeans.


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