Monday, October 12, 2009

A Letter From A Jesuit 303 Years Ago


Michilimackinac, August 27, 1706.

Letter from Father Joseph Marest to Governor VaudreuiI


A few canoes of the savages of this place, who went to Detroit, having returned, I am permitted to give you their report; they arrived here on Monday, August 23d. The chiefs of Michilimackinac, who remained at home, have always maintained that their men had not gone to fight, but to withdraw their brothers, the young men, from Detroit. Those who went last, report that they met these young men on their way home. Five or six days had already elapsed since they left Detroit, and they were nearly exhausted with hunger. Ten canoes have gone to Saginaw for provisions. Le Pesant and Jean la Blanc, with many others are still delayed by the wind. Those who have arrived, say that a great battle was fought at Detroit, and that the French were going out with the Miamis and Hurons to attack the Outawas in their fort. Two Frenchmen had been killed in the combat, by a Miami. The Outawas feared that they had killed some of the Iroquois of the Saut,1 if any were with the Hurons.

The savages all say that the Miamis were masters in the fort of the French, stealing their corn and other provisions, and committing all manner of depredations.

It was also reported that they had burnt an Outawa. The Hurons burned a young Outawa woman in their fort. They sent four Outawas captive to the Miamis of St. Joseph; two of them escaped; but they said the Miamis had not ill-treated them, and the blame of the whole affair must rest on Quarante Sous (great link).
Tbe same Hurons had two other Outawa prisoners, whom they wished to give either to the Miamis, who were soon to return from Detroit, or to M. la Motte.

The greater part of the fields at Detroit had been ravaged. Only a few of the Miamis remained at Detroit, and the Loups (Pawnee sub-group) had withdrawn. news had yet been received from M. la Motte. M. Menard will give all the circumstances at length; you may depend upon his report. We are impatiently awaiting the return of M. Boudor and the Outawa chiefs. I have not yet sent to the river St. Joseph, but hope to very soon.

I hasten to close this long letter, by assuring you that I am with respect, sir

Your very humble and very obedient servant,

Jos. J. Maeest.

Link (here) to the full letter

Hand drawing of an Outawas Indian going to war with his family

Map of Michigan Indian groups

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