In our last selection Allouez, in the summer of 1667, was left at his farthest north on Lake Nipigon; the following narrative commences with the autumn of 1669. Within the two years unrecorded here, he had visited the St. Lawrence twice, had secured more workers for the Western field, and had established permanent headquarters at Sault Ste. Marie. At this place Father Claude Dablon had been made superior of all the Western missions; while Father Jacques Marquette had taken Allouez's former place at the Bay of Chequamegon.
Allouez was eager to begin new work among the Wisconsin tribes, many from among whose members had paid him short visits in his hut on Chequamegon Bay. No sooner had he reached the Sault, after the long fatiguing canoe journey of a thousand miles, than he began preparations for a voyage to Green Bay and the villages upon its shores. The succeeding narrative is especially interesting to the student of Western history, since by this journey Allouez opened the way for the later exploration of Father Marquette, and in his accurate and detailed descriptions portrays with careful hand the Wisconsin of the aborigines.
The extract that follows is from the Jesuit Relation of 1669-1670, first published at Paris in 1671. It is found in the Thwaites edition in volume LIV., pp. 197-214.
Father Allouez's Journey into Wisconsin, 1669-1670. Chapter XII.
Of the Mission of Saint François Xavier on the "Bay of Stinkards," or rather "of Stinking Waters."
My Reverend Father, Pax Christi.
I send to Your Reverence the journal of our winter's campaign, wherein you will find how the Gospel has been proclaimed, and Jesus Christ preached, to peoples that worship only the Sun, or some imaginary idols.
On the third of November, we departed from the Sault, I and two others. Two canoe-loads of Prouteouatamis wished to conduct me to their country; not that they wished to receive instruction there, having no disposition for the Faith, but that I might curb some young Frenchmen, who, being among them for the purpose of trading, were threatening and maltreating them.
We arrived on the first day at the entrance to the Lake of the Hurons, where we slept under the shelter of the islands. The length of the journey and the difficulty of the way, because of the lateness of the season, led us to have recourse to Saint Francis Xavier, patron of our mission; this obliged me to celebrate holy mass, and my two companions to receive communion on the day of the feast,
On the fourth, toward noon, we doubled the cape which
143forms the detour,
On the 5th, upon waking, we found ourselves covered with snow, and the surface of the canoe coated with ice. This little beginning of crosses which our Lord was pleased to allot us invited us to offer ourselves for greater ones. We were compelled to embark with all the baggage and provisions, with great difficulty, our bare feet in the water, in order to keep the canoe afloat, which otherwise would have broken. After leaving a great number of islands to the northward,
On the eleventh we embarked, notwithstanding the contrary wind, and crossed to another island, and thence to the mainland, where we found two Frenchmen with several savages. From them we learned of the great dangers to which we were about to expose ourselves, by reason of the storms that are frequent on this lake, and the ice which would soon be afloat. But all that was not sufficient to shake the confidence that we had reposed in our protectors. After invoking them, we launched the canoe, and then doubled successfully enough the cape
They say that it is the native country of one of their gods, named Michabous — that is to say, "the Great Hare," Ouisaketchak, who is the one that created the earth; and that it was in these islands that he invented nets for catching
144fish, after he had attentively considered the spider while she was working at her web in order to catch flies in it. They believe that Lake Superior is a pond made by beavers, and that its dam was double, the first being at the place called by us the Sault, and the second five leagues below. In ascending the river, they say, this same god found that second dam first and broke it down completely; and that is why there is no waterfall or whirlpools in that rapid. As to the first dam, being in haste, he only walked on it to tread it down; and, for that reason, there still remain great falls and whirlpools there.
This god, they add, while chasing a beaver in Lake Superior, crossed with a single stride a bay of eight leagues in width. In view of so mighty an enemy, the beavers changed their location, and withdrew to another lake, Alimibegoung, whence they afterward, by means of the rivers flowing from it, arrived at the North Sea,
On the fourteenth, God delivered us from two great dangers, through the intercession of our protectors. While we were taking a little rest, our canoe was borne away from us by a gust of wind, which carried it to the other side of the river; then it was brought back to us by another gust of wind, when, awakened by the noise it made, we were thinking of making a raft, in order to go and get it. Toward evening, after making a long day's journey and finding no place
145for disembarking, by reason of the inaccessible banks, we were forced to remain out in the stream during the night; but, being surprised by an unusual gust of wind, we were obliged to land among rocks, where our canoe would have been shattered if God in His Providence had not taken charge of our guidance. In this second danger we appealed to Him by the mediation of our intercessors, and afterward said mass in thanksgiving.
After we had continued our voyage until the twenty-fifth, amid continual dangers, God indemnified us for all our hardships by causing us to chance upon a cabin of Pouteouatamis, who were engaged in fishing and hunting at the edge of the wood. They regaled us with all that they had, but especially with fené, which is the nut of the beech-tree, which they roast, and pound into flour. I had leisure to instruct them, and to confer baptism upon two little sick children.
On the twenty-seventh, while we were trying to paddle with the utmost vigor possible, we were perceived by four cabins of savages named Oumalouminek,
On the twenty-ninth, as the mouth of the river which we were to enter was frozen over, we were in great difficulty. We thought of making the rest of the journey to the rendezvous by land; but, a furious wind having arisen during the night, we found ourselves enabled, owing to the breaking-up of the ice, to continue our voyage. We finished it on the second of December, on the eve of Saint Francis Xavier's day, when we arrived at the place where the French were; and they helped us to celebrate his day with the utmost solemnity in our power, thanking him for the succor that he had procured for us during our voyage, and entreating him to be the patron of that mission, which we were about to start under his protection.
On the following day, I celebrated holy mass, at which the French, to the number of eight, paid their devotions. As the savages had gone into winter quarters, I found here only one village of different nations — Ousaki, Pouteouatami, Outagami, Ovenibigoutz — about six hundred souls. A league
146and a half away was another, of a hundred and fifty souls; four leagues distant, one of a hundred souls; and eight leagues from here, on the other side of the bay, one of about three hundred souls.
All these nations have their fields of Indian corn, squashes, beans, and tobacco. On this bay, in a place that they call Ouestatinong,
In the matter of our sustenance, we have had a good deal of trouble. Scarcely have we found material to make our cabin; all that we have had for food has been only Indian corn and acorns; the few fish that are seen here, and that but seldom, are very poor; and the water of this bay and of the rivers is like stagnant ditch-water.
The savages of this region are more than usually barbarous; they are without ingenuity, and do not know how to make even a bark dish or a ladle; they commonly use shells. They are grasping and avaricious to an extraordinary degree, and sell their little commodities at a high price, because they have only what is barely necessary. The season in which we arrived among them was not favorable for us: they were all in a needy condition, and very little able to give us any assistance, so that we suffered hunger. But blessed be God, who gives us all these opportunities and richly recompenses, besides, all these hardships by the consolation that He makes us find, amid the greatest afflictions, in the quest of so many poor savages' souls, which are not less the work of His hands and the price of the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, than those of the princes and sovereigns of the earth.
Of the Mission to the Ousaki.
The village of the Ousaki is the first where I began to give instruction. As soon as we were provided with a cabin there, I assembled all the elders, to whom, after relating the news of the peace with the Iroquois, I expatiated on the purpose of my journey, which was naught else than their instruction. I explained to them the principal articles of our belief, which they heard with approval, appearing to me very well disposed toward Christianity. Oh, if we could succor them in their poverty, how flourishing our Church would be! The rest of that month, I labored for their instruction, and gave baptism to several sick children, — having the consolation of seeing one of these, some time afterward, leave the Church Militant, which had received him into the number of her children, to enter the Church Triumphant, there to sing eternally the mercies of God toward him, and to be an advocate for the conversion of the people of his nation.
Among those who had not heard about our mysteries were some irreligious persons, who made fun of them. God put into my mouth words wherewith to check them; and I hope that, strengthened by Grace, we shall, with time and patience, have the consolation of winning some of them to Jesus Christ. Those who are Christians have come punctually every Sunday to prayers and to instruction, where we have the Pater and Ave chanted in their language.
In the month of January I purposed to go and carry the Gospel to another village, but it was impossible for me to go and settle down among them. I tried to make up for this by frequent visits.
Of the Mission to the Pouteouatamis.
On the seventeenth of February I repaired to the village of the Pouteouatamis, which is eight leagues from this place, on the other side of the lake.
148halting, we arrived there at sunset, sustained by some small bit of frozen meat that hunger made us eat. On the day after my arrival, they made us a present of all the fat of a bear, with many manifestations of affection.
On the nineteenth, I assembled the council, and, after relating the news, informed them of the purpose that had brought me to their country, reserving for the following day a fuller discourse on our religion. This I carried out with success and the divine blessing, causing them, of their own accord, to draw this conclusion, that, since the Faith was so necessary for avoiding Hell, they wished to pray, and hoped that I would procure them a missionary to instruct them, or else would myself stay and do them that kindness.
In the days following, I visited all the cabins, and instructed the inmates very fully in private, with satisfaction on both sides. I had the consolation of conferring baptism there on two new-born babes and on a young man who was dying, who exhibited an excellent disposition.
On the twenty-third, we set out to return thence; but the wind, which froze our faces, and the snow, compelled us to halt, after we had gone two leagues, and to pass the night on the lake. On the following day, the severity of the cold having diminished, although very little, we continued our journey with much suffering. On my part, I had my nose frozen, and I had a fainting fit that compelled me to sit down on the ice, where I should have remained, my companions having gone on ahead, if, by a divine providence, I had not found in my handkerchief a clove, which gave me strength enough to reach the settlement.
At the opening of the month of March, the great thaws having begun, the savages broke up their settlements to go in quest of the means to sustain life, after being for some time pressed with hunger.
I was very sorry not to have been able to go through all the villages, by reason of the remoteness of some of them, and the little inclination of others to receive me. I resolved to try at least to establish Christianity firmly in a neighboring village, composed for the most part of Pouteouatamis. Calling the men together twice, I explained to them fully our mysteries and the obligation resting upon them to embrace
149our Faith; and that this was the sole reason that had brought me to their country in the autumn. They received very favorably all that I said to them, and I often visited them in their cabins, to inculcate in the inmates what I had taught them in public. I baptized some sick children there, and received great consolation in the assurance which certain persons gave me that, since hearing me five years ago at the Point of Saint Esprit, on Lake Superior, they had always invoked the true God. They said that they had been very appreciably protected by Him; that they had always succeeded in their hunting and fishing; that they had not been ill, and that, in their families, death did not occur so frequently as was usual before they adopted prayer. On another day, I taught the catechism to the girls and women, our cabin being entirely filled. These poor people are very well disposed, and show great good will; many of them question me on various matters, in order to receive instruction, propounding to me their difficulties, which arise only from their high idea of Christianity, and from their fear of not being able to fulfill its obligations. Our stay was not long, as hunger was pressing them, and they were forced to go in search of provisions. We withdrew full of consolation, praising and blessing God that His holy name had been respected, and the holy Faith well received, by these barbarian peoples.
On the 21st of that month, I took the sun's altitude, and found that this was about 46 degrees, 40 minutes; and its elevation from the pole, or the complement of the above, was about 43 degrees, 20 minutes.
The ice did not break up here until the 12th of April, the winter having been extremely severe this year; and consequently navigation was much impeded.
On the 16th of April, I embarked to go and begin the mission to the Outagamis, a people of considerable note in all these regions. We slept at the head of the bay, at the mouth of the River des Puans, which we have named for
On the 17th, we ascended the River Saint Francois, which is two, and sometimes three, arpents wide.
On the eighteenth we passed the portage called by the natives Kekaling,
On the 19th, our sailors ascended the rapids for two leagues by the use of poles, and I went by land as far as the other portage, which they call Ooukocitiming, that is to say, I "the bank."
On the twentieth, which was Sunday, I said mass, after voyaging five or six leagues on the lake, after which we came to a river, flowing from a lake bordered with wild oats; this stream we followed, and found at the end of it the river that leads to the Outagamis, in one direction, and that which leads to the Machkoutenck, in the other. We entered this first stream, which flows from a lake;
On the twenty-fourth, after turning and doubling several times in various lakes and rivers, we arrived at the village of the Outagamis.
This people came in crowds to meet us, in order to see, as they said, the Manitou, who was coming to their country. They accompanied us with respect as far as the door of the cabin, which we were made to enter.
This nation is renowned for being populous, the men who bear arms numbering more than four hundred; while the number of women and children there is the greater on account of the polygamy which prevails among them, each man having commonly four wives, some having six, and others
152as many as ten. Six large cabins of these poor people were put to rout this month of March by eighteen Iroquois from Tsonnontouan,
On the twenty-fifth, I called together the elders in a large assembly, with the purpose of giving them the first acquaintance with our mysteries. I began with the invocation of the Holy Ghost, to whom we had made our appeal during our journey, to pray for His blessing upon our labors. Then, when I had, by means of a present which I thought I ought to make them, dried the tears which the remembrance of the massacre perpetrated by the Iroquois caused them to shed, I explained to them the principal articles of our Faith, and made known the law and the commandments of God, the rewards promised to those that shall obey Him, and the punishments prepared by Him for those that shall not obey Him. They understood me without my having need of an interpreter, and that, too, with attention; but, oh, my God! what ideas and ways contrary to the Gospel these poor people have, and how much need there is of very powerful grace to conquer their hearts! They accept the unity and sovereignty of God, Creator of all things; for the rest, they have not a word to say.
An Outagami told me, in private, that his ancestor had come from Heaven, and that he had preached the unity and the sovereignty of a God who had made all the other gods; that he had assured them that he would go to Heaven after his death, where he should die no more; and that his body would not be found in the place where it had been buried,
153which was verified, said this Outagami, the body being no longer found where it had been put. These are fables which God uses for their salvation; for after the man had finished telling me everything, he added that he was dismissing all his wives, retaining only one, whom he would not change; and that he was resolved to obey me and pray to God. I hope that God will show him mercy. I tried to visit the people in their cabins, which are in very great number, sometimes for the purpose of instructing them in private, and at other times to go and carry them some little medicine, or, rather, something sweet for their little sick children, whom I was baptizing. Toward the end, they brought them to me voluntarily in the cabin where I lodged.
I spoke their language, in the assurance they gave me that they understood me; it is the same as that of the Satzi.
These savages withdrew to those regions to escape the persecution of the Iroquois, and settled in an excellent country, the soil, which is black there, yielding them Indian corn in abundance. They live by hunting during the winter, returning to their cabins toward its close, and living there on Indian corn that they had hidden away the previous autumn; they season it with fish. In the midst of their clearings they have a fort, where their cabins of heavy bark are situated, for resisting all sorts of attacks. On their journeys, they make themselves cabins with mats. They are at war with the Nadouecious, their neighbors. Canoes are not used by them; and, for that reason, they do not make war on the Iroquois, although they are often killed by them. They are held in very low estimation, and are considered by the other nations as stingy, avaricious, thieving, choleric, and quarrelsome. They have poor opinion of the French, ever since two traders in beaver-skins appeared among them; if these men had behaved as they ought, I should have had less trouble in giving these poor people other ideas of the whole French nation, which they are beginning to esteem, since I explained to them the principal and only motive that brought me to their country.
On the twenty-sixth, the elders came into the cabin where I was lodging, to hold council there. The assembly having been convened, the captain, after laying at my feet a present of some skins, harangued in the following terms: "We thank thee," he said, "for having come to visit and console us in our affliction; and we are the more obliged to thee, inasmuch as no one has hitherto shown us that kindness." They added that they had nothing further to say to me, except that they were too dispirited to speak to me, being all occupied in mourning their dead. "Do thou, black gown, who art not dispirited and who takest pity on people, take pity on us as thou shalt deem best. Thou couldst dwell here near us, to protect us from our enemies, and teach us to speak to the great Manitou, the same as thou teachest the savages of the Sault. Thou couldst cause to be restored to us our wives, who were led away prisoners. Thou couldst stay the arms of the Iroquois, and speak to them of peace in our behalf for the future. I have no sense to say anything to thee; only take pity on us in the way thou shalt judge most fitting. When thou seest the Iroquois, tell them that they have taken me for some one else. I do not make war on them, I have not eaten their people; but my neighbors took them prisoners and made me a present of them; I adopted them, and they are living here as my children." This speech has nothing of the barbarian in it. I told them that in the treaty of peace which the French had made with the Iroquois, no mention had been made of them; that no Frenchman had then been here, and that they were not known; that, as to other matters, I much approved what their captain had said; that I would not forget it, and that in the following autumn I would render them an answer. Meanwhile, I told them to fortify themselves in their resolution to obey the true God, who alone could procure them what they asked for, and infinitely more.
In the evening four savages, of the nation of the Oumamis,
155three Iroquois scalps and a half-smoked arm, to console the relatives of those whom the Iroquois had killed a short time before.
On the twenty-seventh, we took our departure, commending to the good angels the first seed sown in the hearts of these poor people, who listened to me with respect and attention. There is a glorious and rich harvest for a zealous and patient missionary. We named this mission after Saint Mark, because on his day the Faith was proclaimed there.
Of the Mission to the Oumamis and Machkoutench.
On the twenty-ninth, we entered the river which leads to the Machkoutench, who are called by the Hurons Assista Ectaeronnons, "Nation of Fire." This river is very beautiful, without rapids or portages, and flows toward the southwest.
On the thirtieth, landing opposite the village and leaving our canoe at the water's edge, after walking a league through beautiful prairies, we perceived the fort. The savages, espying us, immediately gave the cry in their village, hastened to meet us, and accompanied us with honor into the cabin of the chief, where refreshments were straightway brought to us, and the feet and legs of the Frenchmen with me were anointed with oil. Afterward a feast was prepared, which was attended with the following ceremonies. When all were seated, and after some had filled a dish with powdered tobacco, an old man arose and, turning to me, with both hands full of tobacco which he took from the dish, harangued me as follows: "This is well, black gown, that thou comest to visit us. Take pity on us; thou art a Manitou; we give thee tobacco to smoke. The Nadouessious and the Iroquois are eating us; take pity on us. We are often ill, our children are dying, we are hungry. Hear me, Manitou; I give thee tobacco to smoke. Let the earth give us corn, and the rivers
156yield us fish; let not disease kill us any more, or famine treat us any longer so harshly!" At each desire the old men who were present uttered a loud "Oh!" in response. I had a horror of this ceremony, and, begging them to hear me, I told them it was not I to whom their vows must be addressed; that in our necessities I had recourse to prayer to Him who is the only and the true God; that it was in Him that they ought to place their trust; I told them that He was the sole Master of all things, as well as of their lives, I being only His servant and envoy; that He was my sovereign Lord, as well as my host's; and that wise men nevertheless willingly honored and listened to the black gown, as being a person who is heard by the great God and is His interpreter, His officer, and His domestic. They offered us a veritable sacrifice like that which they make to their false gods.
Toward evening, I gathered them together, and made them a present of glass beads, knives, and hatchets, that I might say to them: "Become acquainted with the black gown. I am not the Manitou who is the master of your lives, and has created Heaven and Earth; I am His creature, I obey Him, and I bear His word through all the earth." I then explained to them the articles of our holy Faith, and God's commandments. These good people only half understood me; but, before I left them, I had the consolation of seeing that they comprehended our principal articles of belief; they received the Gospel with respect and awe, and showed themselves well satisfied to have a knowledge of the true God.
The savages named Oumamis are here only in very small numbers, their main body having not yet come in from their hunting; therefore I say almost nothing about them in detail. Their language is in harmony with their disposition: they are gentle, affable, sedate; they also speak slowly. This whole nation was to arrive in sixteen days; but, obedience calling me to the Sault, I was not at liberty to wait for them. These people are settled in a very attractive place, where beautiful plains and fields meet the eye as far as one can see. Their river leads by a six days' voyage to the great river named Messi-Sipi, and it is along the former river that the other populous nations are situated. Four leagues from here
157are the Kikabou and the Kitchigamich, who speak the same language as the Machkouteng.
On the first of May, I went to visit them in their cabins; and I instructed them, speaking their language sufficiently to make myself understood by them. They heard me with respect, admired the main features of our Faith, and were eager to lavish on me all the best things they had. Those poor mountaineers are kind beyond all power of belief; but they do not fail to have their superstitions, and to practise polygamy, as is customary with the savages.
The courtesies that they showed me kept me busy almost all day: they came to my cabin to give me an invitation, conducted me to their own, and, after making me sit down on a fine new piece of fur, presented me a handful of tobacco, which they placed at my feet; and brought me a kettle full of fat, meat, and Indian corn, accompanying it with a speech or a compliment. I always took occasion thereupon to inform them of the truths of our Faith, while God, by His grace, never failed to make me understood, their language being the same as that of the Saki.
I baptized there five children who were in danger of dying, whom they themselves brought to me that I might give them medicine. When, at times, I sought retirement for the purpose of praying, they would follow me, and, from time to time, come and interrupt me, saying to me in a suppliant tone, "Manitou, take pity on us!" In truth, they taught me the respect and affection with which I ought to address God.
On the second of May, the elders came to our cabin to hold a council; they thanked me, by an address and by some gift, for having come to their country; and they exhorted me to come thither often. "Guard our land," they said; "come often, and teach us how we are to speak to that great Manitou whom thou hast made us know." This people appears very docile. See there a mission all in readiness, and capable of giving, in conjunction with the two neighboring nations, full occupation to a missionary. As we were pressed for time,
158I set out to return to the place whence I had come; and arrived there safely, proceeding by way of the River Saint François, in three days.
On the sixth, I paid a visit to the Oumalouminek, eight leagues distant from our cabin, and found them at their river
On the ninth, the elders invited me to their council, and there made me a present, with an expression of thanks for my having come to visit them in order to give them a knowledge of the true God. "Take heart," they said to me; "instruct us often, and teach us to speak to Him who has made all things." This mission we have named after Saint Michael, as well as the river where they dwell.
On the tenth, when I arrived at the settlement, a Pouteouatami, not daring to ask me for news, addressed our dog in these words: "Tell me, O captain's dog, what is the state of affairs among the Oumacouminetz? Thy master has told thee; thou hast followed him everywhere. Do not conceal the matter from me, for I dare not ask him about it." I saw well what his design was.
On the thirteenth I crossed the bay to go to find the Ovenibigoutz
159captive countrymen to inhabit the country anew, he was made captain of his nation, as having never been a slave.
They speak a peculiar language which the other savages do not understand; it resembles neither the Huron nor the Algonquin. There are, they say, only certain tribes of the southwest who speak as they do. I learned some words from them, but more especially the Catechism, the Pater, and the Ave.
I visited them in their cabins and instructed them, doing the same to the Pouteouatamis who live with them; and both asked me, with gifts, to come and instruct them in the following autumn.
Condition of the Christians.
We cannot make our Christians live strictly up to their profession of Christianity, on account of the way in which we are obliged to live among them in the beginning; having only a cabin, after their own mode, we cannot instruct them, or perform the other exercises of religion at stated times, as is done in a chapel. We have, however, tried to call them together every Sunday, to teach them the Catechism and make them pray to God. We have here seven adult Christians and forty-eight others, either children or persons almost grown up, whom we baptized when they were dangerously ill, a part of them at the Point of Saint Esprit, and a part in these districts during the past winter. I do not count those who have died, who are about seventeen in number. I have received consolation this winter from seeing the fervor of our Christians, but especially that of a girl named Marie Movena, who was baptized at the Point of Saint Esprit. From last spring up to the present time, she has resisted her relatives: despite all the efforts they have made to compel her to marry her stepbrother, she has never consented to do it. Her brother has often struck her, and her mother has frequently refused her anything to eat, sometimes reaching such a pitch of anger that she would take a firebrand and burn her daughter's arms with it. This poor girl told me about all this bad treatment; but her courage could never be shaken, and she willingly made an offering of all her sufferings to God.
As far as concerns the infidels hereabout, they greatly
160fear God's judgments and Hell's torments. The unity and sovereignty of God are very satisfying to their minds. Oh, if these poor people had the aids and the means that Europeans have in abundance for accomplishing their salvation, they would soon be good Christians. Oh, if they saw something of the magnificence of our churches, of the devotion with which they are frequented, of the extensive charities that are maintained for the benefit of the poor in the hospitals, I am sure that they would be greatly affected thereby.
On the twentieth, I embarked with a Frenchman and a savage to go to Sainte Marie du Sault, whither obedience called me, leaving all these peoples in the hope that we should see them again next autumn, as I had promised them.
In conclusion we add here that, as a reënforcement to the workers in so large a mission, there have been sent to it Father Gabriel Drouillette, one of the oldest and most influential missionaries; and Father Louys André, who arrived here last year and was at the very outset assigned to this mission.