Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Settlement of St. Louis (1764) : The Missouri.

"I will reply to you in a few words, and I will say, that if you followed the example of ducks and bustards in settling yourselves, you followed bad guides, who have no foresight; because if they had any, they would not put themselves into open water, so that eagles and birds of prey could discover them easily, which would never happen to them if they were in a woody place, and covered with brush. You Missouris, you will not be eaten by eagles; but these men who have waged war against you for a long time past, who are in great numbers against you, who are few, will kill your warriors, because they willl offer resistance, and will make your women and children slaves. Behold what will happen to you, for wishing to follow, as you say, the course of the ducks and bustards, rather than the advice of men of ,experience. You women, who are here present, and who listen to me, go, tenderly caress your children--give them food in plenty; also, to your aged parents, -press them closely in your arms,--lavish upon them all the evidences of the tenderest affection., until the fatal moment which shall separate you from them- and that moment is not far distant, if your men persist in their intention to settle here. I warn you, as a good Father, that there are six or seven hundred warriors at Fort de Chartres, who are there to make war against the English, -which occupies them fully at this moment, for they turn all their attention below Fort Chartres, from whence they expect the English, -but if they learn you are here, beyond the least doubt, they will come to destroy you. See now, warriors, if it be not prudent on your part to leave here at once, rather than to remain to be massacred, your wives and children torn to pieces, and their limbs thrown to dogs and to birds of prey." (Chouteau , 1764, p.5)

This extract was taken from Col. Auguste Chouteau's Narrative of the Settlement of St. Louis. It is the speech given to the Missouri Indians by Monsieur de Laclede, founder of St. Louis. The Missouri had asked to settle around St. Louis as it is 'fine country, where there was beautiful open water' (p5). I find this passage interesting as Native Americans Indians are often portrayed as being openly aggressive and violent towards settlers. The Missouri however, are shown to be friendly, polite even. It is the French and English settlers who posses open hostility towards the Native Americans, them that would attack the Missouri for no other reason then that they were there.

Chouteau, A., 1764. Fragment of Col. Auguste Chouteau's Narrative of the Settlement of St.Louis. [document] American Journeys Collection. AJ-126. Wisconsin. Wisconsin Historical Society Digital Library and Archives.

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