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Harney, Richard J. / History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest
(1880)

Harney, Richard J.
Early history of the Northwest,   pp. [9]-94 PDF (49.5 MB)


Page 12

[page 12]
EARLY HISTORY OF THE NORTHWEST
torial proportions should embrace the interior
of the continent. It was a stupendous scheme;
and for over a century the standard of France
waived triumphantly over the great Valleys of
the St. Lawrence and the Mississippi. During
all that period, the English and other European
colonies were confined to the strip of territory
skirting the Atlantic, and the /leutrde lis of
France was the only flag that waved west of
the Alleghanies. 
Champlain, having returned to    France,
again embarked for America in 16o8, in charge
of a colony whose destination was the St. Law-
rence River.  The stately ship sailed up that
broad stream, through the hush of the mighty
solitude that brooded over its surrounding for-
ests, and came to anchor opposite the present
site of Quebec, the place selected for a settle-
ment.   Here the colonists landed, and the
sound of the axe 'is heard reverberating its
echoes in the wilderness.  Soon a number of
comfortable buildings are erected, and sur-
rounded by a wooden wall.   Their architec-
tural proportions are a source of wonder to the
Indians, who are admiring spectators of the
skill of their- white brothers. 'In the back-
ground arc the rugged cliffs and dense forests.
In the front the Mwaters of the majestic St.
Lawrence, on which a ship lies gracefully out-
lined.  At a little distance on the bank is a
cluster of wigwams, and occasionally a canoe
glides along, and mysteriously disappears in the
shadow of cliff or forest.
The colonists clear up a piece of ground for
a garden, which they cultivate.  They hunt,
fish. and barter with- the Indians ; summer
passes, andsthe cold weather of a Canadian
winter approaches. H-Ieavy falls of snow cover
the ground to such a depth that they are
obliged to learn from their friends-the Indians
-how to use snow shoes.   The Indians occa-
sionally bring them wild game, and are some-
times their near neighbors; but the terrible
scurvy - breaks out, and prevails with such
virulence that only eight of the colony are alive
in the spring.
The dreary winter passes away, the songs
of the returning birds and the sounds of insect
life are again heard; the buds fnd blossoms
expand, the hill-side rivulets ripple in the
warm- sunshine, and'nature assumes the cheer-
ful hues of her summer-day life.  Hope once
more inspires the survivors, and their hearts
are further gladdened by the arrival of a ves-
se1 from France, bringing succor and a rein-
forcement of colonists.
Champlain now set to work for a general
exploration of the surrounding country; but,
in this enterprise, he must have the assistance
of his Indian friends; and from the very begin-
ning of their intercourse with the Indians, and
through the whole long period of their intimate
relations with them,the French seem to have
had their good will and unbounded confidence
and respect.
Champlain soon acquired some knowledge
of the Algonquin language and the customs of
that numerous family of Indians; and he
learned from them that there was a distinct
nation-the Iroquois - a confederacy of five
nations, inhabiting the territory now the State
of New York-a formidable body that were
the terror of the American wilds.  Their war-
parties were continually out making predatory
raids, desolating the country of their neigh-
bors, and keeping other tribes in constant fear
of an attack. The only expedient way for him
to explore was to join a war-party of Algon-
quins. They would have to fight their way,
for in all probability they would meet war par-
ties of the Iroquois, and then they must fight
or be captured.  Champlain, therefore, joined
his fortunes to the Algonquins and Hurons,
forming an alliance with them for mutual pro-
tection.
CHAPTER III.
Indian Tribes - Divisions and Population -Location of the
Various Nations -Green Bay and the Lake Winnebago
and Fox River Country the Centers of Large Indian Popu-
lations -The Belligerent Iroquois.
THE whole Indian population in all the
territory lying between the Mississippi
and the Atlantic did not exceed two
hundred thousand, and this was so
scattered that vast solitudes intervened
between the little tracts which were occupied
by the villages of the several tribes.
The great body of the country was an unin-
habited wilderness, with an occasional Indian
settlement. The traveler, at that day, passing
from the mouth of the St. Lawrence, on the
south side of the river, to Lake Ontario, would
find the country, for nearly the whole distance,
an uninhabited district.  On the north side, he
 would travel hundreds of miles without meet-
ing a human being.   At last he would reach
the huts of Taddousac, and after leaving them
would again pass thrpugh the long, dreary soli-
tude between that point and Stadicone-the
site of Quebec-where evidences of Indian
population would again begin to appear; from
there to the mouth of the Ottawa, no inhabi-
tants were to be found, other than temporary


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