Harney, Richard J. / History of Winnebago County, Wisconsin, and early history of the Northwest
Harney, Richard J.
Early history of the Northwest, pp. -94 PDF (49.5 MB)
[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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