A Micmac Responds to the French ca. 1677
The speech below was given by
a Micmac elder to a group of French settlers in what is now
greatly astonished that the French have so little cleverness, as they seem to
exhibit in the matter of which thou hast just told me on their behalf, in the
effort to persuade us to convert our poles, our barks, and our wigwams into
those houses of stone and of wood which are tall and lofty, according to their
account, as these trees. Very well! But why now,…do men
of five to six feet in height need houses which are sixty to eighty? For, in fact, as thou knowest
very well thyself, Patriarch—do we not find in our own all the conveniences and
the advantages that you have with yours, such as reposing, drinking, sleeping,
eating, and amusing ourselves with our friends when we wish? This is not all,…my
brother, hast thou as much ingenuity and cleverness as the Indians, who carry
their houses and their wigwams with them so that they may lodge wheresoever they may please, independently of any seignior
whatsoever? Thou art not as bold nor as
stout as we, because when thou goest on a voyage thou
canst not carry upon thy shoulders thy buildings and thy edifices. Therefore it is necessary that thou preparest as many lodgings as thou makest
changes of residence, or else though lodgest in a
hired house which does not belong to thee.
As for us, we find ourselves secure from all these inconveniences, and
we can always say, more truly than thou, that we are at home everywhere,
because we set up our wigwams with ease wheresoever
we go, and without asking permission of anybody. Thou reproachest
us, very inappropriately, that our country is a little hell in contrast with
Learn now, my brother, once for all, because I must open to thee my heart; there is no Indian who does not consider himself infinitely more happy and more powerful than the French.
· List five advantages of Micmac culture (as compared to French) outlined by the speaker.
· Why does he consider the French unhappy & “poor”?
· How reliable is this source to learn about French/Indian relations?