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Historic Diaries: Marquette and Joliet

At the Mascouten Village

Editor's Note:

The exact location of the village described by Marquette and Allouez has not been determined. Several locations from near Portage to near Berlin have been suggested, and most scholars now accept the latter as most likely. Descriptions suggest it was roughly two and a half miles from the Fox River. Archaeological remains dating from the historic era have been found about two miles southwest of Berlin, in Green Lake County, Wis., but there is no conclusive proof they are from the village described here.

One reason it's hard to locate the village is that it did not survive for long. The large number of tribes who retreated to Wisconsin in the mid-17th century to escape wars in the East led to overhunting of large mammals. By the year 1700 big game such as buffalo and elk had dwindled, and the town in Green Lake County was abandoned about that time. Some of the Mascouten appear to have followed the Miami to the southeast - - a 1733 map locates them between Milwaukee and Chicago -- while other bands allied themselves with the Sauk, Meskwaki (Fox), and Kickapoo. They appear to have intermarried so freely that the last mention of the Mascouten as a distinct nation is in 1757, after which they disappear from the records as a distinct community.

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[In the spring of 1670 Fr. Claude Allouez had visited the same town that Marquette described in the previous entry; here is part of his description, from the Jesuit Relations, volume 54, pages 226-233]

Allouez' report: "On the thirtieth [of April, 1670], 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 [Sioux] 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 yield 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.

"... 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. ... 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.� ... As we were pressed for time, I set out to return to the place whence I had come; and arrived there safely, proceeding by way of the River saint Fran�ois, in three days."

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