The Makers of Canada: Champlain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 206 pages of information about The Makers of Canada.

They had, moreover, general assemblies with representatives from remote regions.  These representatives came every year, one from each province, and met in a town designated as the rendezvous of the assembly.  Here were celebrated great banquets and dances, for three weeks or a month, according as they might determine.  On these occasions they renewed their friendship, resolved upon and decreed what they thought best for the preservation of their country against their enemies, and made each other handsome presents, after which they retired to their own districts.

In burying the dead, the Hurons took the body of the deceased, wrapped it in furs, and covered it very carefully with the bark of trees.  Then they placed it in a cabin, of the length of the body, made of bark and erected upon four posts.  Others they placed in the ground, propping up the earth on all sides that it might not fall on the body, which they covered with the bark of trees, putting earth on top.  Over this trench they also made a little cabin.  The bodies remained thus buried for a period of eight or ten years.  Then they held a general council, to which all the people of the country were invited, for the purpose of determining upon some place for the holding of a great festival.  After this they returned each to his own village, where they took all the bones of the deceased, stripped them and made them quite clean.  These they kept very carefully, although the odour arising therefrom was noxious.  Then all the relatives and friends of the deceased took these bones, together with their necklaces, furs, axes, kettles, and other things highly valued, and carried them, with a quantity of edibles, to the place assigned.  Here, when all had assembled, they put the edibles in a place designated by the men of the village, and engaged in banquets and continual dancing.  The festival lasted for the space of ten days, during which other tribes from all quarters came to witness the ceremonies.  The latter were attended with great outlays.

These details on the manners and customs of the Hurons are quoted nearly verbatim from Champlain’s Relations, so they must be considered as accurate.[17]

FOOTNOTES: 

[17] This volume contains the following title:  Voyages et Descouvertures faites en la Nouvelle France depuis l’annee 1615, jusques a la fin de l’annee 1618.  Par le Sieur de Champlain, Capitaine ordinaire pour le Roy en la Mer du Ponant.  Seconde Edition, MDCXIX.  This original edition bears the date of 1619, and the second edition is dated 1627.

CHAPTER VI

WAR AGAINST THE IROQUOIS, 1615

Champlain had promised for some years to assist the Hurons in their wars against the Iroquois, and he found that the present time was opportune for him to fulfil his pledge.  He had visited every Huron tribe, and he was aware that a general rendezvous had been fixed at Cahiague.  On August 14th, 1615, ten Frenchmen, under the command of Champlain, started from Carhagouha.  On their way they stopped at the villages of the Tohontahenrats and Attignenonghacs, and found the country well watered and cultivated, and the villages populous.  The people, however, were ignorant, avaricious and untruthful, and had no idea either of a divinity or of a religion.

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