Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 2, No. 3
*FRENCH INTERESTS AND ACTIVITIES IN OKLAHOMA
The same year that Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and John Adams signed the treaty of Paris, 1788, making the Thirteen Colonies
free and independent states of America, Jacobo du Breuil, Commander of Fort Charles III on the Arkansas, celebrated the hundredth
anniversary of that Post. For this celebration a great council of the Arkansas chiefs was held, of which du Breuil, in his
report, says, "for this occasion we fired two cannon shots and each took twenty pounds of gunpowder."1
The earliest history of the Arkansas region dates back to Hernando de Soto, 1542. From his expedition we get the first geographical
knowledge of the region, and our first real history of the Indians in the southwest. Other expeditions into this region came
with the same object in mind, in search of the Gran Quivira. Coronado, 1541, "crossed the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma, and
reached Quivira in eastern Kansas."2 The explorations of De Soto and Coronado were the most elaborate efforts made by the Spaniards into the interior of North
America, and, in some respects, never surpassed in the later history of the country. Other explorations were made by the Spaniards,
but it was left to the French to make the first permanent settlement.
The Arkansas region includes that part of our country between the Illinois country on the north, and the Natchitoches on the
South extending west to the Spanish possessions of New Mexico, and embracing mainly the present states of Arkansas and Oklahoma—that
country drained by the Arkansas, Verdigris and Canadian rivers. The history of this wedge-shaped country has been treated
as only secondary to that of the country to the north and to the south; while its history has been just as distinct and important.
The history of this country, especially of Oklahoma, could be written around the
quest of the white man to find great riches, as the Gran Quivira, and the Seven Cities of Cibola, for which the Spaniards
sought. The trade with the Spanish Southwest, Taos and Santa Fe, lured the French into this country. Then, last, but not least,
Indian trade, free land, mines and oil have brought other white men into this country.
The French explorers of this country have left many traces in the naming of the rivers and mountains. And especially did they
leave a marked influence upon the Indians with whom they came in contact. Among the Choctaws, there was a legend handed down
from father to son that the French king was coming and with his coming all would be well. Even today this legend is familiar
to the older members of the tribe. The first French explorers in the Arkansas region, of whom we have any knowledge, were
Father Marquette and Joliet, who came down the Mississippi River as far as the Arkansas River. Father Marquette drew a map
of this western region, and on his map the Mississippi River descended only to the mouth of the Arkansas. The next visit by
the white man to this region was that of Father Hennipen in 1680. But it was left for La Salle and Tonty to take possession
of this country and to establish the first post.
On March 14, 1682, La Salle reached the villages on the Arkansas, took possession of the country in the name of France, erected
the arms of the king, and planted a cross. Father Zenobia Membre, who accompanied La Salle, related this act in a truly missionary
way. "I took occasion to explain something of the truth of God, and the mysteries of our redemption, of which they saw the
arms. During this time they showed that they relished what I said, by raising their eyes to heaven and kneeling as if to adore.
We also saw them rub their hands over their bodies after rubbing them over the cross. In fact, on our return from the sea,
we found that they had surrounded the cross with a palisade."3 This was the formal taking possession of the Arkansas region.
While in the Arkansas region, La Salle gave Tonty a seigniorial grant,4 and it was on this grant that the historic old Arkansas post was founded. Here Tonty built a house and fort in 1683.5 This statement, with that of du Breuil that, in 1783, the post celebrated its hundredth anniversary, gives evidence of the
fact that the Arkansas Post was established soon after the return of La Salle and Tonty from the first expedition to the mouth
of the Mississippi, or, at least that they must have reckoned their beginning from that date.
After leaving the Arkansas, La Salle reached the mouth of the Mississippi in April, where he took possession of the great
valley, naming it, in honor of the King, Louisiana. La Salle now planned a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi, and for
this purpose returned
to France to make definite arrangements. In the summer of 1684, La Salle left France with a colony to establish this settlement.
Tonty, in order to aid La Salle, descended the Mississippi. This hazardous undertaking and the failure to find La Salle is
one of the romantic incidents in the early history of the Southwest.6 On the return trip, Tonty made alliances with various Indian nations along the Mississippi. He says, "When we were at Arkansas,
ten of the Frenchmen who accompanied me asked for a settlement on the Arkansas River, on a seigniory that M. de la Salle had
given me on our first voyage. I granted the request to some of them. They remained there to build a house surrounded with
stakes. The rest accompanied me to Illinois, in order to get what they wanted. We arrived in Illinois, June 24, 1686."7 Tonty must be ranked next only to La Salle, in his contribution toward the exploration and settlement of the Mississippi
Tonty, in his Memoirs, says nothing about leaving these men on the Arkansas, when he went down in search of La Salle. There
are, however, evidences of a settlement in the Arkansas since the first expedition of La Salle. Shea says that, in 1683, Tonty
sought missionaries for his new post on the Arkansas. Unbiased by the prejudices of La Salle, he applied to the Jesuits, the
more readily, perhaps, because Couture, whom he sent to begin the post, had been dominic of those missionaries.8
Joutel, in describing the return of the remnant of La Salle's expedition, gives a very excellent account of the early Arkansas
settlement. "Being come to a river that was between us and the village, and looking over to the further side we discovered
a great cross, and at a small distance from it a house built after the French fashion. It is easy to imagine what inward joy
we conceived at the sight of that emblem of our salvation. We knelt down, lifted up our eyes to heaven, to return thanks to
the Divine Goodness, for having conducted us so happily; for we made no question of finding French on the other side of the
river, and of their being Catholics, since they had crosses."9 In relating the instance in more detail: "We spied several canoes coming toward us and two men clothed coming out of the
house . . . who the moment they saw us fired each of them a shot to salute us."10 These two men according to Joutel,
were Sieures Couture Charpenter, and De Launay, both of them of Rouen. They were the only two remaining of the original six
whom M. de Tonty, governor of Fort St. Louis, had left at the post when he went down the Mississippi to look for La Salle.
This group of survivors of La Salle’s ill-fated expedition told the Arkansas Indians that a colony had been established at
the mouth of the Mississippi and that they had made friends with all nations through which they had passed. They also told
the Indians that they were going to Canada for supplies, and would return and bring men to defend them against their enemies,
and then settle among them.11
Bartholomeu, the Parisian, a member of La Salle’s party, having intimated his willingness to remain in the Arkansas, was left
there, "because he was none the ablest of body."12 To keep the news of La Salle’s death from the Indians was their great concern now. When Joutel’s party left the Arkansas
for the Illinois country, they left the settlers, their horses, "which would be of great use in hunting . . . and gave them
fifteen or sixteen pounds of powder, eight hundred balls, three hundred flints, twenty-six knives and ten axes, two or three
pound weights of beads; M. Cavelier left them a part of his linen, hoping we should soon be in a place where we should get
more; and all of them having made their peace with God, by means of the sacrament of penance, we took leave of them."13
This was the beginning of one of the oldest French posts in the southwest; and from this post, France made treaties with the
different Indian tribes, in her efforts to keep back both English and Spanish, the Spaniards pushed in from the Southwest,
and the English from the Carolinas, using the same methods to get control of the Indians through trade and by alliances.
The Arkansas Post was not only for the purpose of material gain. Tonty, like many other early explorers, was a missionary
in thought. And that side of life in the Arkansas country was early considered. Tonty gave to the Superiors of Canada in 1689,
a deed to a strip of land on the Arkansas a little east of his fort, "for a chapel and a mission-house, beside an immense
tract on the opposite side of the river near the Indian village, for the support of the missionary." This mission was to have
been erected in 1690, and, among other things, the missionaries were to build two chapels, raise a cross fifteen feet high,
minister to the Indians, and say a mass for Tonty on his feast day." If any missionaries were sent to the Arkansas at this
time there are no traces left.14
Little growth or development had come to the Arkansas Post for the first quarter of a century, trade being slow in development,
because of the Spanish deadlock. When, at the close of the seventeenth century, the Spaniards and the French came face to
face on the Louisiana-Texas frontier, in a contest for commerce and empire, they found there several well-marked groups of
confederations of native tribes, which, sooner, or later, became so many bases for the struggle.15 This contest for the control of the frontier tribes was one of the chief policies of both Spain and France; of course, back
of this was the ultimate object of territorial possession.
The effort expended by the two competing nations to maintain an influence over these tribes had, from the first moment of
contact to the time when Louisiana was ceded to Spain, the nature of a contest. It, in the main, was waged only to a slight
extent with weapons of military warfare. The principal weapon used by the French was the Indian trader and agent; by the Spaniards,
the Franciscan missionary; each backed by a small display of military force. This contest to control the Southwest was fought
along the Arkansas, Canadian and Red Rivers, to a large extent. The Arkansas Post served as a center for making alliances
with Indians along the Arkansas River, and, later on, with those of the whole region. By these treaties and alliances, France
hoped to open up trade with the Spaniards in New Mexico.
There was, at this same time, a contest in the southeast between the English and the French. From the first, the English had
the advantage in numbers and bases of supplies. Tonty, in establishing the post on the Arkansas, hoped to forestall the English
as well as the Spaniards. The hand of fate seems to have played a part here, because Jean Couture, who had been the one that
Tonty had selected in establishing the post, deserted and went to the English in Carolina, and, in 1700, led a party of English
to the mouth of the Arkansas, accomplishing what Tonty had feared, the diversion of the western trade from the French to the
English. France realized that in order to cope with the Spanish and the English, and to reap the harvest of her discoveries,
colonies must be established as posts of exchange. This caused her to turn to private individuals for aid in settling up and
holding her possessions. Antonio Crozat, in 1712, was given Louisiana as a commercial speculation, but, five years later,
he asked to be released. This was granted because a more fascinating scheme was being presented to the bankrupt nation of
France; that of John Law. Consequently, in September, 1717, Law’s company, or the Mississippi Company, was granted the commerce
and control of Louisiana. Law’s scheme is well known in the history of Louisiana, but in the history of the Arkansas it has
a special interest.
Louisiana sustained a heavy blow, when Law’s financial scheme collapsed. However, this new interest in Louisiana had brought
into the country men like Bernard de la Harpe, Le Page du Pratz, and
Du Tisne, all of whom gave new information concerning the Arkansas country.
Bernard de la Harpe had been granted by the company a tract of land on the upper waters of the Red River, and, in 1718, he
started out to take possession of this grant. Leaving New Orleans in December, 1718, he arrived at the mouth of the Red River,
January 10, 1719, and, after much difficulty, reached the fort of the Natchitoches.
While at the Natchitoches post, La Harpe learned that the Spanish governor of Texas had ordered the establishment of a post
among the Nassonites on the Red River. This news caused him to hurry on his way. Upon his arrival at the Nassonites, his first
concern was to make alliances with them. This was accomplished when the Nassonites, Cadodaquins, Natsooe and Natchitoches
sang the Calumet. This celebration lasted twenty-four hours. After the feast, La Harpe made them presents of a large amount
of merchandise, in order to interest them in his company,16 for which the Indian trade was very necessary. La Harpe constructed a block house, here among the Nassonites, to be used
as a storage house, and also as a center for other explorations. Du Rivage and six other Frenchmen were sent out from here,
with a large amount of merchandise, to make alliances and interest the Indians in the Southwest. Especially was Du Rivage
instructed to find out about a Roving Nation, and the nearest abode of the Spaniards. According to Du Rivage, he met the Roving
Nation some place between Blue River and Boggy Creek in Southeastern Oklahoma. He also learned that one could go up the Red
River within three days’ journey of the Cancy.
In the meanwhile, La Harpe, having learned that the Spanish and French were at war, and war being an obstacle to his attempt
to establish a trade with the Spanish, set out to explore and to make alliances with the Indians to the northeast. This expedition
led him through Northeastern Oklahoma, and near the mouth of the Canadian River, an alliance was made with eight nations including
a part of the Roving Nation. La Harpe17 says that seven thousand persons were here assembled to sing the Calumet.
La Harpe considered that one of the best places in all Louisiana for the establishment of a post was at the mouth of the Canadian
River, because of its importance in trade, and "because the French could thus obtain control of the trade with the Padoucas
and Aricaras."18 This was the aim of France, to get control of the Indians by trade. The Spaniards had been trading with the Indians in this
region for a long time, especially in the trade of horses and cattle.
While La Harpe was making alliances with the Indians in Oklahoma, as a stepping stone toward the trade in the Spanish southwest,
Du Tisne was making alliances with the Indian tribes on the Osage, the Missouri, and the Arkansas Rivers. He made an alliance
with the Pawnees on the Arkansas, "bought Spanish horses from them and established the French flag in their village."19 These two expeditions mark a definite step in the direction of trade with the Spaniards in New Mexico.
To the early French trader, New Mexico held almost the same lure that the Gran Quivira held for the early Spaniards, gold
and precious stones, and, in addition, perhaps, a route to the South Sea. For the French traders, there were three natural
highways of trade with the Spaniards in New Mexico, the Missouri, the Arkansas, and the Red River. Each had its own difficulties.
Between the French and New Mexico there roamed the treacherous Comanche and Apache, from the far north, to the south, following
the buffalo. The jealous Spaniards kept these Indians hostile to the French, forming as the Spaniards wished, a barrier between
the French and the Spanish possessions in New Mexico.
In order to trade with New Mexico, it would be necessary to maintain peace among the Indians by causing them to make alliances
with each other. This was one of the main objects of the expeditions between 1718-1724. La Harpe, Du Rivage, Du Tisne, by
series of alliances with Indians, treaties were made with at least thirty different nations in the western part of Louisiana.
It was hoped that through these alliances, the coveted trade with the Spaniards in New Mexico would be established.
When the western company wished to open up the Arkansas River as a highway to Spanish territory, La Harpe was chosen for the
task. Dumont says of the expedition: "In 1721, some visionaries having assured the company of an emerald rock on the Arkansas
River, Captain de la Harpe was sent to look for it and as I was then at the Yasaux as lieutenant and engineer, he took me
along as mathematician. We ascended the river for more than two hundred and fifty leagues, without being able to discover
this pretended treasure, probably because it existed only in imagination; we even advanced nearly fifty leagues further by
land into the country, till, complaints arising in the troop, the Sieur de la Harpe, who apprehended a fate similar to La
Salle’s resolved to retrace his steps and return to the capital . . . If we had not the good fortune to discover the emerald
rock . . . . we had the satisfaction of traversing a very beautiful country, fertile plains, vast prairies covered with buffalo,
stags, does, deer, turtles, etc. We saw rocks of jasper marble at the foot of which lay slabs cut by nature’s hand, others
of slate and talc, very fit for making plaster. I have no doubt
there are gold mines in the country, as we discovered a little stream which rolled gold dust in its waters."20
La Harpe reached the Arkansas Post early in March, 1722. His first care was to inform himself of the course of the river and
the nations along its banks. The Indians seemed to have been under Spanish influence, as they were rather reluctant to give
any information. They told him that five Frenchmen from M. Law’s concession had ascended the river to the Indian nation on
the head water of the river to purchase horses and they had been killed enroute by the Osages. After making some preparations
for his journey, La Harpe left the Arkansas Post with a detachment of twenty-two men and M. Dufranchomme, ensign of the company
at this post. He continued his explorations up the river nine days, when he became short of provisions.21 La Harpe then set out overland to see if he could find the fork of the river whose right branch led to the nations he had
discovered by land in 1719. On account of the condition of his men, he went only about fifty leagues in a westerly direction.
But, from the appearances of the river, he concluded that it was navigable in high water to the settlements of the Padoucas,
and the Spanish in New Mexico. He recommended the establishment of a post near "the Rock" and another at the Fork, and that
the Arkansas Post be strengthened by sending out people to cultivate the soil.
In 1723, Bourgmont erected a post among the Missouri tribes and in order to open up this route, made treaties with various
tribes along the route, and secured permission for the Frenchmen to pass through the Comanche country to the Spanish dominions.22 Although the Missouri post was soon destroyed, there are indications of traders attempting to reach New Mexico. The Mallet
party, which reached Santa Fe in 1739 is an example. Four of this party returned by way of the Canadian and the Arkansas rivers.
The safe return of this expedition gave added impetus to possibilities of opening up a trade by way of the Arkansas River.
Governor Bienville, in 1741, sent Fabray de la Brugeie, with a letter to the Governor of New Mexico, and, guided by the four
men of the Mallet party, he was furnished with instructions to open up a commercial route. After going a short distance up
the Canadian, Fabray was forced to go back to the Arkansas post for horses. Returning by way of the Cadodacho, he learned
that the Mallet brothers had continued to Santa Fe on foot. He gave up the project, crossed Oklahoma from the Canadian to
the Red River, where he visited the tribes which La Harpe had discovered in 1719.23
With the establishment of Fort Cavagnolle, at the Kansas village
on the Missouri, the Arkansas route was made safe by a treaty between the Comanche and Jumano,24 in 1746 or 1747. France had, at last, accomplished her purpose of making possible a highway to the Spaniards of New Mexico,
which she had definitely started, by establishing the Arkansas Post, and by making treaties with the Arkansas. A second step
was made by La Harpe in 1719, when he made alliances with nine tribes, collectively called Touacara. During the period between
La Harpe’s expedition and the treaty between the Comanches and the Jumano, many attempts had been made to open communication
with New Mexico, with more or less success.
The effect of the treaty between these important Indian nations that patrolled the western frontier of Louisiana was immediate.
At once, new expeditions of all kinds, private, deserters, and official agents started toward New Mexico, the Mecca, of trade
in the west. Professor Herbert E. Bolton, searching in the Archives of Mexico, has brought to light records of two of these
expeditions which give some interesting facts concerning both the Indians of this western frontier and the methods the French
traders used in getting to Spanish territory.
The Comanche were little known to the French at this time. Until the middle of the eighteenth century, they were hostile to
both French and Spanish. This hostility made a barrier between Spanish New Mexico and French Louisiana. Between the French
and the Comanche were the Jumano, Pawnee, and other tribes to the east, all of which had been enemies of the Comanche. This
gave the Spaniards a better opportunity to trade with the Comanche. Their principal trading place was Taos, where, each year,
they met in large numbers, and where pelts and captives were exchanged for horses, knives, and other merchandise.25
This trading mart at Taos held great attraction for the French, and soon after the alliance between the Comanche and Jumano,
the Comanche reported that two Frenchmen were at their village waiting to accompany them to the Taos fair. The Spaniards at
once became concerned. In 1749, the governor of New Mexico sent his lieutenant to attend the Taos fair, and he brought three
Frenchmen back to Santa Fe. In questioning these three men, as was the Spanish custom, it was found that all three claimed
to have been deserters from the Arkansas Post, and that they had all heard of Santa Fe from Frenchmen who had come from there
a few years before.
The route over which these travelers came is interesting. They started from the village of the Arkansas Indians, a short distance
from the post, going up the Arkansas River to the village of the Jumano Indians. The Jumano conducted them one hundred and
fifty leagues to the Comanche settlement; here they remained some time. From the Comanche settlement they came to the Taos
fair and from there they were taken to Santa Fe, taking, in all, six months.26 This was the route that the French had long wanted to open, the nearest and the most direct, to New Mexico. Within a year
another had entered New Mexico over practically the same route. The Arkansas and Canadian rivers became the international
highway between the French and the Spanish in the New World, France using all means at her disposal to open and keep open
the way, and Spain using all her means to block it.
The contest for the control of North America was, each year, drawing nearer and nearer to an end. The Indian on the frontier
had borne the greater part of the burden. Two hundred and fifty years of contact with the white man, and the white man’s superior
methods of warfare and diplomacy had made the Indian a tool, merely to be used in getting possession of the Territory. As
that possession was gained, the Indian was pushed on to newer frontiers. The true pioneer of North America was not the European,
but the Indian. For the first three hundred years, he blazed the way for the white man on every frontier. He was the buffer
between hostile tribes and hostile nations. Neither of the European nations realized the importance of the Indian as a frontiersman.
Had there been a better understanding, there would have been an entirely different Indian problem for the American government
to take up later, and attempt to solve.
At the close of the Seven Years’ War, the Indian had only two masters. France had not been able to hold her possessions, though
not for lack of support of her Indian alliances. The Indian knew that the aggressive English farmer would take the place of
the French hunter and trapper. The treaty of Paris meant that civilization had taken a step forward on the North American
continent. But, an old Choctaw Indian, (in the presence of the writer) in recounting what he had once had, said that he remembered
the time when he and his fellow tribesmen owned a vast territory, "plenty horses and cattle, on a thousand hills. Now," he
said, "all we have is civilization, just civilization." "Just civilization" did not appeal to the red man.
Spain accepted Western Louisiana as she found it and attempted to carry out France’s policy in dealing with the Indians. Monsieur
de Clouet was commander of the Arkansas Post just after, and, possibly, at the time of the transfer. From his letters to Lord
Aubry, at that time senior captain of the military forces, and, as such, the temporary governor of Louisiana until Spain took
possession of the province, it can be seen that the commander of the Arkansas Post shared the feeling of opposition to Spanish
rule, as did those near New Orleans.
Monsieur de Clouet also gives us a glimpse into the Arkansas country, and the problems that were confronting a frontier post.
GENERAL ARCHIVES OF THE INDIES
Papers of Cuba—107
Extracts of Eight Letters From The Commandant of the Arkansas.
To My Lord Aubry.
I know only by the kindness of your heart for me that my zeal for the service will not fall in discredit. I could please only
by performing miracles; that would be one to provide this nation with bread and brandy. Would you believe, my Commandant,
that the boat has come with sixteen quarts of flour, without other provisions. We have been obliged for six months to advance
to the Arkansas nation, some liquor, in order to have meat for that boat which has not brought one drop in return. I know
the impossibility of depriving the Red men of that drink. I am careful of the King’s money. The brilliancy of a speech of
which I am little capable would not satisfy them. The store-keeper, who goes down, will tell you the decision I have taken
for the present to the savages; I shall economize a portion of those presents if they send me something more of which I send
the list; I shall give them only the powder for their hunting.
The rumor of war which is running, offers nothing advantageous. I wish for war only because it will render you back to us
as a chief, then your judgment would become favorable, it would stir things, you would see the culprit paid for his faults,
and the innocent one take back his place; we would be exempt of Spanish penal colonies from which I believe that we are all
threatened, and the protection of our flag is so much more desirable that I believe that they would be only unfortunate who
will cover themselves with another; my condition is known to you, my fate is to be pitied, and will be more so being farther
away from you.
I tremble to learn of your next departure: open your generous heart to us . . . . protect my manoeuvres before you go away
. . . .
This boat is going to leave tomorrow, I equipped it with everything; the one who had it in charge has suffered the impossible
rigor of the season, and the ill will of the crew. He arrived sick and I helped him, out of the goodness of my heart.
I am sending to you Mr. Ulloa a work concerning this Fort; he will find surely no elegance in my style, condescend to support
Francis, a hunter on this river, has just been robbed for the second time by the Chis at whose head were two Englishmen and
one Canadian named Charpentier; this man should not be tolerated by any government, he is so covered with crimes.
I persuaded twenty-five warriors and two chiefs of this nation from going as an envoy to see Mr. Ulloa, that design would
have been too costly; it cost me only two trinkets from the store, I would have done nothing without a few bottles which have
extinguished that plan; I am informing Mr. Ulloa of it. I am sure of your approval. I do not flatter myself of his not being
known enough to him. I hope that my zeal will obtain justice for me, and that he will only prescribe me the execution of what
I sweat blood and water to make the savage couriers leave, who wanted to have some white men with them on account of the Chis,
the lack of strong liquor being one of the difficulties. The fact that they have with them an English woman who owns the store
opposite the top of the Fork would have attracted the nation. The affairs in the colony are so that I could pay only with
things from the store, including what I have given to certain individuals. Your kindness will come to my help, not being able
to hold any longer the three villages who believe me to be the author of the lack of their needs and wishing to ask of you
another chief who would be less hard than I on strong liquor; I am going to upset such a design.
I received the details of the event which happened to the colony; had I no other consolation in waiting for the royal decree
than to be under the yoke which flatters it, I will be happy if that resolution makes it obtain a retrocession if its first
master who satisfied with their chief may keep him. From another side I perceive that the authors could be pitied if the court
of Madrid surpassed the Deputies who would then withdraw to their King. The end of the year would pass before the decision,
this time would flow in misery, happy if we finish our career like the Bon Job which would happen to us in my opinion if our
pavilion were not already covered with
whiteness, when the happy moment would come, the colony a prey to revolution. Are we born in order to not attain our happiness?
No, my Commandant, your desired reign will make it be born. Lyscuple in his cries of joy has revealed to us your name with
that of his monarch, but his heart is his interpreter. The most belligerent nation and which loves us only in time of peace
will explain on your account in the same taste . . . pardon if the envy to see you arrive makes me take this boldness . .
The English barge attached to the shore of the other bank has entered three leagues in this river with ten Englishmen pretending
to be out of some provisions and visiting the three villages. I have sent in that camp (which is a bottle case for the nation)
in order to complain to the wife of the land surveyor who commands everything, and to make me the reply by which she authorizes
herself to enter in our rivers in time of peace.
Following our orders I hold the nation in the same sentiments for the Spaniards, our allies and friends; all this disquiets
them, but it will be easy to recall them if you support their needs as I promise them. The waters are so high that I have
been obliged to give a canoe to the couriers, always at the expense of the poor store.
On account of the inhabitants of this post refusing, (because of the revolution) to give for the good of the oppressed, to
render food to my soldiers, I have forced them to do it in spite of Madam de Clouet not having found her needs in the city
for these goods; I believe to have fulfilled your intentions. Let it please you to use me if my services are satisfactory
to you somewhere else than here. I study everything that pertains to my state in case that you should wish to send me higher;
I tell you privately, that there is no more water to drink in this part for a father of a family . . . Your will be mine .
La Jeunesse is going for his payment; he saved the life of Mr. Piernas and of his crew. Mr. Loyolla so far has not paid me
for my two negroes employed in the service. I have paid over two hundred to the soldiers of my garrison who have helped with
the boat, without counting that which I have taken out of my own pocket to pay the inhabitants for the purchase of Mr. Chouriac,
store keeper, with the said Mr. Piernas. I have been obliged to buy my wood . . .
I have been placed to render account to you of this
English woman living across the fork. Her present for this nation is composed only of strong liquor. I have said to the nation
all that I could, for my duty, because of my response that if I should always be poor that they would love it more ardently,
that their new father would not see the brandy of milk, etc.
The death of the second chief of the great village, which was caused by a duel, was called Angaska; in order to replace him
I have destroyed the plan that they had of coming to the capital to receive it from you, in assuring them that you would send
a neck piece that I ask for you. I have done my best that this reception should cost little, likewise the coverlet of death,
and the kind of consolation for his family. All this has given a shortage to the little strong liquor that remains with me,
without which one could not succeed in a single plan.
Mr. De Saint Ange and five private individuals of the Illinois have lost slaves by desertion. They have given me their opinion
that the slaves are in the three villages. I have sent to three villages where they had arrived the day before and was told
all about the Cadau. They appear to be accompanied by eighty men, my efforts have been useless to get them; my poverty has
not contributed a little. They pretend that these slaves are Cadau, and moreover that a man of their race becomes free as
soon as he enters in the cabin of their chief. I have made all my efforts, but I am not discouraged. You
F. 3 vts
will be irritated by their manoeuvres.
Peculiarities have happened this month. One of the three savage chiefs has arrived from the Illinois where he had been to
sell his horses. He was at the English fort to make their demands like the man of his race ordinarily made. Entrance was forbidden
him, he got clear of the shore in order to avoid vengeance by his comrades; opposite the beautiful river they saw two English
barges each guarded by only two men. They took some flour, a round vest, and some hats . . . I said to him that this would
not be well; he replied to me that we had been too cautious. I rewarded him by a few bottles of strong liquor.
On the seventeenth came the great chief Cadoakious, at the head of a party of eleven warriors who were incensed against the
Osages, and came to induce the Arkancas to be help in this revenge. They have succeeded
without my representations saying to them that the Osages were united to the French.
The Arkancas in hunting on the river saw some footsteps of a man, discovered him, it was a Chacta. They took him and led him
away as a prisoner. As soon as I knew it I asked for the chiefs of the three villages. I said to them that this man was a
hunter and not a warrior. They told me that Chakta had never come so far to kill the Chevicuil, that my heart was too good
for him. I obtained from them finally that they would send him back to me; they escorted him with 150 men to which it was
necessary that I make still the advance of liquor. Without that I could not continue if they have no pity on me, I have sent
again promptly this young man to the one who commands the fort of the English Natchez with the order of bringing back a receipt.
An Englishman under the pretext of trading, made an establishment opposite this river. I see no longer a day of tranquillity.
This English woman wishes to persuade the Arkancas that she will expulse us from this fort, that the savages are going to
depend on the English and that she would have only one step to make; I would laugh at such talk. If they are not influenced
by the weakness of the Red men, that one can correct only by a kind of expense little conformed to my zeal.
It has not been possible for me to regain the five red slaves of the Illinois whom the Cadaux have always said have taken
flight by the Route of the Natchitoches to the Lin known by the Savages. I have dispatched twenty men to follow them; I believe
that they will not get them.
Usnomone, chief, and Ouakatinga, second chief, demand of you their commission, even Quangaska, second chief, I make you the
same prayer for Landronette el Loretto which you have promised me the fulfillment.
GENERAL ARCHIVES OF THE INDIES
Papers of Cuba, 107
I have searched in the deepest of my knowledge without being able to arrest twenty-four savages and one chief who have been
to the Natches. It would be desirable that the English would get tired of being bothered by them; there is no sign of it until
now, seeing the quantity of whiskey which they give them and the advantage-
ous promises which are made in the construction of the fort facing the island of this one, where they will find all their
needs in abundance. All those actions in such speeches, my Governor, are not destroyed by persuasion, and the elegance in
speech would be spent in vain. I have the honor of assuring that to you while I am informing you of it, as well as the respectful
attachment that I have the Glory to be, my General.
Your very humble and very obedient servant,
The Monsieur de Clouet.
Arkansas, this eighth day of July, 1768.
GENERAL ARCHIVES OF THE INDIES
Papers from Cuba, 107
My dear sir: This commander orders me to advise you since his illness will not permit him to write to you.
Señor: The Interpreter says that an Indian from the Arkansas nation arrived from the village of the Chickasaw Nation with
an English party, the fourth day of this month with a letter from that Indian which in a former letter we made known to you
was going to set out for Mobile, this letter, says the aforesaid Interpreter, is written by an English merchant in the aforesaid
village of the Chickasaws. It is as follows: that as soon as possible the aforesaid Arkansas Indian will leave for that town,
and that from there will go to Mobile to receive a gift and a large medal; the above mentioned Indian remains in that town
yet; the aforesaid commander orders me to say to you that he wishes to thank the sender for the great medal for the first
great chief of this nation in order to quiet his mind and to satisfy him by this token, I am informed of all I have told you.
This well organized detachment of troops conforms to the order and the inhabitants are content with your agreeable counselling
and advice. In the Indies there has been no occurrence for discussion among those who compose that place. I am awaiting orders
from you, for its prompt completion.
Fort Arkansas, November 12, 1770.
Joseph Orieta (Rubric)
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