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First Contact with the Illinois...In Iowa!
After walking west on the trail about five or six miles they found a group of three villages. The natives came out to meet them and Marquette described their greeting:
“I therefore spoke to them first, and asked them who they were. They replied that they were Ilinois; and, as a token of peace, they offered us their pipes to smoke.”
They led them to a second village where their Chief who welcomed them and gave them gifts saying”
“I thank thee, Black Gown, and thee, O frenchman, “addressing himself to Monsieur Jollyet,” for having taken so much trouble to come to visit us. Never has the earth been so beautiful or the sun so Bright, as to-day; Never has our river been so Calm, or so clear of rocks, which your canoes have Removed in passing: never has our tobacco tasted so good, or our corn appeared so fine, as We now see Them. Here is my son, whom I give thee to Show thee my Heart. I beg thee to have pity on me, and on all my Nation. It is thou who Knowest the great Spirit who has made us all. It is thou who speakest To Him, and who hearest his word. Beg Him to give; me life and health, and to come and dwell with us* in order to make us Know him.”
The Chief recognized Jolliet as French, called Marquette a “Black Gown”, and was very happy to see them. Apparently they were neither the first French, nor Marquette the first missionary he’d met, although it is likely that his previous contacts were at trading posts and missions, rather than in his own village.
Next page: An Altogether Mysterious Calumet