One World, Four Perceptions
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Our ancestors arrived here several thousand years ago. The Wabanaki peoples occupy a vast territory of lakes, rivers and mountains. To the south, this territory is bordered by a large body of water that white men call the Atlantic. To the north is the Great River and, beyond that, our Algonkian allies and cousins. To the east is the land we share with our Mi’kmaq and Malecite brothers, while on the other side of the Rivière aux Iroquois, where the sun sets, is the Iroquois Nation. The lifeways and ways of thinking of the Iroquois are very different from ours. We move about our territory with the changing of the seasons, going from mountains to plateaux, to valleys and to the sea, in order to hunt and fish. We plant corn at the beginning of the summer and harvest it in fall.
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We finally reached the new land after a crossing that took several months. We planted our flag so that everyone could see the royal power of France. This land is lush and fertile and, according to our scouts, it is rich in precious stones and metals. Its furs are also said to be of the highest quality. Exporting furs to France would enrich the colony and fill the King’s coffers. The local inhabitants live like early man. They don’t have gunpowder. Their boats are small and made of bark. They don’t have metal tools, only a few adornments of pure copper. They aren’t Christians and they don’t know God. Fortunately, the King has sent members of the clergy to teach them the Word of God and good manners.
They arrived in large canoes carried by the wind. They have white skin and wear colourful fabrics and headgear. They also have large sticks that spew fire. When we get hit by the fire, we fall to the ground like we’ve been hit by a hundred arrows. They landed on our territory and we realized that they were planning to stay. They were hungry and sick, so we gave them food and water. In exchange, they offered us shiny tools, beads of every colour, blankets and all sorts of other objects. Afterwards, several of our people died because the new inhabitants had also brought smallpox with them. Since then, things have not been the same. We’re going hungry. We should be hunting, gathering and fishing for food and making provisions for the winter, but instead we’re scouring our territory for beaver so that we can exchange pelts for European goods. We call this trading. It’s getting harder and harder for us to hunt, however, because the animals are fleeing. We have to travel to other hunting grounds on the territories of other nations. This leads to war and much sadness.
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The Abenaki Territory
New inhabitants have settled to the west of the Kennebec River: they’re Dutch and British and enemies of the French. They speak a language that is different from that of our Jesuit father. They’ve allied themselves with the Iroquois to fight the French and take our territory. Our father has persuaded us to form an alliance with the French. The King will help us to keep our territory and will protect us. He’ll give us weapons and gunpowder and fortify our villages.
We have to convince the Wabanaki Nation to enter into an alliance. It’s the only way to resist the British. Abenaki warriors are numerous and brave. They’ll swell the ranks of our army. They’ll protect the waterways to the south of the St. Lawrence from Iroquois and British incursions. We’ll be able to keep Acadia with the help of these warriors.
We have to take Acadia with our Iroquois allies. Then we’ll own the Atlantic coast and be able to prevent the French from supplying their colonies. We have to eliminate the Abenakis or persuade them to form an alliance with us and the Iroquois. We have to attract them with more trade or through force by attacking their villages.