St. Lawrence Iroquois in “Voyages”

[…]Our Indian could understand only certain words, inasmuch as the language of the Almouchiquois [people in southern Maine], for so that nation is called, differs entirely from that of the Souriquois [Mi’kmaq] and Etechemins [Maliseet and Passamaquoddy]. These people showed that they were much pleased. Their chief was good-looking, young and active…. These Indians shave off their hair fairly high up on the head, and wear the remainder very long, combing and twisting it very neatly behind in several ways, with feathers which they fasten on their heads. They paint their faces black and red, like the other Indians we have seen. They are an active people with well-formed bodies. Their weapons are spears, clubs, bows, and arrows. At the end of these latter some of them fasten the tail of a fish called signoc [horseshoe crab]; others use bones, while others make them entirely of wood. They till and cultivate the land, a practice we had not seen previously. In place of ploughs they use an instrument of very hard wood made in the shape of a spade. This river is called by the inhabitants of the country Chouacoet.

[…]We saw their grain, which is Indian corn. This they grow in gardens, sowing three or four grains in one spot, after which, with the shells of the aforesaid signoc, they heap about it a quantity of earth. Then three feet away they sow as much again, and so on in order. Amongst this corn they plant in each hillock three or four Brazilian beans, which come up of different colours. When fully grown these plants twine around the aforementioned corn, which grows to a height of five to six feet; and they keep the ground very free from weeds. We saw there many squashes, pumpkins, and tobacco, which they likewise cultivate. The Indian corn we saw was then two feet in height, and there was also some three feet high. As for the beans, they were beginning to burst into flower, as were likewise the pumpkins and squashes. They plant their corn in May, and harvest it in September. We saw there a great many nuts, which are small and have several divisions [hickories]. As yet there were none on the trees, but underneath we found plenty from the preceding year. We saw also many vines, on which were exceedingly fine berries, and from these we made some very good juice; we had not seen these previously except on the island of Bacchus, distant from this river about two leagues. The fixed abodes, the cultivated fields, and the fine trees led us to the conclusion that the climate here is more temperate and better than that where we wintered, and than at the other places on this coast. Not that I am of opinion that it is not cold here, although the place lies in latitude 43░ 45’. The forests inland are very open, but nevertheless abound in oaks, beeches, ashes, and elms, and in wet places there are numbers of willows. The Indians remain permanently in this place, and have a large wigwam surrounded by palisades formed of rather large trees placed one against the other; and into this they retire when their enemies come to make war against them. They cover their wigwams with oak bark. This place is very pleasant, and as attractive a spot as one can see anywhere. The river, which is bordered with meadows, abounds greatly in fish. At its mouth lies an islet adapted for the construction of a good fortress where one would be safe.

Source: Samuel de Champlain, "[St. Lawrence Iroquoi in] Voyages" in The Works of Samuel de Champlain, vol. 1, H.P.Biggar (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1922), 325-330.

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