St. Lawrence Area Aboriginals in “Chapters 77, 78 and 79”

They live in villages and hamlets in certain houses constructed in the form of a semi-circle twenty to thirty paces long and ten wide, covered with tree bark or reeds. And God knows how the cold penetrates them, so badly built, badly covered, and badly supported so that often the pillars and rafters fall under the weight of the snow on top.[…]

[…] The women till the soil and turn it up with certain instruments made of long stones and sow the seed, especially millet, large peas (corn?) of various colors like we plant vegetables over here. The stem grows like sugar cane bearing two or three ears, of which one is always larger than the others like our artichokes. They also plant beans that are flat and white as snow which are very good. This species is found in America (Brazil) and Peru (South America). There are also many gourds (pumpkins) and squash, which they eat cooked in the coals as we do over here.

There is besides a very fine little seed resembling seed of marjoram, which produces quite a large plant. This plant is highly prized and they dry it in the sun after collecting heaps of it. They wear it around their neck in little pouches of the skin of some animal in a kind of cylinder with a hole in the end in which they stick a piece of this dried plant which, having rolled it between their hands, they set fire to it and take the smoke of it into their mouth by the other end of the cylinder. And they take it in such quantities that it comes out of their eyes and nose.

It remains to say how they wear their hair: that is, differently from the Americans (Brazilians). Both men and women wear their hair black, very long, and there is only this difference: that the men have the hair piled up on the head like a horse's tail with wooden needles through it […] Others wrap and envelop the head with sable martens […]

These men do not wear beards any more than do the Americans (Brazilians) because they pull it out as soon as it grows. an law.

Source: André Thevet, "[St. Lawrence Area Aboriginals in] Chapters 77, 78 and 79" in André Thevet’s North America: A Sixteenth-Century View, an edition-translation with notes and introduction by Roger Schlesinger and Arthur P. Stabler, (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1986), 9-14, 16.

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