« FöregåendeFortsätt »
taking the chief, but in reaching the camp where the women and children had been left. They found them all in safety; the Snakes had not attacked them, and the panic of the warriors was needless. It was the ninth of February. They were scarcely housed when a blizzard set in, and on the night of the tenth the plains were buried in snow. The great chief had not appeared. With such of his warriors as he could persuade to follow him, he had made a wide circuit to find the trail of the lost Frenchmen, but, to his great distress, had completely failed. It was not till five days after the arrival of the Chevalier and his men that the chief reached the camp, “more dead than alive,” in the words of the journal. All his hardships were forgotten when he found his white friends safe, for he had given them up for lost. “His sorrow turned to joy, and he could not give us attention and caresses enough.” The camp broke up, and the allied bands dispersed. The great chief and his followers moved slowly through the snowdrifts towards the east-southeast, accompanied by the Frenchmen. Thus they kept on till the first of March, when the two brothers, learning that they were approaching the winter village of a people called Gens de la Petite Cerise, or ChokeCherry Indians, sent one of their men, with a guide, to visit them. The man returned in ten days, bringing a message from the Choke-Cherry Indians, inviting the Frenchmen to their lodges. The great chief of the Bow Indians, who seems to
have regarded his young friends with mingled affection, respect, and wonder, was grieved at the thought of losing them, but took comfort when they promised to visit him again, provided that he would make his abode near a certain river which they pointed out. To this he readily agreed, and then, with mutual regret, they parted. The Frenchmen repaired to the village of the Choke-Cherry Indians, who, like the Bow Indians, were probably a band of Sioux.Hard by their lodges, which stood near the Missouri, the brothers buried a plate of lead graven with the royal arms, and raised a pile of stones in honor of the governor of Canada. They remained at this place till April; then, mounting their horses again, followed the Missouri upward to the village of the Mandans, which they reached on the eighteenth of May. After spending a week here, they joined a party of Assiniboins, journeyed with them towards Fort La Reine, and reached it on the second of July, — to the
1 The only two tribes of this region who were a match for the Snakes were the Sioux and the Blackfeet. It is clear that the Bow Indians could not have been Blackfeet, as in that case, after the war. party broke up, they would have moved northward towards their own country, instead of east-southeast into the country of their enemies. Hence I incline to think the Bow Indians a band of Sioux, or Dakota, - a people then, as since, predominant in that country.
The banks of the Missouri, in the part which La Vérendrye would have reached in following an east-southeast course, were occupied by numerous bands or sub-tribes of Sioux, such as the Minneconjou, Yankton, Oncpapa, Brulé, and others, friends and relatives of the Bow Indians, supposing these to have been Sioux.
The Sioux, Cheyennes, and other prairie tribes use the small astringent wild cherry for food. The squaw8 pound it, stones and all, and then dry it for winter use.
great relief of their father, who was waiting in suspense, having heard nothing of them for more than a year. Sixty-two years later, when the vast western regions then called Louisiana had just been ceded to the United States, Captains Lewis and Clark left the Mandan villages with thirty-two men, traced the Missouri to the mountains, penetrated the wastes beyond, and made their way to the Pacific. The first stages of that remarkable exploration were anticipated by the brothers La Vérendrye. They did not find the Pacific, but they discovered the Rocky Mountains, or at least the part of them to which the name properly belongs; for the southern continuation of the great range had long been known to the Spaniards. Their bold adventure was achieved, not at the charge of a government, but at their own cost and that of their father, — not with a band of wellequipped men, but with only two followers. The fur-trading privilege which was to have been their compensation had proved their ruin. They were still pursued without ceasing by the jealousy of rival traders and the ire of disappointed partners “Here in Canada more than anywhere else,” the Chevalier wrote, some years after his return, “envy is the passion à la mode, and there is no escaping it.” " It was the story of La Salle repeated. Beauharnois, however, still stood by them, encouraged and defended them, and wrote in their favor to the colonial minis.
1 Le Chevalier de la Vérendrye au Ministre, 30 Septembre, 1750.
ter. It was doubtless through his efforts that the elder La Vérendrye was at last promoted to a captaincy in the colony troops. Beauharnois was succeeded in the government by the sagacious and able Galissonière, and he too befriended the explorers. “It seems to me,” he wrote to the minister, " that what you have been told touching the Sieur de la Vérendrye, to the effect that he has been more busy with his own interests than in making discoveries, is totally false, and, moreover, that any officers employed in such work will always be compelled to give some of their attention to trade, so long as the King allows them no other means of subsistence. These discoveries are very costly, and more fatiguing and dangerous than open war."Two years later, the elder La Vérendrye received the cross of the Order of St. Louis, — an honor much prized in Canada, but which he did not long enjoy; for he died at Montreal in the following December, when on the point of again setting out for the West.
His intrepid sons survived, and they were not idle. One of them, the Chevalier, had before discovered the river Saskatchewan, and ascended it as far as the forks. His intention was to follow it to the mountains, build a fort there, and thence push westward in another search for the Pacific; but a disastrous
1 La Vérendrye père au Ministre, 1 Novembre, 1746, in Margry, vi. event ruined all his hopes. La Galissonière returned to France, and the Marquis de la Jonquière succeeded him, with the notorious François Bigot as intendant. Both were greedy of money, — the one to hoard, and the other to dissipate it. Clearly there was money to be got from the fur-trade of Manitoba, for La Vérendrye had made every preparation and incurred every expense. It seemed that nothing remained but to reap where he had sown. His commission to find the Pacific, with the privileges connected with it, was refused to his sons, and conferred on a stranger. La Jonquière wrote to the minister: “I have charged M. de Saint-Pierre with this business. He knows these countries better than any officer in all the colony.”ı On the contrary, he had never seen them. It is difficult not to believe that La Jonquière, Bigot, and Saint-Pierre were partners in a speculation of which all three were to share the profits.
La Galissonière au Ministre, 23 Octobre, 1747. • Mémoire en abrégé des Établissements et Découvertes faits par la Sieur de la Vérendrye et ses Enfants.
The elder La Vérendrye, not long before his death, had sent a large quantity of goods to his trading-forts. The brothers begged leave to return thither and save their property from destruction. They declared themselves happy to serve under the orders of SaintPierre, and asked for the use of only a single fort of all those which their father had built at his own cost. The answer was a flat refusal. In short, they were shamefully robbed. The Chevalier writes: “M. le Marquis de la Jonquière, being pushed hard, and as I thought even touched, by my representations, told
1 La Jonquière au Ministre, 27 Février, 1750.