Traces of the past: Oh, what type of men are the Europeans!
Note: The Baron de Lahontan (1666-1716) wrote a work of fiction. Lahontan imagined a conversation between a European and a Native person to illustrate the many differences between these two peoples. Do you think these words could have been spoken by a Native person? Explain your answer.
Excerpt: “Oh, what kind of men are the Europeans! Oh, what kind of creatures! Who do good by force and only avoid doing evil for fear of punishment? Moreover, it is false, as I have already said, that the word of law means something fair and reasonable to you, because the rich scoff at it and it is only the poor who obey it. For 50 years the governors of Canada have claimed that we are under the laws of their great captain. We deny our dependence on anyone but the Great Spirit; we are born free and united brothers, we are all our own masters; instead you are all slaves of one man. If we do not answer that we think all the French depend on us, it is only because we want to avoid disputes. Because from what right and on what authority do they base this claim? Have we been sold to this great captain? Did we go to France to find you? It was you who have come here to find us. Who gave you all the lands that you live on? By what right do you own them? They have belonged to the Algonquin people since time immemorial. ”
Author: LAHONTAN. Discours de M. le baron de Lahontan et d’un Sauvage dans l’Amérique, Montréal, Desjonquères, 1999 , pp. 62-62
French if available (si disponible)