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DIFFICULTY OF RECONCILING THE NORTH AMERI
CAN INDIANS TO EUROPEAN HABITS AND EDU-
The same sentiments which prevented the North American Indian from placing confidence in the Europeans, made him extremely averse to entrust his children among them for their education. And it
may also be observed, that whenever he was induced so to entrust them, the youths themselves took every opportunity of running away from the settlements, and joining their relations in the wilderness. “ Indian children,” says Dr. Colden, “ have been carefully educated among the English, clothed, and taught by them; yet I think there is not one instance that any of these, after they had liberty to go among their own people and were come of age, would remain with the English, but returned to their own nations, and became as fond of the Indian manner of life as those who knew nothing of a civilized manner of living.'
Charlevoix, when treating on this subject, states that one of the first objects of the Chevalier de Montmagny, (Champlain's successor in the go
* Colden's History of the Five Nations, vol. i. ch. 13.
vernment of New France,) was to carry into effect the projected seminary for Indian youth in the college of the Jesuits at Quebec. It was thought advisable to commence the experiment with the Hurons, whose children, it was also supposed, would serve as hostages for the fidelity of their relations: they were therefore invited to send them, and to this they assented. The missionary Daniel was appointed to convey these children to Quebec; but notwithstanding all his exertions, he could only succeed in collecting three or four, whose fathers were absent at the time.
“ Even these," says Charlevoix, “ he could carry down no farther than Three Rivers, where their parents meeting them, they were taken back again, although they had already consented to their going to Quebec. This conduct, however, did not surprise the missionary, who was fully aware of the extreme attachment the Indians have for their children, and the invincible repugnance they feel in being separated from them.”*
The same writer, in another of his works, laments very strongly the difficulties which occurred in New France, in their endeavours to assimilate the Indians to the habits of the French, and to make them educate their children in the European manner.
Many of the French,” says he," have resided among the savages, and have been so well pleased
* Charlevoix, Hist. de la Nouvelle France, liv. v.
with their manner of life, that, although they lived much at their ease in the colony, they could not be prevailed upon to return to it.
to return to it. On the other hand, there has been no instance of an Indian.conforming himself to our mode of living. It was likewise observed by the Marquis de Denonville, when governor-general of Canada, in writing to the minister of France - " It has been long imagined that the Indians might be brought near us in order to Frenchify them, (pour les Françiser,) but there is every reason to believe that this is a mistake. Those of the savages who have been brought among us have not become French, and the French who have resided among the Indians have become savages.”+
Dr. Colden also mentions, that after the peace of Ryswick, when all hostility had ceased between the English and the French, many of the European prisoners, who had long been captives among the Indians, would not be prevailed upon to return to their own country and friends. The commissioners did every thing in their power to prevail both upon the English and the French, who had been detained among the Indians, to leave them, but with little success; and “ several of them who were persuaded by the caressings of their relations to come home, in a little time grew tired of our manner
Charlevoix, Journal Historique, let. 22.
of living, and ran away to the Indians, and ended their days with them.”*
These facts, among others, may be fairly produced as forming a strong proof of the natural gentleness of the Indian character; because it cannot otherwise be supposed that the Europeans would have thus voluntarily
passed their lives among them, unless they had known from experience that-except perhaps in cases of intoxication---they had nothing to fear from Indian ferocity. While however they thus resided among them, although they met with a cordial treatment, the Indians shewed little desire to adopt their customs, or have their children educated in the European manner.
But if we are to credit the works of various writers, and particularly the Recherches Philosophiques of Monsieur de Pauw, it is useless to attempt to civilize or educate the American Indian,
· who, according to that author, is “superior to animals only from having the use of his hands and his tongue; and inferior to the meanest of the Europeans. Void of intellect, and incapable of improvement, he is only led by instinct. No idea of glory can penetrate his soul : his unpardonable debasement retains him in the slavery in which he is plunged, or in that savage state which he has not had the courage to abandon. It is almost three
* Colden's Hist. of the Five Nations, vol. i. ch. 13.
centuries since America was discovered, from which time they have not ceased to bring over to Europe American Indians, upon whom they have tried every sort of cultivation; but not one of them could ever be taught to distinguish himself in science, arts, or manufactures." * Who these Indians were, at what time brought over, how cultivated, by whom taught, and where educated, he has not noticed ; and yet the unfounded calumnies of De Pauw had, in their day, the effect of raising a general and unjust prejudice against the Indians of the Western World. “A Lie,” says the American adage, “ will travel from Maine to Georgia, while Truth is pulling on his boots ;” and so it was with the assertions of that writer, who seems, in the middle of the eighteenth century, to have been as ignorant of the true character and qualifications of the American Indian, as Francis the First was, two hundred years before. To these unfounded and illiberal charges brought against the uninstructed Indians, in the Recherches Philosophiques, the most appropriate answer may be found in the anecdote recorded by the celebrated American philosopher.
At a grand council held in 1744, between the British Commissioners from Virginia and the Indians, the former, after the principal business was finished, stated that there was a college at Williams
* Recherches Philosophiques sur les Américains, par De Pauw, vol. ii. partie v.