Saturday, July 9, 2011

JW records the slaughter of Chickasaw Indians

Sat. 9 July 1737: Meeting with a Frenchman of New Orleans on the Mississippi, who had lived several months among the Chickasaws, he gave us a full and particular account of many things which had been variously related. And hence we could not but remark what is the religion of nature, properly so called, or that religion which flows from natural reason, unassisted by revelation. And that, even in those who have the knowledge of many truths, and who converse with their beloved ones day and night. But too plainly does it appear by the fruits that ‘the gods of these heathens too are but devils’.
The substance of his account was this:
Some years past the Chickasaws and French were friends. The French were then mingled with the Natchez Indians, whom they used as slaves, till the Natchez made a general rising and took many of the French prisoners. But soon after a French army set upon them, killed many, and carried away the rest. Among those that were killed were some Chickasaws, whose death the Chickasaw nation resented; and soon after, as a French boat was going through their country, they fired into it, and killed all the men but two. The French resolved on revenge, and orders were given for many Indians and several parties of white men to rendezvous on the 26th of March, 1736, near one of the Chickasaw towns. The first party, consisting of fifty men, came thither some days before the time. They stayed there till the 24th, but none came to join them. On the 25th they were attacked by two hundred Chickasaws. The French attempted to force their way through them. Five or six and twenty did so; the rest were taken prisoners. The prisoners were sent two or three to a town to be burned. Only the commanding officer and one or two more were put to death on the place of the engagement.
I (said he) and one more were saved by the warrior who took us. The manner of burning the rest was, holding lighted canes to their arms and legs and several parts of their bodies for some time, and then for a while taking them away. They likewise stuck burning pieces of wood into their flesh all round, in which condition they kept them from morning till evening. But they commonly beat them before they burn them. I saw the priest that was with us carried to be burned; and from head to foot he was as black as your coat with the blows which they had given him.
I asked him, ‘What was their manner of life?’ He said, ‘They do nothing but eat and drink and smoke from morning till night, and in a manner from night till morning. For they rise at any hour of the night when they wake, and after eating and drinking as much as they can, go to sleep again.’ 

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