The colonists of Imperial France were the first Europeans to be in a prolonged relationship with the Ahnishinahbæótjibway of Red Lake, and because of subsequent Anglo-American Indian policy, their history has become confused with ours. There were several foci of French colonization on this Continent, including Acadia, the lower Mississippi valley, and Quebec.
The Quebeçois trace their roots to Quebec City, founded in 1608, sixteen centuries after the Roman Empire's colonization of France under Julius Caesar. The French émigrés came from a land which had been invaded by the Romans, the Goths, the Huns, the Vandals, and the Moors; and which had been the embattled frontier between the land formally occupied by the Islam Caliphate of Omayyads and that of the Holy Roman Empire. French feudal nobility had been quarrelling with their cousins in England since before the turn of the millennium, forcing their subject peoples to fight in war after war. The Quebeçois came from a France which had recently been wrenched by civil war.
Although one schism in the hegemony of the Papacy began in 1517 with the theses of Martin Luther, the French who came to Quebec in the 1600's brought with them the feudal paradigm of the Holy Roman Empire, the "Catholic political philosophy [of] the idealized sociological system realized in the Christian culture of the Middle Ages."[i] The colonial leaders came with dreams of Empire rooted in the revisionist grandeur of Roman Imperialism and Charlemagne. They had visions of emulating the colonial plunder of Spain, and plans of amassing personal fortunes. The French settlements at Quebec were Roman Catholic communities platted along explicitly feudal lines.
By the time Quebec City was founded on the banks of the St. Lawrence river in 1608, French fishermen had been coming to the cod fisheries near the mouth of that river for a century, making camp on the coast to dry their fish. Three generations of French Indians: both Métis children of fishermen, and an unrecorded number of French-born fishermen already lived along the coast. Because of Aboriginal Indigenous understanding of inheritance, the Métis people at that time identified themselves as belonging to their fathers' people. French inheritance is also patrilineal, and the French administrators knew France could claim the Sovereignty of their Métis.
The economic base for the first official French colonial settlement in Quebec was the fur trade. The French used the fur trade and their rapidly expanding population of French Métis, to extend French influence throughout the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds, with the goal of dominating this Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' land under French sovereignty. After a preliminary skirmish with the English at Quebec (1629-32), the French signed a peace treaty in which England ceded their purported claim to the lower St. Lawrence River valley, setting up the terms under which the Sovereigns of these two European nations could transplant their European paradigms, and the violence which is inherent in them, across the Atlantic.
European exploitation of the resources of the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' Continent is also based on corporations operating under charters of incorporation issued by the European monarchs. Queen Elizabeth I of England chartered a corporation headed by Walter Raleigh in 1584. Seven boat loads of this corporation's colonists, in collusion with the employees of Sir Francis Drakes' similarly chartered corporation, occupied and fortified Roanoke Island. This particular location was chosen as advantageous for piracy, "allowing English corsairs to prey more easily on the [Spanish] treasure fleets [filled with stolen Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' gold], providing them a year round base in the New World [sic], and reimbursing the backers with 'King Phillippe's purse'."[ii] The piracy, pillage and plunder policies of many corporations have not changed since the days of Francis Drake; nor has their relationship with the élite from whom their Charters emanate.
King James I of England issued the Royal Charter for the Plymouth Company in 1606. The Mayflower Compact began:[iii]
In the name of God Amen! We whose names are under-written, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the faith, etc., have undertaken for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia ...
The Mayflower brought indentured-servant slave labor to Plymouth Rock as a part of the commercial ventures of the Plymouth Company. The same year, King James I granted a Royal Charter to another group of entrepreneurs, the London Company, issuing an overlapping monopoly to this corporation covering the area between Long Island and Cape Fear. In 1609, King James proclaimed another Royal Charter of Incorporation, to the entrepreneurs of the Virginia Company of London, granting this corporation license to exploit Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' land from "thirty-four degrees [Cape Fear] on the south" to "forty-five degrees [central Maine] on the North," and from "sea to sea." During the next century, all of the lands of the Aboriginal Indigenous peoples' Atlantic coastal plains had been allocated to European Corporations and individuals by the English, French, Dutch, and Spanish royalty.[iv]
Although Samuel de Champlain is regarded as the one who established Quebec City, he was working for "a nobleman and a group of merchants [from Normandy] who had secured a monopoly of the trade in furs."[v] Quebec City was augmented by Trois-Rivièrs in 1634 and Montréal in 1642, both established under Royal Charters of Incorporation issued by King Louis VIII of France. The Royal Corporations claimed the power to govern and allocate the land, retained monopoly rights to the fur trade, and were the agency through which Papal authority was applied to the settlers. The corporate organizational structure was and remains feudal. The Company appointed Seigneurs, the resident nobles, clerics and merchants who comprised the majority of the 500 settlers who migrated to the St. Lawrence Valley voluntarily.[vi] The remaining fourteen thousand people who immigrated to Quebec before the Seven Years War (1756) were indentured slaves, prisoners, military draftees and eight hundred girls euphemistically referred to as the "Kings Daughters," exported to New France by King Louis XIV in 1663.
The strife-ridden homeostasis of pre-Columbian Europe was destabilized in the 16th century by rampant inflation from the influx of gold, silver other resources stolen from this Continent, by violent competition as to which faction would gain the most from this plundered wealth, by shifts in political alignment and centralization into modern nations, and by the unforeseen effects of Aboriginal Indigenous technologies, crops--and the faintest whispers of our ideas. These, along with the shift of European feudal structures from subsistence agriculture and localized warfare, to a mercantile economic base, all created wide-ranging social disruption on the European peninsula. As is still done, the élite blamed the people who suffered. Serfs dislocated from their ancestral lands were wandering around homeless, and occasionally stealing food, it was explained, because they had "inherited criminal tendencies."
Rationalization of the burgeoning slave trade added racism to this pseudo-scientific forerunner of social Darwinism, fueled by quotes from the Bible and allegories about one of Adam's sons being White and one Black and the extra burden of original sin carried by non-Whites. The scheme of original sin was also used against Aboriginal Indigenous people. Baptism removed original sin but religious conversion also putatively removed Aboriginal Indigenous Sovereignty and claims to land by bringing the baptized under Judeo-Christian hegemony. Coerced baptisms are an affront to the ethics of any religion, and are without legal standing.
Among the groups targeted in France and Spain for involuntary transportation to the colonies were those of visibly Moorish descent. As the fur trade became more institutionalized, very short, strong French men were likely to be arrested on trumped-up charges, condemned to death, and then reprieved contingent on relocation to Quebec. Their descendants are still walking around on Red Lake Reservation, Frenchmen under five feet tall, carrying laminated Indian identification cards issued by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[vii]
Transported immigrants were shipped to the European colonies not only as forced labor, but also as disease vectors. The European policy-makers were quite well aware of the devastating effect of Eurasian epidemics,[viii] and used germ warfare without compunction as a means of annihilating Aboriginal Indigenous people. As an unnamed immigrant described the Atlantic crossing:[ix]
There is on board these ships terrible misery, stench, fumes, many kinds of seasickness, fever, dysentery, headache, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth-rot, and the like. The lice abound so frightfully, especially on sick people, that they can be scraped off the body.
Seven hundred years of war had warped French population dynamics. Although disease, labor requirements of the rapidly expanding fur trade and the frontier battles between the French and the English for control of the Continent absorbed some of the population increase (along with an uncounted number of indentured slaves who ran toward freedom), the population of the Montreal Quebeçois exploded by more than 2100% during the first century.[x] The policies of what became the French West India Company further encouraged population growth.[xi]
Families of ten or more children receive allowances from the King. [Governor of New France] Talon encourages young marriages--men from 18 years and women from 14. Bachelors are obliged to pay additional taxes.
By 1800 the white French-Canadian population was about 300,000.[xii] The population of Lislakh Métis (mostly descendants of transported French-Moorish mixed-bloods) and French-Aboriginal Métis, many of whom were categorized as Indians by this time, was not fully enumerated.
French subject peoples moved quickly to build the mercantile empire they called New France. The economic base of their colony was the fur trade. Outside of the coastal cities and their associated areas of intensive transplanted French agriculture, the French established a network of forts, missions, and trading posts extending across the territory which they claimed under their imported Roman Law. They followed the highways of the Aboriginal Indigenous people, and there were very few navigable waterways which were not used by the central corporations and their subsidiaries, who they called independent traders and coureur de bois.
There were several French fur trade establishments on Ahnishinahbæótjibway land at Red Lake by 1807. The French who worked for these trading posts occupy prominent places in the family trees of most of the Federally Recognized Red Lake and Pembina Chippewa Indians; their surnames are among the most common Chippewa Indian surnames today, and several well-known Chippewa Indian chiefs were patrilineal descendants of the French and Scottish fur traders. A historian of fur-trade voyageurs quoted one French-Canadian who:[xiii]
for twenty-four years had been a canoeman, could sing fifty songs, had saved ten lives, and had twelve wives. To him no life was 'so happy as a voyageur's life'."
Hollywood historians have given the fur trade an illusory patina of Daniel Boone mountain-man rugged individualism, or the colorful romanticized mystique of voyageurs, but the fur trade was big business for all of the European nations colonizing this Continent. The life of men in the lower social echelons of the fur trade was controlled under a system of feudal peonage, maintained by a credit structure under which the employees remained in debt to the company store, as well as by violent discipline. The Métis women were bought and sold like slaves. One of the clerks for the North West Company, stationed at Rainy Lake in 1805, wrote in his diary on May 10th:[xiv]
The Devil set off. I gave him 1/2 keg rum, & a few goods, with 45 plus that he owed me for his daughter. Jourdain arrived from the Long Sault with 20 plus. on his arrival I gave him the Devil's daughter, for 500 lb GPC [Grand Portage Currency]
The intrinsic value of the furs and collateral trade goods were enhanced through the dictates of fashion designers of the time, and in some cases by Government subsidy, for example the beaver hats of British military uniform. The Aboriginal Indigenous people were not the Indian principals of the Indian Trade, and in fact Europeans and Euro-Indians were the sole participants in most of aspects of the fur trade, including much of the trapping. Money did not mean anything to the Ahnishinahbæótjibway, and we had very little or no use for most of the European trade goods. The Ahnishinahbæótjibway were not the ones who hunted our four-legged relatives into near-extinction, to trade their skins for cheap European trinkets and rotgut rum.
The centuries of the fur trade era affected the Ahnishinahbæótjibway deeply. The ecology was profoundly altered by the decimation of beaver and other fur-bearing animals, as well as by the wasteful and destructive abuse of our permacultural food supply (particularly the fish, game, and mahnomen beds) by the migratory European fur-company engagés. There is scattered documentation of these foreigners' plunder of our winter food stores, including seed corn, as well as direct assaults on our homes and people, including such atrocities as murdering Aboriginal Indigenous people and then stealing "blood-stained furs from the corpses of [the] dead."[xv]
In 1670, Charles II of England issued a Charter to the British mercantile company which became Hudson's Bay Company, under which proxy that Corporation exercised European Sovereignty over the Hudson Bay Watershed for two centuries. (France subsequently ceded their claims to Hudson's Bay, based on European law, to England in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.) The British occupation of Hudson's Bay Territory put New France in a position of three-front war: the British-Americans to the East, the Spanish to the South, and the British Hudson's Bay Company to the North. The French eventually lost this war, and centered themselves in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick under British colonial rule as a part of the Dominion of Canada. Many of the Métis remained where they had become. Some of these Métis eventually assimilated into White society. Some maintained their identity as Métis,[xvi] and tried to assert their independence from England in rebellions led by Louis Riel in 1869-70 and 1884-85. After the Métis lost, they were treated as the occupied people they were. Métis graveyards were plowed under, using chisel plows,[xvii] records were burned,[xviii] and they have been relegated by many Anglo historians to "legends ... [in] the memory of French Canada," whose "names, for the most part, have perished."[xix] The Canadian Federation of Métis is still negotiating with the English Canadians for recognition of land claims and other rights.Many Métis were turned into Indian P.O.W.s on both sides of the 49th parallel. The French Métis who were categorized as Chippewa Indians have played a critical role in Anglo-American Indian strategies, including their use as surrogates for Ahnishinahbæótjibway in the so-called Indian treaties. These Europeans are still used as the proxies and the brokers through whom present U.S. Indian policy is applied on the Chippewa Indian Reservations. Indian is an European word and an European identity, and so it is not surprising that this would be the case. The feudal social structure of the French remains intact among the so-called Chippewa Indians on Red Lake Reservation and elsewhere.[xx]
[i].Heinrich A. Rommen, LL.D., The State in Catholic Thought, A Treatise in Political Philosophy, London, 1945, page 16.
[ii].J. Leitch Wright, Jr., Anglo-Spanish Rivalry in North America, page 28.
[iii].The Encyclopedia Americana, 1948, volume 18, page 466.
[iv].Charters were also issued by Lord Protector Cromwell.
[v].Theodore C. Blegen, Minnesota, A History of the State, 1963, Op. cit.
[vi].John B. Garver, Jr., Chief Cartographer, National Geographic Magazine, March, 1991.
[vii].Laminated plastic photo I.D. cards are issued to White-looking Indians. The "Indian card" which I returned to the United States Government, Supreme Court, was a tag board Red Lake enrollment card issued to Ahnishinahbæótjibway in an attempt by the U.S. to categorize us as Indians.
The January 17, 1994 Minneapolis Star Tribune, page 7Ex, reprinted an article by Craig Phelen of the San Antonio, Texas Express-News, who explained the Indian I.D. cards with regard to a $300 fine assessed by Alex Hasychak of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, for possession of a red-tail hawk feather of religious significance by Tomas Ramirez.
Certain American Indians may obtain permits [from the U.S. Government] to have such feathers for religious purposes, but they must be registered with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and issued an identification card. Ramirez has no permit to possess such feathers. And as far as Hasychak is concerned, that makes the case against him clear cut. Ramirez said Hasychak told him that if he doesn't have an Indian identification card, he isn't an Indian. Hasychak said he is sensitive to an individual's First Amendment rights, but for enforcement services, 'we have to defer to the Bureau of Indian Affairs'.
The majority of Indians to whom the B.I.A. issues Federal Indian identification cards are Whites or Métis who have little or no Aboriginal Indigenous ancestry.
[viii].Although Koch and Pasteur did not formally theorize the role of bacteria in disease until the 19th century, medieval Europeans and their successors were well aware of the contagiousness of disease, vide Charles L. Mee, Jr., "How a mysterious disease [the Plague] laid low Europe's masses," Smithsonian, 20:11, February, 1990, pages 71-72.
[ix].John O'Connor, Sidney Schwartz and Leslie A. Wheeler, Exploring United States History [public school textbook], page 35.
[x].John B. Garver, Jr., National Geographic Magazine, Op. cit.
[xi].Léandre Bergeron, The History of Quebec, A Patriote's Handbook, 1971.
[xii].The French Canadian population continued to double every generation into the mid-20th century.
[xiii].Theodore C. Blegen, Minnesota, a History of the State, University of Minnesota Press, 1963, page 79.
[xiv].Charles M. Gates, Editor, Five Fur Traders of the Northwest, the "Diary of Hugh Faries," 1965, page 240.
[xv].Encyclopedia Americana, volume 5, page 316, Op. cit.
[xvi].One personal Métis history is Maria Campbell's Halfbreed, University of Nebraska Press, 1973.
[xviii].Cousins et cousines, a Newsletter for members of the Northwest Territory Canadian and French Heritage Center, a section of the Minnesota Genealogical Society, Volume 12, Number 4, December, 1989, page 470.
[xix].Encyclopedia Americana, volume 5, page 319, Op. cit.
[xx].For example, Jean Hudon, who was living in Notre-Dame de Chemille, Province of Anjou, France in 1676, emigrated with his wife to Quebec shortly thereafter. One of his sons, Pierre Hudon-Beaulieu, bought a farm in Rivière Ourelle, Quebec, and in 1681 had two guns, two cattle and 10 acres under cultivation. Five generations later, his patrilineal descendant Paul moved with his brother Basile from Montreal to Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin in about 1804; managing fur trading posts there and at Rainy Lake. One of Paul's wives, who is listed in some records as Ah-was-equay, "daughter of a Chief," was a White or Métis woman whose surname was Racine. (One of the translations of this Chippewa Indian name is "woman from far away.") Their son, Bazile Hudon Beaulieu (born January 1, 1815), is listed in subsequent records as being White. The Beaulieu's remain one of the big families of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota, playing an important role in the White Indian establishment. The Minnesota Commissioner of Human Rights, chosen because he is an Indian, is a Beaulieu. The Beaulieus retain a feudal relationship with other Métis families, exploiting them as lower-class habitants. We have documented the genealogy of about 1,500 Chippewa Indian patrilineal descendants of these Beaulieus, of whom nearly 200 are enrolled as Red Lake Chippewa Indians.