1850 Charlevoix's view on Native American Culture

Lake Superior Journal

Excerpt from Voyage from Detroit to Michillimackinac 1721

June 20, 1850

In crossing Lake St. Claire, I had in my Canoe a young savage, strong and vigorous, and on the strength of whose arms I much depended, in granting him the passage, which he asked of me; but he gave me little assistance. In Recompense he diverted me much, till a storm, which rose over our heads, began to make me uneasy. This young man had been at his toilet before he embarked, and he did not give three strokes with his oar, but he took his looking glass to see if the motion of his arms had not disordered the dreaming of his hair; or if the scent had not altered the figures he had drawn on his face with red.

I know not whether he did not hope to arrive at the Village of Missisaguez before night, to be present at some feast, but we could not go so far. The storm began just as we got to an island at end of the traverse of the lake, and we were force to stay there. The young savage however did not appear to be much disconcerted at their disappointment, for these people are easily reconciled to ever accident: Perhaps also he intended to show himself to us in all his finery; but if this was his design he lost is labour, I had seen him a few days before in his natural appearance, and liked him much better than with this odd mixture of colours, which had cost him so much pains. We see few women paint their faces here, but the men, and especially the younger ones, are very curious in this ornament: There are some who employ half a day in painting themselves in this manner to go from door to door to be looked at, and who return mightily satisfied with themselves, though nobody ha said a word to them.