The Black Robe Essay, Research Paper
My father, the chief of our village, made a deal with the Frenchman, Samuel de Champlain, the chief of his people. My father accepted pots and axes and food in exchange for taking two frenchmen to the Huron Indians. One man, named Father la Forge, was a priest, we called him Blackrobe because he wore a black robe. The other frenchman was a young man who wanted to be a priest. He knew our language almost as good as we did. His name was Daniel. This letter is reflective of all that has happened to our people and all people like us. My name is Annuka. My father is the Chief of our tribe. We are one tribe of many in the Algonquin peoples. I hope this letter will help people to understand the need for our differences and the acceptance of all those differences in each and every one of us. It is my hope and desire that we should all find peace within ourselves and understand our dreams as gifts from our Gods so that we may be openly guided down life’s pathways and obstacles. I will begin my story as our journey began to help the Blackrobe and his friend reach the Huron Indians and the other Blackrobes. We got up early this morning to begin our long journey to the Hurons. The trip was very peaceful and long this day. Blackrobe surprised and impressed our people as they worked as hard as we did. Blackrobe and Daniel paddled strongly along side our men. But Blackrobe has a lot to learn about the forest. He does not understand that it is our home and we have but to listen and it will speak to us and guide us. It is where we find our food and worship our Gods. It is where we play and eat. The forest protects us from danger, letting us know when it is near. He has much to learn. The men in our tribe do not trust Blackrobe. They feel he is a demon who does not know women. He is only half a person because of that. And why does he pray out loud and beat himself? During our trip my father keeps having this dream. He talks to the men and then seeks the interpretation of Mestigoit, the Shaman from the Montagnais Tribe who then travels with us. In his dream a raven comes and eats out his eyes. He sees the Blackrobe but he is cold and alone. My father sees this beautiful place where he feels as though he will die. Mestigoit does not like the Blackrobe. He thinks he is the reason my father will die. The Blackrobe is lost and helpless without us. He is vulnerable, yet he is demanding. Daniel and I fall in love but we can not tell anyone. We hide our time together because we don’t want to dishonor our fathers. But one night Blackrobe does see us. Then he prays and beats himself. Daniel and he talk. Blackrobe, “Come pray forgiveness to God for our sins!” Daniel, “I have no sin to confess.” Blackrobe, “I thought you wanted to become a priest?” Daniel, “I did once, but not anymore. These people are the true Christians. They live for each other, they forgive each other for things that the French cannot.” Blackrobe, “I am afraid of this country.” Daniel, ” They believe that the souls of men hunt the souls of animals. Is it harder to believe that we sit on clouds and look at God?” My people believe that Balckrobe is of the devil. He is evil according to Mestigoit. He wants to kill him before he kills or causes the death of my father. Mestigoit tries to show my father and the others by watching Blackrobe in the forest. Blackrobe took our dead baby and chanted and performed some type of ritual on his forehead. The Shaman believes that Blackrobe stole the baby’s soul. My father knew that he was caring for the baby, but it was hard to know for sure. We decided to leave them behind, even though my father was not happy about it. My father honors his word and he told Champlain that he would deliver them to the Hurons. He took axes and food and pots in trade to do that. Daniel would not stay behind. He loved me and wanted to be with me. He was very angry with Blackrobe, you could see it in his face. Daniel followed us to the trail of the high ground. We were going to our winter home to hunt moose for food and clothing and shelter. Another reason no one trusts Blackrobe is because he took our words and put them on this paper. No one could understand what it was. But then again, nothing he did made any sense to my father. I think what made him mad was when Blackrobe demanded paddlers for the rest of his trip. We traveled 1500 miles, paddling 12 hours a day. This was enough. But my father made a promise so back we went. We had to pick up Blackrobe before the Indians killed him. Little did we know we were headed into danger and death ourselves. We left the high ground with my brother, myself, my mother and father along with a few of our men to get Blackrobe. The winter hunting ground will have to wait.
We were ambushed by a tribe of Hurons. There was no escape. I was frozen in time when I saw my mother killed where she stood. The arrow went straight through her neck. All I could do was grab my brother and lie over him to protect him. My father took an arrow in his side as he put himself over both of us. I watched Blackrobe take my mother’s spirit. I also saw Daniel shoot the gun and kill 2 Huron Indians, but we were still captured. They tied us up and made us walk to their village where we were thrown down a gauntlet and beaten. All I could think about was my father now and my brother. I held him close to me as I watched my father, Blackrobe and Daniel be stripped of their clothes as they stand there in front of all the people. Then Blackrobe was taken and a Huron cut off part of his finger with a seashell. “Please don’t hurt my father or Daniel”, I prayed to my Gods. Then my father began to chant and Blackrobe and Daniel began to sing. Just as I thought it was over they grabbed my brother from my arms and in front of us all grabbed his hair and cut his head off. It all happened so fast. I will never forget his face. It is forever etched into my heart. We were tied up and taken to a place to sleep. A guard watched over us. I knew as my father did that we were going to die if we didn’t get out of there. I didn’t want my father to die in this place. They would do something horrible to him. They said they would peel off his skin while he was alive and make him scream. I could not watch this. It was certain that we would all die so as they slept I took the chance and crawled to the guard. He took my advances and untied me. I had to give myself to him to save us all. It was hard thing for me, but nothing compares to death. I saw a large stick and hit him as hard as I could. He passed out and we were able to escape. I did not want to take Blackrobe. I wanted him to stay behind because he is the cause of all of this. But my father said no. My father was dying and the arrow was still piercing his side. If we took it out it would have killed him. We traveled along the edge of the river for 2 days when we put ourselves to land. Then there it was. My father’s vision His dream He knew that he had reached the place that he would die. We walked with him. As I lay him down he was saddened. He felt he had not been brave in his life. He felt that if he had only known that this was the day of his death, he would have been much braver. He felt he had been as greedy as the white man, but he was not. He was very brave and he made us all proud. “I do not wish to dream, father.” “Without dreams – how do you see the way ahead? You must dream, my daughter! This world is a cruel place but it is the sunlight!” “Go, my daughter. The She-Manitou is waiting for you! Before you go – in my dream – the Blackrobe walks alone.” We left my father to die in peace. Blackrobe walked toward my father but I did not trust him! “Leave my father to die in peace! Don’t touch him, don’t take his spirit! We must go now.” We canoed for days back to land in the direction of the Huron Village. I told Blackrobe what direction it was to the Hurons. Daniel didn’t want to leave him. I told him, “A dream is real, it must be obeyed. He must go alone.” Blackrobe told him we had lost everything because of them and Daniel must go with me. Blackrobe made a curious comment as we walked away. He said, “If dreams are the real world – this one is an illusion. No names – be silent. The dead talk at night. God bless you both”, and he left. We never saw him again. I heard tell that when he did arrive at the Huron Village that the Indians had killed one of the blackrobes and the other died soon after Blackrobe arrived. The death that was brought by the blackrobes was feared to be a sign from their gods as if their gods were the most powerful and were killing our peoples if they did not become baptized and convert. I heard that Blackrobe buried and burned the dead and baptized the rest of the Hurons. Daniel and I found our place and we were accepted by my people. I don’t understand why people “can’t just get along”! I don’t understand why people can’t accept each other for their differences. I believe that sometime in the future there will come a day when all people will be united as one. I don’t want our children to grow up in a time of prejudice and misunderstanding, but I fear they will. All we can do is make a change one person and one day at a time.