My Eurocentric perspective shames me. Working from sources that privilege the French missionaries’ side of the story, I completely skirted the truth. Which is: the Jesuits only knew about the existence of the Mississippi because they were told about it by aboriginal people, and their canoe expedition was guided and powered by their aboriginal crew, whose names are long forgotten. The contributions of Marquette and Joliet were in mapping, and having the jurisdictional authority to “claim” the territory for the French. This totally ignored the fact that First Nations people had been using the Mississippi for hundreds of years of traveling and trading.
I knew all this, of course, but I didn’t cover it in my essay. This omission is startling and significant to me. I, as always, owe a debt to my unconscious being that knows much more than my waking self, and I am grateful for the dreams that reveal themselves and guide me to greater understanding.
I may rewrite the whole essay in the future, but I have chosen to acknowledge my mistake in a separate post for now, to draw attention to how easily we can tell a story that purports to be true, but is in fact evidence of our culturally narrow and blinkered perspective. I apologize for my well-intended but blissfully ignorant approach.
|Marquette getting directions. (In so many images of European explorers, they are depicted standing in the canoes. Very tippy and potentially dangerous behaviour.)|