Not the Cadillac you’re thinking of, Detroit.

There are many symbols of racism through out this piece. Cadillac refers to the Native Americans as “savages” at multipole points throughout this letter. This tells is that he thought the French were more important/civilized. He also says he would like to “teach the young savages the French language, that being the only way to civilize and humanize them” (Thick 21). This is telling us that the French believed they were superior to the native Americans, and the only way to make them true humans was by showing them their language and religion.

The purpose of this piece was to inform an unknown person of the establishments that have taken place in Detroit. Also, to place importance on the fact that it is a very valuable location. Says that the Native Americans are only strong because the French are far.

As we all know women were not an equal part of society in these days. While this piece does not directly come out and tell us anything about gender norms we can see parts where it refers to “men” rather than “people” and women were not mentioned, except in the case of marriage. This seems applicable to both Europeans and Native Americans.

Women in this piece were used as a sort of “political prize.” He says, “the soldiers and Canadians will marry the savage maidens” (Thick 22). After this he continues on to say that this will only be after they have been taught the French language and religion. This makes it seems as though the Native American women would be a sort of reward in the end.

Attached I have included a plaque reading “Here lived Antoine Laumet De Lamothe, founder of detroit…” which can be found in Old Montreal. This is significant to me because I have seen this in person and Old Montreal is where I am originally from.

Image result for Antoine Laumet de la Mothe


Thick, Matthew R. The Great Water: a Documentary History of Michigan. Michigan State University Press, 2018.


7 thoughts on “Not the Cadillac you’re thinking of, Detroit.

  1. Cadillac makes his objective clear when he refers to his plan as a “scheme.” And scheming is what his plan is all about. He feels the Native Americans are inferior to him and to the white men he plans on bringing along with him. He plans on trying to make it impossible for the “savages,” as he calls them, to refuse his plan. And he will use whomever he needs to use so he can get what he wants. And the best thing about the whole plan is that he tries to justify his actions by making it seem like he is doing the Native Americans a big favor. With regards to marrying off the Indian women to the Frenchmen, he says that they would “always prefer a Frenchman for a husband to any savage…” What an awesome guy, he’ll take your women, take your land, make you change your religion, and he expects you to thank him when he’s done!

  2. Thanks for attaching the photo of the plaque, very interesting.

    It’s interesting when you look at Europeans describing the “savage” Natives, or the “savage” Africans, or the “savage” Asians, etc. That sort of language is rarely applied to enemies that happen to be European, regardless of how hated they are. The English and French cultures were different in many ways, language certainly included, but they’re still regarded as humans. This is a pretty common theme (think about how different anti-German propaganda art looked in WWII as opposed to the terrifying way Japanese were depicted in anti-Japanese propaganda art). The easiest way to justify bigotry is to de-humanize the “enemy” and make them the “other”.

  3. I interpreted the wives as more of trophies or a prize for being French, but never in a political sense. I also never thought deeply about his use of savage and how he uses it separate them in every way possible beyond their race and culture but where they are on a scale of civility. Very great points! Also, I love that you included that photo and made the history more tangible through your image.

  4. This was an interesting read for sure. I enjoyed reading your point of view on the subject. It helped me better understand some points that were blurry. I like how you mention how the “gender norms” weren’t clearly stated, I noticed that myself. Women were mentioned as an object so to say and men weren’t even referred to as people. It is also quite interesting that you are from Old Montreal!

  5. I, like you, noticed how he referred to the natives as “savages” it dehumanizes them and groups them so they are placed differently than the French. It is also very important to see how women are treated in that time, they were used as prices and trade and a sign of class. they aren’t referred to as anything important, or even people. its also astonishing that he made them change their religion so that they all had the same beliefs. I think he used that as a way of control.

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