It is October 1700’s, in The Great Water, “Plan for Detroit”, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac is addressing an unknown source giving him an account on all that he has done thus far with the establishment of Detroit. The unnamed source is his employer, Cadillac giving him a summary of his plan (to an extent) to eradicate the Native Americans that he views as weak and barbaric. Cadillac also views Native Americans as “savages”. Currently, the post had a lack of French women. He has a plan to use Native American women as pawns to rid the Native Americans while making the Native men feel less like masculine (Thick 20).
Cadillac then “instills” into the minds and hearts of the Native American women the “law of religion”, here women were used as political pawns. His plan was to use female “savages” by letting the soldiers and Canadians marry them because “they always prefer a Frenchman for a husband to any savage”. He would then educate the “young savages” on the French language. This would be the only way to “civilize and humanize” them. They would use the Native American women to populate the post, due to the lack of women at that time in the “new world” so to say. It would also cause the children to have mixed bloodlines and would ween out the Native American bloodlines (Thick 20).
At this point he is suggesting that Native women should be taken from their homes and married off to French men. Therefore, trying to make the Native men look weak. “When we are the neighbors of that tribe and are within easy reach of them, they will be kept in awe.” Here Cadillac is talking low about the Indians, expressing how he had more power over them and how they were naïve to think nothing more of than being savages. Cadillac states how unless the Indians want to ruin themselves irretrievably, then they would be an easy push over (Thick 21, 22).
To conclude, in this piece there are many gender norms at stake. The European gender norms were changing. For women it was taking care of the children and sewing and men working to sustain them. As the French moved across the sea, they would all be taking part in the establishment of this post. Eradicating the Native American tribes was a process that Cadillac wrote out in detail just to establish this post. His whole plan was to win over the Native American’s trust, so that in the end, he could get rid of them (DHS p.2).
- Matthew R. Thick: The Great Water, “Plan for Detroit”. Pg 20-23.
- The Detroit Historical Society. https://detroithistorical.org/learn/encyclopedia-of-detroit/cadillac-madame-marie