In this piece, “Plan For Detroit” it is clear that the French did not have any respect or understanding of the Native Americans they had just moved next door to. Nor did they plan on it. Upon arrival, Cadillac was already making plans to uproot and change the lives of these ‘savages’ they found in this new world. He did not think that the French would have anything to learn or gain from them, but that they could learn from them. As if the Natives needed the French as they were being rescued. While it is true I’m sure some of the things the French brought helped the Natives like the education and new ways of living, a lot of things were not in their best interest of them but in the French so they could control the land before the English did.
In order to avoid war with the Iroquois, Cadillac thought it would be necessary to come up with a plan of action on what to do with the Natives and how they should be handled. Disregarding their way of life and assuming they needed change. Cadillac feared the Iroquois’s ability to be so stealth in their movements so he wanted to keep them in awe of the French and gain a control over them.
Cadillac clearly had a prejudice against the Natives, thinking of them as inadequate, savage, and barbaric. He believed thy needed the French to better their lives in every aspect. From the way they carried their days to their religion. Thinking that this was the only way to civilize them and save them. He wanted to go as far to take the children and give them a new life in the French culture, sending missionaries to their homes to teach them the religion and language.
The big plan was to first, move in soldiers. Later bringing in families to better populate the area with white French citizens. But before that could happen, Cadillac came up with an idea that they would start marrying off the Native women to the French and Canadian men he had stationed there due to the lack of female population in the new settlement. Using the women to strengthen relations between Natives and the French as he assumed the woman would be happier that way. Having a sophisticated French husband to better their life. (Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, pg 21)
One thing the French did provide to the Natives that was truly helpful was the infirmaries to take care of their sick people with French medical practices and medicines. As his motive for this was again, to only gain their friendship and not to make sure they were taken care of, I’m sure it helped a lot of live of the Natives there that may have not been helped by traditional native medicine.
In conclusion, the French’s view of the Native Americans was one that was nothing shy was disrespectful and incorrect. Not taking the time to learn anything about the people they wanted to gain control over along with their land but expecting them to conform to a French way of life. The use of woman as political pawns grew from Cadillac having his wife come to the new land to prove it was family friendly to marrying off Native woman to French and Canadian men to secure a friendship and control.
Source: The Great Water (pg20-22) “Plan for Detroit”