French Taking Over


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”

5 thoughts on “French Taking Over

  1. Cadillac had a whole “scheme” planned from the start. It seems like a well thought-out and organized plan of action based on his letter written with references to time in years after the post being made. Readers today can easily see his plan: appear friendly to the Indians but overtake them and turn them to the French ways.

    Basically, what he has here appears to be less-threatening way of gaining control of the Indians rather than fighting with them. His plan is to use people to change people and force French culture onto them. Missionaries will go into homes and teach language and religion. French and Canadian men will marry the women savages to eventually eliminate their bloodline.

  2. Cadillac’s plan was to basically destroy the tribe from the inside out. Gain their trust and slowly remove the only thing helping to grow the tribes size, the women. Without the women of the tribe giving birth to Indian children the tribe would eventually fall apart. He did this by introducing the women to the French way of life and making the Native American men seem weak and undesirable. Its basic divide and conquer mentality. Ultimately it was a very well thought out plan executed strategically to avoid fighting and death.

    Well wrote!

  3. Desirae,

    I like that you used the phrase “better their lives.” The French truly did believe the Native American’s had a lot to learn from them but it very well could have been the other way around. I enjoyed that you did not ignore the positive aspects of life the French brought with them, such as infirmaries, though it does not make up for the terrible things they did. Do you think marrying the Native American women off to French men could have been a way to expand the “white” population?

    Excellent post,
    Monica B

  4. It’s important to note how the French immediately looked down upon these new people and this new culture. They did not make any attempt to get to know them, or understand them. They simply decided that the Iroquois needed to be eradicated or that they could be bettered by being “saved” by the French. It’s interesting how the French wanted to spread their religion, and it’s almost as if they too viewed themselves as saviors of some kind, delusioned into believing that their arrival would be the best possible thing for these people.

  5. The French did believe that their way of life was much better and should be adopted by the natives. They “moved in next door” with the mentality to take control and force the natives to convert to a french lifestyle. Some of the aspects of the French lifestyles were better for the Native Americans but not all. Cadillac had thought it out very carefully and devised an effective plan of diffusion of culture. This is a very well written post and thank you for sharing!
    Josh Waldie

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