Plan For Detroit Letter

Cadillac had a lot of prejudices towards the Native Americans. The Iroquois were his main strategic opponents, labeling them as “savages.” Cadillac also boasts superiority both militarily and mentally over the Iroquois by confidently reassuring the recipient of the letter that if the Iroquois are not peaceful, they will be ruined irretrievably. He wants to use the Iroquois as pawns in his own game to establish and grow power by forcing Catholicism in their homes and to civilize the children of the Iroquois. Cadillac compares this idea to taking wild beasts at birth, taming them, and setting them free.

Cadillac wrote this letter as a means of giving an account of all that was done under him regarding the establishment of Detroit. However, he also wrote this as a means of sharing his plans and opinions for what Detroit should be used for. He also included what should be done about the Native American population that currently resided there. He wants to use his plans to expand his own power and control by having Canadians and Soldiers marry the Native Americans. Cadillac uses his means of persuasion through glory, both with the King and of religion, where he states that the influence of both God and the King will be extended greatly.

Gender Norms for Native Americans and Europeans were drastically different during this time. Native American women seemed to do all of the work both in the fields and around the house, sometimes even making the house by erecting tipis. Native American men had more dangerous and political assignments. They were seen as the hunters, soldiers, manufacturers of weapons, and as religious and political leaders. However, Cadillac and his men only saw the women doing all of the work, so he assumed that the women were treated terribly similarly to European customs, even though both gender roles were respected within the tribes.

Women were used as political pawns to expand influence. Women from different tribes would marry men from other tribes. Part of his plan was to not only to have that happen, but to have some women from Native American tribes marry the Canadians and Soldiers as well. This was all done on purpose to allow Cadillac to expand not only the French influence within the tribes, but also his own. He believed that if a woman, who was “savage” by birth was taught the French language as well as Catholicism, she would prefer a Frenchmen as a husband over any Native American, which would further his influence.


8 thoughts on “Plan For Detroit Letter

  1. It is very enlightening, and frightening, to realize the views of Cadillac and the French regarding their attitude toward the American Indians they sought to conquer. Rather than attempt to understand their culture and benefit from their farming and hunting experience, they chose to force their religious and economic beliefs on them.

  2. During the reading, I thought it was quite alarming to learn how little Cadillac thought of the natives he was currently facing. He casually remarked that the natives could be considered animals to train and tame them to behave more like Europeans. Given how poorly Cadillac regarded the natives to his superiors back in France, I wonder if this mindset towards natives was acceptable or tolerated.

  3. Just a thought on “Plan for Detroit letter”

    Sadly with Cadillac losing the power with the French Ministers caused him such loss of power that he did some hateful things such as prejudice toward the Native Americans especially Iroquois. One strategy with using women to make his colony bigger. To trying to force Catholicism as a religion and lying to the Natives on how his alcohol will kill the bacteria in their stomach from the fish. Instead of learning the culture of Native Americans and try to work as a team, Cadillac went about it in the wrong way. He had a lot of bitterness and hostility against the Natives.

  4. This was very well written. It saddens me to think about how the Native Americans were treated. They were forced and tricked into changing their way of life and beliefs. Cadillac was manipulative and a liar.

  5. Education does not equal superiority. I truly enjoyed reading your piece because it really showed to me the inequality and superiority that Cadillac is depicted as having. I believe that he feels that the “savages” and lacking skills, although he speaks that they are of little means, but better than the French when hunting. I believe that Cadillac thought that he could impose all of his wants upon them and they would gladly embrace the changes because they were not as educated as the “new world”. I believe this is what we call today prejudice and pieces like this show us that this has always been a problem. Thank you for writing this piece.

  6. Cadillac had devised a scheme of nine steps in which to basically infiltrate the Indian lands and tribes. He was under the false impression that the Indian women would fall for the French and Canadians as opposed to keeping the traditions of the Indians that they had lived under for so long. I agree with your observation that he was very prejudiced but he was also lacking in an understanding the Native American culture. This plan if, if instituted as written, would probably fail as the Indians had no concept of land ownership and would feel deceived by the actions of the French. I appreciated this blog very much so good job on it.

  7. Cadillac used the Native Americans and didn’t care how he did it. He manipulated the Natives and taught them his way is the right way, as if he cared about them. When in fact, he only wanted to use them for his personal gain. He didn’t think about the Natives being people only “Savages”. It is sad to think that people have these types of views about people when they don’t even try to understand their culture. Well written piece.

  8. okay here we go again, Cadillac had this grand plan for Detroit and was willing to do pretty much whatever it took to get a plan in place that most benefitted himself and his ambitions. Once again we see the use of women as pawns, lying to others, and manipulating. We see the absolute hatred manifest itself as cunning, soft deceit. I say this only because although painfully apparent to those reading the history, there were those who fell for the lies and who fell for this idiocy. If he understood a semblance of actual culture/society of women, native americans or even the french for that matter he would have been slightly more effective in his Plan For Detoit dumpster fire.

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