Anue stands as he speaks. The leader of the Cord People, he is a lean man with both sides of his skull shaved clean, his face painted ochre and crimson.
He holds aloft a bundle wrapped in deerskin. “I tell you this. Our enemies the Hadenosaunee have already made an alliance. Not with the French, but the other strangers.They bring countless new things, many of which are useful. Axes such as the one I showed you. Bowls of a liquid stone that does not burn. The English and the French are enemies, so it is natural that the French become our friends. I have spoken to their chief who has made a village on the Great Water, Champlain. He fought with me against the Hadenosaunee. He does not speak our tongue, but one of the Crows with him did.”
“I heard they are sorcerers,” says Tsayanehn, an older warrior with one eye.
This is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress L’Incarnation, which is largely set in New France in the mid 1600s. In this scene, a delegation of the Wendat Cord People has come to the council lodge of the Wendat Deer People to persuade them to take one of the French Jesuit missionaries into their village. The French leader Samuel d’Champlain made the inclusion of the Jesuits a condition of trade, so most villages reluctantly took them in despite many misgivings. Over the course of eighty years these missionaries produced an extraordinary record of life among these native peoples. Often extremely judgmental, The Jesuit Relations nonetheless accurately convey many details of a culture that had all but vanished by the mid-1700s.