tienne Brl
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tienne Brl
tienne Brl
To explore the interior of the continent, Samuel de Champlain needed the help of the natives.
At Champlain's bidding, tienne Brl went to live among the Huron in the winter of 1609-10. (As portrayed by Frdric Tremblay in Canada: A People's History)
At Champlain's bidding, tienne Brl went to live among the Huron in the winter of 1609-10. (As portrayed by Frdric Tremblay in Canada: A People's History)
In order to reach Huronia, one had to learn how to travel along the vast network of rivers and lakes. The Hurons, the Montagnais, the Crees, and the Naskapis knew this huge network by heart.

By collecting information furnished by each of these peoples, and by completing the missing pieces from each of his expeditions, he put together a gigantic geographic puzzle and gave France control of the important strategic waterways; the St. Lawrence, the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi and thus, supremacy in North America.

To gather this knowledge from the natives, Samuel de Champlain decided to send on a mission one Etienne Brûlé whom Champlain referred to as "my boy", and who was also one of the eight survivors of the winter of 1608.
tienne Brl persuaded the Huron to bring their beaver skins to the trading post at Quebec each spring. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
tienne Brl persuaded the Huron to bring their beaver skins to the trading post at Quebec each spring. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
He was one of those who were called truchements, a word from the language of the time, which meant translator but which, by the way the French used it then, also meant ambassador and ethnologist.

Champlain sent him to live among the Hurons, in exchange for one of theirs. This was also part of the alliance.

All alone, among a foreign people, Etienne Brûlé had to learn their language, their traditions, and come to know their lands: "I was forced to remain and to pass all the winter, waiting for company and escort. I took this opportunity to explore the country and to visit neighbouring tribes."

More importantly still, he had to persuade the Hurons to bring their beaver skins to the trading post at Quebec each spring:

"After having spent some time with these savages, I determined to withdraw to our settlement.
tienne Brl was tortured and killed by the Huron possibly as revenge for trading with their longtime enemy the Iroquois. (As portrayed by Frdric Tremblay in Canada: A People's History)
tienne Brl was tortured and killed by the Huron possibly as revenge for trading with their longtime enemy the Iroquois. (As portrayed by Frdric Tremblay in Canada: A People's History)
And taking leave of them, I promised to return to them as soon as I could", wrote Etienne Brûlé.

Champlain recounted the return of his "boy":

"On the thirteenth day of June, two hundred savages brought Etienne Brûlé back, who arrived dressed as a savage. He was pleased with the treatment he had received. He explained to me everything he had seen over the winter and what he had learned from them. He had learned their language well."

Half savage, half French, he was the first of Champlain's truchements and was soon joined by others: François Marguerie, Duvernay, Desmarets, Jean Nicollet, and Nicolas Marsolet.

Etienne Brûlé's tale however had a tragic end.
In 1634, he made the fatal mistake of trading with the Iroquois. The Huron were furious and tortured, killed and ate him. Fearing Champlain's reaction to the death of his "boy", they did not come down to Quebec to trade. The old captain sent word that they had nothing to fear.

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Converting the natives in Huronia
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The Virtual Museum of New France - tienne Brl

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The Virtual Museum of New France - Northeastern Iroquoians

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