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Document Number: AJ-047
Author: Allouez, Jean Claude, 1620-1690?
Title: Father Allouez¿s Journey to Lake Superior, 1665-1667
Source: Kellogg, Louise P. (editor). Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917). Pages 95-137.
Pages/Illustrations: 45 / 0
Citable URL: www.americanjourneys.org/aj-047/

Author Note

The Jesuit priest Jean Claude Allouez (1620-1689) was ordained in 1655 and spent seven years in the Canadian settlements on the lower St. Lawrence before undertaking the journey described here. In the early years of the seventeen century the French had established trading posts and Jesuit missions among the Algonquian-speaking nations of the eastern Great Lakes. During the 1640s, wars with the Iroquois drove those tribes west from their traditional homelands to the forests surrounding Lake Superior, in what today is Wisconsin, Minnesota, and western Ontario. For two decades the French in Montreal and Quebec had little or no contact with their former allies. This 1665-67 journey by Father Allouez was one of the first successful trips through hostile Iroquois territory to re-establish relations between the French and the exiled Indian nations. After completing this journey, Father Allouez stayed only two days in Quebec before heading west again, on the trip described in AJ-048. He spent most of the next decade in missions at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin, before taking over the Illinois mission of Father Jacques Marquette in 1675. Allouez died in 1689 at the mission to the Miami nation on St. Joseph River in southwestern Michigan, having baptized more than 10,000 Indian converts to Christianity during his twenty-four years in the wilderness.

Father Allouez’s Journey to Lake Superior, 1665-1667

Father Allouez left Trois Riviéres, Quebec, August 8, 1665, with six Frenchmen and nearly four hundred Indians of different nations who had recently completed trading furs for French goods. They traveled the Prairie River to the Ottawa and then crossed Lake Nipissing to its outlet on Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay. They arrived at Sault Ste. Marie in September. Allouez describes the clarity of Lake Superior and the abundance of copper nodules on the lake bottom. They sailed the southern shore in September and in October established a camp on Chequamegon Bay, near modern Bayfield, Wisconsin. He describes the conflict between the Woodland Dakota (Sioux) and the Chippewa, who were contesting for access to the wild rice lakes of Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. Throughout his journey, Allouez describes his attempts to convert members of various Indian tribes to Christianity and describes the religious practices of several Native American tribes. During his two-year mission on Lake Superior he traveled to Ontario and continued attempts to convert the tribes to Christianity. Allouez also traveled to Lake Michigan where he continued his mission to convert the Potawotamie and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) at Green Bay. He returned to Sault Ste. Marie on June 3, 1667, en route to Quebec.

Allouez’s reports give some of the earliest accounts of the interior of the continent, particularly of the life and customs of the Sioux and other Indian peoples on the eastern and northern Plains. His descriptions of the landscape and natural environments are also especially detailed. But perhaps his most important contribution was an unconscious one, since his texts reveal the values, beliefs, assumptions and motives of the seventeen century. Jesuit missionaries.

Document Origins

Allouez’s account of his missionary voyage was first published in 1668 in François Le Mercier’s Relation de ce qui sest passé de plus remarquable aux missions des peres de la Compagnie de Jesus, en la Nouvelle France, les années mil six cens soixante six, & mil six cens soixante sept (Paris: Chez Sebastien Cramoisy, et Sebast. Mabre-Cramoisy, 1668). The English translation reproduced here is from Louise P. Kellogg’s Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699. (N.Y., Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917)

Other Internet and Reference Sources

For another eyewitness account of the Lake Superior region, written a few years later, see AJ-054, Duluth’s Memoir on the Sioux Country, 1678-1682.

While there is no modern full-length biography of Allouez, the most comprehensive is:
Verwyst, Chrysostom. Missionary labors of fathers Marquette, Menard and Allouez, in the Lake Superior region. (Chicago: Hoffman Brothers, 1886)

Students may find a useful introduction in the pamphlet:
Clark, James I.. Father Claude Allouez, Missionary. (Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1957)

Additional background can be found at the Virtual Museum of New France: http://www.civilization.ca/vmnf/vmnfe.asp

Other contemporary primary sources are available at Early Canadiana Online: http://www.canadiana.org/eco/english/

Translations of Allouez’s accounts are in volume L (50).The Jesuit relations and allied documents..., 1610-1791... edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites. (Cleveland: Burrows Bros. Co., 1896-1901). This has been reproduced (English pages only) online at:
http://puffin.creighton.edu/jesuit/relations/

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