Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Let’s Talk About Transportation!

Historic depiction of the St. Joseph River near Niles, Michigan
But first hello, my name is Julia Tanner and I am studying the impact of the St. Joseph River as a network for transportation around the time that Fort St. Joseph would have been active, (18th century). My research partner Lana and I are invested in finding out exactly what canoes were used for what jobs. What materials made up canoes that were for the fur trade business versus fishing canoes? An example would be that most Native Americans used birch bark canoes because of how light but durable they were. They were easier to carry on the ground when covering the area of a portage. Also how did the use of portages around this area of study affect canoes and the trading business? On a larger scale did the traders who were stationed up in Montreal around this frame use rivers to connect all the way down to Fort St. Joseph? We know that the St. Joseph River was an active channel for traveling and trading, we are going to research just how active and how far reaching the river went as a transportation and trade network.

Lana and I wanted to focus on transportation because everyone overlooks rivers and waterways now in the 21st century. Rivers were the original 1-94 or 131, the highways of a past lifeways and native people and foreign settlers depended on them for surviving and for making a living. Their importance to our past should never be overlooked.

By the end of this project Lana and I hope to have a working knowledge of people who used the St. Joseph River for trade and traveling. We also plan on having contact with community members, in and around Niles to give us more personal information on the river and the uses for it, such as active canoeist and local historians. 

-Julia Tanner

1 comment:

Suzanne Boivin Sommerville said...

If you have not already read it, this may be of interest. In the details concerning the Great Peace of Montreal of 1701, the point is made that Quarante Sols, a Huron who was living among the Miami at the River St. Joseph, saw to it that canoes were available for the Miami who were traveling to the peace
conference because they did not use the canoe to any extent. This is one reference from the text of the treaty: Chichicatalo, Chief of the Miamis, spoke (my translation):

"I have obeyed you, my father, in returning eight Iroquois prisoners for you to do with them as you please. If I had had canoes, I would have brought even more. Even though I do not see here any of my [people taken prisoner] by the Iroquois, I will return those who are still with me if you wish, or I will open the doors so that they [may be able to] return themselves."
1701 Peace Treaty at Montréal, 4 August 1701
NAC, microfilm F-19, AC C11A, Correspondance, Vol. 19 (1701.
Ratification de la paix conclue entre les Français, leurs alliés et les Iroquois. Signature de chefs iroquois, outaouais, hurons, abénaquis, algonquins, sauteux, etc, sous forme de dessins représentant l'animal totémique de leur tribu. Ce document est connu sous le nom de Traité de la grande paix de Montréal de 1701.
Library and Archives Canada: MIKAN no. 3050235

See also Diane Sheppard's short article on Travel and Transportation at http://www.habitantheritage.org/native_americans/travel_and_transportation