We embarked next morning with our interpreter, preceded by ten Indians in a canoe. Having arrived about half a league from Akamsea (Arkansas), we saw two canoes coming [p. 47] toward us. The commander was standing up holding in his hand the calumet, with which he made signs according to the custom of the country; he approached us, singing quite agreeably, and invited us to smoke, after which he presented us some sagamity and bread made of Indian corn, of which we ate a little. He now took the lead, making us signs to follow slowly. Meanwhile they had prepared us a place under the war-chiefs' scaffold; it was neat and carpeted with fine rush mats, on which they made us sit down, having around us immediately the sachems, then the braves, and last of all, the people in crowds. We fortunately found among them a young man who understood Ilinois much better than the interpreter whom we had brought from Mitchigamea. By means of him I first spoke to the assembly by the ordinary presents; they admired what I told them of God, and the mysteries of our holy faith, and showed a great desire to keep me with them to instruct them.
We then asked them what they knew of the sea; they replied that we were only ten days' journey from it (we could have made this distance in five days); that they did not know the nations who inhabited it, because their enemies prevented their commerce with those Europeans; that the hatchets, knives, and beads, which we saw, were sold them, partly by the nations to the east, and partly by an Ilinois town four days' journey to the west; that the Indians with fire-arms whom we had met, were their enemies who cut off their passage to the sea, and prevented their making the acquaintance of the Europeans, or having any commerce with them; that, besides, we should expose ourselves greatly by passing on, in consequence of the continual war-parties that their enemies sent out on the river; since being armed and used to war, we [p. 48] could not, without evident danger, advance on that river which they constantly occupy.
During this converse, they kept continually bringing us in wooden dishes of sagamity, Indian corn whole, or pieces of dog-flesh; the whole day was spent in feasting.