Jamie Eaves Paper #1 Feb. 18, 2013 4. 2 Superior Council of Louisiana, Excerpts from Debates on Whether to Intervene in a Choctaw-Chickasaw War (1723) In 1723, the council of the early French Louisiana met to make a decision on whether to intervene in a war that was being fought between two of the Native American tribes, the Choctaws and the Chickasaws. This document contains six excerpts from their discussions over the matter and their decision to let the war between the two tribes continue.
Three reasons for this decision are promises that were made to the Choctaws, the fear that both tribes might turn against the colony, and that the colony could not compete against the English trade. The decision of the Council of French Louisiana was correct to not intervene and let the war continue between the Choctaws and Chickasaws. Sieur de Bienville was the first of the council to discuss the matter and brought up the three reasons as to why they should let the war continue.
The first topic that Bienville discussed was the promise that they had made to their friends and allies, the Choctaws that they would not listen to proposals of peace with the Chickasaws. The alliance with the Choctaws is one of great importance. In our text book it explains how in 1711, the colony’s governor declared that the Choctaw were “the key to this country”. The book continued to describe how the arrival of the French was also beneficial to the Choctaws. Since the Choctaws lived farther from the English and Spanish sources of imported goods than most of their enemies, they became frequent targets of the Chickasaw.
The alliance with the French meant that they would receive essentials such as clothes and weapons to help protect them. This is important because it shows how important the alliance between the two are and how it effects eachother. The second topic that was discussed by the council was that if they decided to step in and intervene in the war that both sides might decide to rise against them. The colonist feared that taking on the decision to step in might infuriate one of the tribes and that they might ban together and fight the colonist.
In Bienville’s discussion he said “It consists of danger that there would be in seeing these two large and numerous nations agitated, and we should have to fear that they might combine against us and in that case the mischief would be beyond remedy. ” Another one of the council men, Le Blond de La Tour, stated “it is to be hoped for the welfare of the colony that all these strong nations may on after another become aroused against each other in order that their destruction may make it impossible for them to unite against us as might happen sooner or later”.
This shows how fearful they are of the Natives and that they need to stay at peace with both tribes. The third point that Bienville discussed was that if they decide to intervene and create peace between the Choctaw and Chickasaw that they will then have to compete with the English trade. Bienville stated in the document that “it is impossible for us to do this, because in addition to the fact that we never have enough merchandise, the English furthermore trade for their peltries at a rate far higher than that at which the French receive them”.
They understood the fact that they could not compete with the English trade and continued to explain how this could later cause for their loss of business with the Choctaws. Later in his discussion, Bienville explains “this would doubtless produce discontentment among these Indians and we should see ourselves every day on the verge of some rupture, and it is even to be feared that if we are still unable to establish at the Choctaws the small warehouse that the Commissaries order in order to supply that nation with the things it needs, they will abandon us”.
This is important to them because if they lose trade deals with the Choctaws, that their colony has the possibility of collapsing or being taken over. After reading and covering these topics in class, it was clear that the choice made by the Council to let the war continue was a wise decision. The Choctaw tribe was a major part of their survival and to go against them could result in negative consequences for the colony. However, they discussed returning the Chickasaw captives back to the tribe in hopes of keeping peace with them. This decision was also a wise decision on behave of the colony.
It shows that they do support the Chickasaws and do not seek war from them and may help keep them civil even though the colonist decided to continue the war. Bienville’s reasons of keeping the promise mad to the Choctaws, their fear that both sides might rise against them, and the realization of the competition of English trade reinstated the fact that they should allow for the war to continue and to not intervene. This was the best option because it kept the colony out of the feud and kept them neutral with both sides. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. (Schaller, Schulzinger and Bezis-Selfa) American Horizons