By Jennifer Jensen Wallach, Lindsey R. Swindall
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Extra info for American Appetites: A Documentary Reader
Sickelmore upon the confidence of Powhatan, with about thirtie others as carelesse as himselfe, were all slaine, onely Jeffrey Shortridge escaped, and Pokahontas the Kings daughter saved a boy called Henry Spilman, that lived many yeeres after, by her meanes, amongst the Patawomekes. Powhatan still as he found meanes, cut off their Boats, denied them trade, so that Captaine West set saile for England. Now we all found the losse of Captaine Smith, yea his greatest maligners could now curse his losse: as for corne, provision and contribution from the Salvages, we had nothing but mortall wounds, with clubs and arrowes; as for our Hogs, Hens, Goats, Sheepe, Horse, or what lived, our commanders, officers & Salvages daily consumed them, some small proportions sometimes we tasted, till all was devoured; then swords, armes, pieces, or any thing, wee traded with the Salvages, whose cruell fingers were so oft imbrewed in our blouds, that what by their crueltie, our Governours indiscretion, and the losse of our ships, of five hundred within six moneths after Captaine Smiths departure, there remained not past sixtie men, women and children, most miserable and poore creatures; and those were preserved for the most part, by roots, herbes, acornes, walnuts, berries, now and then a little fish: they that had startch in these extremities, made no small use of it; yea, even the very skinnes of our horses.
He established a plantation near present-day Natchez, Mississippi, where he grew tobacco, exploiting the labor of enslaved Africans and an enslaved Chitimacha woman. Le Page du Pratz traveled widely in the area, often guided by local Natchez Indians, whose language he learned. He recorded detailed observations about the local flora and fauna. In this passage he describes how maize and other local crops were cultivated and consumed by the Natchez. He also gives insights into the culinary transformation taking place during this period with his description of the cultivation of food crops such as wheat and rice, which were introduced into the region by Europeans.
What will it avail you to take that perforce, you may quietly have with love, or to destroy them that provide you food? What can you get by war, when we can hide our provision and flie to the woods, whereby you must famish, by wronging us your friends? And why are you thus jealous of our loves, seeing us unarmed, and both doe, and are willing still to feed you with that you cannot get but by our labors? Think you I am so simple not to know it is better to eat good meat, lie well, and sleep quietly with my women and children, laugh, and be merry with you, have copper, hatchets, or what I want being your friend; then bee forced to fly from all, to lie cold in the woods, feed upon acorns roots and such trash, and be so hunted by you that I can neither rest eat nor sleep, but my tired men must watch, and if a twig but break, every one cry, there comes Captain Smith: then must I fly I know not whether and thus with miserable fear end my miserable life, leaving my pleasures to such youths as you, which, through your rash unadvisedness, may quickly as miserably end, for want of that you never know how to find?