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Eloquence EmbodiedNonverbal Communication among French and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas$
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Céline Carayon

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469652627

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652627.001.0001

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“Many Friendly Signs”

“Many Friendly Signs”

French-Indian Communication during Sixteenth-Century Encounters

(p.161) 3 “Many Friendly Signs”
Eloquence Embodied

Céline Carayon

University of North Carolina Press

In early America, French and Indians communicated more by doing than saying. This chapter focuses on sixteenth-century encounters and the signs that mediated them, as foundational in shaping lasting mutual perceptions and expectations among the groups in colonial America. While acknowledging misunderstandings and language barriers, most early French visitors to the New World reported adequate successes in communicating and obtaining desired information through alternate media. This chapter compares Jacques Cartier’s encounters with the peoples of the Saint Lawrence Valley in Canada with the experience of French Huguenots who founded Charlesfort and Fort Caroline among the Timucua of Florida. Within each section, colonial narratives and visual sources are critically revisited to reconstruct Indigenous practices and meanings and understand the role of touch, place, and gestures in diplomacy and spiritual exchanges. A more complicated understanding of these early communications and Indian expressions of “joy” emerges. The chapter concludes with a look at how different Indigenous signs encountered across the Americas were selected and homogenized by Marc Lescarbot in his Histoire de la Nouvelle France (1609) to provide a conceptual and practical foundation for the budding French empire.

Keywords:   Jacques Cartier, Saint Lawrence, Huguenots, Florida, Fort Caroline, Timucua, Marc Lescarbot, Joy, Touch, French empire

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