Claude Charles Du Tisne
Claude Charles Du Tisne (also Dutisne) led the first official French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 expedition to set foot in Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 and visit the Osage
Osage Nation
The Osage Nation is a Native American Siouan-language tribe in the United States that originated in the Ohio River valley in present-day Kentucky. After years of war with invading Iroquois, the Osage migrated west of the Mississippi River to their historic lands in present-day Arkansas, Missouri,...

 and the Wichita Indians
Wichita (tribe)
The Wichita people are indigenous inhabitants of North America, who traditionally spoke the Wichita language, a Caddoan language. They have lived in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas...

 in 1719.


Du Tisne was born in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 about 1688 and came to Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 in 1705 as a soldier. He was sent to establish a fort on the Ohio River
Ohio River
The Ohio River is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River. At the confluence, the Ohio is even bigger than the Mississippi and, thus, is hydrologically the main stream of the whole river system, including the Allegheny River further upstream...

. He built up a reputation for competence and knowledge of the frontier and the Indians. In 1719 his superiors instructed him to visit the Panis or Panioussa (Wichita) and the Padoucas (Apaches) as a first step toward establishing trade with the Spanish
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 colony in New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

. He was to make friends with these Indians, then unknown except by name to the French, and ensure that they posed no problems to such trade passing through their lands. What Du Tisne did not know was that the leaders of New Mexico were opposed to any trade with the French.

The Missouria

Du Tisne and his small group of French and Indians left Kaskaskia, Illinois
Kaskaskia, Illinois
Kaskaskia is a village in Randolph County, Illinois, United States. In the 2010 census the population was 14, making it the second-smallest incorporated community in the State of Illinois in terms of population. A major French colonial town of the Illinois Country, its peak population was about...

 probably in May 1719, and journeyed by canoe up the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 to the village of the Missouria Indians near where the small town of Miami
Miami, Missouri
Miami is a city in Saline County, Missouri, United States. The population was 160 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Miami is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it is water.-Demographics:As of the census of 2000,...

 is today. The Missouria were already known to the French; they were Siouan, speaking a dialect of Chiwere, the language also of the Winnebago
The Ho-Chunk, also known as Winnebago, are a tribe of Native Americans, native to what is now Wisconsin and Illinois. There are two federally recognized Ho-Chunk tribes, the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska....

, Oto
Otoe tribe
The Otoe or Oto are a Native American people. The Otoe language, Chiwere, is part of the Siouan family and closely related to that of the related Iowa and Missouri tribes.-History:...

, and Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

. The Missouria village had 100 houses, probably the same type of large bark-covered longhouse typical of the region, and thus the population was probably more than one thousand. Du Tisne said the Missouria stayed in the village only in the spring, an indication that they probably followed the same pattern as other nearby tribes of planting crops in the spring and journeying west to hunt buffalo in the summer. Du Tisne doesn't mention the presence of horses among the Missouria, although they surely had some.

On the south side of the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 across from the Missouria was an Osage village. These were the "Little Osages" a splinter of the main group of Osage then living about 100 miles (160.9 km) away on the Osage River
Osage River
The Osage River is a tributary of the Missouri River in central Missouri in the United States. The Osage River is one of the larger rivers in Missouri. The river drains a mostly rural area of . The watershed includes an area of east-central Kansas and a large portion of west-central and central...

 and its tributaries. They had split from the main Osage tribe a few years earlier and moved to the Missouri River for unknow reasons.

The Missouria were unhappy with the French, because French traders had been bypassing them. They stopped Dutinse in his tracks, refusing to allow him and his party to proceed upriver from their village. They wanted to be the middlemen for French trade with Indians further up the river, and, especially, didn't want French guns to fall into the hands of tribes who were, or could become, their enemies. Du Tisne had to turn around and return to Kaskaskia.

The Osage

Du Tisne made a second attempt later that summer to reach the plains by land. He proceeded straight west from Kaskaskia, through the Ozarks region, and after a journey of about 250 miles (402.3 km) he reached the village of the "Great Osages." The Osage village was in Vernon County, Missouri about four miles (6 km) from the Osage River atop a ridge amidst flat rich prairies. The village location is today commemorated as a State Historical Site.

The Osage lived in longhouses. Du Tisne said the Osage had many horses "which they steal from the Pani and can be bought from them." They also had buffalo robes and deer skins to trade. Like the Missouria, the Osage had adopted the practice of the Indians of the plains border of journeying west to hunt buffalo, living in tipis during that time and leaving only the old, infirm, and small children in the village.

Du Tisne does not portray the Osage as numerous. Their village was about 100 houses and 200 warriors, numbers consistent with a population of little more than 1,000. Quite likely there were other Osage villages in the area of which Du Tinse was not aware or did not visit.

Du Tisne was impressed with the physical size of the Osage, often more than six feet tall, and well-proportioned. They wore their hair in a scalp-lock. He was less impressed with their character, "in general they are traitors who easily break their promises." Du Tisne also commented on the dual nature of Osage politics and organization, the existence of the two moities, the Hon-ga and Tsi-hzu, the multiple clans and bands, all of which produced a large number of Osage leaders, none of whom seeming to have much authority. There is little in Du Tisne's narrative to suggest that the Osage had yet reached the power and prominence they were soon to enjoy.

Like the Missouria the Osage were opposed to having Du Tisne pass through their territory to the villages of the Wichita. Most of all they worried that the French would sell the Wichita guns. Finally, after extensive negotiations in which Du Tisne resorted to threats that the French would suspend trade relations, he was allowed to continue, but he was allowed to take only three guns, trade goods, and his interpreter.

The Wichita

Finally departing with the begrudged permission of the Osage, Du Tisne journeyed on to visit the Wichita. Their two villages were four days and about 100 miles (160.9 km) away, probably on the Verdegris River near the small town of Neodosha, Kansas. Two archaeological sites near here fit the profile of Du Tisne's narrative. "All the route was through prairies and hills, full of buffalos. The land was beautiful and well-wooded." Most early visitors exulted at the beauty of the tallgrass prairie. It was an airy and open release from the darkness and menace of the Eastern forests.

Du Tisne got a hostile welcome at the Wichita village. The Osage had sent a messenger ahead of him to warn the Wichita that he intended to enslave them. The Indians raised a tomahawk twice over Du Tisne's head and threatened to decapitate him, but he persuaded them that the purpose of his visit was peaceful. As his entourage was small, the Wichita probably concluded that he was not dangerous. The concern of the Wichita was probably that Dutinse was a slave trader.

The Wichita village—Du Tisne and other Frenchmen called them "Panis," a generic term for the Caddoan people of the plains, and a word that came to also mean "slave"--had 130 houses and two hundred to two hundred and fifty warriors, thus a population of one thousand or more. Another village about three miles (5 km) away was of similar size. The Wichita in the two villages possessed about 300 horses "which they esteem greatly and with which they do not wish to part." We can guess that the Wichita, closer to the source of supply of the horses in New Mexico, were better endowed with horses at this time than the border tribes, the Osage, Kaw
Kaw (tribe)
The Kaw Nation are an American Indian people of the central Midwestern United States. The tribe known as Kaw have also been known as the "People of the South wind", "People of water", Kansa, Kaza, Kosa, and Kasa. Their tribal language is Kansa, classified as a Siouan language.The toponym "Kansas"...

, and Missouria. Du Tisne said that the Wichita, borrowing the concept from the Spanish, armored their horses with leather for war. They still used bows and arrows for both hunting and war, although they also used lances tipped with the pointed end of Spanish swords.

The chief enemies of the Wichita were the Padoucas—Plains Apache—who ventured as close as six days journey from the Wichita but lived fifteen days to the West, a distance indeterminable depending upon whether travel was by horse, on foot by hunters, or on foot with women and children. They said that the Spanish had formerly been in their village but the way to the Spanish settlements, more than a month of travel away, was barred to them by the Padouca.

The Wichita war with the Padoucas seems to have been continuous and Du Tisne says that both sides practiced ritual cannibalism
Cannibalism is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy...

 which seems to have been a feature of Wichita culture, as was perhaps an occasional human sacrifice. Both tribes seem to have fought for slaves and horses. Wichita slaves were traded in Santa Fe by the Apaches for horses; Padouca slaves were traded by the Wichita to the Osage and others for European trade goods. The Wichita had only six guns in their villages as the Osages and other eastern tribes were leery of trading them guns. Du Tisne traded the Wichita three guns, powder, pickaxes, and knives for two horses and a mule with a Spanish brand. In the course of his life the mule had been stolen or traded eastward six hundred miles from the Spanish colonies.

When Du Tisne proposed to continue his journey by visiting the Padouca villages to the west, the Wichita objected and he had neither the men or arms to force the issue. However, he concluded an agreement for trade with the Wichitas, stating that they could be pacified easily by giving them a few guns and other presents. He also was optimistic that the Padouca could later be visited and that peace between the Wichita and Padouca could be achieved, thus opening up the trade route to New Mexico.

The Wichita visited by Du Tinse were probably the sub-tribe later called Taovayas, but unless there were many more of them nearby, their villages, with a total population of perhaps 3,000, seem only a remnant of the numerous Wichita Coronado and Onate
Juan de Oñate
Don Juan de Oñate y Salazar was a Spanish explorer, colonial governor of the New Spain province of New Mexico, and founder of various settlements in the present day Southwest of the United States.-Biography:...

 had met more than a century earlier. They had probably been affected by European diseases.

Later life

After this expedition, Du Tisne continued to work on the frontier, becoming a Captain and commander of Fort de Chartes in Illinois. He died in 1730 of a wound he received from a Meskwaki
The Meskwaki are a Native American people often known to outsiders as the Fox tribe. They have often been closely linked to the Sauk people. In their own language, the Meskwaki call themselves Meshkwahkihaki, which means "the Red-Earths." Historically their homelands were in the Great Lakes region...

or Fox Indian.
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