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Document Number: AJ-054
Author: Duluth, Daniel Greysolon, sieur, 1636-1710
Title: Memoir on the Sioux Country, 1678-1682
Source: Kellogg, Louise P. (editor). Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917). Pages 325-334.
Pages/Illustrations: 12 / 0
Citable URL:

Author Note

Daniel Graysolon Duluth, born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France in 1636, was an aristocrat who joined the French army at the age of twenty. Rising by family station as an officer in the elite King’s Guard at twenty-eight years old, he fought the Dutch and traveled twice to the New World before he turned forty. From his garden in Montreal he resolved to explore the western Great Lakes, where he turned his mix of charm and domination toward the Sioux. The Dakota of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota were then in the midst of a long-term war against the Ojibwa or Chippewa Indians, who claimed divine manifest over the wild rice lakes that traditionally sustained the Dakota.

Duluth’s Expedition in the Dakota Sioux Country, 1678-1682

In September 1678, Duluth led seven Frenchmen and three Indians through the Great Lakes to explore the rich fur-bearing regions north and west of Lake Superior. In the following summer of 1679, he formed alliances with and arranged peace between the Sioux in northern Minnesota and the Assiniboin around Winnipeg, ensuring that their furs would flow to the French at Lake Superior rather than to the English at Hudson Bay. In June of 1680 he rescued the Recollect priest Louis Hennepin, who had been captured by the Sioux on the upper Mississippi (for Hennepin’s story, see AJ-124a and AJ-124b). He returned to the settlements on the St. Lawrence only to be caught in a web of intrigue among petty bureaucrats. He was accused of illegal trading and then jailed. After his release, Duluth continued to serve the French in Canada, building a fort near present-day Detroit in 1687, helping to lead an attack on the English with Nicolas Perrot (see AJ-046), and commanding Fort Frontenac on Lake Ontario in 1696. He died in Montreal in 1710.

Document Note

This document, a memoir addressed to the French minister of marine in 1685, is Duluth’s attempt to refute the charge of illegal trading. The manuscript was first discovered and printed in 1872 and translated into English in 1880. The version presented here first appeared in Louise P. Kellogg’s Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1917.)

Other Internet and Reference Sources

Biographical information as well as maps can be found at the Virtual Museum of New France, at

Many other contemporary primary sources are available at Early Canadiana Online

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