Maar klopt dat beeld wel? Uit verhalen van overlevenden van gevangenschap en overvallen rijst namelijk een ander beeld op. Dat van meedogenloze moordenaars en sadistische folteraars.
In Québec hebben de paters Jezuïeten in de eerste helft van de 17e eeuw missieposten opgericht. Ze verkondigen daar het christendom onder verschillende stammen van de Huron. De rivalen van de Huron, de Iroqois zien de paters als een verlengstuk van de Fransen, die hun aartsvijanden opstoken. Zelf hebben de Iroqois betrekkingen met de Nederlanders, die hen volgens sommigen ophitsen om het de Fransen zo moeilijk mogelijk te maken:
Jean de BrébeufVimont describes the country, forces, and methods of war, of the Iroquois; among these, the Agniers or Mohawks are the fiercest, boldest, and most dangerous. They are now harassing the Hurons, and all the dwellers along the St. Lawrence, — making raids by small parties, and at all seasons of the year; attacking alike all other tribes and the French; and enabled to do so by the supply of firearms received from the Dutch traders. Rumors come from France that the Dutch expect by this means to drive out the French from Canada. Vimont cannot believe that they have such a plan, but considers them responsible for not stopping this practice. (Bron)
In 1648 werden missionarissen fr. Jean de Brébeuf en fr. Gabriel Lallemant in Quebec doodgemarteld door de Iroqois Indianen. Beiden werden vastgebonden aan palen en deels gevild, verminkt, gescalpeerd, overgoten met kokend water, gebrand met vuur, gloeiende bijlen die om hun nek werden gehanden en gloeiende kolen die in hun ogen werden gegooid. Fr. Brebeuf zijn hart werd opgegeten, en Gabriel Lallemant stierf door een klap tegen het hoofd met een tomahawk.
Overlevende Huron vertelden de gebeurtenissen aan Christophe Regnaut, een schoenmaker en lekenmissionaris en , die een kampement hadden in de buurt (ongeveer 1,3 km verderop):
Jean Regnaut schreef:It was on the 16th Day of March, in the morning, that we perceived a great fire at the place to which these two good fathers had gone. This fire made us very uneasy; we did not know whether it were enemies, or if the fire had caught in some of the huts of the village.
The Reverend Father Paul Ragueneau, our Superior, immediately resolved to send someone to learn what might be the cause. But no sooner had we formed the design of going there to see, than we perceived several savages on the road, coming straight toward us. We all thought it was the Iroquois who were coming to attack us; but having considered them more closely, we perceived that they were Hurons who were fleeing from the fight, and who had escaped from the combat.
These poor savages caused great pity in us. They were all covered with wounds. One had his head fractured; another his arm broken; another had an arrow in his eye; another had his hand cut off by a blow from a hatchet. In fine, the day was passed in receiving into our cabins all these poor wounded people, and in looking with compassion toward the fire, and the place where were those two good Fathers. We saw the fire and the barbarians, but we could not see anything of the two Fathers.
This is what these savages told us of the taking of the Village of St. Ignace, and about Fathers Jean de Brebeuf and Gabriel L’Alemant:
De volgende dag trekt Jean Regnaut met een collega naar de missiepost om de lichamen te bergen.
Nu zou je, gezien het christelijke taalgebruik en het gegeven dat dit een martelaarsverhaal is, geneigd kunnen zijn te denken dat dit verhaal overdreven is. Je moet dan wel aannemen dat de man liegt, aangezien hij zegt de lichamen zelf uitvoerig bekeken te hebben.Jean Regnaut schreef:On the next morning, when we had assurance of the departure of the enemy, we went to the spot to seek for the remains of their bodies, to the place where their lives had been taken. We found them both, but a little apart from each other. They were brought to our cabin, and laid uncovered upon the bark of trees, - where I examined them at leisure, for more than two hours, to see if what the savages had told us of their martyrdom and death were true. I examined first the Body of Father de Brebeuf, which was pitiful to see, as well as that of Father L’Alemant. Father de Brebeuf had his legs, thighs and arms stripped of flesh to the very bone; I saw and touched a large number of great blisters, which he had on several place on his body, from the boiling water which these barbarians had poured over him in mockery of Holy Baptism. I saw and touched the wound from a belt of bark, full of pitch and resin, which roasted his whole body. I saw and touched the marks of burns from the Collar of hatchets placed on his shoulders and stomach. I saw and touched his two lips, which they had cut off because he spoke constantly of God while they made him suffer.
I saw and touched all parts of his body, which had received more than two hundred blows from a stick: I saw and touched the top of his scalped head: I saw and touched the opening which these barbarians had made to tear out his heart. (Bron)
En je zou dit verhaal als vrome overdrijving kunnen wegwuiven, indien het op zichzelf stond. Maar dat doet het niet.
Indianen onder elkaar
Hier is bijvoorbeeld een verslag van een marteling van een Toaguenha-indiaan die door de Iroqois gemarteld wordt, uit wraak om een gevallen krijger:
Fr. Isaac Jogues“At the same time I saw the principal relative of the deceased approach with a gun-barrel red-hot up to the middle. This obliged me to withdraw. The others began to find fault with me for encouraging him [de gevangene], the more so because amongst them it is a bad omen for a prisoner to endure torture patiently. I retired therefore with grief, and scarcely had I turned my head when this barbarian of an Iroquois applied his red-hot gun-barrel to the top of his feet, which made the poor wretch utter a loud cry, and forced me to turn towards him. I saw that Iroquois with a grave and steady hand applying the iron slowly along his feet and legs, and other old men smoking around the scaffold, with all the young people leaping for joy to see the contortions that the violence of the fire compelled the poor sufferer to make.” Journey of Dollier and Galinée 1669-1670, 185 (bron)
In 1642 wordt fr. Isaac Jogues samen met Guillaume Couture en René Goupil, met een groep Fransen en Huron op een expeditie overvallen gevangengenomen door een groep Mohawk Iroqois. Allen worden ze op gruwelijke wijze gemarteld. Jogues wordt later bevrijdt als Nederlandse handelaren hem mee het kamp uit smokkelen. Jogues doet in gevangenschap met brieven verslag aan zijn ordehoofd, die het verhaal weer, deels parafraserend, deels citerend, doorbrieven aan de Jezuïeten in Parijs. E.e.a. wordt vervolgens geredigeerd en verspreid in Relations des Jesuites de la Nouvelle France:
De priester omarmt Couture en maant hem goede moed te houden, en als goede martelaar te bidden voor wie hen vervolgen.[H]is shot being fired, the four other Hiroquois fell upon him with a rage of Lions, or rather of Demons. Having stripped him bare as the hand, they bruised him with heavy blows of clubs, and tore out his finger-nails with their teeth,—crushing the bleeding ends, in order to cause him more pain. In short, they pierced one of his hands with a javelin, and led him, tied and bound in this sad plight, to the place where we were.(Bron)
Als de mannen eenmaal in het kamp zijn, moet ze spitsroeden lopen. De Iroqois zoeken stokken en dorentakken, drijven hen door een haag van 200 man en slaan hen waar ze maar kunnen. Isaac Jogues lukt het slechts de halve haag door te lopen. Dan valt hij uitgeput neer. Hij wordt nog meer geslagen, totdat hij het bewustzijn verliest.The Hiroquois, seeing us in these endearments, at first remained quite bewildered, looking at us without saying a word; then, all at once,—imagining, perhaps, that I was applauding that young man because he had killed one of their Captains,—they fell upon me with a mad fury, they belabored me with thrusts, and with blows from sticks and war-clubs, flinging me to the ground, half dead.
When I began to breathe again, those who had not struck me, approaching, violently tore out my finger-nails; and then biting, one after another, the ends of my  two forefingers, destitute of their nails caused me the sharpest pain, grinding and crushing them as if between two stones, even to the extent of causing splinters or little bones to protrude. They treated the good René Goupil in the same way, without doing, at that time, any harm to the Hurons: they were thus enraged against the French because the latter had not been willing to accept the peace. the preceding year, on the conditions which they wished to give them.(Bron)
Ook de Hurons worden gemarteld:When I am restored to fly senses, they make me come down, and offer me a thousand and one insults, making me the sport and object of their reviling; they begin their assaults aver again, dealing upon my head and neck, and all any body, another hailstorm of blows. I would be too tedious if I should set down in writing all the rigor of my sufferings. They burned one of my fingers, and crushed another with their teeth, and those which were already torn, they squeezed and twisted with a rage of Demons; they scratched my wounds with their nails; and, when strength failed me, they applied fire to my arm and thighs. My companions were treated very nearly as I was. (Bron)
Maar ze zijn nog niet klaar met de vingers van de priester: ook zijn duim wordt afgesneden.Among the Hurons, the worst treated was that worthy and valiant Christian, Eustache. Having made him suffer like the others, they cut off both thumbs from his hands, and thrust through the incisions a pointed stick even to the elbow. (Bron)
Fr. Jogues wordt dispensatie verleend om de mis met zijn overgebleven vingers te bedienen (officieel mag dat alleen met wijsvinger en duim).An old man takes my left hand and commands a captive Algonquin woman to cut one of my fingers; she turns away three or four times, unable to resolve upon this cruelty; finally, she has to obey, and cuts the thumb from my left hand; the same caresses are extended to the other prisoners. (...)
They used a scallop or an oyster-shell for cutting off the right thumb of the other Frenchman, so as to cause him more pain. The blood flowing from our wounds in so great abundance that we were likely to fall in a swoon, a Hiroquois—tearing off a little end of my shirt, which alone had been left to me—bound them up for us; and that was all the dressing and all the medical treatment applied to them (Bron)
Nu kun je natuurlijk zeggen: ach, het is vroomheidsliteratuur: de martelingen kunnen best overdreven zijn. Niet dat het erg geloofwaardig is, daarvoor zijn de verhalen te direct, te gedetailleerd en te divers.
Bovendien kennen we nog verhalen van zulke martelingen uit heel andere bronnen.