". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

La Salle's Lost Griffon, 1660's

The NY Times reports that it is expected = hoped a vessel of French commissioned explorer, La Salle, the lost Griffon, has been discovered in Lake Michigan.

La Salle was assassinated in 1687 by his own crew during a mutiny near present-day Navasota, Tex., after the difficulties of looking for the mouth of the Mississippi strained relations between him and his men. That delayed by about 30 years France’s goal of opening up a colony on the mouth of the Mississippi that would become New Orleans, and it provided greater opportunities for expansion by France’s New World competitors, Spain and Britain.
James Bruseth, the former director of underwater archaeology for the Texas Historical Commission who oversaw the excavation of another La Salle shipwreck, the Belle, believes that if La Salle’s men had been able to sell the furs on the Griffin for him, “He might have been able to hire more men and people with the skills he needed to make the expedition succeed,” he said, “and things might have ended better than they did.”
“But, then, history is full of those small incidents that greatly influenced future events,” he said. “This is just one of them.”

“I think maybe Steve found the Griffin, but I can’t be sure,” Michel L’Hour, the director of underwater archaeology for France who monitors all of the country’s shipwrecks around the world, said Tuesday, a day after he and two other French archaeologists, Olivia Hulot and Eric Rieth, examined the beam during a half-hour dive to the site.
Dr. L’Hour and his team flew in from France to examine the site because his country in 2010 decided to stake a legal claim to Mr. Libert’s find because it was King Louis XIV who financed La Salle’s expedition.
By staking the claim, France essentially ignored the state of Michigan’s long-held, dismissive description of Mr. Libert as a mere treasure hunter, and of the beam as nothing more than a “stick” or a “barn beam” that was shoved into the sediment.
Scholars have long debated how La Salle’s fate might have changed if the Griffin had not been lost.

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