The La Salle Expedition to Texas: The Journal of Henri Joutel, 1684-1687 Page: 83
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BEAUJEU RETURNS TO FRANCE
Saint Louis a
tSan o/ M rPat
Wreck of the Belle
Wreck of the Aimable
SGulf of Mexico
Bayou 0 10 20 30 miles 280 N -
0 20 40 kilometers
970 W 96 W
The Matagorda Bay area
supplies for only a few days. As I found a rather suitable area where there were
small sand dunes fifteen to twenty feet high, I had two fires made, following the
orders of La Salle, so that the vessels could see us. Then I had the men camp as
well as was possible, having them make huts or sheds which they covered with
grass from a nearby prairie which the Indians had earlier set afire.'
contemporary maps. The translation of the sixteenth-century Spanish league as measuring a.6 miles fits
very well with other distances reported in leagues by Oviedo along the upper Texas coast and on Cabeza
de Vaca's journey across South Texas and northeastern Mexico.
* In Chapter VIII and IX, Joutel again refers to grass fires set by Indians. Cabeza de Vaca gave several
accounts of Indians setting grass fires in South Texas to drive away mosquitoes, to drive out lizards from
the earth to eat, or to influence the movement of deer and bison during a hunt. See Cabeza de Vaca, "The
Narrative of Alvar Nufiez Cabeza de Vaca," 67.
William M. Denevan has reviewed the recent literature on Indian burning of woodlands and grass-
lands; although several contemporary authorities consider regular and widespread Indian burning as an
unlikely hypothesis, Denevan disputes this and concludes that Indian burning occurred frequently and for
many reasons. Denevan, "The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492," in The Americas
before and after 1492: Current Geographical Research, guest ed. Karl W. Butzer, Annals of the Assocation of
American Geographers, 8z (Sept., 1992), 371-372. Joutel's journal account and Cabeza de Vaca's narrative
support Denevan's conclusion that Native Americans set grassland and woodland fires frequently and for
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Joutel, Henri, 1640?-1735. The La Salle Expedition to Texas: The Journal of Henri Joutel, 1684-1687, book, 1998; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth296849/m1/94/?q=Espejo-Beltr%C3%A1n%20expedition: accessed September 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.