West Lafayette (IN), 50th Feast of the Hunters’ Moon and 300th Anniversary of the foundation of Fort Ouiatenon
West Lafayette (IN), Speech by Consul General of France Guillaume Lacroix on the occasion of the 50th Feast of the Hunters’ Moon and 300th Anniversary of the foundation of Fort Ouiatenon.
The Feast of the Hunters Moon is a weekend festival and historical reenactment held each fall on the first weekend of October since 1968, at the present-day site of Fort Ouiatenon, a replica 18th century French military and trading post near West Lafayette, Indiana. (More)
I would like to thank you for inviting me to the three-hundredth Anniversary of the establishment of the Fort Ouiatenon, the first fortified European settlement in what is now called Indiana. This is an exciting event and a perfect day to celebrate History and French-Indiana friendship. I also would like to congratulate all the organizers and supporters who have dedicated time and energy to make the fiftieth edition of the Feast a great success.
I would like to thank the Tippecanoe County Historical Association, in particular Pete Bill, the President, and Craig Hadley, the Executive director. I express my admiration to the thousands of reenactors, musicians, artisans, and interpreters who have spent countless hours researching and immersing themselves into different cultures in order to offer the best possible depiction of a distant past. Today, we see the result of these passionate efforts, and it is truly impressive…
France and Indiana have been tied since the first French explorers came to the New World. In the early eighteenth century, they explored the Great Lakes and settled in the Midwest, along the Mississippi, the Missouri, the Ohio rivers and their tributaries.
As Consul general of France, I am not here to reclaim these lands! But I’m proud that three hundred years ago, French people were the very first Europeans to venture into this beautiful land. Some of them continued their journey towards new horizons, others settled, opened trade posts and founded families with Native American tribes, like here with the “Wea” people, along the Wabash and the Tippecanoe. The French enjoyed good relations with the Native American tribes.
Today, the French presence still resounds in the name of cities and areas throughout Indiana, like here Lafayette and West Lafayette, but also Clermont, la Fontaine, La Porte named by the French explorers, Montpelier, Terre Haute, Vincennes or Versailles…
Since that time, France and the U.S have been bound by common values and mutual fascination. This relationship is deeply rooted in our common history, cultural heritage and robust democratic values. During the course of history, in times of challenge, and times of hardship, America and France have stood side by side, supported or helped one another and fought for each other’s freedom. Let us never forget that the United States and France owe each other their very existence as free nations.
Let me recall, and you know that, that France was the first ally of the young United States. The French King sent troops to help American colonies win their independence. Forty-five thousand French soldiers, headed by Lafayette, played a crucial role in the battle of Yorktown. More recently, twice during the last century, the United States helped us restore our own independence and our dignity...
This year marks the centennial of America’s entry into World War I. France and the U.S have been celebrating together this major event, since the beginning of the year, with various commemorations and activities that will continue until the end of 2018. This year, for the first time, U.S troops led the Paris Bastille Day military parade on July 14th, in the presence of President Trump and the First Lady.
Let me say that Indiana played a prominent role in 1917. Immediately after the declaration of war, Hoosiers were ready to step up and answer the call of their nation.
I would like to mention three names:
Alex Arch of South Bend who fired the first American shot of the war;
James Gresham of Evansville who was the first American to die in combat in WWI;
Aaron Fischer, the most highly decorated African-American soldier from Indiana to serve in WWI.
I think I should also mention the Eli Lilly Company who funded a big hospital in the town of Contrexéville in France: the Lilly Base Hospital 32, where many Hoosiers nurses played a major role. Merci, Mesdames et messieurs de l’Indiana!
Let’s never forget that over four million Americans served in WWI and more than a hundred thousand lost their lives, many of them on French soil.
This year also marks the seventy-third Anniversary of D-Day and the Allied invasion. Not long ago, in June and in August, we were again bounded by History when thousands of people, among them hundreds of American veterans and their families, took part in the Normandy and the Southern France commemorations. What a moving testimony of friendship and solidarity between our two nations!
Today, France and the U.S have a unique relationship and a unique cooperation. First, to protect our people against the terrorists and nuclear proliferation. Second, to grow our economies and provide first class education.
Every year, our two countries are actively partnering in the cultural, education, and scientific fields with countless cross-exchanges and programs for the benefit of our peoples. That said, we need more French students at Purdue University! Our economic and trade relations are strong allowing us to create more jobs in the U.S and in France. Let me mention here, the first transatlantic, direct flight between Indianapolis and Europe that will start in a few months: it will connect Indianapolis and Paris. Paris was chosen as the hub of Europe.
Today, this Anniversary celebration is a demonstration of the importance keeping the memory of our common past alive. Our three hundred years of friendship between France and Indiana. We were friends even before what is today Indiana existed!
I am very proud to be here today. It is a great honor. People in my country need to know about your Feast. I will share a lot of photos on my Facebook page!
I thank you for your attention!