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Visit Archeology > Samuel de Champlain's Expeditions > Malle Barre

Malle Barre (modern Nauset Harbor, Eastham, MA)

After rounding the headlands of Cape Cod in 1605, the French explorers sailed south along the ocean side of the outer Cape. Avoiding shoals and sandbanks, they managed to enter the first embayment they encountered. They called the place Malle Barre and left the ship to go onshore to inspect the Native American settlement. Champlain described the scene:

Champlain's map of Malle Barre, 1605.

Champlain's map of Malle Barre, 1605.

"Before reaching their wigwams we entered a field planted with Indian corn ... The corn was inflower and some five and a half feet in height. There was some less advanced, which they sow later. We saw an abundance of Brazilian beans, many edible squashes of various sizes, tobacco, and roots which they cultivate, the latter having the taste of artichoke. The woods are full of oaks, nut-trees, and very fine cypresses, which are of reddish colour and have a very pleasant smell. There were also several fields not cultivated, for the reason that the Indians let them lie fallow ... Their wigwams are round, and covered with heavy thatch made of reeds. In the middle of the roof is an opening, about a foot and a half wide, through which issues the smoke of their fire."

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