Pierre Liette: "The sin of sodomy prevails," 1702

The Memoir of Pierre Liette on the Illinois Country," written in 1702 at the end of a four-year sojourn at Chicago, reports of the Miamis:

The sin of sodomy prevails more among them than in any other nation, although there are four women to one man. It is true that the women, although debauched, retain some moderation, which prevents the young men from satisfying their passions as much as they would like. There are men who are bred for this purpose from their childhood. When they are seen frequently picking up the spade, the spindle, the axe, but making no use of the bow and arrows, as all the other small boys do, they are girt with a piece of leather or cloth which envelops them from the belt to the knees, a thing all the women wear. Their hair is allowed to grow and is fastened behind the head. They also wear a little skin like a shoulder strap passing under the arm on one side and tied over the shoulder on the other. They are tattooed on their cheeks like the women and also on the breast and the arms, and they imitate their accent, which is different from that of the men. They omit nothing that can make them like the women." There are men sufficiently embruted to have dealings with them on the same footing. The women and girls who prostitute themselves to these wretches are dissolute creatures.[1]


Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: Crowell, 1976) pg. 288.

  1. Pierre Liette, "Memoir of Pierre Liette on the Illinois Country," in The Western Country in the 17th Century . . . ed. Milo Quaife (N.Y.: Citadel, 1962), p. 112-13. I wish to thank Harvey Schaktman for providing this document.

    John Lawson, a gentleman, and a surveyor and traveler among the American Natives, writes in his History 01 North Carolina, first published in 1709: "Although these People are called Savages, yet Sodomy is never heard of amongst them, and they are so far from the Practice of that beastly and loathsome Sin, that they have no Name for it in their Language" (History of North Carolina . . . ed., Frances Latham Harris [Richmond, Va.: Garrett and Massie, 1937], p. 208).