St. Lawrence Iroquoians II

The St. Lawrence Iroquoian occupied the land at the mouth of Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence Estuary in the 15th century. The Iroquoians focused primarily on agriculture, growing corn, beans, squash, tobacco, and sunflowers. Like many other Indigenous groups, hunting and fishing was also a major part  of their lives. The women worked in fields and raised their families, and they also held the most power in politics and military affairs. The St. Lawrence Iroquoian were also very religious, they held many ceremonies and believed in some sort of life after death.

The St. Lawrence Iroquoian came into contact with both other Indigenous groups and European people (settlers). They experienced inter-group warfare contact with other Iroquoian groups such as the Huron-Wendat, Mohawk and non- Iroquoian groups such as the Mi’kmaq. Most interactions with these other indigenous societies happened in the land known as present day Montreal, Quebec, and Upstate New York. Generally this contact resulted in capturing prisoners (assumed for social reasoning’s). The St. Lawrence Iroquoian also had contact with the Indigenous groups: Oneidas and Onondagas (contact in present day upstate New York).

The St. Lawrence Iroquoian contact with Europeans was mostly with the French and generally along rivers. Europeans first engaged in fishing when they arrived in St. Lawrence (present day Quebec) in the 16th century, but they soon started trading with the St. Lawrence Iroquoian; initiating their contact. The Iroquoian would trade their furs for European beads, cloth, and metal implements. It has been suggested that since the French settled in 1608 the St. Lawrence Iroquoian had contact with French colonialists such as Samuel de Champlain and Hoffman.

The purpose Europeans were in the St. Lawrence Iroquoian area is due to Jacques Cartier’s task made by Francis I at the time. Jacques Cartier was informed to travel to the New Lands to discover the islands and the countries where they believe and have heard that there is a large quantity of gold to be found along with other treasures. His voyage began and he came into contact with Chief Donnacona of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians in late 1534. With this meeting Jacques Cartier and the St. Lawrence Iroquoians built a friendly alliance through trading of animal furs for knives and hatchets. As time went on Cartier had to return to France; he kidnapped Donnacona’s two sons to bring back to France and learn more about the culture, land, and life of the St. Lawrence Iroquoian. From interaction with the sons, Cartier was informed of another Iroquoian village called Hochelaga. Jacques Cartier made a second voyage from France with Donnacona’s two sons, his purpose being to find the Iroquoian villages of Stadacona and Hochelaga getting help from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian. With the discovery of these places Jacques Cartier now knew there was more land behind it all and he believed he may had found a passage to the Pacific Ocean.

The North American people never thought that the Europeans would try to take their land and when they realized this they fought fiercely but were defeated, for their bows and arrows did not stand a chance against European guns. Because they had never been exposed to diseases such as smallpox they did not have strong immunities, and because of this, disease spread and thousands died. Historians estimate that about eight five percent of the North American population died between the years of 1500 and 1550 and this was due to the direct result of European conquest to conquer and settle on ancestral land. As Europeans established colonies more fighting took place but eventually the superior weapons of the Europeans and their organization tactics were far too advanced and the North American people were driven away from their ancestral land for good.

The St. Lawrence Iroquoian first met the Europeans in the 16th century. The first Europeans who first came into contact with the St. Lawrence Iroquoian, attempted to create trade relations. Jacques Cartier was the navigator who was leading the exploring party to find a water passage from France to Asia. He sailed into the St. Lawrence River through eastern Canada unknowingly that he would not be able to reach Asia. The first encounter with the St. Lawrence Iroquoian was considered friendly and the trade relations between both groups flourished. The trade flourished between both groups, where the Europeans traded metal tools for the valuable furs found throughout the St. Lawrence surrounding area. The St. Lawrence Iroquoian, after further contact with the Europeans, contracted European born diseases which quickly killed many of the population of the St. Lawrence Iroquois.

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