First lecture notes for Hist 303

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Published on 8 Oct 2011
School
McGill University
Department
History
Course
HIST 303
Professor
LECTURE ONE (Native Lands and the French Empire- September sixth)
In the past, discussing empires referred to a study of the victors. It was about
a group of people sent by god on a divine mission to settle New France. When these
people arrived here they found a land filled with nobody. The Native peoples
disappeared as part of the natural course of how god saw this land developing
according to these explorers. It was hoped that the Natives would disappear since
they were not Catholic. Some people looked more critically at the empire and would
portray Natives as people who lived peacefully with the world as well as with each
other. These Natives were thought to not change over time. Europeans were
thought to have destroyed the perfect land that was there before they arrived.
Spain goes to war against the Aztecs and through the use of biological weapons,
wipes out their population. All of these stereotypes get challenged in reality,
modernity and through more research.
New France was largely colonized through a complex system of alliances with
Native peoples. This was not always the goal of the French, but, in the end, this was
what they settled for. Not many resources were put into colonization efforts so that
the alliances were needed to ensure that New France could expand. The retreat of
the last ice age left many nomadic hunters and fishers to occupy the land. 3000
years ago the climate stabilized in the St. Lawrence Valley which led to farming in
this area. The first language family for the native peoples is the Inuit, the second is
the Algonquian (Micmac, Abenakis, Crees, Montagais) language family and there is
also the Iroquoian (Hurons, Petuns, Neutrals, Eries) language family. Belonging to
the same language group did not mean that these groups lived together peacefully.
Many conflicts went on amongst the groups.
In Northern Quebec, the native groups can be divided to look for people who
are Nomadic. Seasons would change the patterns of living for these bands. Winter
would be more focused on hunting while summer would be about gathering fruits,
trading and smaller hunting expeditions. Most of their lives would not happen in the
tepee which was only used for shelter, but could be picked up to be transported.
The other group would have larger villages of about 2000 people. This was much
bigger than some villages in Europe. Each village would have about ten or fifteen
long houses built in a tunnel shape. In each longhouse there would be numerous
families with around five fires burning for warmth. These sedentary horticulturalists
had much bigger groups. They would stay in one place for about fifteen years or
until the resources in the area would exhausted. This meant that mobility was a
factor for these groups, too. From 1300 onwards, corn, beans and squash became
staples of the groups.
Gender played an important role in the division of labour. The family was the
basic social unit where the men lived with the wives families. Descent of the family
was traced by the woman’s blood line. All men over a certain age were involved in
the councils, but women were the deciding vote. Chiefs were men chosen from
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Document Summary

Lecture one (native lands and the french empire- september sixth) In the past, discussing empires referred to a study of the victors. It was about a group of people sent by god on a divine mission to settle new france. When these people arrived here they found a land filled with nobody. The native peoples disappeared as part of the natural course of how god saw this land developing according to these explorers. It was hoped that the natives would disappear since they were not catholic. Some people looked more critically at the empire and would portray natives as people who lived peacefully with the world as well as with each other. These natives were thought to not change over time. Europeans were thought to have destroyed the perfect land that was there before they arrived. Spain goes to war against the aztecs and through the use of biological weapons, wipes out their population.