History 2201E Tuesday Sept 16
Questions to ask about primary sources:
•why the source was written
•the validity of the sources
•who it was written by
Jesuit well educated young men and were catholic missionaries.
Purpose was to convert native peoples to Catholicism
Wrote home to friends and family What might they write about? Exaggerate about
their situation in the hopes of more funding, more missionaries. They might exaggerate
their role and the importance of their job i.e. how much the natives might need the gospel.
Their written records are our best primary sources about early eastern Canada.
Next weeks tut reading = Allen Greer + excerpts
Widely accepted generalizations about native people at the time of contact (common
patterns seen by different sources):
•It is indicated that native people lived in a close relationship with their natural
environment However: They often did burn down sections of the forest for
agriculture/ hunting/ turned the land over for agriculture/ cut trees down for living
arrangements/ Conclusion: they were not wasteful of resources but they did use
•Division of labour by gender and it reflected complimentary work roles. Men
and women did equally valuable work.
•Sexual relationships among native men and women were not as rigidly regulated as
they were back in Europe. Women as well as men could take initiatives toward
sex. Marriages were easy to get into as was divorce. (Native equivalent of divorce)
•Social and political organization was less hierarchical Most native Canadian
groups did not have strict organization. Much more informality about decisions.
Native groups often used consensus to make major decisions.
Algonquians (language group)
Algonquins Native peoples
•hunter gathers (as were most native Canadians)
•Moved several times a year in search of their food. Transient
Iroquoian speaking people:
•farming people horticultural
•Included hurons, Oneida, and Iroquois and other groups
•Engaged in some hunting
•Spent most of their time in one place
•Their farm lands did become exhausted pretty quickly and moved every so many
Pacific coast wealthy
•lived with families in big communal houses
•Some groups that were very hierarchal
Conclusion: huge amount of haziness about native people prior to contact. But there is
enough in sources that there are huge differences between native groups.