Origins - Chapter 04 Four.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses
Thomas Socknat

Jason Ho Canadian History Page 1 JWH100Y1 September 23, 12 Origins: Canadian History to Confederation Textbook Notes Chapter Four: The Iroquois, the Hurons, and the French The Formation of the League of the Iroquois  Historians agree that it was established by the late 15hcentury by Dekanahwideh, the Peacemaker.  The White Roots of Peace is a story about how Dekanahwideh converted a cannibal to being his disciple of peace and together convinced the five warring nations to gather under the Tree of Peace and form a union of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee.  Tree was planted with roots extending to the four corners of the earth. On top of the tree was the Eagle That Sees Afar, symbol of military preparedness, then it was the antlers on the heads of the 50 chiefs representing the Five Nations  Believing to have stood at the centre of the universe, this gave the Five Nations a feeling of self-confidence, sense of purpose and superiority over their neighbours.  New political structure was created to maintain peace and gradually drew in surrounding nations into the league.  Hurons’ refusal to join the league signified that they were evil, hostile people The Missionaries’ Arrival in Huronia  The Hurons and Iroquois were at war at the time of the French- Amerindian contact in the seventeenth century and hostilities were rising due to a desire for war honours, prestige and avenging the dead.  With the European arrival, economic motivations soon became causes for more battles between the tribes as they needed a steady supply of fur to trade for European goods such as iron knives. The Jesuit and the Hurons Jason Ho Canadian History Page 2 JWH100Y1 September 23, 12  After an economic alliance with the Hurons, the French received permission to send Roman Catholic priests. Champlain called for Récollet missionaries in 1615, and Jesuit fathers in 1627.  After the end of the English occupation of Quebec in 1632, the French insisted that the Hurons allow Jesuits to live among them in Huronia as a condition for their renewal of the alliance.  Jean de Brébeuf and two companions reopened the Huron mission with the reluctant approval since there was a growing fear of another outbreak of European diseases.  The Jesuit order put great effort into rebuilding of its mission; using French lay workers (donnés) on contracts of lifetime support without wage; mastering the Huron language to convert the people, and teaching them non-verbally with pictures and statues; ceremonies, chants and processions on holy days and special occasions. Cultural Differences Between the Hurons and the French  Jesuits initially made some progress with the Huron but the gulf between the two societies remained great. Hurons believed that humans are equal to other beings in the natural world whereas Christians believe they are superior. If the Amerindian religious symbol was a circle then the Christians would be an arrow, from creation to destruction.  To gain an audience with the Huron, the Jesuits had to point out the similarities between their believes. Both believing in supernatural power influencing their lives, a loose concept of heaven and idea of an afterlife, also of spiritual quests, fasting, and prayer.  Commonalities aside the two religions had enormous differences where Christians only believe in one god as opposed to multiple beings, the concept of hell and everlasting torment, lifetime marriage was also foreign to them as divorce was easy and frequent.  Hurons believed the missionaries threatened to subvert the customs and beliefs essential to their way of life. Huron chief Brébeuf said “You are talking of overthrowing the country.” New Epidemics Strike Huronia Jason Ho Canadian History Page 3 JWH100Y1 September 23, 12  By 1639 smallpox raged throughout Huronia, killing more than half the Huron population and reducing their numbers to 10 000. Since the elderly and children died in the greatest numbers, most of their traditional religious lore was lost and a shortage of warriors came in the next decade  By the late 1630s, the Hurons were convinced that the Jesuits were sorcerers who brought disease since they were seemingly immune to them. They also suggested that the Jesuit celibacy nurtured their supernatural powers and their rituals cause death seen by the death of their sick babies after they were doused by holy water.  The Hurons harassed and threatened the Jesuits, and on two occasions, sought the death penalty for the missionaries or possibility of banishment in 1637 and 1640. But since they valued and depended on European hardware and dry goods, they had to maintain relations and tolerate the missionaries Huron Christian Converts  Missionaries under Jean de Brébeuf worked in Huron villages spending time mingling with the natives during the epidemics of the mid-1630s.  Jérôme Lalemant, the new leader of the Huron mission, changed the policy in 1638 and constructed a permanent mission headquarters in 1639 called Sainte-Marie and tried to persuade Huron converts to settle there adopt French customs.  When the Hurons refused to leave their villages and clans he established permanent Jesuit residences in major Huron towns  In the early 1640s, conversions increased due to several contributing factors such as, repeated explanation of the commonality of faiths’, Jesuits’ bravery in Iroquois attacks, and economic benefits for trading as a Christian convert being the biggest factor.  In 1648 only 15% of the population was converted but over half the Huron trading fleet were already Christians or receiving instruction. This also created a rift in the community as they forbade them from participating in Native feasts and celebrations, divorce and expulsion was also commonplace. Jason Ho Canadian History Page 4 JWH100Y1 September 23, 12 The Final Struggle Between the Hurons and the Iroquois  The Hurons faced their greatest military threat from the Iroquois at a time when they were most vulnerable, with disease and dissention caused by the French Jesuits.  By 1639 the Iroquois had begun obtaining firearms from English and Dutch traders, the latter which had superior guns to those of the French  In 1648 it was estimated that the Iroquois had 500 guns to Hurons’ 120, thus by having more firearms and numbers, they began exploiting their fur-rich areas of the Huron (Upper Great Lakes)  The successful Iroquois attacks of the early 1640s caused some Huron traditionalists to question whether to sue for peace rather than become culturally extinct through the Jesuits. In the end they mistrusted the Iroquois more than the French so they remained. The Fall of Huronia  In mid-March 1649, a large Iroquois army struck a small Huron village, killing or capturing all but 10 of the 400 inhabitants and used the village as base camp for future engagements.  Hurons who had earlier been captured and adopted by the Iroquois played a leading role in the attacks, capturing and torturing French priests regarded as sorcerers and responsible for the destruction of their country. Among the captured were Father Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant (nephew of Jérôme) they were baptized with boiling water then executed.  Over the course of the campaign, several hundred Hurons died or were captured. Survivors burned and deserted their villages and sought refuge either in French settlements, such as Christian Island in Georgian Bay or Quebec, others joined the Algonquians to the north, or simply voluntarily joined the Iroquois. The Impact of the Fall of Huronia  The fall of Huronia led to Iroquois attacks on other Iroquoian- speaking peoples, such as the Petuns to the west and Neutrals to the south, disrupting the fur trade and hurting the French colony’s economy. Jason Ho Canadian History Page 5 JWH100Y1 September 23, 12  If the Hurons had allied themselves with the Iroquois near the end would have hurt the Frenc
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