Have you ever heard of Crash Course? It’s an online, rapid-fire lecture delivered on topics as enormous as world history. Here goes a mini refresher crash course on today’s topic – Good Relations and the Land.
1534 Jacques Cartier arrives on the east coast of Canada. He parks a cross bearing the words “Long Live the King of France”. He meets Haudenosaunee (Iroquis) Chief Donnacona and takes his two sons back to France. There they were wined and dined and made the centre of interest.
Cartier returns with the young men, visits the Haudenosaunee settlements of Stadacona (Quebec City ) and Hochelega (Montreal) population 1,000. Cartier stays the winter. Haudenosaunee get sick. Smallpox? French get sick with scurvy. Haudenosaunee boil cedar leaves to provide Vitamin C. Cartier’s men kidnap 9 people including Chief Donnacona and leave for France. All but one dies. Remaining one does not return to Canada.
Cartier returns with 1,500 settlers. Haudenosaunee are not happy to see them! Iroquois aligned themselves with the Dutch and British to the south.
1608 Samuel de Champlain establishes a settlement at Quebec City. The Haudenosaunee throughout the St. Lawrence River are nowhere to be seen. Disease? War? Moved south? Champlain aligns the French with the Wendat (Huron) to secure the fur trade and defeat the Iroquois.
Enter the time period Joseph Boyden writes about in The Orenda! War. Savagery. Bloodshed. But hold on a minute! Bruce G. Trigger writes in Natives and Newcomers, “There is little evidence of warfare between Hurons and 5 Nations Iroquois in prehistoric times.”
Here’s the crash course of the crash course:
Wendat and Haudenosaunee not at war. European comes, offends and harms Haudenosaunee, then settles many people on Haudenosaunee land. Eighty years later another European comes. No Haudenosaunee to be found. French secure fur trade with Wendats. Wendat and Haudenosaunee south of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River fight viciously!!
John Ralston Saul says this: “We don’t know what to do with the least palatable part of the settler story. We wanted the land. It belonged to someone else. We took it.” Hm. And I would add, we also made enemies of people formerly at peace and then turned around and called them savages! Holy Smokes – have we got some work to do before we can be considered good relations!