The Indians were the main focus of the history of

New France, andinfluenced the Europeans in the period before 1663. The Indians, being
numerous compared with the Europeans, came into frequent contact with them.

The Indians and Europeans traded items with one another, which led to
various events and actions that contributed greatly to the history of New
France. The Europeans who arrived after the Indians had already settled
were exposed to the native people’s way of life, from which techniques for
survival were acquired. Later, the Europeans depended on the Indians, some
of whom acted as middlemen and who had items which were valuable to them.

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Various Indian personalities were also observed and admired by Europeans
particularly the Jesuits.

The Native Indians were among the first people to enter North America.

They entered America through the passage of the Bering Strait, a location
which is the midpoint of Alaska and Siberia. As time passed, they settled
on various pieces of land and hunted, fished and grew crops. Alfred Bailey
mentions that, “It had been suggested that Siouans, the Iroquoians and
Algonquians were among the first to enter America.”1 Before the Europeans
arrived, there were many native tribes that were already settled. By the
time Europeans arrived in North America, they found natives occupying large
amounts of land.2 The Indians helped start the history of New France.

Since the natives arrived early in North America, their population
started to increase quite rapidly. With the combination of migration as
well as the birth rate, the Indians inflated their population to a large
size. “In 1663, there were only still 3000 Europeans living in New France,
no more people than constituted a small Iroquoian tribe.”3 The Indians
were in the majority before 1663.

Surrounding the area of New France there were two main native groups
who spoke different languages. These groups were the Algonquian and the

The Algonquians were primarily involved in trading and fishing. These
people remained in groups called bands, which included relatives such as
parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Algonquians
primarily hunted, and so would develop groups to hunt in different areas.

They travelled around frequently and would take everything they needed
while on their hunting journey. In the winter, they used snowshoes; in the
Summer, they used the canoe. The Algonquians were always moving from one
location to another; because of their hunting they never stayed in one
location for a long period of time.

The Iroquoians were mainly occupied with agriculture. This group
established themselves near land which could be farmed upon. They remained
in this area until the land was exhausted and nothing more could be
cultivated upon it. After the land was worthless it was abandoned and
another piece of land was selected upon which to plant at another location.

Their villages were known as Longhouses. These Longhouses were quite large
and supported more than five families in them. The men were mainly the
people who constructed the Longhouse. While the men were busy during the
summer, hunting, trading, or engaging in war, the women would care for the
crops. The Iroquoians helped contribute to agriculture by being one of the
first to grow crops.

While trading with the Europeans, the Indians were faced with many
instances that were devastating and other cases which helped them profit.

Trade in New France was so prominent that France decided to create a
monopoly to bring the trade under control. Two provisions had to be met:
Firstly, the private fur trading company had to
promote colonization. Secondly, it had to send
Roman Catholic missionaries to Christianize the
On the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Tadoussac, became the chief trading centre for
the Europeans. The trade route surrounding Tadoussac contained connections
from Hudson Bay to New England. Some negative aspects of the fur trade
were that:
The Fur Trade at first enriched traditional
Indian life, but later increasing competition
for pelts generated conflicts that led to the
dispersal of many Indian groups. Indian wars
grew out of long standing rivalries or
developed as a result of Indian disputes over
An outcome of trading with the Europeans that devastated the Indians,
was the epidemics which the Europeans presented. These epidemics destroyed
a large percentage of the Indian population, which they did not deserve and
which were calamitous to the population.

Certain groups, such as the Hurons, abandoned agriculture and focused
on trading. This reveals that trading had an enormous impact on Indians
and their heritage. The Indians were still in control of exchanging furs,
since Indians controlled the supply of beaver


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