The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660

The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660

The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660

The Children of Aataentsic: A History of the Huron People to 1660

Synopsis

Trigger's work integrates insights from archaeology, history, ethnology, linguistics, and geography. This wide knowledge allows him to show that, far from being a static prehistoric society quickly torn apart by European contact and the fur trade, almost every facet of Iroquoian culture had undergone significant change in the centuries preceding European contact. He argues convincingly that the European impact upon native cultures cannot be correctly assessed unless the nature and extent of precontact change is understood. His study not only stands Euro-American stereotypes and fictions on their heads, but forcefully and consistently interprets European and Indian actions, thoughts, and motives from the perspective of the Huron culture. The Children of Aataentsic revises widely accepted interpretations of Indian behaviour and challenges cherished myths about the actions of some celebrated Europeans during the "heroic age" of Canadian history. In a new preface, Trigger describes and evaluates contemporary controversies over the ethnohistory of eastern Canada.

Excerpt

When The Children of Aataentsic was published in 1976 I doubted that, whether its reception was favourable or unfavourable, there would ever be a call to reprint this mammoth work. Indeed I had serious reservations about whether a book of this scale was worthwhile and was greatly relieved when favourable reviews started to appear, beginning with the late Walter Kenyon’s “Masterwork” in Canadian Forum. In recent months I have received a growing number of inquiries about how copies might be obtained. It was therefore good to learn that McGill-Queen’s University Press, with the generous support of the Max Bell Foundation, was planning to reprint it in a handier and more economical format.

Practical considerations alone have dictated that the text and pagination remain unchanged, although in 1982 I had produced a partially revised manuscript version of the text for translation into French. (This translation will be published early in 1988 by Libre Expression.) It is also clear that many readers wanted a copy of the original work which has become of some historical interest in relation to the development of ethnohistorical studies of the Iroquoians. A substantial updating of The Children of Aataentsic has already been achieved in Natives and Newcomers (1985) which examines more recent developments in the historical and ethnohistorical study of the native peoples of central Canada, with special emphasis on methodological problems.

In The Children of Aataentsic my main objective was to demonstrate that it was possible to write a history of a native people that was not focused exclusively on their relations with Europeans. In order to make this work attractive to the general reader, I sought to keep methodological discussions as brief as possible. In my introduction I limited myself to considering the importance of archaeological data for ethnohistorical research, the value of the long-established concept of interest groups for achieving parity in analyses of native and European behaviour, and the necessity of trying to understand native actions as far as possible in terms of the rational pursuit of interests in order to expose the erroneousness of long-standing claims that native people were less rational than Europeans. Unknown to me, the latter goal was simultaneously being pursued by the American historian Francis . . .

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