Your Fyre Shall Burn No More: Iroquois Policy toward New France and Its Native Allies to 1701

Your Fyre Shall Burn No More: Iroquois Policy toward New France and Its Native Allies to 1701

Your Fyre Shall Burn No More: Iroquois Policy toward New France and Its Native Allies to 1701

Your Fyre Shall Burn No More: Iroquois Policy toward New France and Its Native Allies to 1701

Synopsis

Why were the Iroquois unrelentingly hostile toward the French colonists and their Native allies? The longstanding "Beaver War" interpretation of seventeenth-century Iroquois-French hostilities holds that the Iroquois' motives were primarily economic, aimed at controlling the profitable fur trade. José António Brandão argues persuasively against this view. Drawing from the original French and English sources, Brandão has compiled a vast array of quantitative data about Iroquois raids and mortality rates. He offers a penetrating examination of seventeenth-century Iroquoian attitudes toward foreign policy and warfare, contending that the Iroquois fought New France not primarily to secure their position in a new market economy but for reasons that traditionally fueled Native warfare: to replenish their populations, safeguard hunting territories, protect their homes, gain honor, and seek revenge.

Excerpt

The Five Nations Iroquois were, and to some extent still are, the great "bogeymen" of seventeenth-century Canadian history. Schoolchildren in both French and English Canada were introduced to the stories of Canada's heroic first settlers struggling to overcome adversity and settle a new land. Adversity had two faces: one was the harsh environment, one of the great themes of Canadian literature. The other face was Iroquois and inevitably was painted for war. If contemporary sensibilities have led to kinder treatment of natives and the environment in textbooks, they had not when I began my education. Then the "cruel" wars the Iroquois waged against New France were the fires that forged the metal of Canada's "new" peoples.

Often, that was all the exposure to the history of the Iroquois most Canadians received. Even if one carried on to university, one could hope to learn little more than that--certainly not in the general textbooks that were assigned reading. If one was fortunate enough to land at a university that taught the history of New France (it is surprising how many places in Canada do not consider essential the history of the nation before 1763), one might learn more about early Indian-European contact, but with rare exceptions the Iroquois were still used as a means to make points about European valor. Through no foresight of my own I ended up at the University of Toronto, where W. J. Eccles, one of those rare exceptions, taught.

Nonetheless, if the focus on the Iroquois was to study them in their own right, the warfare they waged and their hostility toward New France were still . . .

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