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

By Bruce G. Trigger | Go to book overview

Chapter 9 The Storm

The Huron and the French

GROWING DEPENDENCE ON TRADE

By 1640 not only the Huron but most of the Indians in eastern Canada and adjacent parts of the United States had become dependent on the fur trade. Novel economic pressures were transforming their lives and interrelationships at an accelerating rate. In particular, increasing demands for European goods began to generate new kinds of conflicts as tribes were driven to compete for the limited supplies of beaver skins that were available. Exacerbated by the competitiveness of rival European traders, these conflicts were to shatter the established tribal patterns of this area within scarcely more than a decade. Unlike some earlier conflicts, the new ones were not over access to European traders or trade goods, but over obtaining the furs with which European goods could be purchased.

Serious readjustments in the economic life of the entire region were necessitated by the sharp drop in human population between 1636 and 1640. Since both the Huron and the northern hunting peoples probably declined by about half, it would be reasonable to expect a proportional decrease in the number of furs that were traded after this time. Yet the figures for the decade between 1640 and 1650 suggest that the annual volume of furs supplied to the French did not drop. In 1645 an estimated 30,000 pounds of beaver skins were exported from New France (Thwaites 1896–1901, 27:85). The following year the figure was 32,000 pounds (28:235), and in 1648 it was 22,400 pounds (32:103). While a beaver pelt weighs approximately one and a half British pounds, Jérôme Lalemant’s statement that furs were selling in France for ten livres per pound inconclusively suggests that at this period a pound generally signified an individual skin (28:235). This would make possible a direct comparison with earlier documents in which statistics are given in terms of skins rather than weights. Yet even if the pounds referred to are actual weights, these figures indicate an increase in the annual volume of trade over the average 12,000 to 15,000 skins that were exported before 1627 (4:207). It thus

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Illustrations xvi
  • Maps xxi
  • Preface to the 1987 Reprinting xxiv
  • Preface to the First Edition xxxviii
  • To Barbara, Isabel, and Rosalyn xliv
  • Chapter 1- Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2- The Huron and Their Neighbours 27
  • Chapter 3- The Birth of the Huron 105
  • Chapter 4- Alien Shadows 177
  • Chapter 5- Forging an Alliance 246
  • Chapter 6- The Quiet Years 331
  • Chapter 7- The Interregnum and - The New Alliance 455
  • Chapter 8- The Deadly Harvest 499
  • Chapter 9- The Storm 603
  • Chapter 10- The Storm within 665
  • Chapter 11- The End of the Confederacy 725
  • Chapter 12- Betrayal and Salvation 789
  • Chapter 13- Conclusions 841
  • Notes 851
  • References 857
  • Index 885
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