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

By Bruce G. Trigger | Go to book overview

Chapter 13 Conclusions

The Huron were only one of hundreds of Indian groups that were dispersed or lost their independence as a result of European activities. It is appropriate, therefore, to conclude this study by summarizing certain aspects of the Huron experience that may be useful for interpreting the early phases of interaction between Europeans and other Indian groups, or between complex and small-scale societies generally.

Archaeological data demonstrate the fallacy of the notion that prior to European contact the northern Iroquoian-speaking peoples were in a state of cultural equilibrium. Changes went on in the Indian cultures of eastern North America at all periods, but beginning before A.D. 1000 the way of life of the Iroquoians started to change more rapidly as they adopted a horticultural subsistence economy. Large, multi-clan communities came into existence, whose social organization grew more complex as bonds of kinship were supplemented by increasingly important ties of reciprocity. Gift giving, curing societies, and ritualized forms of competition came to have growing regulatory importance in Iroquoian life. Village councils on which clan segments had representation provided a model for political integration that could be expanded to embrace tribes and ultimately whole confederacies.

Far from being unchanging in prehistoric times as many ethnologists formerly imagined, almost every facet of Iroquoian culture appears to have undergone significant change in the centuries preceding European contact. By expanding and altering existing institutions to meet the requirements of rapid change, the prehistoric Iroquoians show themselves to have been the very opposite of conservative. At the same time they appear to have forged a set of cultural values that have permitted the survival to the present day of a distinctively Iroquoian identity and style. While a similar degree of change cannot be attributed automatically to other Indian groups, archaeological work indicates that such changes were not unusual in late pre-Columbian times. If historians are to interpret correctly the impact that Europeans had on other groups, it is necessary that they pay adequate attention to archaeological and other types of evidence that bears on the nature of change among these groups prior to the time of contact.

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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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