The Iroquois threat
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The Iroquois threat
The Iroquois threat
The Iroquois dominated the east of North America.
 The Iroquois attacked New France's outposts in the 1650s and 1660s, killing settlers and taking prisoners. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
The Iroquois attacked New France's outposts in the 1650s and 1660s, killing settlers and taking prisoners. (As portrayed in Canada: A People's History)
The Five Nations were 12,000 strong and had 2,200 warriors. In 1626, they defeated the Mohicans and imposed a tribute on all the peoples living in the valley of the Hudson and New England. In 1640, they destroyed the Huron nation in war. Now they threatened the settlers of New France. During this time, France, under Louis XIV, ignored its colony's demands.

New France had only 350 settlers at the time. From 1645 to 1665, the French colony was under siege.

"They come like foxes through the woods", recounted the book of Jesuit Relations," They attack like lions, they take flight like birds. They would pass before Quebec in broad noonday and no one could pursue them or recover the prisoners."

Masters of guerrilla warfare, the Iroquois avoided frontal attacks and long pitched battles, and increased their devastating raids, which minimised casualties for them.

From 1642, the Iroquois attacked Montreal, the small trading post of Trois-Rivières and Quebec.
After living with the Huron as a young man, Pierre Boucher became a merchant and governor of Trois-Rivieres. (As portrayed Carl Marotte in Canada: A People's History)
After living with the Huron as a young man, Pierre Boucher became a merchant and governor of Trois-Rivieres. (As portrayed Carl Marotte in Canada: A People's History)
The French were under threat everywhere. Trading and farming suffered:

"For a year, the warehouse of Ville-Marie has not bought a single beaver-skin from the Savages," a Jesuit recounted. "At Trois-Rivières, the little revenue that has accrued has been used to fortify the place, the enemy being expected there. In the Quebec warehouse there is nothing but poverty. The Iroquois are hindering the trading of beaver skin, which has always been one of this country's greatest riches.

The merchants and colonists were obliged to defend themselves on their own, without help from France.
No land was cleared. The economic situation became disastrous.

Pierre Boucher, now merchant and governor of Trois-Rivières, described the atmosphere:

"They can set up an ambush anywhere; a small bush can conceal six or seven of these barbarians...We are always in fear that some unfortunate man not be able to work in safety if he wanders off the least distance. A woman lives with the constant fear that her husband, who has left that morning to work, will be killed or captured and that she will never see him again."

The Iroquois defeated the Petun and Ottawa nations in 1652, thus gaining control of both banks of the upper St.
Lawrence. In 1658 a secret council of the Five Nations voted for the destruction of the large fortified village Sainte-Marie de Gannentaha, in the heart of Iroquois territory, 200 km to the west of Albany. An Iroquois chief, proud of his warriors and of the terror they wreaked, said much later: "During the first war, the French did not even dare go out and piss, we had frightened them so."

In early May 1660, obeying a change in defence strategy, a young officer from Montreal, Adam Dollard des Ormeaux, left the fortified enclosure with his Huron allies to protect an important convoy of furs, piloted by Radisson, on the Ottawa river.

He thought he would outwit the Iroquois but was caught in their trap instead: Dollard and the 16 men in his troop were ambushed in their camp and all massacred, with the exception of five prisoners.
Their flesh was distributed among the Iroquois' allies "so they might all taste French flesh", according to the book of Jesuit Relations.

In 1661, in the Montreal area, the Mohawks killed fifty settlers and captured another hundred.


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The Iroquois threat

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