A weakened population

The effects of war and disease had continued to affect Indigenous people, and their population had declined significantly. In 1500, there had been 100 000 Iroquoians; by 1745 only 12 000 were left. Nations like the St. Lawrence Iroquoians no longer existed and others had been driven from their ancestral territory. Since the Great Peace of 1701, conflicts between Indigenous nations had ended, but the damage had already been done. Indigenous peoples and groups had become such a small social group that they no longer had any political influence in New France.

The “domiciled” (resident Indigenous peoples)

More and more Indigenous people now lived in villages, also known as “reductions”, or reserves, that had been built in the St. Lawrence Valley. The Indigenous people living there gave up part of their traditional way of life and lived under the authority of the religious communities who ran these villages. They also adopted the catholic religion and, most of the time, learned French. This was the beginning of the reserve system as we know it today.

Did you know?

Many Indigenous people still live on reserves today and were only recently recognized as equal citizens. They are greatly concerned with preserving their traditional culture and have made several claims to achieve more autonomy in managing their own communities.

Author: Alexandre Lanoix

See also – Traces of the past:

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