Living in a mission
Beginning in the 1650s, many Indigenous people who had been converted to Catholicism came to settle in the St. Lawrence Valley near the settlements of French colonists around Québec City, Trois-Rivières and Montréal. These peoples were referred to as “domiciled”, which means to treat a new region as ones permanent home.
Seven of these Indigenous villages still exist today.
French missionaries could be found in all these villages. They would even have a chapel built. The Catholic religion played an important role in community life. The French were happy to have these Indigenous villages nearby because the domiciled Natives helped to protect the colony and participated in the fur trade.
The Huron of Jeune-Lorette (Wendake)
The Huron were the first Iroquoians to seek refuge near Québec City in 1650. They settled for good at Jeune-Lorette in 1697, where a Huron community can still be found today.
It was in Wendake where Native people had a lifestyle that most closely resembled that of the inhabitants of French origin. Many of them had abandoned the longhouse for a “Canadian” home. Their clothes were also similar to those of the inhabitants in neighbouring Québec City.
The Iroquois villages: Kahnawake, Kanesatake and Akwesasne
The Iroquois started arriving in the St. Lawrence Valley in the 1660s. The first village and the one that remained the largest was Kahnawake.
Around 1745, most of the homes in Iroquois villages were still longhouses. In Kanesatake, however, some Canadian homes had started to appear. Following the example of the colonists, more and more Indigenous people had begun to raise domestic animals and own horses, particularly in Kahnawake.
The Iroquois of these villages remained in close contact with the (now) Six Nations Iroquois to the south, who had remained on their territory and had not converted to Catholicism.
[Notes: The Tuscarora were accepted in 1722 as the Sixth Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee.]