Where were the Iroquois?
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Indians have been populating the forest areas between Newfoundland and the Rocky Mountains for around 10,000 years. The first inhabitants of the American continent had immigrated from Asia over land and ice bridges. Stone Age people of the Dorset culture had settled on the northern coastal regions of the Arctic for about 5,000 years. Around 1,000 years ago, they were ousted by the Thule, who immigrated from Alaska, the ancestors of today's Eskimos. The first Europeans reached the Newfoundland coast around 900 AD. They were Vikings from what is now Norway and Denmark. Very little is known about their work on the American continent. Famous researchers like Thor Heyerdahl try to prove that there was a lively cultural exchange between the "old" and the "new" world long before Columbus.
In 1497 Giovanni Caboto took possession of the "new-found land" for the English crown. The French landed on the St. Lawrence River under Jacques Cartier four decades later. There they founded Nouvelle France, today's province of Québec. The name Canada first appeared in Cartier's reports. It is probably taken from the Iroquois language, in which "kanata" means "village" or "settlement". In 1610, Henry Hudson discovered Hudson Bay, later named after him, but failed in an attempt to find the legendary Northwest Passage.
Soon the English and French were fighting fierce competition in the lucrative fur trade. Before the European conquest, the entire area between the Saint Lawrence River in the north, the Cumberland River in the south, the Mississippi in the west and the central Atlantic coast in the east was covered by large forest areas. This was also the habitat of the northeast woodland tribes. Most of the tribes belonged to the Algonquin language family. Only a few smaller groups and the residents of the great eastern lakes area were Iroquois-speaking Indians. The Indians of these areas practiced primitive but intensive forms of agriculture. They grew corn, beans, pumpkin, and the tobacco plant, sacred to the Indians. They went hunting and fishing.
Characteristic of the settlements of the woodland Indians were the long houses covered with bark, in which up to 200 members of a clan lived.
The northern zone of the woodland was shaped by the numerous lakes and rivers that served the Indians as traffic routes. In the early colonial days, several Algonquian and Iroquois tribes had formed tribal associations. Most of the information on Iroquois culture is found in 19th-century accounts by Henry Morgan. From reports by Jesuit missionaries, there is extensive information about the Hurons to the north of the eastern Great Lakes as early as the 17th century.
The social order of the Indians was structured in a matrilineal manner, i.e. organized in family groups that referred to a common ancestor. These clans lived together in the longhouses mentioned, in which the women ran the regiment. Even so, this social order was not a matter of matriarchy, since the chiefs and mostly the spiritual leaders were all men.
The period of first contact between Native Americans and whites, up to around 1700, was mainly determined by trade and primarily concerned the coastal Algonquin and the Saint Lawrence Iroquois. Hardware, pearls, brass kettles and alcohol were exchanged for beaver pelts, which are very popular in Europe. Due to the advance of the French from 1535 along the St. Lawrence River into the interior, European goods reached tribes living far from the coast via the Indian traffic routes. Conflicts soon broke out between the Indians, as everyone wanted to participate in the lucrative fur trade.
According to their interests, the Europeans supported one or the other tribe by supplying firearms. For example, in 1580 the coastal Algonquians were able to drive the Iroquois out of the Saint Lawrence Valley. With the beaver population on the coasts wiped out, the Algonquin tribes drove the Iroquois out. These had to withdraw further and further into the country and, under the pressure of the Algonquin and Hurons, allied with the French, formed the Iroquois League.
European influence changed Indian societies. The Europeans supplied weapons that upset the balance of power between the tribes. The Indians slowly became aware of the value of the land on which the fur animals were located. The number of Indians was greatly decimated by the struggles that arose out of the rivalry for trade advantages and by infectious diseases, which the natives had no defenses to counter.
From 1620 the traders followed the settlers, which changed the relationship between Indians and whites permanently. The settlers tried to buy land from the Indians. At first the Indians cooperated, but did not understand that the settlers wanted to keep the land permanently.
Little by little there was a fight and eventually an open fight. The English supported the Iroquois and supplied them with weapons to fight the Algonquin and the French. In the so-called King Philip War, the resistance of the coastal Indians was finally broken. The survivors retreated west, where they allied with the Iroquois. The Indians got help from the fur traders who supplied them with weapons and ammunition. At first the Indians succeeded in preventing the whites from advancing further. Over time, however, the habitat of the Indians was increasingly restricted. The clashes were cruel and the number of Indians decimated considerably. In the Peace of Paris in 1763, France lost its North American colonies to England and Louisiana to Spain. From 1776 to 1783 the Americans fought for their independence from England.
During the War of Independence, the Americans concluded various treaties with the newly formed alliances of the Indians and with individual Indian nations. The Americans recognized the land rights of the Indians in certain areas and their statehood. They wanted to prevent the Indian nations from allying themselves with the English and the Loyalists, but some tribes such as the Shawnee, the Delaware or the Sioux did. A total of about 3,000 Indians fought on the side of the English. In the Treaty of Versailles, England had to recognize the independence of the American colonies, with the exception of the Canadian provinces.
Much of the loyalists emigrated to Canada, mostly to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In 1791 the Province of Québec was divided into Upper and Lower Canada by the Constitutional Act. The self-government associated with the separation wanted to do justice to Anglo and French Canadians alike. Around 160,000 people lived in the province of Québec at that time, of whom only around 21,000 were English speakers. The Anglo-American War raged between 1812 and 1814. In the peace treaty of Ghent the United Kingdom and Great Britain essentially agreed on the 49th parallel as the border. In 1841, Upper and Lower Canada were reunited under the protest of the French Canadians. The British North America Act amalgamated Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on July 1, 1867 as provinces of the Dominion of Canada.
The Dominion Canada was now a parliamentary monarchy, with the British Queen as head of state. By 1873 the provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and the vast area of the Hudson Bay Company were added. In 1905 Alberta and Saskatchewan joined the Federation.
Canada participated in World War I since 1914. In 1931 Canada became sovereign through the Westminster Statute. During World War II Canada fought on the side of the Allies, and in 1949 the country joined the. In the 1960s there were new tensions between the Anglo and Franko Candians, who demanded a "free Québec". These tensions were exacerbated by the visit of French President de Gaulle in 1967. In 1968 RenÃ © LÃ © vesques founded the radical independence party Parti QuÃ © bÃ © cois. Terrorist attacks by the Front de Liberation du Québec (FLQ) worsened the situation in 1969 to such an extent that President Trudeau placed the country under martial law in 1970. In 1980 a referendum initiated by LÃ © vesques and his party in QuÃ © bec failed. The citizens chose to leave the province in the Federation.
In the 1980s, the policy towards the indigenous people also changed. Representatives from the Dene and Métis tribe were granted land rights in the Northwest Territories in 1988, as well as $ 500 million in severance pay. At the beginning of the 1990s, negotiations failed to anchor the province of Québec's special cultural identity in the Canadian constitution. In the federal elections in 1993, the Parti Québécois became the strongest opposition party. In 1995 there were elections in Québec and another referendum was held. The population chose to remain in the Federation with a slim majority of less than one percent. In the 1998 provincial elections, the Parti Québécois suffered heavy losses, but remained in government.
In 1992 the federal government granted the Inuit formal tenure of 350,000 km² in the east of the Northwest Territories and $ 580 million. The habitat of the Indians had been severely curtailed in the past centuries and their numbers had decreased drastically. Most of the descendants of the Indians lived on reservations and still do so today. The situation of the Indians has been improved by increasing the economic power and through improved training and this is to be continued in the future.
The Indians are now drawing a new self-confidence from their cultural roots. A development that began in the 1970s and which is summarized under the term "Der Rote Weg". The indigenous people assert legal claims and sometimes achieve considerable success. The fact that one of the most popular Canadian sports games can look back on a long Indian tradition strengthens them on their way. "Lacrosse" or rather "Baggataway", as the game is called in their language, helps them to rediscover their cultural identity.
Â © Project Group Multimedia 2010
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