The Indians were the main focus of the history of New France, and



influenced the Europeans in the period before 1663. The Indians, being



numerous compared with the Europeans, came into frequent contact with them.



The Indians and Europeans traded items with one another, which led to



various events and actions that contributed greatly to the history of New



France. The Europeans who arrived after the Indians had already settled



were exposed to the native people\'s way of life, from which techniques for



survival were acquired. Later, the Europeans depended on the Indians, some



of whom acted as middlemen and who had items which were valuable to them.



Various Indian personalities were also observed and admired by Europeans



particularly the Jesuits.



 



The Native Indians were among the first people to enter North America.



They entered America through the passage of the Bering Strait, a location



which is the midpoint of Alaska and Siberia. As time passed, they settled



on various pieces of land and hunted, fished and grew crops. Alfred Bailey



mentions that, "It had been suggested that Siouans, the Iroquoians and



Algonquians were among the first to enter America."1 Before the Europeans



arrived, there were many native tribes that were already settled. By the



time Europeans arrived in North America, they found natives occupying large



amounts of land.2 The Indians helped start the history of New France.



 



Since the natives arrived early in North America, their population



started to increase quite rapidly. With the combination of migration as



well as the birth rate, the Indians inflated their population to a large



size. "In 1663, there were only still 3000 Europeans living in New France,



no more people than constituted a small Iroquoian tribe."3 The Indians



were in the majority before 1663.



 



Surrounding the area of New France there were two main native groups



who spoke different languages. These groups were the Algonquian and the



Iroquoian.



 



The Algonquians were primarily involved in trading and fishing. These



people remained in groups called bands, which included relatives such as



parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Algonquians



primarily hunted, and so would develop groups to hunt in different areas.



They travelled around frequently and would take everything they needed



while on their hunting journey. In the winter, they used snowshoes; in the



Summer, they used the canoe. The Algonquians were always moving from one



location to another; because of their hunting they never stayed in one



location for a long period of time.



 



The Iroquoians were mainly occupied with agriculture. This group



established themselves near land which could be farmed upon. They remained



in this area until the land was exhausted and nothing more could be



cultivated upon it. After the land was worthless it was abandoned and



another piece of land was selected upon which to plant at another location.



Their villages were known as Longhouses. These Longhouses were quite large



and supported more than five families in them. The men were mainly the



people who constructed the Longhouse. While the men were busy during the



summer, hunting, trading, or engaging in war, the women would care for the



crops. The Iroquoians helped contribute to agriculture by being one of the



first to grow crops.



 



While trading with the Europeans, the Indians were faced with many



instances that were devastating and other cases which helped them profit.



Trade in New France was so prominent that France decided to create a



monopoly to bring the trade under control. Two provisions had to be met:



 



Firstly, the private fur trading company had to



promote colonization. Secondly, it had to send



Roman Catholic missionaries to Christianize the



Indians.4



 



On the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Tadoussac, became the chief trading centre for



the Europeans. The trade route surrounding Tadoussac contained connections



from Hudson Bay to New England. Some negative aspects of the fur trade



were that:



 



The Fur Trade at first enriched traditional



Indian life, but later increasing competition



for pelts generated conflicts that led to the



dispersal of many Indian groups. Indian wars



grew out of long standing rivalries or



developed as a result of Indian disputes over



furs.5



 



An outcome of trading with the Europeans that devastated the Indians,



was the epidemics which the Europeans presented. These epidemics destroyed



a large percentage of the Indian population, which they did not deserve and



which were calamitous to the population.



 



Certain groups, such as the Hurons, abandoned agriculture and focused



on trading. This reveals that trading had an enormous impact on Indians



and their heritage. The Indians were still in control of exchanging furs,



since Indians controlled the supply of beaver pelt sought by the Dutch and



French traders, who waited at ports on