Indigenous Peoples around 1745
War and diseases decreased the number of Indigenous people living in New France. For example, in 1500, there were around 100 000 Iroquoians; by 1745, the population was only about 12 000. Some Nations, like the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, no longer existed. Others had been pushed from their ancestral territory by settlers. Although large fights between Indigenous Nations ended with the Great Peace of 1701, populations had already been affected.
“Reductions” or Reserves
Around 1745, more and more Indigenous people lived in villages, also known as “reductions,” or reserves, that the French built in the St. Lawrence Valley. This was the beginning of the reserve system. These reserves were under the authority of the religious community. French missionaries wanted to convert Indigenous Peoples to Catholicism and teach them the French. Indigenous Peoples worked hard to retain their traditional ways of life, knowledge, spiritual beliefs and languages.
Reserves still exist today, but the church no longer manages them. Indigenous Peoples have worked hard to obtain more autonomy in managing their communities and preserving their diverse ways of life, cultures and beliefs.
Author: Alexandre Lanoix. Translations and adaptions by LEARN.
See also – Traces of the past: