In 1745, the Iroquoians still spoke their mother tongue. But depending on where they lived, some had also learned French or English.

The Huron near Québec City

Many of the Huron (Wendat) of the region of Jeune-Lorette (Wendake), which is right beside Québec City, spoke French in 1745. They had learned the language through their frequent interactions with the inhabitants of Québec City. They were bilingual because they also spoke the Huron language (Wendat language).For a while, there were no living speakers of the the Hurons (Wendat) language, but around 2020, there are efforts to revitalize the language using documents written by the Jesuit missionaries during their efforts to evangelize the Wendat people.

The domiciled Iroquois

Most of the people living in the Iroquois villages near Montréal spoke Kanyen’kéha (Mohawk language). Some also spoke French, but not as many as the Huron.

The missionaries in the villages often spoke one or more Indigenous languages. This is because they thought it would be easier to convert Indigenous people by using their own language. The missionaries even translated religious songs and prayers into various Indigenous languages.

Today, many people in the communities of Kahnawake, Kanesatake and Akwesasne still speak the Kanyen’kéha (Mohawk language). Most of them also speak English.

The Six Nations and the Huron-Petun

The Six Nations Iroquois who lived on their ancestral territory still spoke their mother tongue. A few of them had also learned French or English. This was the more or less the same among the Huron-Petun of what is now Quebec and Ontario: they all spoke Wendat language, but some also spoke French.

Author:  Service national du Récit de l’univers social Adaptations by LEARN.


[Notes: 1. “Still considered endangered, the Huron-Wendat language is being revitalized by Huron-Wendat peoples through a variety of educational programs and initiatives, including a dictionary.” Source  2. The Tuscarora were accepted in 1722 as the Sixth Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee.] 

Quickly check your knowledge: