M u s e u m  C r e a t e d  L e s s o n

Lesson 2: Trade

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Pointe-à-Callière, musée d'archéologie et d'histoire de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec

Trade scene
Europeans and Natives share goods
Europeans and Natives share goods including furs

Francis Back

©Francis Back
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Learning Object Collection: The Great Peace of Montréal, 1701
Learning Object: Trade
Pointe-à-Callière, musée d'archéologie et d'histoire de Montréal.
© 2012, Pointe-à-Callière, musée d'archéologie et d'histoire de Montréal. All Rights Reserved.
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Learning Object Collection: The Great Peace of Montréal, 1701
Learning Object: Trade
- A computer
- An Internet connection, to consult the virtual exhibition The Great Peace of Montreal 1701, (
- Sheets of paper and pencils
Work method
As a class and in teams

Note for teachers
This lesson builds on lesson No. 1 and lays the groundwork for lesson No. 3. After locating the French, British and main First Nations (the Iroquois League and the allied Great Lakes nations, in particular) on a map, the students will learn about the relationships between them. Lesson No. 2 will focus mainly on trade, while lesson No. 3 will look more specifically at the political relationships that brought the parties to the treaty together.

The teaching approach adopted here is a sort of role-playing game in which some students will act as Native hunters who have come to trade furs, and others will play the part of European merchants. By the end of the activity, the students should have gained a critical understanding of this trade.
The gathering in 1701 was primarily a political one. Yet it was made possible by not only political ties, but also trading connections that had been forged between the First Nations and Europeans since the early 16th century. In fact, when they arrived in Montréal, the Native delegations did not come empty handed. They brought loads of pelts that they intended to trade for manufactured goods from Europe.
Remind your students of the lesson objectives:
1) to understand the importance of trade between Natives and Europeans; and
2) to determine its direct and indirect role in the 1701 peace negotiations.
You can use the illustration by Francis Back, to present these objectives.
Step 1
Explain that they will be learning through a role-playing exercise.

Break up the class into two large teams; one will play the role of Natives, and the other will play European merchants.
Step 2
Ask each team to choose the identity of the person they will be playing, by answering these questions: For the Native team, what First Nation do they belong to? For the second team, are they French merchants based in Montreal, or French merchants at a trading post?
Step 3
Ask each team to go to and find a number of objects to trade. Then invite them to imagine a meeting.
Step 4
To guide them, ask them to answer the following questions:

For the Native group:
- What have they come to trade (must be one or two items from the virtual exhibition)?
- Why do they need to trade for these items?
- What types of pelts are they trading?
- Was the hunting good, or will they have to ask the European merchants for credit?

For the European group:
- What do they need (mainly beaver pelts)?
- How will they try to get these pelts from the Natives?
- What will they give the Natives in exchange for their pelts (must be one or two items from the virtual exhibition)?
- Will they bargain honestly, or offer the Natives alcohol to take advantage of them and get more pelts?
Step 5
Ask each team to appoint a spokesperson and begin acting out the imaginary meeting.
Step 6
When they have finished the role-playing exercise, ask the students to take a critical look at this trade.

Guide them with the following questions:
- What types of items were most often traded?
- How did the Natives benefit from this trade?
- And how did the European merchants benefit?
- How did the Natives view these exchanges? (As gifts, but also as business transactions, since the Natives were perfectly aware of the value of their pelts and could occasionally play one merchant off against another. This was particularly the case for the Iroquois, who traded with both the British and the French.)
Step 7
Then ask the students what impact they think this trade had on the 1701 peace negotiations.

Many different answers are possible, but they must include:
– the close trading relationships between the Natives and the French led to the creation of strong political alliances, further strengthened by the signing of the 1701 treaty.

– the trading relationships between the Iroquois and the British complicated the Iroquois presence in Montréal, since they were less interested in making a commitment to the French. Could they be trusted?

– trading was also conducted in Montréal.
Step 8
Wrap up this lesson by summarizing what the students have learned, and tell them that the question they will have to answer is intended to determine whether they properly understand the issues involved in trade between the Natives and European merchants.
Summarize, in a few lines, the benefits and drawbacks for the First Nations of trading with French merchants.

Learning Objectives

This lesson is intended for secondary three and four students. Its objective is to:
- familiarize the students with trade between Europeans and First Nations in the 17th century
- encourage them to take a critical look at the benefits and drawbacks of this trade

Subject-specific competencies developed (SSC)
SSC 2: Interpret social phenomena using the historical method

Estimated time: 30 minutes