Assembly in front of the Callière's Castle

Assembly in front of the Callière's Castle during the Great Peace of 1701

Francis Back
c. 2000
Illustration
© Francis Back


The arrival of the first Whites in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in the 16th century, brought many changes to the lives of the Native people in the region. They quickly started trading furs and food for cookware and firearms. But this trade was a two-way street. The Europeans learned much from Native hunters in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries that allowed them to survive in difficult, unfamiliar conditions.

The events surrounding the signing of the Great Peace Treaty reflected the tremendous cultural and social diversity of the parties involved. Western societies were written cultures, while Native societies were oral cultures. Some of the signatures on the treaty were names (Louis-Hector de Callière and Jean Bochart de Champigny, Intendant of New France), while others were marks or drawings.
Each First Nations representative signed with a pictogram that referred to his people. Two key examples: 1) the Ottawa of the Fork signed with a fork symbol representing their home at the confluence of three rivers; 2) the Menominees, or Folles avoines, signed with a thunderbird holding a stalk of wild rice, or “wild oats.” The mark of the muskrat for the Huron-Wenda Read More
The arrival of the first Whites in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, in the 16th century, brought many changes to the lives of the Native people in the region. They quickly started trading furs and food for cookware and firearms. But this trade was a two-way street. The Europeans learned much from Native hunters in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries that allowed them to survive in difficult, unfamiliar conditions.

The events surrounding the signing of the Great Peace Treaty reflected the tremendous cultural and social diversity of the parties involved. Western societies were written cultures, while Native societies were oral cultures. Some of the signatures on the treaty were names (Louis-Hector de Callière and Jean Bochart de Champigny, Intendant of New France), while others were marks or drawings.
Each First Nations representative signed with a pictogram that referred to his people. Two key examples: 1) the Ottawa of the Fork signed with a fork symbol representing their home at the confluence of three rivers; 2) the Menominees, or Folles avoines, signed with a thunderbird holding a stalk of wild rice, or “wild oats.” The mark of the muskrat for the Huron-Wendats referred to the mark of Kondiaronk, the chief who had recently died. This shows how individuals had their own identity within their society, just as Callière was not just any French colonist in New France.

© 2012, Pointe-à-Callière, musée d'archéologie et d'histoire de Montréal. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

Be familiar with the culture of the First Nations signatories of the Great Peace.
Educate students to culturals exchanges.

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