Mohawk of the St Lawrence Valley

From the late 1660's onwards, several hundred Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) mainly from the Mohawk nation settled in the region of Montréal. Most converted to Catholicism or underwent the process of doing so.

Mohawk of the St Lawrence Valley

From the late 1660's onwards, several hundred Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) mainly from the Mohawk nation settled in the region of Montréal. Most converted to Catholicism or underwent the process of doing so. French authorities encouraged the migration, hoping in this way to limit the risks of Haudenosaunee attacks against the Laurentian colony. Three Mohawk communities would spring forth from this migration: Kahnawake, Kanesatake and Akwesasne. Before the conquest of New France (1760), the Mohawk of the St Lawrence Valley were considered valued military allies of the French. Still, this fact did not hinder them from maintaining regular relations with the League of Five Nation Haudenosaunee and the English colony of New York.

Kahnawake, which hosts the great fire of the Seven Nations of Canada, was at that time an important centre of Amerindian diplomacy. It maintained this role for several decades after the conquest of New France, when the Mohawk allied with the British. In 1840, the Haudenosaunee population of the St Lawrence Valley expanded to about 2400. The village of Kahnawake was the most populous with close to 1500 inhabitants.

The appearance of Haudenosaunee villages in the St Lawrence Valley began to change in the mid-18th century, when traditional longhouses gave way to standard Canadian housing styles. Nevertheless, cultivating corn was an important subsistence activity and remained so into the mid-19th century, particularly for women. Every year the men dedicated several weeks to the hunt, which they carried out mainly south of the St Lawrence. However, in the 19th century these pursuits became increasingly difficult due to the rapid progress of colonization of the area. At the same period, several Mohawk became involved in various construction sites where their talents for working at heights quickly earned them a strong reputation.

Today the Mohawk live in urban and semi-urban environments. More than 13 000 strong, they are Québec's most populous Aboriginal nation.


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