Most of the now Six Nations Iroquois (the Haudenosaunee) and the Huron (Wendat) -Petun of the Great Lakes were still practicing the same religion as they did in 1500. This religion was based on the belief that everything around us has supernatural forces.

However, Indigenous people living in the villages of the St. Lawrence Valley had all been converted to Catholicism. They regularly prayed, attended church and practiced the Catholic rites. Within their nations, those who practiced the Catholic religion were not always treated well by those who continued to believe in their ancestral religion. As a result, some left their territory to settle near French towns.

The Catholic religion practiced by converted Indigenous people was a bit different from the Catholic religion practiced by the French, because it had been imbued with their ancient beliefs. Indigenous people sometimes adapted certain practices of their former religion to their new religion. Rosaries became coveted objects, just as amulets once were. These were a sort of lucky charm believed to possess great power. But many other Indigenous peoples’ rites had lost their meaning and eventually disappeared, such as burying the dead with their personal belongings.

Author:  Service national du Récit de l’univers social

See also – Traces of the past:


[Notes: The Tuscarora were accepted in 1722 as the Sixth Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy, or Haudenosaunee.] 

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