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The Dutch and the Iroquois War



Three Cultures Collide: The Iroquois, Dutch, French in the 17th Century

Me and Indio all geared up in traditional warrior clothing
This morning, Kevin and I got up and headed for Onondaga Lake Park, near Syracuse, New York.

At the park, we went to the re-creations of Mission St. Marie. The mission is a living history museum. This means that in the museum, there are actors who dress and speak as though they live in the 1600s. There we met Indio Trensa. He was dressed like an Onondaga Indian from the 1600s.

Indio showed us different things that the Iroquois would wear. He let me wear a bear hide and a headdress made of turkey feathers.

Then we walked outside where the recreation of Mission St. Marie was. There were two people acting as if it was still the 1600s. Because they never came out of character, you could only ask them questions that pertained to the mission. We walked into the front doors of the Mission where chickens and a hog ran free. The man who greeted us introduced himself as Pier. As he showed us around the Mission, he told us that the French and the local tribe Iroquois had made peace.

The Iroquois and the French had been fighting for a long time, because of the fur trade. The Dutch and the French wanted beaver pelts to make hats. The Natives around the area wanted the metal tools of the Dutch and French to replace their old wooden and stone ones. So the natives would trade fur for tools. This fur trade led to warfare between some of the Native Tribes and the Europeans. So in 1653 the French and the Iroquois made a peace agreement. The Governor of New France, Lauson, and the Onondaga Chief Garakonite were the ones who signed the initial treaty. Because of this treaty, the Iroquois extended an invitation to the French to build a Jesuit mission in the Onondaga territory. In 1656 fifty men came to Lake Onondaga and built the Mission. This was the first European settlement in Onondaga Territory.

Because of this peace, the mission was allowed to have a camp in the middle of Iroquois territory. The two main reasons that the mission's existence was to spread the word of the Christians, and try to convert the local Indians to Christianity. They were also there for the fur trade. American furs were big money at the time, and beaver pelt and other animal furs were used to make hats and coats.

The mission camp was very elaborate. They had a cookhouse were they prepared all the food. They ate lots of fish because it was against their religion to eat meat on Sundays and Wednesdays. They also farmed corn and beans, so they had a good source of vegetables. (There were hardly any women in the mission, because it was a very dangerous trip through the rivers leading into Lake Onondaga. The trip was made by canoe. Most men didn't want their women to go through this hardship, so the women primarily stayed at home.) The mission had a stockade around the outside for protection from enemies.

We move on down to New Paltz, NY approximately 200 miles from Onondaga Lake Park. It's the late 1600's and there is another settlement. These people are also French, but they are refugees who fled from France to escape persecution. The Roman Catholics were killing anybody who refused to convert to their religion. So these Protestants from France came to New Paltz, NY to live where they could speak their own language, practice their own religion, and live the lifestyle that they wanted to live. However, even though these French Huguenots were escaping persecution, that doesn't mean that they were little angels themselves. All most all of the families that lived in New Paltz owned slaves. These slave-owning families settled in big houses along Huguenots Street in New Paltz, NY. They were very good builders and worked very hard. Some of them had pubs in their basement, and some even had inns that travelers like me could stay in.

All in all the main reasons that the French Huguenots came to New Paltz, NY was to escape persecution and to have freedom, to live the type of life styles that they want to. This is still the case people come to America every year to live and be free. The whole United States is made up of refugees, travelers, and people from all different backgrounds. But we all have to take part in the government in order to have the rights we want. We can't let the government have all the control. We as citizens have to take it in our hands in order make this place work the way it's supposed to. When you don't agree with something that our government is doing, you have the right to question it. Just because the government has authority doesn't mean that it always has the answers. As citizens, we have a duty to help our elected officials to do their jobs.

We also have to question events. Every event has a different view so in order for things to be accurate we have to look at whose telling the story, and what view they are looking at it from. Just because you read one thing doesn't necessarily mean it's correct. It's a good idea to always have more than one source.

Our ancestors came to this country for many different reasons but the over all reason was for freedom and exploration. So let's all stand up for our rights and explore the freedom that we have. Keep the Peace.


Please email me at: nick@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - How do you voodoo? The truth beyond the Hollywood myth
Kevin - The Huguenot History Rap
Rebecca - If Jamestown wasn't the first colony, what was?
Daphne - The low-down on New Orleans culture
Hero? Villian? The Team Gets MAD about Columbus!