In the seventeenth century, French fishermen, fur traders, and explorers were landing in New France, which included not only Quebec but all the lands watered by the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. They traded and made alliances with native tribes such as the Hurons and Algonquins.
But for a long time, their small numbers and the vast territories they traveled made it difficult for them to dominate the Indians, as the Spanish in Mexico and South America had done with the more united, sedentary, and agrarian Indians of those regions. By making treaties with the Hurons, the French automatically incurred the bitter opposition of their enemies, the fierce and warlike Iroquois nation—and especially the Mohawks, a branch of the Iroquois.
Childhood in Captivity
This was the world into which Kateri (Catherine) Tekakwitha was born in the year 1656, near upstate Auriesville, New York (now the site of the shrine to the North American Jesuit martyrs). Ten years before, about a mile or so away from her village, the great French Jesuit missionary Isaac Jogues had suffered torture and death.
Tekakwitha’s own family reflected…
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