The Seven Nations of Canada 1660-1860

By (author): Jean-Pierre Sawaya

Introduction by: Patricia Culliford

Translated by: Katherine Hastings

Wendake, Odanak, Wôlinak, Pointe-du-Lac, Kahnawake, Kanesatake, and Akwesasne are communities located all along the St. Lawrence River valley and its tributaries. They have been home to descendants of the Huron-Wendat, Algonquin, Nipissing, and Iroquois nations. The one point these First Nations have in common is that their ancestors were allies of the French and had converted to Christianity.

Historians have generally ignored these nations that the French administrators described as “domiciled Indians” (“sauvages domiciliés”). Jean-Pierre Sawaya carefully studied how an alliance of such diverse “missions” was created, developed and conducted to become The Federation of Seven Fires or The Seven Nations of Canada.

How did this confederation come about? Who took part and what were their roles? The answers are mined in the massive colonial archives. The Seven Nations of Canada is original research at its best, combining detailed analysis and systematic investigation, that has enabled the author to dispel the tenacious colonial myth about irrational, submissive, and fatalistic Indigenous peoples. Readers will discover forward-looking peoples motivated by a deep desire for independence and solidarity.


“This is a very interesting and wonderfully researched historical monograph. The translation is also very well undertaken, conveying the original French meanings and representations well. It is a historical work that details the origins, processes, rituals, language, and processes of the Seven Nations. I would highly recommend that students and academics, as well as anyone interested in Indigenous confederacies, diplomacy, rituals, language of diplomacy, and early relationships read this work.” Karl Hele, ANISHINABEK NEWS

“Sawaya has helped preserve and communicate this almost lost and certainly discounted history of the St. Lawrence Valley peoples that underlies the whole story of Eastern North America.” Sandra Stock, Quebec Heritage News

“The author’s rigorous analysis, knowledge of Indigenous political culture combined with a sensitivity about sources enabled him to bring out the implicit information and contextualize the content of the historical documents.” The Canadian Historical Review

“a solid and convincing history . . . . After a long dormant period, historians have rediscovered the Federation of the Seven Nations of the St. Lawrence Valley. Jean-Pierre Sawaya took on a complex job and carried it out brilliantly.” Recherches amérindiennes au Québec.

“Sawaya has mined official reports for information on the election of chiefs, the ceremonies at council sessions, and the significance of kinship terminology in speeches.” American Historical Review

“Sawaya’s writing is efficient, well structured, and fully supported by archival sources.” Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française.


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240 Pages
8.50in * 5.40in * .60in


November 01, 2023


Baraka Books





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