Meet the Five Cultures
On February 29, 1704, an English settlement in
the mid-Connecticut River Valley became the crossroads for intercultural,
interracial, and international conflict. The raid on Deerfield was
one incident in an ongoing struggle among the many peoples competing
for control of land and resources in the colonial northeast. French,
English, Africans, and Native Americans; soldiers, ministers, farmers
and traders; men, women, and children—all became part of a
deadly struggle for survival and dominance.
At least five cultural groups were present at the
attack in 1704: English, French, Kanienkehaka (Mohawk), Wendat (Huron)
and Wôbanaki (Abenaki, Pennacook, Sokoki, Pocumtuck and others).
Follow the links below to learn more about each group.
The region to which the English immigrated and renamed New England had been carefully stewarded by Native peoples for millennia. English settlers, however, viewed these lands as a vacant wilderness to be possessed and subdued. The seemingly insatiable English desire for new lands to farm, raise families and create an ideal Protestant society generated conflict between these newcomers and the region's indigenous inhabitants. The land was further contested as imperial wars drove the English to fight the French for possession of the continent's rich resources.
Learn more about the English.
France's growing colonial empire included
on the North American continent. Until the early eighteenth
century, the vast majority of French immigrants to New France
were single men rather than family groups. French goals included
maintaining friendly and profitable trade relations with Native
people, converting them to Roman Catholicism, and restraining
English imperial ambitions.
Learn more about the French.
The Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) members of the raiding party in 1704 came from the villages of Kahnawake, La Montagne and Sault-au-Récollet (present-day Kanesatake), located on the northern edge of Kanienkeh, the Kanienkehaka homeland, near Montreal, Quebec. These people, members of the Rotinonsionni or the Five Nation Iroquois Confederacy, had moved north from the Mohawk River valley beginning in the 1660s.
Learn more about the Kanienkehaka.
The Wendat Confederacy's traditional homelands lie near the Georgian Bay in Lake Huron. French colonization introduced disease and intensified existing hostilities between the Wendat and the Iroquois Confederacy to the south. By the 1650 this warfare forced the Wendat from Huronia; some settled in Lorrette (present-day Wendake), outside of Quebec City. A small contingent of this group joined their Native and French allies in the expedition to Deerfield in 1704.
Learn more about the Wendat.
Many of the Wôbanakiak participating in the raid of 1704 came from Odanak (St. Francis), situated on the St. Francis River, in Quebec. Others came from Pennacook, Missisquoi, Cowass and other Wôbanaki communities across present-day Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. In the late 1600s these northern communities began absorbing Native refugees from Woronoco, Nonotuck and Sokoki, who had been forced out of their homelands in the middle Connecticut River valley. Among those displaced peoples from many homelands were the Pocumtuck, whose original homeland had been transformed into the English settlement of Deerfield.
Learn more about the Wobanaki.