Why were the Iroquois unrelentingly hostile toward the French colonists and their Native allies? The longstanding "Beaver War" interpretation of seventeenth-century Iroquois-French hostilities holds that the Iroquois’ motives were primarily economic, aimed at controlling the profitable fur trade. José António Brandão argues persuasively against this view. Drawing from the original French and English sources, Brandão has compiled a vast array of quantitative data about Iroquois raids and mortality rates. He offers a penetrating examination of seventeenth-century Iroquoian attitudes toward foreign policy and warfare, contending that the Iroquois fought New France not primarily to secure their position in a new market economy but for reasons that traditionally fueled Native warfare: to replenish their populations, safeguard hunting territories, protect their homes, gain honor, and seek revenge.
José António Brandão, coauthor of My Country, Our History, is an assistant professor of American Indian history at Western Michigan University.
"Using an imposing array of primary-source French, English, and Dutch documentation throughout the book, Brandão dramatically demonstrates that there is little or no evidence to support the Beaver Wars theory. . . . This well-written treatise is a major contribution to the study of both New France and the Iroquois."—Journal of American History
"This is an important contribution to the scholarly literature and students of Iroquois-French relations who ignore it do so at their peril."—American Historical Review
"Tightly focused and concise . . . Students will enjoy this book, not simply for its economy and the clarity of its arguments, but also for its appendices, which provide 'box scores' of 100 years of Iroquoian conflict."—Canadian Historical Review