How were Indian lifeways threatened by the French?

As with Marie Rouensa, some Native Americans gave up their belief system for Christianity. This is only one of the ways in which the French came to dominate the Illinois Indians. Between 1700 and 1763, the number of Illinois dropped from about 6,000 to 2,000 persons. This dramatic decline in the Illinois Indian population can be attributed to their exposure to European diseases (against which the Indians had no immunity), abuse of alcohol (which was first introduced by the French), and the constant raiding and warfare waged upon the Illinois by other Indian tribes who were anti-French. While the Illinois population declined, the French population grew. Moreover, the French dominated the Illinois through certain technological advancements: guns, canons, metallurgy, farming techniques and implements, a written language, and means of mass-producing that language--the printing press.
Image: Courtesy of the Edward E. Ayer Collection, The Newberry Library


© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96