The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

In the first half of the seventeenth century and with the European colonizers still pinned to the Atlantic seaboard, their influence on the natives, most disastrously, disease and greed, got out ahead of them.

With no natural immunity against the white man’s diseases, the estimates of the number of indigenous peoples cut down by epidemics has been estimated in some places to have been as high as ninety percent.

Along with the diseases came much for the Native Americans to covet – trade goods. Guns and ammo, knives and hatchets, pots and pans, booze.

The lives of Native Americans were fundamentally altered before most of them ever saw a white man.

One changed aspect was warfare.

Aggression, as widespread and as cruel as it was before European influence, had been about glory and loot, the taking of captives, either for adoption or for the fire-stake, and most importantly, bringing the men home alive. Any war-chief dumb enough to line up his men and march them European-style into a fusillade would have quickly been out of a job.

Joseph Boyden’s Orenda is the story of changed warfare as it was fought out between the two Iroquois powerhouses of the Northeast, the Huron and the League of the Five Nations. They still fought for all the old reasons, but what else they fought for was control of the fur trade. To be the middle-men between the fur-gatherers deeper into the continent and those Europeans still clinging to the coast..