Nipissing Indian in Canada, 1717


This hand-colored print dating from 1717 shows a Nipissing warrior, armed with bow and arrows, wearing moccasins, clothed in a tunic and cape obtained from the Europeans, and covered in tattoos. The French in Canada, priests in particular, found native tattoos repellent for religious reasons having to do with the sanctity of the human body. The Nipissing are an Algonquin people, first encountered by the French in 1613. Beginning in the early 1600s, the French formed alliances and developed friendships with a number of Indian tribes, including the Montagnais, Algonquin, Etchimin, and Micmac peoples. Their most important allies were the Huron. Following the defeat in 1648–50 of the Huron confederation by the Iroquois, the French worked to consolidate a vast native league that brought together the Nipissing, the Ottawa, Ojibwa (Chippewa), Potowatomi, Mascouten, Fox, Kickapoo, Winnebago, Sauk, Miami, and Illinois tribes. This major diplomatic effort culminated in the Great Peace of Montreal of 1701 between France and between 30 and 40 Indian tribes (referred to in Canada as First Nations).

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Sauväge Nepisingue en Canada 1717

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 watercolor ; 23 x 18 centimeters


  1. Arnaud Balvay, “Tattooing and Its Role in French-Native Relations in the Eighteenth Century,” French Colonial History 9 (2008): 1-14.

Last updated: November 4, 2015