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In the early 1600s, when Samuel de Champlain first explored the St Lawrence beyond Hochelaga, the North American continent was peopled with a series of small nations with amorphous borders. These peoples had highly ritualized communications among them and long-standing enemies and trading partners. Champlain could not know that the Algonquin nations that he met were in the middle of border skirmishes with the Iroquois nations to the south, but he realised quickly that he had to choose sides when his meeting party was attacked. He stood with the Algonquin, thereby establishing himself as an ally. Soon he began trading with them on the Kitchisipi River, the name the Kichispirinis and the Weskarinis had for the lower Ottawa.

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