Skip navigation
Timeline / Colonizers and Resistance / AD 1535: Huron healers cure French invaders’ scurvy

AD 1535: Huron healers cure French invaders’ scurvy

Huron healers have medicines to treat many ailments, including a concoction made from white cedar to treat scurvy. In 1534, the French explorer Jacques Cartier had laid France’s claim to what is now Canada and enslaved two Iroquois men to serve as his interpreters and guides. The following year, when Cartier and his crew fall ill with scurvy on their second voyage to North America, Agaya, one of the enslaved interpreters, convinces Huron healers to use the salve to treat the Frenchmen.

Medicine Ways

An artist’s representation of a riverside Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) village before the arrival of European explorers. There is no surviving visual evidence of such settlements created by the Haudenosaunee themselves.

Courtesy Parks Canada, Bernard Duchesne 2009