Fred Axtell, (Dancing Owl), Research Manager & Victoria Taylor-True
In 1600 some 14,000 Eries lived in villages between what is now Buffalo, NY and Sandusky, Ohio.
Hewitt (1907) considers 14,500 a conservative estimate of Erie population at the time of the last war, but Mooney (1928) allows only 4,000.
In 1615 *Étienne Brulé (tyn´ brül´), met a group of Erie near Niagara Falls. So far as is known, this was their only encounter with Europeans. He but never learned how many villages there were or the extent of their territory. Estimates have varied from 4,000 to 15,000, but the ability of the Erie to defy the Iroquois (without benefit of European firearms) seems to favor the higher figures - probably at least 10,000. There appears to have been a sudden surge in their population prior to 1653. The wide range in their population estimates could be explained by the large number of Huron and Neutral refugees who joined the Erie in 1651.
It is estimated that at the time of first European contact, North and South America was inhabited by more than 90 million people: about 10 million in America north of present-day Mexico; 30 million in Mexico; 11 million in Central America; 445,000 in the Caribbean islands; 30 million in the South American Andean region; and 9 million in the remainder of South America.
*Étienne Brulé c.1592–1632, French explorer in North America. He arrived (1608) in the New World with Samuel de Champlain, who sent him (1610) into the wilderness to learn about Native Americans and the land. He lived with the Huron and accompanied (c.1612) a group of them to Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. In 1612 he guided Champlain to that lake, and on the return journey they were, so far as is known, the first Europeans to see Lake Ontario. Brulé was then sent to the headwaters of the Susquehanna River and followed it to Chesapeake Bay. On his way back he was captured by the Iroquois and tortured, but he escaped (1618). He lived with the Huron once again, making many explorations of which no definite record remains. He probably visited Lake Superior and thus saw all the Great Lakes except Lake Michigan, being the first European to do so. In 1629 he piloted the English vessels that captured Quebec and his old commander, Champlain. Then he retired to live an increasingly dissolute life among the Huron. He was killed in a quarrel. 1
See C. W. Butterfield, History of Brulé’s Discoveries and Explorations, 1610–1626 (1898).