• The Jesuit Relations consists of annual reports from French missionaries, in
effort to convert the “pagan savages” to Christianity
• Each record is a publication of their progress, records of colonization, various
spreading epidemics, wars and other events impacting the Indians of the
• The Jesuit’s are very knowledgeable. There were many aspects of the aborigine
culture that the Jesuit’s were aware of, but weren’t too keen on accepting their
“diabolical pagan ceremonies,” but they were still very aware of them enough
to describe them accurately.
• The Jesuits were masters of the written word.
INTRO – con’t
Jesuit Missionary Artwork, 1699
•The Jesuits were a religious order, the
Society of Jesus, and like monks, nuns, and
friars, took special vows of poverty and
•The religious order was founded by the
Spanish ex-soldier, Ignatius of Loyola in
•In Protestant Europe, the term Jesuitical
became synonymous with devious
•Two of the most celebrated Jesuits of their
time are Mateo Ricci (1552-1610) and
Roberto di Nobili (1577-1656), for devoting
much of their time to the civilizations of
China and India.
Montagnais Hunters of the Northern Woods
• Due to half a century of fur trading, these hunters and gatherers had experienced
considerable contact with the French.
• Their ancestral way of life was beginning to make its way into European colonization;.
• Their way of forest living; low rocky hills, rivers, lakes, and wetlands…wherever hunting
and gathering were good.
• The Algonquin-Montagnais’ spiritual beliefs and practices were of intrigue to the Jesuits.
• They were not corporal disciplinarians, but believed in gifts
as payment for the offense committed by children.
Paul Le Jeune
Jean de Brebeuf on the Hurons
•Tortured and killed during the Iroquois invasion
• Brebeuf was attached to the Hurons from the
beginning to the end (1626-29).
• Lived with the Hurons and studied many of
their culture and practices to share them.
Disease and Medicine
• Although the Jesuits seldom attempted to quantify the population loss through
“epidemics”, their anecdotes and reports of “flourishing villages” transformed
into hospitals, help us grasp the sufferings of the Indians when first introduced to
the germs and viruses such as: smallpox, measles, and the flu.
• The Natives didn’t see illness or sickness as only a physical problem, but one
that must be treated also the understanding of psychological dynamics.
• The Jesuits disapproval of most aspects of native medicine is quite in contrast,
when compared to their views regarding the Indians’ funeral customs. They
were more worried when the “pagan ceremonies” didn’t cure illness.
• The Jesuits used the natives ceremonies and failure in medicinal practices as
means in which to convert them to Christianity.
Diplomacy and WAR
• The time of the Jesuits were conducted through a period of war, tensions, and
shifting alliances between the Christian forces (French or Native converts) and
the “Infidels” (mainly the Iroquois).
• The French didn’t come to America as Christian conquerors, rather, they
established themselves in the existing native alliance system.
• Eventually, French-Canada would emerge as the strongest power in the region,
even as the hegemonic power.
• Native wars increased and became more intense and deadly during the 17th
Missions to the Iroquois
• The English had taken over Hudson Valley from the Dutch; European trade,
technology, and other influences were having their usual disturbing effects;
epidemics were taking a severe toll on the natives.
• The Jesuits worked among the Five Nations of the Iroquois League until 1684,
when war resumed and the French missionaries were expelled. This proved very
successful for their converting efforts.
• By the terms of the French, in order for an Iroquois to be considered a convert,
one had to admit to Christianity in the presence of other Christian missionaries.
This was the standard feature used for new converts.
EXPLORING the MISSISSIPPI
• The Jesuits were occasionally involved in French voyages of exploration, serving as
chaplains as they scouted potential new mission fields.
• The most famous of the missionary-explorers was Jacques Marquette.
• The Mississippi was well-known to missionaries, fur traders, and
officials…Marquette made the acquaintance of several Indian nations in the course
of his travels. The Algonquian( the people of the Mississippi) were of much interest
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