Main themes of intro
O The Relations in essence, are annual reports
of French missionaries of the Society of Jesus
on their efforts to convert the “pagan savages”
to Catholic Christianity.
O The key to the popularity of the Relations then
and now, is the detailed description of the
customs, habits, and cultures of various native
O The unparalleled quality and accuracy of this
ethnographic detail has made the Relations a
precious resource for modern scholars.
Main themes of intro cont.
O During the first few decades, missionary efforts had a
dual focus: while some Jesuits tried to convert the
Montagnais and Algonquins, others traveled far into
the interior to proselytize the Hurons.
O Trouble arose when it became clear that Christianity
was an exclusive and intolerant religion. When
epidemics struck, the Hurons tended to blame the
O In the middle decades of the century, recurrent war
with the Iroquois was crucial to the fate of the Jesuits
and their missions.
O Finally, peace was secured in the 1660s, when one
by one, the Five Nations came to terms with the
French and their native allies.
O Le Jeune’s goal in accompanying the band
was to improve his knowledge of the native
language and customs, while pressing his
companions to abandon their “superstitions”
and recognize the truth of Christianity.
O The missionary expedition ended up as an
arduous struggle for survival, and far from
O The Jesuit did get to know the natives
O The lives of the Montagnais and
Algonquins required not only an intimate
knowledge of the landscape and its
seasonal resources but also technical
O The indians believe that a certain being
named Atahocam created the world and
that one named Messou restored it.
O All the indian nations of these parts, and
those of Brazil, cannot punish a child, nor
allow one to be chastised.
O Brebeuf challenges a view commonly held
among the political philosophers of early
modern europe; that authority is the essential
attribute of government and that, in its
absence, humans inevitably descend into a
state of violent anarchy.
O The Jesuit points out that although the Hurons
have no powerful leaders, or even the concept
of submission to authority, they do display a
high degree of self control and mutual
O They maintain such perfect harmony by
visiting one another frequently, by helping
one another in time of sickness, and by
their feasts, and their marriage alliances.
O They never undertake war with out
reason, and the commonest reason for
taking up arms is when some nation
refuses to give satisfaction for the death of
someone and fails to furnish the presents
required by the agreements made
O By all accounts, native wars became more
intense and deadly in the seventeenth
century, due partly to the adoption of
European weaponry but also to the pressures
and upheavals occasioned by epidemics,
trade, and other effects of contact.
O Eventually, French Canada would emerge as
the strongest power in the region, even as the
hegemonic power, but its ascendancy was
never complete, and antagonisms that had
originated before the arrival of the French
Ch. 4 Cont.
O There are no hunters so eager for game
as the Indians are when hunting for men.
O Indians are very tactical and swift, in there
O Weakened, divided, and demoralized, the
Huron nations collapsed as a result of the
Iroquois hammer blows of 1649.
O Two French invasions, which left the
Mohawks’ fields devastated and their
villages in smoldering ruins, convinced
them to come to terms with the French,
even though they were never actually
defeated in battle.
O The jesuits worked among the five nations
of the Iroquois League until 1684, when
war resumed and the French missionaries
O The indians often get drunk off the brandy
that the Europeans of the coast began to
sell to the natives many years ago.
O Those who were most strongly committed
to the French alliance and its Christian
corollary eventually moved to live close by
the French-Canadian settlements of the