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Jesuit Relations

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Jesuit Relations Jesuit Relations Presentation Transcript

  • Primary Sources The Jesuit Relations By Pam Clark
  • The Jesuit Relations – Main Themes
    • The Society of Jesus was a special order of Jesuit priests who took vows of poverty and obedience which separated them from other Catholic priests.
    • They were instrumental in aiding the French government in the settling of Canada during the 1700’s, as the government lacked funds and resources.
    • They were well educated and renown for their literary prowess. Their knowledge base was diverse and they were excellent teachers.
  • The Jesuit Relations – Main Themes
    • Their mission was to convert the native peoples of Canada to Catholicism.
    • They lived and worked closely with the Iroquois and Algonquian natives, learning their languages and baptizing converts (when they could) although this was an ongoing challenge for these missionaries.
    • They supported their efforts through writing about their experiences and sending them back to France for readership by the people there.
    • These letters and reports were the main source of funding for the Jesuits missionary efforts.
  • The Jesuit Relations - The Montagnais - 1
    • Father Paul Le Jeune spent five grueling winter months on a winter hunting trip with a band of Montagnais natives in 1633-34. He gets to know the people intimately during this time, and writes of his experiences during those harsh winter months among them.
    • We learn from his accounts that the Montagnais peoples lived primarily through hunting and gathering, and they sometimes went without eating if they did not catch anything to eat that day.
    The men and women had specific tasks as did the men. The children shouldered their own baggage by dragging sleds, and were sent ahead of the rest of the band so as to not slow down the progress of the hunt.
  • The Jesuit Relations The Montagnais - 1
    • Father Le Jeune’s writings describe the Montagnais respect and reverence they held for nature in the care they undertook to gather the bones of the beaver and other animals they caught as superstitious. Conversely, the Indians thought that Father Le Jeune had “no sense,” when he tried to compare their ways with the ways of the Iroquois natives (p27).
    • The Montagnais used a Shaman as their oracle, and through prepared rituals he brought answers to the people through his visions and form the messages of the spirits who spoke through him.
    • The Montagnais were caring and compassionate towards each other and their children, and did not believe in corporal punishment.
  • The Jesuit Relations Disease and Medicine - 3 The differences in approach to the treatment of disease was apparent between the methods employed by the Jesuits versus the Huron Indians. The Huron's attributed disease to natural and supernatural causes, and used a Shaman to heal the sick of their ailments. The Jesuits were more concerned about salvation, and spent more time trying to convert and baptize the sick. Lacking immunities to “Old World” diseases such as smallpox, measles, and influenza, it is estimated that fifty percent of the native population died from contracting these diseases.
  • The Jesuit Relations Disease and Medicine - 3
    • Huron medical practices were deigned to treat the mental and spiritual health of the sick individual which, when out of balance, they felt was the cause of the physical illness.
    • Father Jean De Brebeuf noted that sometimes the Huron would hold feasts and sing songs to drive away the bad spirit. Sometimes a game of Lacrosse
    • was played “to call out the demon” causing the illness from the sick person’s body (p73).
    • Father Jerome Lalemant observed that the game of “dish,” a popular gambling game, was sometimes played if so directed by the Shaman, or if the sick individual dreamed that playing this game would heal him. Sometimes the losing parties would go home naked at the end of a gambling session, after losing everything all their clothes in their attempt to heal the sick person (p75).
  • The Jesuit Relations The Natural Environment – 5
    • Comets, earthquakes, and other natural phenomenon was
    • well documented by the Jesuits.
    • They also recorded the stories of
    • the Montagnais beliefs of these
    • occurrences.
  • The Jesuit Relations The Natural Environment – 5
    • In 1637 Father Paul Le Jeune recounts a Montagnais creation story explaining the occurrence of solar eclipses:
    • In the story, the sun is accidentally caught in the trap of a great hunter one night in the good land of the sky. When he told his sister that he had caught a fiery ball in his snare, the sister told him to release it, that it was probably the sun, who got caught while out walking that night. The hunter was bale to release it with the help of a mouse he made large, who chewed through the snare. This is why the people of the Earth has no sun that day (p121).
  • The Jesuit Relations Exploring the Mississippi - 8
    • The Jesuits also were required at times to serve as Chaplains for exploratory excursions on behalf of the French government.
    • Father Jacques Marquette went on one such trip with Louis Jolliet, a French trapper, that took him through the Great Lakes down the Mississippi River to
    • determine where the river entered the ocean, and
    • ultimately to open a trade route through
    • this unexplored portion of French territory.
    • They went as far as what is now the State of
    • Louisiana, but turned back, fearing they were too
    • close to Spanish territory.
  • The Jesuit Relations Exploring the Mississippi - 8
    • During this trip, Father Marquette describes his encounters with the native peoples he meets on the way.
    • He is received favorably by most of the tribes he encounters – The Illinois, the Wild Rice People, the Maskoutens, the Pisikious, until they met the Shawnee, who met them on the shore armed with guns and weapons.
    • Peace was made with the Shawnee, and Father Marquette and the explorers were well received. They were warned of the hostile Indians further down the river that would not allow the Shawnee to pass in order to trade with the Europeans, as they barred their way south.
    • The Shawnee told them they were only five days journey away from the sea. Father Marquette and Jolliet decided to return to Canada and report their findings instead of risking their lives to follow the Mississippi any further.