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The jesuit relations


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  • 1. The Jesuit Relations History 140: History/Americas thru 1800 Dr. Arguello Patricia Fonseca November 20, 2011
  • 2. Introduction to Jesuit Relations• These volumes recounted the efforts of evangelizing, colonization, the devastation of epidemics, the outbreak of war, and other events affecting the Indians of the Northeast.• They were published in Paris from 1632-1673.• The Society of Jesus was a group of men who took special vows of poverty and obedience. Their efforts included education, literary and scientific activities pastoral care, and overseas missions. They operated schools, sponsored devotional societies, preached to peasants, and gave spiritual advice to kings.• Their greatest success was in Paraguay. The Guarani people faced exceptionally brutal Spaniards to the west and Brazilian slave raiders to the east. The life the missionaries offered was a better option than the other two alternatives.• The pope disbanded the society in 1773.
  • 3. Introduction to Jesuit Relations• The Jesuits extended their missionary work to almost every Indian nation in the Northeast.• They dedicated the majority of their work to four nations: The Montagnais, the Algonquins, the Hurons and the Iroquois.• These nations experienced many changes due to new colonization. They endured devastating epidemics, economic change due to the fur trades, technological advances, and the reshaping of their thinking and behavior due to “directed assimilation”.• By the 1640’s, The Iroquios, the Hurons, the Algonquins and their French allies captured, tortured and killed several missionaries.• In the 1640’s, a substantial amount of adult natives had accepted the Jesuit’s Catholicism.• This was not a lasting effect as many of the converts died off or deserted.
  • 4. Chapter 1: Montagnais Hunters of the Northern Woodlands• Written by Father Paul Le Jeune (1592-1664).• The Montagnais were hunter-gatherers.• Due to the fur trade, these people had been involved in extensive contact with the French.• During the summer, they gathered berries and fished in the St. Lawrence River. In autumn, they moved inland and hunted moose and other large mammals for meat and hides, as well as beavers, which they traded to the French.• They crafted canoes out of birch bark in summer and used wooden toboggans in the winter.• The Montagnais -Algonquins believed everything possessed its own spirit and personality. Each one could be either helpful or harmful.
  • 5. Chapter 1: Montagnais Hunters of the Northern Woodlands• In 1633, Father Le Jeune followed a Montagnais band into the interior in search of game. He wanted to better understand their language and their customs while trying to convert them to his Catholicism.• Father Le Jeune described the Indians as tall, strong and agile. The Indians were not interested in gaining power, but in serving their chief through goodwill. They refrain from anger to keep themselves content and happy. They also practice courage and great patience.• Settling a dispute is quite easy for these Indians. If someone is killed or injured, the person who was responsible would give gifts to the family of the one he killed or hurt and the offense was forgiven.
  • 6. Chapter 2: Jean de Brebeuf on the Hurons• From 1634-1649, the Jesuits focused the majority of their resources on converting the Hurons.• The Hurons lived in large population, stable village habitats.• Their religious beliefs are based on a fable of a woman who falls from Heaven into the waters of Earth below. They place great faith in their dreams.• They believe all things, such as the earth, rivers, rocks and the sky, all have spirits or demons.• They perform two types of sacrifices to these spirits or demons. One is to praise them while the other is to appease what they believe is an angry spirit.• The Hurons believed that fish, deer and moose are possessed of reason and will not feed their bones to the dogs.
  • 7. Chapter 2: Jean de Brebeuf on the Hurons• The Hurons engage in four feasts. The feast of farewells, the feast of thanksgiving and gratitude, a feast for singing and eating, and a feast for the deliverance of a sick person.• Every twelve years they carried out the feast of the dead. The ceremony was a mass burial in a central grave of the bones of deceased villagers brought from the entire area of Huronia.• Murderers, thieves, traitors and witches are all punished. The relatives of the murdered prosecute the guilty and address the entire village which then makes restitution in the form of gifts.• All matters, from trades to wars, are operated with a set order. The most common reason for war is when a nation refuses to give satisfaction regarding a death.• They followed a strict set of proceedings during their council meetings.
  • 8. Chapter 3: Diseaase and Medicine• The native Indians were exposed to various forms of disease with the Europeans brought with them.• The Jesuits weren’t equipped as medical aids and were more concerned with baptizing the ill rather than curing them.• The Hurons believed these terrible illnesses came from natrual and supernatural sources but didn’t try to separate them. They believed illnesses weren’t attributed strictly to physical problems but that body, mind, and feelings were connected.• They believe that some illnesses can be due to the possession of a demon. There are as many as twelve different dances that can remedy this type of illness. The three games of lacrosse, dish, and straw are thought to have healing powers.• Other illnesses are believed to be cured by ceremonies.
  • 9. Chapter 3: Disease and Medicine• In 1637, The Huron villages suffered a devastating bout of influenza. The Hurons believed the disease was due to the presence of the Jesuits. When the missionaries couldn’t explain the cause, the Hurons formulated a plan to capture the missionaries and kill them all.• In 1639, the Hurons faced smallpox. The amount left dead by this epidemic was surprising to the missionaries.• In 1666, an unidentified epidemic began making its rounds.• At first, the shamans tried using magical cures while family members resorted to feasts and sacrifices.• The missionaries believed that baptizing the sick and bleeding them would cure them of this illness.
  • 10. Chapter 4: Diplomacy and War• During the seventeenth century war, raids, ambushes, captivity, and torture was very common.• In 1645, the Mohawks established a truce with the Algonquins and the French that last until 1647.• In the spring of 1647, war resumed. A Huron-French diplomatic mission to the Mohawk country was accused of treachery and evil magic. These representatives, including The Jesuit Isaac Jogues, were killed. Raids intot he St. Lawrence and Ottawa valleys by the Mohawks followed.• Among the prisoners, some were tortured and killed while the majority of the women and children were adopted, accepted as new family members, and integrated into the new community of the captors.
  • 11. Chapter 4: Diplomacy and War• In the late 1640’s, the Hurons were attacked by some Iroquois armies. The intent of these armies were no longer to capture treasures and prisoners while inflicting damage on the Huron villages. Their intent was clearly to destroy the entire nation of Huron people.• The Iroquois armies purchased guns from the Dutch traders at Fort Orange. Their military practices were terrifying.• In March of 1649, the Hurons endured a large surprise attack by the Iroquois armies. The Iroquois destroyed two outlying villages. The Hurons had been effected by the epidemics sweeping their villages.• In 1649, The Huron nations collapsed. The remaining members surrendered to the enemy and became adopted Iroquois. Others merged with neighboring tribes. One small band of Catholicc Hurons followed the Jesuits into Quebec City.