The Jesuit Relations Natives and Missionaries inSeventeenth-Century North America By Jessica Jefferson History 140-Fall 2011
The Jesuit Relations Introduction Reports from The Society of Jesus, French missionaries, were published annually between 1632 and 1673 and described the Jesuit’s efforts to convert the native North American “pagansavages” to Catholic Christianity. These reports serve as primary sources of the history of the period. Topics the reports covered: • Colonization progress • Epidemics • Progress of Jesuits • Customs of Natives
The Jesuit Relations IntroductionThe Jesuit’s witnessed profound changes for the natives:• Native Economies Transformed• New Diseases and Epidemics• New Weapons replacing old TechnologiesThe Relations were written for and by Europeans, but thenative’s voice is not lost.• Evidence shows some shifting point of view in the Jesuits as they learn more about, and integrate into the culture of the natives.The Society of Jesus was not liked by all.• Protestants, secular deists, Jansenists, and other rival religions disagreed with there ways and were often jealous of the fame and influence the Jesuits had.
The Jesuit Relations Chapter 1Paul Le Jeune Winters with Mestigoit’s Band• Le Jeune accompanied Montagnais band on hunt for game. The journey proved to be unimaginably difficult.The Montagnais Described• The natives had well establish system of beliefs. They believed Atahocam created the world and Messou restored it.Nipinouke was responsible for bringing the spring and summer seasons, and Pipinoukhebrought the cold season. Their fear of death was beyond anything else. They cooperatedadmirably.
The Jesuit Relations Chapter 1How to settle disputes and discipline children.• In place of the traditional physical punishment that Europeans were used to administrating to discipline children, the Hurons used present giving to the injured side to amend the child’s behavior. Presents were exchanged among the adults. The Hurons believed the child was unaware of the implications of there reaction.
The Jesuit Relations Chapter 2Language• Natives lacked words for virtue, religion, learning, and government. This made the task the Jesuits had of explaining these things very difficult.Religion, Myth, Ritual• Natives have faith in dreams which surpass all belief. Dream is the oracle of the people. A key feature in their way of life.Law and Government• The natives lived a very political and civic life. They had assembled villages, and lived peacefully together. Not at all like the “savage” conception.
The Jesuit Relations Chapter 2The Huron Feast of the Dead• This was the most renowned ceremony among the Huron’s. It gave the Jesuits hope because it showed them the natives recognized the immortality of the soul and that they in time should be able to see the need for Christian salvation.
The Jesuit Relations Chapter 3Disease and Medicine• Hurons attributed illness to both natural and super natural causes. Shamans helped the sick to recover.Huron Medical Practices• Sicknesses are caused by demons. They can be driven away by song. Games are often held country wide to prevent foreseen misfortune. Tokens of luck are horded, having been seen in dream, to protect and heal.The Influenza Epidemic of 1637• The flu devastated the Huron’s. The Huron’s suspected that the French presence was a possible cause of the sickness and asked what it was that the French God wanted to end the plague.
The Jesuit Relations Chapter 3Smallpox Among the Huron’s 1639• The nation was “mowed down” by the onset of this disease. The natives blamed the Jesuits.A Medical Duel: Father Alloverz and the Potawotais• The Jesuits witnesses much drama on the different approaches taken by the missionaries vs. the natives on how to treat and care for the sick.
The Jesuit Relations Chapter 5Montagnais Explanations of a solar Eclipse• The myth of a man getting angry with a wicked woman was used to explain an eclipse. When the man threated the woman her heart trembles, causing the sight in the sky.The Moral Qualities of Animals• Animals were presented as embodiments of human vices and virtues. An example being the “industrious” beaver.
The Jesuit Relations Chapter 5Earthquakes, Comets, and other Prophetic signs• 1663 was unusually active environmentally and the Relations documented this quite well. The reports discuss earthquakes, comets, and the aurora, in curious addition to both native and French having presentiments of a large earthquake.Nature as a Storehouse of Resources• The native North Americans viewedtheir environment with awe.They saw a haunt of animals eviland valorous, a medium of divinecommunication, and anobject of mystical analysis.The French saw mainly a source ofresources.