The jesuit relations

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The jesuit relations

  1. 1. The Jesuit Relations Heather Rocca
  2. 2. Introduction  The Jesuit Relations contains the most important set of documentary materials during the 17th century with the encounter of the Europeans & Native Americans  The Jesuits were members of a religious order, they took special vows of poverty & obedience that distinguished them from regular parish priests  The Jesuits’ activities were multifaceted, encompassing education, literary & scientific activities, pastoral cave, & overseas missions
  3. 3. Introduction Continued  In 1625, French Jesuits were entering a continent still very much under Indian control, even though the effects of European Colonization were being felt all along the Atlantic Coast & into the Great Lakes region  Over the course of nearly two centuries of missionary work, the Jesuits had dealings with almost every Indian Nation of the Northeast but in the 1600s they directed most of their evangelizing efforts toward a handful of groups  Long before the Jesuits appeared on the North American scene, French fishermen, explorers, & fur traders had already had extensive contact with the natives of the Northeast  Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec in 1608, when the Jesuits returned in 1625 they made Quebec their head quarters. The Jesuits appeared as apart of a broader French presence to the native North Americans
  4. 4. Chapter one The first published Jesuits Relations book was written by Father Paul Le Jeune (1592- 1664). These hunting-gathering people had experienced considerable contact with the French by the time Le Jeune encountered them. The intimate knowledge of the landscape & its seasonal resources & amazing technical sophistication are required in an life of a Montagnais & Algonquins
  5. 5. Chapter one continued Jeune writes that the Indians believe a certain being named Atahocam created the world and it was stored by Messou. They also believe in Khichikouai, the spirit of light or air. Jeune received an early lesson in how the Algonquians handled assaults and injuries and how their children were disciplied
  6. 6. Chapter two  The Hurons’ large population & stable village habitat made them a more promising target for evangelization.  Language: the greater part of their words is composed of vowels. They lack vowels, which explains why they open their lips awkwardly. Compound words are more often used by them & have the same effect as an adjective & a noun joined together  All their words are universally conjugated  It is astonishing to see so much blindness in regard to the things of Heaven  There are some Hurons whose imaginations do not soar so high and who are not so ambitious as to believe that they derive their origin from Heaven  A saying, “The wolf dodged the shot, and that is why, they say, they have great difficulty in hunting him.”
  7. 7. Chapter two continued Indians maintain such perfect harmony by visiting one another frequently, by helping one another in time of sickness & by their feasts & their marriage alliances None of them are incapable of conversing or reasoning very well on matters within their knowledge Thieves are not tolerated; they also punish sorcerers severely, & this punishment is authorized by the consent of the whole country
  8. 8. Chapter three  The Jesuits of New France knew nothing of germs, viruses, and immunity. Though knowledgeable by the standards of their day, they lived centuries before modern science systematically classified diseases, discovered how they spread, & developed preventive & curative drugs  They did not see themselves as doctors, their priority was saving lives & when epidemics struck, they put most of their efforts into baptizing the dying rather then relieving the suffering of the living  Native people such as the Hurons also attributed illness to both natural & supernatural cause, though they did not separate the two as rigidly as did the Christians  Their spiritual & medical specialists had no aim other then to help the sick recover, & they approached the task with a wide array of therapeutic techniques  Many Huron medical procedures involved the mind as well as the body, for these natives did not see illness as purely a physical problem
  9. 9. Chapter three continued In Europe illness was an individual problem, and the sick person inhabited a narrowly bounded sphere into which, ideally, only the doctor & family caregivers were admitted. The Hurons, by contrast, kept their sick in the midst of the busy longhouse environment; they conceived of the patient as an integral part of larger collectivities: family, household, clan, village.
  10. 10. Chapter four  The Jesuit missions of New France were conducted throughout the 17th century in an atmosphere of tension, war, shifting alliances involving the French & the various native nations  What makes the “Relations” uniquely valuable sources on Indian war & diplomacy is the captivity stories, & the verbatim accounts of rave Europeans fighting & subduing faceless “savages,” but rather stories in which the natives themselves feature centrally  After a brief truce, war, resumed in the spring of 1647, it began when a Huron-French diplomatic mission to the Mohawk country was accused of treachery & evil magic & the emissaries, including the Jesuit Isaac Jogues, were killed  Jerome Lalement: Such Charity is not common among barbarians. They added that a certain disease had broken out among the caribou, which made them vomit blood from their mouth & remain quite still when pursued.
  11. 11. Chapter four continued  The Jesuit Relations contain many passages on the North American environment- its flora, fauna, & landscape. As with the ethnographic writings, these texts are intriguing both for what they tell us about nature at the time of contact & for what they reveal about 17th century European attitudes & approaches to the subjects  Looking up from earth & its creatures, the Jesuits also commented on the stars above & on the appearance of unusual objects in the night sky.  Whereas Europeans of the 17th century tried to understand the world around them in both natural or religious terms, Algonquian and Iroquian peoples of the time were not so inclined to separate natural and supernatural frames of reference

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