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How did people dress at the Jesuit missions to the Hurons?

How did people dress at the Jesuit missions to the Hurons?

The Jesuits established a number of missions among the Huron people of what is today Ontario during the 1600s. Unlike many other proselytizing groups of that era, the Jesuits were known for permitting and incorporating much of the local culture of the group they ministered to.

How did people dress at the Jesuit missions among the Huron, both the Jesuit missionaries and the Huron neophytes?

This probably isn't the sort of answer you were really looking for, but you might take a look at the 1991 Canadian movie Black Robe, which takes place in 1630s Quebec in the context of Jesuit missions to the Hurons and was praised for its attempts at historical authenticity (especially for the different Indian groups, but also for early New France).

As a child in Ontario, I went on a field trip to Sainte Marie Among the Hurons, a sort of pioneer village that depicts life in that time and place. While it's closed now because of winter, the May 9th opening is currently on hold because of Covid. Their web site includes a number of pictures showing people in costume. I poked around on several pages and saw mostly men in black robes, presumably Jesuit priests, and men in simple dark pants and white shirts, presumably farmers and other lay members of the mission.

It's possible that the people who run the site can recommend historical sources about the costuming choices they made.

From "Jesuit Misionaries in N America, by François Rustang". There are not many comments about clothing. The Jesuits appear much more worried about dying from hunger in the winter, and about being captured/enslaved/tortured/killed by the Iroquois.

a letter from Paul le Jeune, on his first wintering among the natives:

In the beggining I had used one of those eel skins to patch my cloth cassock, as I had forgotten to bring some patches with me. But when hunger pressed too hard, I ate them. I assure you that if the whole cassock had been made of the same stuff, I would have brought it home much shorter than it was.

So, even in the hardest, first winters, this jesuit was wearing his cassock, and even was supposed to bring patches. He does not say if he would wear anything under or over the cassock. Patching cassocks is common, I have heard similar "over-patched cassock anecdotes" about various other priests with limited resources at some point (e.g., St. Josemaria Escriva).

About shoes and canoeing: St Isaac Jogues tells that he was in 6 canoes with French and Huron, when Iroquois come to capture them with 12 canoes. St Jogues decided not to try to flee or hide himself because he did not want to abandon the captured French and Huron. Also, he wonders: "How far could I go without shoes?" And the editor comments that the Indians always removed their shoes when entering their canoeing.

St Jean the Brébeuf on canoe trips with Huron:

Another point to watch is that we do not annoy anyone on the canoe with our hat. It is better to wear a nightcap. (… ) we should not lend the natives our clothing unless we are willing to do without it the whole journey. it is much easier to refuse at first than to ask for it to be returned or exchanged afterwards

Does he mean that large priestly hats would hit and annoy the next Indian in the canoe? I do not know.

St Jogues also comments about how the Indians clothed their slaves and prisoners:

In June, at one intermediate step during the trip to his new master's village:

"At first, Rene and I had been permitted to keep our shirts and trousers (… ) the savage who brought me here, regretting the loss of my shirt, was going to send me away completely naked except for a miserable, soiled loincloth."

He begged, and

"Moved by pity, he gave me an old hempen cloth that had been used to wrap the baggage, so that I could cover my shoulders and part of my body".

The hampen cloth hurt him - because the prisoners were beaten at every stop and he had a bloodied back. When cold weather started they had much cold. The Iroquois did not bother giving them clothes, as they intended to (and did) kill some of them after a few months. In autumn, he was given more clothes by some Indian who pitied him, but they were temporarily claimed back when his benefactor thought that Isaac would be killed, and did not want to lose his lent clothes with his death. He says that his winter cloth (not sure if tunic or blanket) had "seven hands" length

He does not explain if his shirt and trousers were his own (may be he wore them under the cassock? Could he paddle with a cassock?), or if he was given clothes from some dead Frenchmen, or even if he was originally wearing a cassock at all.


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Huron, also called Wyandot, Wyandotte, or Wendat, Iroquoian-speaking North American Indians who were living along the St. Lawrence River when contacted by French explorer Jacques Cartier in 1534.

Many aspects of Huron culture were similar to those of other Northeast Indians. Traditionally, the Huron lived in villages of large bark-covered longhouses, each of which housed a matrilineal extended family some villages were protected by an encircling palisade. Agriculture was the mainstay of the Huron economy men cleared fields and women planted, tended, and harvested crops including corn (maize), beans, squash, and sunflowers. Hunting and fishing supplemented the diet.

The Huron were divided into matrilineal exogamous clans, each headed by a clan chief all the clan chiefs of a village formed a council, which, with the village chief, decided civil affairs. Villages were grouped into bands (each of which had a band chief and a band council, consisting of village chiefs, to deal with civil matters affecting the entire band), and all the bands together constituted the Huron nation. A large council of band chiefs and their local councils dealt with matters concerning the whole tribe. Women were highly influential in Huron affairs, as each clan’s senior women were responsible for selecting its civil leader.

The Huron were bitter enemies of tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, with whom they competed in the fur trade. Before the 17th century the Iroquois drove some Huron from the St. Lawrence River westward into what is now Ontario, where related groups seem to have already been resident four of those bands (the Rock, Cord, Bear, and Deer peoples) formed the Wendat Confederacy, which was defeated and dispersed by Iroquois invasions in 1648–50. The survivors were either captured and forced to settle among their conquerors or driven west and north. The latter remnants drifted back and forth between Michigan, Wisconsin, Ontario, Ohio, and Quebec. During the French and Indian War in the mid-18th century, the Huron allied with the French against the British and the Iroquois Confederacy.

The Huron gradually reestablished some influence in Ohio and Michigan, but the U.S. government eventually forced tribal members to sell their lands. They subsequently migrated to Kansas and then to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).

Early 21st-century population estimates indicated some 4,000 individuals of Huron descent.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Kathleen Kuiper, Senior Editor.


Toward the end of his reign, Henry IV of France started to look at the possibility of ventures abroad, with both North America and the Levant being among the possibilities. [1] : 43

In 1604, the French explorer Samuel de Champlain initiated the first important French involvement in Northern America. He founded Port Royal as the first permanent European settlement in North America north of Florida in 1605, and the first permanent French establishment at Quebec in 1608. [1] : 71

First Mission (1609)

The Jesuits established a mission on Penobscot Bay in 1609, which was part of the French colony of Acadia.

Second Mission (1611)

The Jesuits wanted to participate in these forays into new lands. [1] : 43 On October 25, 1604, the Jesuit Father Pierre Coton requested the General of the Company Claudio Acquaviva to send two missionaries to Terre-Neuve. [1] : 43 As a result, in 1611, the two first Jesuits, Pierre Biard and Enemond Massé were able to leave for Port Royal in Acadia. [1] : 44 The mission failed in 1613 following a raid by Virginians. [1] : 2

Third Mission (1613)

A third mission was built on Mount Desert Island in 1613.

Fourth mission (1625)

The Jesuits conceived plans to move their efforts to the banks of the Saint-Laurent river. A fourth mission was established in 1625, made by our fathers Charles Lalemant (as Superior), Enemond Massé, Jean de Brébeuf, and assistants François Charton and Gilbert Buret. [1] : 44 This mission failed following the occupation of Quebec by English forces in 1629. [1] : 2


Origin, names, and organization: before 1650 Edit

Early theories placed the Huron's origin in the St. Lawrence Valley. Some historians or anthropologists proposed the people were located near the present-day site of Montreal and former sites of the historic St. Lawrence Iroquoian peoples. Wendat is an Iroquoian language. Early 21st-century research in linguistics and archaeology confirm a historical connection between the Huron and the St. Lawrence Iroquois. [8] But all of the Iroquoian-speaking peoples shared some aspects of their culture, including the Erie people, any or all of the later Six Nations of the Iroquois, and the Susquehannock tribe.

In 1975 and 1978, archaeologists excavated a large 15th-century Huron village, now called the Draper Site, in Pickering, Ontario near Lake Ontario. In 2003 a larger village was discovered five kilometres (3.1 mi) away in Whitchurch-Stouffville it is known as the Mantle Site. It has been renamed as the Jean-Baptiste Lainé Site, in honor of a decorated Wendat-Huron soldier of World War II. [9] [d]

Each of the sites had been surrounded by a defensive wooden palisade, as was typical of Iroquoian cultures. The large Mantle Site had more than 70 multi-family longhouses. [e] [10]

Canadian archaeologist James F. Pendergast states:

Indeed, there is now every indication that the late precontact Huron and their immediate antecedents developed in a distinct Huron homeland in southern Ontario along the north shore of Lake Ontario. Subsequently they moved from there to their historic territory on Georgian Bay, where they were encountered by Champlain in 1615. [11]

In the early 17th century, this Iroquoian people called themselves the Wendat, an autonym which means "Dwellers of the Peninsula" or "Islanders". The Wendat historic territory was bordered on three sides by the waters of Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. [12] Early French explorers referred to these natives as the Huron, either from the French huron ("ruffian", "rustic"), or from hure ("boar's head"). According to tradition, French sailors thought that the bristly hairstyle of Wendat warriors resembled that of a boar. [12] French fur traders and explorers referred to them as the "bon Iroquois" (good Iroquois). An alternate etymology from Russell Errett in 1885 is that the name is from the Iroquoian term Irri-ronon ("Cat Nation"), a name also applied to the Erie nation. They pronounced the name as Hirri-ronon in French, which gradually was known as Hirr-on, and finally spelled in its present form, Huron. William Martin Beauchamp concurred in 1907 that Huron was at least related to the Iroquoian root ronon ("nation"). [13] Other etymological possibilities are derived from the Algonquin words ka-ron ("straight coast") or tu-ron ("crooked coast"). [14]

The Wendat were not a tribe but a confederacy of four or more tribes who had mutually intelligible languages. [15] According to tradition, this Wendat (or Huron) Confederacy was initiated by the Attignawantans ("People of the Bear") and the Attigneenongnahacs ("People of the Cord"), who made their alliance in the 15th century. [15] They were joined by the Arendarhonons ("People of the Rock") about 1590, and the Tahontaenrats ("People of the Deer") around 1610. [15] A fifth group, the Ataronchronons ("People of the Marshes or Bog"), may not have attained full membership in the confederacy, [15] and may have been a division of the Attignawantan. [16]

The largest Wendat settlement and capital of the confederacy was located at Ossossane. Modern-day Elmvale, Ontario developed near that site. The Wendat called their traditional territory Wendake. [17]

Closely related to the people of the Huron Confederacy were the Tionontate, [18] an Iroquoian-speaking group whom the French called the Petun (Tobacco), for their cultivation of that crop. They lived further south and were divided into two moitiés or groups: the Deer and the Wolves. [19] Considering that they formed the nucleus of the tribe later known as the Wyandot, they too may have called themselves Wendat. [20]

Tuberculosis (TB) was endemic among the Huron, aggravated by their close and smoky living conditions in the longhouses. [21] Despite this, the Huron on the whole were healthy. The Jesuits wrote that the Huron effectively employed natural remedies [22] and were "more healthy than we". [23]

European contact and Wyandot dispersal Edit

The earliest written accounts of the Huron were made by the French, who began exploring North America in the 16th century. News of the Europeans reached the Huron, particularly when Samuel de Champlain explored the Saint Lawrence River in the early 17th century. Some Huron decided to go and meet the Europeans. Atlanta, the principal headman of the Arendarhonon tribe, went to Quebec and allied with the French in 1609.

The Jesuit Relations of 1639 describes the Huron:

They are robust, and all are much taller than the French. Their only covering is a beaver skin, which they wear upon their shoulders in the form of a mantle shoes and leggings in winter, a tobacco pouch behind the back, a pipe in the hand around their necks and arms bead necklaces and bracelets of porcelain they also suspend these from their ears, and around their locks of hair. They grease their hair and faces they also streak their faces with black and red paint.

The total population of the Huron at the time of European contact has been estimated at 20,000 to 40,000 people. [25] From 1634 to 1640, the Huron were devastated by Eurasian infectious diseases, such as measles and smallpox which were endemic among the Europeans. The peoples of North America had no acquired immunity to these diseases and suffered very high mortality rates. Epidemiological studies have shown that beginning in 1634, more European children emigrated with their families to the New World from cities in France, Britain, and the Netherlands, which had endemic smallpox. Historians believe the disease spread from the children to the Huron and other nations, often through contact with traders. [18]

So many Huron died that they abandoned many of their villages and agricultural areas. About half [26] to two-thirds of the population died in the epidemics, [25] decreasing the population to about 12,000. Such losses had a high social cost, devastating families and clans, and disrupting their society's structure and traditions. [18]

Before the French arrived, the Huron had already conflicted with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (Five Nations) to the south. Several thousand Huron lived as far south as present-day central West Virginia along the Kanawha River by the late 16th century, but they were driven out by the Haudenosaunee, who invaded from present-day New York in the 17th century to secure more hunting grounds for the beaver trade. [27] Once the European powers became involved in trading, the conflict among natives intensified significantly as they struggled to control the lucrative fur trade and satisfy European demand. The French allied with the Huron because they were the most advanced trading nation at the time. The Haudenosaunee tended to ally with the Dutch and later English, who settled at Albany and in the Mohawk Valley of their New York territory.

The introduction of European weapons and the fur trade increased competition and the severity of inter-tribal warfare. While the Haudenosaunee could easily obtain guns in exchange for furs from Dutch traders in New York, the Wendat were required to profess Christianity to obtain a gun from French traders in Canada. Therefore, they were unprepared, on March 16, 1649, when a Haudenosaunee war party of about 1000 entered Wendake and burned the Huron mission villages of St. Ignace and St. Louis in present-day Simcoe County, Ontario, killing about 300 people. The Iroquois also killed many of the Jesuit missionaries, who have since been honored as North American Martyrs. The surviving Jesuits burned the mission after abandoning it to prevent its capture. The extensive Iroquois attack shocked and frightened the surviving Huron. The Huron were geographically cut off from trade with the Dutch and British by the Iroquois Confederacy, who had access to free trade with all the Europeans in the area especially the Dutch. This forced them to continue to use lithic tools and weapons like clubs arrows, stone scrapers, and cutters. This is compared to the near-universal use of European iron tools by Iroquois groups in the area. Huron trade routes were consistently pillaged by raiders, and the lack of firearms discouraged the Huron's trade with the French, at least without French protection. As a result of their lack of exposure, the Huron did not have as much experience using firearms compared to their neighbors, putting them at a significant disadvantage when firearms were available to them, and when available, their possession of firearms made them a larger target for Iroquois aggression. [28]

By May 1, 1649, the Huron burned 15 of their villages to prevent their stores from being taken and fled as refugees to surrounding tribes. About 10,000 fled to Gahoendoe (now also called Christian Island). Most who fled to the island starved over the winter, as it was an unproductive settlement and could not provide for them. After spending the bitter winter of 1649–50 on the island, surviving Huron relocated near Quebec City, where they settled at Wendake. Absorbing other refugees, they became the Huron-Wendat Nation. Some Huron, along with the surviving Petun, whose villages the Iroquois attacked in the fall of 1649, fled to the upper Lake Michigan region, settling first at Green Bay, then at Michilimackinac.

Huron–British Treaty of 1760 Edit

On September 5, 1760, just preceding the capitulation of Montreal to British forces, Brigadier General James Murray signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship with the chiefs of the Wendat then residing at Lorette, present-day Wendake. [29] The text of the treaty reads as follows:

THESE is to certify that the CHIEF of the HURON tribe of Indians, have come to me in the name of His Nation, to submit to His BRITANNICA MAJESTY, and make Peace, has been received under my Protection, with his whole Tribe and henceforth no English Officer or party is to molest, or interrupt them in returning to their Settlement at LORETTE and they are received upon the same terms with the Canadians, being allowed the free Exercise of their Religion, their Customs, and Liberty of trading with the English: – recommending it to the Officers commanding the Posts, to treat them kindly.

Given under my hand at Longueuil, this 5th day of September 1760.

By the Genl's Command, JA. MURRAY.

Adjust. Genl. [30]

The treaty recognized the Huron-Wendat as a distinct nation and guaranteed that the British would not interfere with the Huron-Wendat's internal affairs. In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in R v Sioui found that the Huron-British Treaty of 1760 was still valid and binding on the Crown. Accordingly, the exercise of Huron-Wendat religion, customs, and trade benefit from continuing Canadian constitutional protection throughout the territory frequented by the Huron-Wendat at the time the treaty was concluded. [31]

Emergence of the Wyandot Edit

In the late 17th century, elements of the Huron Confederacy and the Petun joined together and became known as the Wyandot (or Wyandotte), a variation of Wendat. (This name is also related to the French transliteration of the Mohawk term for tobacco.) [15] The western Wyandot re-formed in the area of Ohio and southern Michigan in the United States.

In August 1782, the Wyandot joined forces with Simon Girty, a British soldier. On Aug 15 through 19, 1782, they unsuccessfully besieged Bryan Station in Kentucky (near present-day Lexington). They drew the Kentucky militia to Lower Blue Licks, where the Wyandot defeated the militia led by Daniel Boone. The Wyandot gained the high ground and surrounded Boone's forces.

Also in late 1782, the Wyandot joined forces with Shawnee, Seneca, and Delaware Indians in an unsuccessful siege of Fort Henry on the Ohio River.

During the Northwest Indian War, the Wyandot fought alongside British allies against the United States. Under the leadership of Tarhe, they were signatories to the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. [32]

In 1807, the Wyandot joined three other tribes – the Odawa, Potawatomi, and Ojibwe people – in signing the Treaty of Detroit, which resulted in a major land cession to the United States. This agreement between the tribes and the Michigan Territory (represented by William Hull) ceded to the United States a part of their territory in today's Southeastern Michigan and a section of Ohio near the Maumee River. The tribes were allowed to keep small pockets of land in the territory. [33] The Treaty of Brownstown was signed by Governor Hull on November 7, 1807 and provided the Indian Nations with a payment of $10,000 in goods and money along with an annual payment of $2,400 in exchange for an area of land that included the southeastern one-quarter of the lower peninsula of Michigan. [34] In 1819, the Methodist Church established a mission to the Wyandot in Ohio, its first to Native Americans. [35]

In the 1840s, most of the surviving Wyandot people were displaced to Kansas Indian Territory through the US federal policy of forced Indian removal. Using the funds they received for their lands in Ohio, the Wyandot purchased 23,000 acres (93 km 2 ) of land for $46,080 in what is now Wyandotte County, Kansas from the Delaware (Lenape). The Lenape had been grateful for the hospitality which the Wyandot had given them in Ohio, as the Lenape had been forced to move west under pressure from Anglo-European colonists. The Wyandot acquired a more-or-less square parcel north and west of the junction of the Kansas River and the Missouri River. [36] A United States government treaty granted the Wyandot Nation a small portion of fertile land located in an acute angle of the Missouri River and Kansas River, which they purchased from Delaware in 1843. Also, the government granted 32 "floating sections", located on public lands west of the Mississippi River.

In June 1853, Big Turtle, a Wyandot chief, wrote to the Ohio State Journal regarding the current condition of his tribe. The Wyandot had received nearly $127,000 for their lands in 1845. Big Turtle noted that, in the spring of 1850, the tribal chiefs retroceded the granted land to the government. They invested $100,000 of the proceeds in 5% government stock. [37] After removal to Kansas, the Wyandot had founded good libraries along with two thriving Sabbath schools. They were in the process of organizing a division of the Sons of Temperance and maintained a sizable temperance society. Big Turtle commented on the agricultural yield, which produced an annual surplus for the market. He said that the thrift of the Wyandot exceeded that of any tribe north of the Arkansas line. According to his account, the Wyandot nation was "contented and happy", and enjoyed better living conditions in the Indian Territory than they had in Ohio. [37]

By 1855 the number of Wyandot had diminished to 600 or 700 people. On August 14 of that year, the Wyandot Nation elected a chief. The Kansas correspondent of the Missouri Republican reported that the judges of the election were three elders who were trusted by their peers. The Wyandot offered some of the floating sections of land for sale on the same day at $800. A section was composed of 640 acres (2.6 km 2 ). Altogether 20,480 acres (82.9 km 2 ) were sold for $25,600. They were located in Kansas, Nebraska, and unspecified sites. Surveys were not required, with the title becoming complete at the time of location. [38]

The Wyandot played an important role in Kansas politics. On July 26, 1853, at a meeting at the Wyandot Council house in Kansas City, William Walker (Wyandot) was elected provisional governor of Nebraska Territory, which included Kansas. He was elected by Wyandot, white traders, and outside interests who wished to preempt the federal government's organization of the territory and to benefit from the settlement of Kansas by white settlers. Walker and others promoted Kansas as the route for the proposed transcontinental railroad. Although the federal government did not recognize Walker's election, the political activity prompted the federal government to pass the Kansas–Nebraska Act to organize Kansas and Nebraska territories. [39]

An October 1855 article in The New York Times reported that the Wyandot were free (that is, they had been accepted as US citizens) and without the restrictions placed on other tribes. Their leaders were unanimously pro-slavery, which meant 900 or 1,000 additional votes in opposition to the Free State movement of Kansas. [40] In 1867, after the American Civil War, additional members were removed from the Midwest to Indian Territory. Today more than 4,000 Wyandot can be found in eastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma. [41]

The last of the original Wyandot of Ohio was Margaret "Grey Eyes" Solomon, known as "Mother Solomon". The daughter of Chief John Grey Eyes, she was born in 1816 and left Ohio in 1843. By 1889 she had returned to Ohio, when she was recorded as a spectator to the restoration of the Wyandot's Old Mission Church at Upper Sandusky. She died in Upper Sandusky on August 17, 1890. [42] The last known Wyandot to live in Ohio was Bill Moose (1836–1937).

Some descendants of the Wyandot Nation of Anderdon live in Ohio and Michigan. [ citation needed ] Others live in Toronto and Brantford, Ontario, on the Six Nations Reserve. There they have intermarried with the Cayuga and other Indigenous peoples.

20th century to present Edit

Beginning in 1907, archaeological excavations were conducted at the Jesuit mission site near Georgian Bay. The mission has since been reconstructed as Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, a living museum that is adjacent to the Martyrs' Shrine. This Roman Catholic shrine is consecrated to the ten North American martyrs.

The US federal government set up the Indian Claims Court in the 1940s to address grievances filed by various Native American tribes. The court adjudicated claims, and Congress allocated $800 million to compensate tribes for losses due to treaties broken by the US government, or by losses of land due to settlers who invaded their territories. The Wyandot filed a land claim for compensation due to the forced sale of their land to the federal government under the 1830 Indian Removal law, which required Native Americans to move west of the Mississippi River. Originally the United States paid the Wyandot for their land at the rate of 75 cents per acre, but the land was worth $1.50 an acre. [43]

Although Congress intended to have a deadline by which Indian claims had to be settled, Federal district courts continued to hear land claims and other cases for compensation. In February 1985, the US government finally agreed to pay descendants of the Wyandot $5.5 million to settle the tribe's outstanding claim. The decision settled claims related to the 143-year-old treaty. In 1842 the United States had forced the tribe to sell their Ohio lands for less-than-fair value. A spokesman for the Bureau of Indian Affairs said that the government would pay $1,600 each, in July 1985, to 3,600 people in Kansas and Oklahoma who could prove they were descendants of Wyandot affected by Indian removal. [43]

On August 27, 1999, representatives of the far-flung Wyandot bands of Quebec, Kansas, Oklahoma and Michigan gathered at their historic homeland in Midland, Ontario. They formally re-established the Wendat Confederacy.

Recognized Wyandot nations Edit

In the United States, there is one federally recognized tribe:

In Canada, there is one Wyandot First Nation:

  • The Huron-Wendat Nation is based in Wendake, now within the Quebec City limits, and it has approximately 3,000 members. They are primarily Catholic in religion and speak French as a first language. They have begun to promote the study and use of the Wyandot language among their children. For many decades, a leading source of income for the Wyandot of Quebec has been selling pottery, traditional-pattern snowshoes, summer and winter moccasins, and other locally produced crafts. [45]

Unrecognized groups Edit

Two unrecognized tribes in the United States identify and call themselves Wyandot:

  • Wyandot Nation of Anderdon, with headquarters in Trenton, Michigan, has 1,200 members [46]
  • Wyandot Nation of Kansas, headquartered in Kansas City, Kansas, has an estimated 400 members [citation needed]

The Wyandot Nation of Kansas has had legal battles with the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma over the fate of the Huron Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its significance, it has been a point of contention for more than a century. Because of complications during the Indian removal process, the land continued to be under the legal control of the federally recognized Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma, made up of people who had left Kansas. They have expressed interest in redeveloping the land occupied by the historic cemetery and moving the graves for reinterment, to provide for the benefit of its people. Members of the local Kansas Wyandot, many of whom have had family members buried at the historic cemetery, have strongly opposed most such proposals. The redevelopment would require reinterment of Wyandot and other Indian remains, including many of their direct ancestors. In 1998, the two groups finally agreed to preserve the cemetery in Kansas City for religious, cultural, and other uses appropriate to its sacred history and use. [47]

Like other Iroquoian peoples, the Huron were farmers who supplemented their diet with hunting and fishing. [15] The women cultivated several varieties of maize, squash, and beans (the "Three Sisters") as the mainstay of their diet, saving seeds of various types, and working to produce the best crops for different purposes. They also collected nuts, fruit, and wild root vegetables. Their preparation of this produce was supplemented primarily by fish caught by the men. The men also hunted deer and other animals available during the game seasons. [48] Women did most of the crop planting, cultivation, and processing, although men helped in the heaviest work of clearing the fields. This was usually done by the slash-and-burn method of clearing trees and brush. [49] Men did most of the fishing and hunting and constructed the houses, canoes, and tools. [50] Each family owned a plot of land which they farmed this land reverted to the common property of the tribe when the family no longer used it. [51]

The Huron lived in villages spanning from one to ten acres (40,000 m²), most of which were fortified in defense against enemy attack. They lived in longhouses, similar to other Iroquoian cultural groups. The typical village had 900 to 1,600 people organized into 30 or 40 longhouses. [18] Villages were moved about every ten years as the soil became less fertile and the nearby forest – from which they took firewood – grew thin. [52] The Huron engaged in trade with neighboring tribes, notably for tobacco with the neighboring Petun and Neutral nations. [53]

The Huron way of life is very gender-specific in practice. Men in most societies are the hunters of the tribe they search for a game to feed their people. Women made the clothes, cooked and processed game, farmed, and raised the children. [54]

Pregnancy for women has its hardships. Women lock themselves in the woods inside a hut to keep pregnancy localized traditionally only mothers and grandmothers see the women during labor to see how she is doing. Pregnant women deal with their pregnancy and birth with the help of other women while the men go along their day as if nothing else is happening. The society members are more pleased with the birth of a girl than that of a boy, as they believe she will guarantee the future of the people by bearing children. Women are given more praise for giving birth to girls.

Like other Iroquoian peoples, the Wyandot had a matrilineal kinship system, and children were considered born to the mother's family. They took their status from hers her older brother would be more important to her sons than their biological father. [54]

As children grow older, they slowly grow into their roles within their society. Both genders learn from adults how to do certain things that later will help the tribe. For example, girls learn how to make doll clothing, which teaches them how to make real garments. Boys are given miniature bows so they may practice hunting very small game. Children at young ages are integrated into society evenly. They are given small tasks to follow based on their age. Boys practice hunting and follow men on some hunting events. Having boys follow the men into hunting events lets them learn firsthand how to hunt, receive tips on what to do while hunting, and gain experience for developing needed skills when they are older. Girls learn the same way. They watch the women conduct their daily routines and mimic them on a smaller scale. Having a little girl make the clothes for her doll in preparation for her to make clothing as a young woman and or married mother. [55]

And the thunder and lightning of his [Champlain's] arquebus echoed for 150 years. The bold foe had been Mohawk. The Five Nations nursed a dogged animosity toward the French, with only a few interludes of real peace, from that time onward.

Champlain made mortal enemies with the Iroquois when he fought alongside the Huron people. Souring a relationship between the French people that hadn't even started yet for nearly one hundred years however, he was also trying to make peace between the two tribes (Huron and Iroquois). [57]

  1. ^ The American Heritage Book of Indians states the Wyandot name may have evolved after the union of the two related peoples, the Tobacco (Petun) and the Huron, who consolidated after the mid-17th-century Iroquois League invasions and conquests from New York. The editors imply that the Tobacco people were directly and closely related to the Huron, a probable splinter colony that developed from the four main tribes of the Huron/Wyandot. [1]
  2. ^ The American Heritage Book of Indians says the Wyandot name may have evolved after the union of the two related peoples, the Tobacco (Petun) and the Huron, who consolidated after the mid-17th-century invasions of Iroquois League nations from south of the Great Lakes and conquests. The editors imply that the Tobacco people were directly and closely related to the Huron, a probable splinter colony that developed from the four main tribes of the Huron/Wyandot. [1]
  3. ^ The American Heritage Book of Indians editors write that the Huron suffered an attack during the depths of winter in March 1649, when the Iroquois had established a war camp within Huron territory. The Iroquois attacked with more than 1,000 warriors, destroying two Huron towns, and severely damaging most of a third. When other Huron villages learned about this, they panicked, fleeing their homeland and moving west. In the event, the northern shore of Lake Ontario came under the control of the Iroquois. They continued with the Beaver Wars, attacking and defeating the Tobacco, Neutral, and Erie peoples in present-day western Pennsylvania and beyond. [7]
  4. ^ Note: Both the Draper Site, near Pickering, Ontario, and the larger Mantle Site villages are in territory that may have historically been either the Neutral people or Tobacco people's lands. Each of these two peoples was near relatives of the Huron, especially the Tobacco people, who also occupied the western 65 miles (105 km) stretch of the south shore of Lake Ontario. Their survivors are known to have consolidated populations with the Huron, later developing as the Wyandot.
  5. ^ Some Iroquoian longhouses were over 100 feet (30.5 m) in length, and 80 feet (24 m) was common.

Wendlas The Wyandot people or Wendat, also called the Hu-ron(on)= Nation and Hu-ron(on) Catti people

Le Jeune was born to a Huguenot family in Vitry-le-François in the region of Champagne, France in 1591, and converted to Roman Catholicism at the age of sixteen. [1] Le Jeune received a thorough preparation for the Jesuit priesthood he was a novice for two years between 1613 and 1615, and he was deeply influenced by his mentor Father Massé, whom he met at the collège Henri IV de La Flèche. During his studies, Le Jeune developed a keen interest in missions and became convinced that education was a key element in any successful attempt to spread Christianity. After finishing his philosophical studies Father Le Jeune was a teacher at the colleges in Rennes (1618–19) and Bourges (1619–22). [2]

In 1624, Le Jeune was ordained, and in 1632 he was named superior of the Jesuit mission in Canada. [1] He had not requested the posting to New France, but accepted without complaint and embarked from Le Havre with two companions on 18 April 1632. It was a difficult voyage and the forty year old Le Jeune was terribly seasick. They arrived a Tadoussac on June 18, 1632.

Le Jeune's first year was spent in the French settlements. Perhaps best known for his work with the Native American population, Le Jeune displayed an eagerness for learning various Native American languages. His assignment was to translate the Scriptures. Sometimes he caught them "teaching him obscene words in place of the right ones." [3] Among his most well-documented experiences are his travels during the winter of 1633-1634 among the Montagnais. [2] During the trip he had to contend with the teasing and occasional hostility of the shaman, Carigonan. While his work during those six months did not result in mass conversions as he had hoped, his ethnographic account of the Montagnais and his personal anecdotes about the cold, hunger, and conflicts he encountered are recorded in Relations des Jésuites de la Nouvelle-France of 1634. E.F.K. Koemer suggests that Le Jeune's identification of a distinction between animate and inanimate nouns eventually assisted John Eliot in his grammar of the Natick language. [4]

Le Jeune decided that in order to effectively carry out his apostolate, he needed to establish mission settlements, on the model of Jesuit missionary work in San Ignacio Miní in Misiones Argentina and bordering region of Paraguay, a hospital to care for the aged and the ill, and schools for educating the young. [2] He wrote: "I believe that souls are all made of the same stock, and that they do not materially differ Hence, these barbarians having well formed bodies, and organs well regulated and well arranged, their minds ought to work with ease. Education and instruction alone are lacking." [5] Le Jeune encouraged his missionaries to learn the native languages. [1] In 1634 he sent Father Jacques Buteux to the trading post at Trois-Rivières to instruct the indigenous people who used it as a summer stopping place. [6]

In 1635 a Jesuit college to educate French and Amerindian boys was established in Quebec, [7] with Antoine Daniel in charge, but closed after five years. That December Le Jeune preached the sermon at Samuel de Champlain's funeral.

In a 1637 letter he cautions all missionaries not to make the “savages” wait for them when embarking in the morning, to never show distaste for any of their customs, and to help out during portages, or over-land journeys, from one river to another. [8] That same year he laid the foundation of a house for missionaries at Sillery, named after benefactor Noël Brûlart de Sillery, who provided the funds.

Le Jeune found that devotional images helped a good deal in conveying ideas he was trying to express. [9] Religious processions had an important civic function. Le Jeune recorded a celebration held in Quebec in 1639 honoring the birth of Louis XIV. Along with fireworks and cannon salutes, a procession was held in conjunction with the Feast of the Assumption, in which the French and more than a hundred Indians, six of them dressed in sumptuous French royal garments, processed from the hospital, to the Ursuline convent, and finally to the Jesuit church. Prayers were said in both French and the local Indian language, and when the procession ended, the Governor provided a feast for all in attendance. The procession had become a centerpiece of the fragile multicultural community. [10] By 1639 there were less than 100 converts among the Hurons, who numbered several thousands. [3]

Le Jeune and his contemporaries did not limit their efforts in conversions and education to Native Americans. While there were fewer slaves in the French colonies than in the English and Spanish ones, Le Jeune's interactions with African slaves in Quebec set a key precedent that would inspire later generations of priests, teachers, activists, and abolitionists. Jesuit practice viewed all people as equal before God and as having equal need for salvation. Thus, it was incumbent on the Church to provide for the intellectual and spiritual well-being of slaves. Le Jeune himself adopted a very direct approach to this issue. As early as 1634, Le Jeune expressed enthusiasm because he found himself teaching African children the alphabet, and in Volume V of The Jesuit Relations he emphasized the need for Africans to gain sufficient learning and literacy so that they could demonstrate enough of an understanding of Catholic dogma to secure the rite of baptism.

Since Jesuits consistently emphasized the role of the intellect, it is logical that they advocated education for slaves throughout the colonies. Most of the priests' work was with slave children unlike adults, they were granted time away from their masters for basic schooling, and since so much cultural disruption had already taken place, slave parents were not generally viewed as opponents to education in the same way that Native American parents were.

In their work with the children of colonists, slaves, and Native Americans, Le Jeune and his fellow Jesuits used the same sort of materials, such as a primer or hornbook that were used throughout the North American colonies. These materials transmitted traditional European cultural and religious beliefs while they encouraged literacy. Teaching the catechism, biblical passages, and religious stories was, the Jesuits believed, the primary role of literacy in New France.

He established the chapel of Notre Dame de Recouvrance in Quebec and assigned Fathers Charles Lallemant and Anne de Nouë to it. In August 1639 Sister Marie of the Incarnation arrived in Quebec. The Ursulines established a convent in the lower town (Basse-Ville). [11] Also on board were three Canonesses of St. Augustine of the Mercy of Jesus to establish a hospital underwritten by Marie Madeleine d'Aiguillon, niece of Cardinal Richelieu in response to a report from Le Jeune that had been published in the Relations in France.

Le Jeune remained the superior of the Jesuit mission until 1639 when he was replaced by Father Barthélemy Vimont, but he did not return to France until 1649. Upon his return, he served as the mission procurator of New France until 1662, only two years before his death.

The writings and experiences of Le Jeune and his fellow Jesuits are reflected in the Code Noir passed by France's King Louis XIV in 1685. This document outlined the rights of both slaves and their masters throughout the French colonies and notably advocated that slaves gain enough education that they would understand and embrace Catholicism. In fact, slave masters were required to offer access to baptism.

Le Jeune's influence was not limited to Canadian territories or seventeenth century Jesuits when the French settled Louisiana, there was a clear sense that literacy and religion were interconnected. Even after Louisiana became part of the United States, Catholic priests and laypersons continued to advocate for slave literacy. Indeed, the lack of formal education for slaves became a key factor in the Catholic Church's later support of Abolitionism.

Toponyms Le Jeune Edit

In recognition of the work of the missionary life Paul Le Jeune, some geographic names have been assigned to this Jesuit who came from France, and founder of the hamlet of Trois-Rivières in 1634:

Huron (Wyandot) Tribe

This article contains interesting facts and pictures about the life of the Huron Native American Indian Tribe of the Northeast woodland cultural group.

Facts about the Huron Native Indian Tribe
This article contains fast, fun facts and interesting information about the Huron Native American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions like where did the Huron tribe live, what clothes did they wear and what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Huron tribe with facts about their wars and history.

Where did the Huron tribe live?
The Huron are people of the Northeast Woodland Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands are shown on the map. The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Huron tribe.

  • The Northeast Woodland region extended mainly across the New England States, lower Canada, west to Minnesota, and north of the Ohio River
  • Land: Lush woodlands, rivers, ocean
  • Climate: The climate varied according to the location of the tribe
  • Land Animals: The animals included squirrel, white-tailed deer, raccoon, bears, beavers, moose, and caribou
  • Fish: Fish and shell fish
  • Crops: The crops grown in the area were corn (maize), pumpkin, squash, beans and tobacco
  • Trees: Poplar, birch, elm, maple, oak, pine, fir trees and spruce

Map showing location of the Northeast or
Eastern Woodland Indians Cultural Group

What did the Huron tribe live in?
The Huron tribe lived in large, densely populated, fortified towns of Longhouses that covered from from one to ten acres. Some of their birch bark houses were 200 feet long, 20 feet wide and 20 feet high and housed as many as twenty families. The windowless Longhouses had a rounded roof and doors at both ends.

The densely populated, longhouse towns served the Huron well for hundreds of years but made the Huron vulnerable to European epidemics.

Huron Birchbark Canoes
The Huron tribe were skilled boat makers and built canoes made of strong and water-resistant birch bark that could be easily bent, cut and sewn. The Huron birch bark canoes were important for the tribes way of life and their ability to make successful hunting and trading trips during the summer. The Huron stretched the birch bark over a strong, lightweight, wooden frame to make a birch bark canoe that could be easily manoeuvred and steered. The ribs of the canoe were made of tough hickory, cut into long, flat pieces, and bent to the shape of the boat. The Huron canoes measured about seven metres long and one metre wide and could carry four or five men and about 91 kilograms of cargo. The birch bark canoe was perfect for travel along fast streams, rivers and shallow waters and were sturdy enough for the rough waters of the lakes.

What did the Huron tribe eat?
The food that the Huron tribe ate included crops of corn, beans and squash that were raised by the women. Tobacco was also farmed by the men. Fish such as sturgeon, pike and a variety of shellfish such as clams, oysters, lobsters and scallops were an important part of their food supply. The Huron men also provided meat from deer (venison) and smaller game like squirrel, rabbit, wild turkey and duck. The Huron food also included nuts, vegetables, mushrooms and fruits (blueberries, strawberries, plums and raspberries). Sunflowers were also grown for their oil which was used in food and as a body rub.

What weapons did the Huron use?
The weapons used by the Huron warriors included bows and arrows, war clubs, tomahawks, spears and knives.

Huron History: What happened to the Huron tribe?
The following Huron history timeline details facts, dates and famous landmarks of the people. The Huron timeline explains what happened to the people of their tribe.

Revisiting an old classic: Black Robe Three Ways

Bruce Beresford’s stunning 1991 cinematic adaptation of Brian Moore’s novel, Black Robe, is now more than twenty years old. Even with the passage of time, the film has lost little of its visual impact. Like the novel, Beresford’s film tells the story of a young Jesuit priest, Father Paul Laforgue, on his first mission to New France in 1634. The film follows Laforgue and his Algonquin guides, led by Chomina, on an arduous 1500-mile journey deep into the Canadian hinterland and Huron territories. Laforgue is joined in his travels by a handsome Frenchman, Daniel, drawn to the possibilities of the priesthood and the religious life. The expedition proves to be a feat of physical endurance that exposes Laforgue to the material and spiritual realities of the pilgrimage he has undertaken and tests his resolve to see it through. The deliberately slow pace of the film and Beresford’s wide angle shots of the majestic Canadian wilderness are repeated reminders of the fragility of the Jesuit/colonial enterprise and the insignificance of Europeans to this new world they hoped to transform. Long days canoeing through the wilderness are punctuated by bouts with dysentery, disorientation, and a decisive meeting with a Montagnais shaman, who convinces Laforgue’s Algonquin guides to abandon their Christian charge because he is a devil. Even Daniel follows their lead, drawn by his attraction to Chomina’s daughter, Annuka, and to Native culture. Although the party eventually decides to recover Laforgue, they are taken hostage by a band of hostile Iroquois, who drag them back to camp to torture them and then kill some of their number. During a harrowing escape from their captors, Chomina is fatally wounded. As he lies dying, he refuses Laforgue’s desperate efforts to convert him, convinced by his vision of the She-Manitou of the reality and power of the Native spirit world. As winter closes in, Laforgue finally reaches the desolate Huron settlement, only to find it decimated by disease, his predecessors dead or dying. The remaining Huron survivors beg the new priest to offer them the benefits of his water sorcery, Catholic baptism. The film closes on a poignant note as one of the Huron leaders asks Laforgue if he loves them. As the faces of the Natives he has met on his journey pan over the screen, Laforgue offers up a halting yes. A postscript superimposed on the screen as the sun rises over the village reminds viewers that Iroquois raids would destroy the christianized Hurons and the French missions among them fifteen years later.

Black Robe has been severely (and perhaps fairly) criticized for its treatment of Native culture.[1] As James Axtell has noted, the Algonquin guides speak Cree rather than Algonquin or Mohawk. Even more problematic is the depiction of the Iroquois raids on Huron territory which suggests that killing Native captives was the norm. Studies of the Iroquois mourning wars have shown that they often integrated captives into the community to replace their own dead lost in battle or to illness.[2] Nor is there evidence for the kind of alternative sexual behavior that Moore projects upon his Native subjects, who “do it like dogs in the dirt,” to use Ward Churchill’s famous phrase.

In spite of these criticisms, a quick Internet search suggests that Black Robe remains a classroom staple, as it is in the history department at the university where we teach.[3] Cecilia Danysk uses the film in a course on colonial French Canada Laurie Hochstetler in a course on colonial America. Amanda Eurich teaches it as part of a module on Catholic reform and renewal in her survey of early modern Europe. We discovered, to our surprise, that we tend to pair different readings with the film. This is a fine demonstration of the film’s capacity to address a variety of pedagogical, historical, and historiographical concerns. Our conversations have deepened our appreciation of the rich subtexts of the film as well as the historiographical traditions upon which we each draw to turn Black Robe into a useful classroom exercise. This broader vision will certainly inform our teaching of the film in the future.

Black Robe and New France

Cecilia Danysk

One of the challenges of teaching Canadian history to American undergraduates is to sensitize them to them to the differences between histories and cultures that, at least on this side of the border, are often blurred. New France was not New England. While most of the film focuses on Laforgue’s journey to Huronia with his Alquoquin guides, it also briefly explores the rough and ready nature of life in the European settlements of New France. Early scenes evoke the precarious political power of the French in Quebec, which is depicted as a frontier trading post as much as an outpost of empire. Samuel de Champlain, who makes a brief appearance in the film, comes off as less than the heroic figure of Canadian nationalist tradition. One of the most striking sequences early in the film shows Champlain and his Algonquin counterparts donning ceremonial dress in preparation for their first encounter. As the camera pans back and forth between Champlain and Chomina readying themselves for their meeting, the film underscores the parallels between Native and European pageantry and politics. The film also presents a relatively complex image of the colonies and peoples of New France. The character of Daniel underscores the fluid lines of life and identity along the frontier. The presence of three distinct Native nations and different groups of French settlers (royal officials, coureurs des bois, and Jesuit priests, all inspired by different mandates and answering to different authorities) undercuts any facile representation of colonial society. All the more reason why the Iroquois plotline is frustrating, both for its gratuitous violence and the stereotyping of the Iroquois as savage and the Alquonquin and Huron as virtuous. Those Native peoples who cooperated with the French are portrayed as peaceful, obliging, and credible economic partners.

Still, Beresford and Moore manage to create a world where Natives are powerful intermediaries and interpreters of the political and geographic landscapes. One of the strengths of both film and novel is the way they explore Native culture and cosmologies. The seeming superiority of European culture (Native wonder at European technology—mantle clock and the mysterious power of reading) does not obscure the enduring power of Native spirituality. The film’s exploration of Native dream worlds offers an important counter-narrative to the Christian narrative of conversion and redemption.

Students react enthusiastically to the sense of historical immediacy in Black Robe, as visceral understandings of the lives of people in the past give them an opportunity to consider their worldviews, motivations, and the boundaries placed on their choices. At the same time, their strong reactions to the film open the door for discussion of some of the film’s misrepresentations, and to a broader discussion of historical methodologies.

In a written exercise, students compare interpretations and use of evidence in Black Robe with selected primary and secondary sources,[4] analysing aspects covered in all three, such as religious systems, gender relations, trade, authority, etc. Since the film and secondary sources rely heavily on the Jesuit Relations, students have ample scope to examine similarities and differences, and to learn how to develop evidence-based analysis. Although some students have difficulty perceiving interpretation in primary sources and even more so in cinematography, most learn to look more closely and more critically at how evidence is used and how arguments are constructed.

As a tool for examining historical issues, Black Robe challenges students to think critically about colonialism, relations between First Nations and Europeans, gender, ideologies, and so on, particularly when we consider the film as a counterpoint to the secondary sources assigned for the class. I show the film near the beginning of the course and we talk about the early contact period’s creation of the ‘Other’. Using D. Peter MacLeod’s work, we then address what shapes attitudes, what influences judgments, and how perceived identities influence behaviors.[5]

Later in the course, the film comes up in our discussion of the role of gender in Native and missionary societies, as we address the debate among Eleanor Leacock, Carol Devens and Susan Sleeper-Smith.[6] When methods and use of warfare come up, a perennial favorite, we compare the film’s depiction of the Iroquois attack and torture of captives with the work of Jose Antonio Brandão and D.K. Richter.[7]To emphasize the complexity and fluidity of Native-French relationships, we refer back to the film and to Richard White’s work to assess how the early contacts may have influenced those changing relationships.[8]

The film proves particularly useful when we come to analyse Native sovereignty, an issue that students find difficult, predisposed as they often are to regard the English ideas of Native sovereignty during the American colonial period as the norm. As we study the work on New France by John Dickinson and Cornelius Jaenen,[9] we hark back to the film’s portrayal of power relations between French and Algonquin, including the very tenuous foothold of the French in North America and their absolute reliance on their Native allies for the fur trade. The film also helps students grasp the complex intertwining of trade, diplomacy, war, missionary activity, and disease.

Black Robe and the American Colonies

Laurie Hochstetler

In preparation for viewing Black Robe, students in my colonial America course read Daniel Richter’s Facing East from Indian Country.[10] Covering centuries and continents, Richter’s work explains macro-historical changes whose effects are apparent in the early-seventeenth-century northeast. In particular, Richter describes population decline and reconfiguration, a broad series of changes experienced by the Hurons, Algonquins, and the Iroquois. Students learn that North America at the time of first contact was a continent in crisis. They learn that in many cases people were the most valuable resource for Native American nations this necessity led to the rough treatment of Chomina’s party by the Iroquois. Likewise, they learn about the changing character of North American trade, as Native peoples became more dependent upon trade with Europeans for manufactured goods.This is made evident in Native traders’ desire for muskets, above all things, in their trade with Europeans.[11]

Students also read selections from The Jesuit Relations.[12] Viewing Black Robe in conjunction with The Jesuit Relations allows them to see how historians compile and organize primary source information, and use it to tell broader stories. Many students have commented that Black Robe seems to them like The Jesuit Relations illustrated. They are able to see how Brian Moore has taken information from various Jesuit writings to formulate a narrative. The visual experience of Black Robe helps to underscore essential themes in the history of early America.

Black Robe richly illustrates several key concepts that are often difficult for students to grasp. Constant competition and its resulting violence were normative experiences in colonial North America. As a contested space where American, European, and African peoples met, and where they negotiated old and new relationships of enmity, violent encounters were an expected part of life. Chomina and Laforgue’s party are most notably exposed to such violence during their captivity and torture at the hands of the Iroquois. Yet even when engaging in warfare, as Chomina’s party’s shows, providing for the future was a constant concern: the need to complete their hunt in time and to reach their winter grounds before the snow overwhelms them. Students tend to see colonial America through a pastoral lens, a series of peaceful, rural communities where life was confined to providing for daily subsistence. The film reminds them that violence was the rule rather than the exception, and that provisioning was the principal worry of all.

Laforgue’s decision to voyage to New France, and his consequent experiences, highlight the insignificance of colonial enterprises. Laforgue’s mother is hardly pleased with her son’s decision to become a missionary she would gladly have seen him married to a pretty Frenchwoman with genteel musical accomplishments (as we learn in a flashback). . As Laforgue sets off for New France, his mother has already put on mourning attire, grieving her son’s death even before they have parted. Laforgue’s mother recalls the parents Barbara Diefendorf describes, who must deal with their children’s decision to enter the Church at the height of the Catholic Reformation.[13] The veteran New France missionary, complete with scars and amputations from Iroquois torture, seems out of place, rather than heroic, juxtaposed to the symmetry and decorations of a Gothic church. The old priest stresses that missionary work in North America is of great importance, but the elegance of the church, and the well-dressed, handsome aspect of the clean-shaven Laforgue provide a constant, if unspoken, counterpoint. Across the Atlantic Champlain attends to political matters with the ceremonial trappings of a French diplomat, but his efforts seem to have little effect on those back home.

In the film’s final scene of a mass baptism at the Huron mission, the music shifts from an orchestral score whose rhythms suggest a natural and unspoiled landscape, to Catholic sacred music. This auditory shift leaves students feeling that they are witnessing a world undergoing similarly profound and jarring transitions. Students often come to a course in colonial America believing that they know the story of European missionary endeavors. Missionaries arrived with high ideals and a certain amount cultural chauvinism their enterprise caused the downfall of a people. Black Robe is essential to my efforts to show them that the story is not so simple, the balance of power not so clearly tilted towards Europeans, and that all parties were perhaps more adaptable than they expected.

Black Robe and the World of Catholic Reform and Renewal

Amanda Eurich

My use of the film is admittedly Eurocentric. Students read several chapters from Craig Harline and Eddy Put’s engaging history of Mathius Hovius, the late sixteenth-century archbishop of Mechelen (in present-day Belgium) and his struggles to bring parishioners, clergy and Anabaptist heretics into conformity with Tridentine Catholicism.[14] A Bishop’s Tale humanizes the administrative reforms and bureaucratic impulses that characterized Catholic reform efforts in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In Hovius, students encounter a militant reformer with considerable resources at his command, who is more often than not frustrated by his constituents. He battles the intransigent beer-brewing monks of Affligem, Benedictine nuns resisting enclosure, and canons more interested in hunting and drinking than carrying out their spiritual responsibilities. Even Hovius’ investment in a promising young school boy, plucked from obscurity to be the shining star in his new seminary, fails when Jan Berchman jumps ship and joins the Jesuits as a novice with missionary ambitions. This colorful slate of real-life characters sets the stage for our viewing and discussion of Black Robe.

Black Robe provides students with a useful contrast to the parish politics and clerical rivalries at the heart of A Bishop’s Tale, by exploring the new spirit of interiority that was also a hallmark of the world of Catholic reform.The cinematography captures the loneliness of the missionary enterprise and the spiritual impulses that inspired it.[15] The decision to cast the French Canadian actor, Lothaire Bluteau, famous for his lead role in Jesus of Montréal, was surely intentional, even if the reference is often missed by American students. An early flashback sequence in the film prompts discussion of the external and internal forces that propelled Laforgue to the Canadian frontier. We see Laforgue serving as an acolyte to a crusty old priest whose face bears the scars of brutal mutilation by Native hands, an image probably taken from Jérôme Lalemant’s description of the tortures suffered by Isaac Jogues at the hands of his Native captors, in the Relations.[16] Even while calling his captors savages, the priest tells Laforgue he plans to return to the “glorious task.” This exchange reminds students of the fluid traffic between the Old World and the New that nourished the heroic narratives of Jesuit missionizing efforts.[17] The sequence also lends itself to discussions of the culture of self-abnegation and even self–mutilation that formed a part of the new spirit of piety.[18] Laforgue may not be prepared for the physical and spiritual challenges he faces, but he almost certainly expects that his mission will entail physical suffering. For Laforgue suffering legitimizes the slow halting steps toward his end goal, the conversion and baptism of natives. Or is the goal to imitate the suffering of Christ?

In preparation for the discussion of the film, students also read letters from the Jesuit Francis Xavier written from India to the Order’s headquarters in Rome in the mid-sixteenth century.[19] In many ways, Xavier’s letters parallel the film’s narrative and beg the question: how did early modern Catholic and Protestant reformers understand christianization? Were the requirements imposed on indigenous communities of New France any different from those imposed by parish priests (or for that matter, Protestant pastors) in Europe? Students note that Xavier, like his counterparts in Europe, relies on rote memorization and catechetic instruction. Like Laforgue, he baptizes whole villages driven by illness to seek out a new faith. And much like his Protestant counterparts, Xavier is a bitter opponent of idol worship, encouraging acts of iconoclasm by eager children among his recruits. In Xavier’s letters there is no room for the sentimental reflections found in the last scenes of Moore’s film script. The disparity between the primary sources and the film often prompts a vigorous discussion of the intentions/motives of Jesuit missions. Can Laforgue’s response really be treated as genuine? Is it characteristic of Jesuit interactions with their indigenous converts?

Black Robe is a film well worth revisiting. For all its frustrating flaws, it captures the attention of a visually oriented generation of students. Much like the Atlantic world in which it is set, Black Robe explores the divergent concerns, beliefs and practices of the peoples who encountered each other in the contested cultural landscapes of northeastern North America.

Bruce Beresford, Director, Black Robe, Color, 1991. 101 min., Canada, Australia, USA, Alliance, Communications Corporation, Samson Productions Pty. Ltd., Téléfilm Canada

Brian Moore, Black Robe, McClelland and Stewart, Dutton, Jonathan Cape, 1985


Original Sources.&mdashThwaites, The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents (Cleveland, 1896-1901) Martin, Relations des Jésuites (Quebec, 1858) Relations Inédites (Paris, 1861) Champlain, Le Voyages de la Nouvelle France (Paris, 1632) Laverdière, oeuvres de Champlain (Quebec, 1870) Bressani, Breve Relatione (Macerata, 1653), and French tr. by Martin (Montreal, 1852) Ragueneau, Mémoires touchant la mort et les vertus des Pères Isaac Jogues, etc., MS, with affidavits as to reliability (Quebec, 1652) Laverdiére and Casgrain, Le Journal des Jésuites (Quebec, 1871) Carayon, Première mission des Jésuites au Canada (Paris, 1864) Martin, Autobiographie du P. Chaumonot et son complément (Paris, 1885) Shea, La Vie du Père Chaumonot écrite par lui-méme (New York, 1858) Charles Garnier, Copie de ses lettres (Contemporary MS.), written from Huronia 1637-49 MS. copies of Letters from the Missionaries of Huronia to the General, 1636-50 Sagard, Le grand voyage au pays des Hurons (Paris, Tross reprint, 1865) Hist du Canada depuis 1615 (Paris, Tross reprint, 1866) Le Clercq, Premiere Etablissement, etc. (Paris, 1691) Decreux, Historiæ Canadensis Libri Decem (Paris, 1664) Charlevoix, Hist. de La Nouvelle France Journal Hist. d'un voyage dans l'Amér. Septentr. (Paris, 1744), tr. Shea (New York, 1866-71) Allegami and Nadasi, Mortes Illustres (Rome, 1657) Tanner, Societas Militans (Prague, 1675) Vén Marie de l'Incarnation, Les lettres, 1632-1642 (Paris, 1786) Législature de Quebec, Docs. relatifs à l'Hist. de la Nouv.-France 1492-1789, (Quebec 1883-1885) Margry, Découvertes, 1614-1764 (Paris, 1879-88) Colden, Hist, of the Five Nations of Can., 1720-1784 (New York, 1902) with a collec. of letters transcr. Elementa Gram. Huronicæ (MS., Detroit, 1745) Radices Huron. (MS. Detroit, 1751) Sermons en langue huronne (MS. Detroit, 1746-47).
Modern Works.&mdashShea, Hist. of the Cath. Missions among the Indians (New York, 1855) The Cath. Ch. in Colonial Days (New York, 1886) Hist. Sketch of the Tionontates or Dinondadies now called Wyandots in Hist. Mag., V, 262 Winsor, Narrat. and Crit. Hist. of Amer., IV. 263-290 Martin, La Destruction des Hurons in Album Littéraire de La Minerve (Montreal, Dec., 1848). 333 Mooney, Indian Missions North of Mexico in Handbook of Amer. Inds. (Washington, 1907) Harris, Early Missions in Western Canada (Toronto, 1893) Rochemonteix, Les Jés. de la Nouvelle France (Paris, 1895) James, The Downfall of the Hur. Nat. (Ottawa, 1906) Faillon, Hist. de la colonie française en Can. (Paris, 1865) Ferland, Cours d'Hist. du Can. (Quebec, 1882) Garneau, Hist. du Can. (Montreal, 1882) Campbell, Pioneer Priests in N. Amer. (New York, 1908) Parkman, The Jesuits in N. Amer. (Boston, 1868) Coyne, The Country of the Neutrals (St. Thomas, Ont., 1895) Jones, "Ouendake Ehen," Old Huronia (in preparation) Identification of St. Ignace II and of Ekarenniondi in Ontario Archæol. Report, 1902 (Tornot, 1903) Martin, Le P. Jogues (Paris, 1873) Le P. Jean de Brébeuf (Paris, 1877), tr. Shea (New York, 1885) Orhand, Le P. Etienne de Carheil (Paris, 1891) Hunter, Sites of Hur. Villages in Simcoe county, Ontario, in the townships of: Tiny (1899) Tay (1900) Medonte (1902) Oro (1903) N. and S. Orillia (1904) Flos and Vespra (1907) (Toronto) Dooyentate (the Indian Peter Clarke), Orig. and Traditional Hist. of the Wyandots (Toronto, 1870) Schoolcraft, Hist. Condition and Prospect of the Ind. Tribes (Philadelphia, 1853-56) Pilling, Iroquoian Languages (Bur. of Ethn., Washington, 1888) Slight, Indian Researches (Montreal, 1844) Ont. Archæol. Reports for 1889, 4-15, 42-46 1890-91, 18, 19 1892-93, 22-34 1895, passim 1897-98, 32, 35-42 1899, 59-60, 92-123, 125-151 1900, Harris, The Flint Workers: a Forgotten People.

How did people dress at the Jesuit missions to the Hurons? - History

CCHA Report, 11 (1944-45), 31-42

A Chapter in the History of Huronia -
at Ossossané in 1637

Old Huronia, (1) the country of the Hurons, is the section of hilly land enclosed by Matchedash Bay, Nottawasaga Bay, and Lake Simcoe. Its area is about 800 square miles, within the townships of Tiny, Tay, Medonte, and Oro of Simcoe County. (2) The Indian name for this land was Wendake, and its people were the Wendot or Wyandottes. The French coined the name, Huron, (3) as a nickname. It was suggested by the manner in which the first party of the tribe that they met dressed their hair, in ridges, 'hures', which reminded them of the head of a boar. At the time of Jacques Cartier's first voyage to Canada, the Huron-Iroquois nation appears to have inhabited the valley of the Upper St. Lawrence, (4) but the known history of Huronia begins with the early 17th century after Fr. Le Caron, the Recollet friar, (5) came there in 1615. He was the first white man, so far as we know, to live in Huronia.


There are so many interesting and extraordinary facts connected with the whole history of Huronia, that it is rather difficult to isolate one or two without spoiling the symmetry of the whole glorious epic. If you study Ducreux' map of 1660, (6) you will be impressed by the distance of Huronia from the French headquarters at Quebec. During these years Quebec was nothing but a trading-post and fort. Louis Hébert, the first true colonist, did not arrive until 1617. And at Champlain's death 1635, Quebec numbered scarcely one hundred people. The hopes of the missionaries from the beginning centered in Huronia (7) because the Hurons were sedentary, their women being maize-growers the Algonkin (8) and Montagnais (9) Indians, though nearer to Quebec, were still nomadic, living exclusively on a hunting and fishing economy. The Iroquois Confederacy (10) inhabited the land south of the St. Lawrence and of Lake Ontario, east of Lake Erie, and west of the Hudson valley. A fratricidal war had long been waged between the Huron and the Iroquois Confederacies whether for economic or political reasons I am not sure.

I suggest that rivalry over the fur-trade, (11) a rivalry that was aided and abetted by interested European powers brought this conflict to a climax during the period which concerns us. European weapons turned the tide of battle in favour of the Iroquois, who were supplied with better and more numerous weapons by the Dutch and the English. The Hurons procured their supply from the French at Quebec during their annual trading trips. (12)

The only lines of communication between Huronia and Quebec were by water. There was a shorter route by the Bay of Quinte, Lake Ontario, and along the St. Lawrence, a journey of approximately 200 leagues or 600 miles. The longer route was up Georgian Bay to the French River, along it and across Lake Nipissing, then by a long portage to the Mattawa River, on into the Ottawa River, down to the St. Lawrence and on to Quebec. This journey was approximately 300 leagues or from 900 to 1,000 miles. In 1615 Champlain travelled by the longer route up to Huronia, then back to Quebec. (13) Fr. Le Caron with 12 of Champlain's men had actually preceded the explorer by five days. Thereafter it was called the Champlain Road. The presence of roving bands of warring Iroquois made the shorter route impassable. During the French regime in Huronia, the longer route was constantly under Iroquois fire. For some years they succeeded in land-locking the country, rendering all trade and transit impossible. In travelling to and fro from Quebec to Huronia, therefore, fear of falling into the hands of the ferocious Iroquois was a constant peril. But there were many other hardships to be endured along that lonely journey, by "forests and bare rocks, rapids and precipices". (14) The white man was accompanied or abandoned by uncertain friends pestered by mosquitoes and flies. He lacked even the simplest amenities of life in the matter of food and sleeping accommodation. Fr. Le Caron has left us an account of his 40 days' ordeal of paddling and portaging. (15) Brother Sagard describes the trip in more detail in his "Grand Voyage to the Country of the Hurons" (16) Various Jesuit Missionaries substantiate this description and contribute further experiences of their own. Fr. de Brébeuf, who has been called 'the Apostle of Huronia' because of the length of his experience (17) there, and the success of his labors, made this trip five times. Out of his seasoned experience he wrote a set of instructions to guide his fellow Jesuits, who might be sent to labour among the Hurons. (18) If you read his letter, you will understand that the first big task, which confronted a traveller to Huronia, was to overcome the hazards of communication.

Every student of the history of Huronia finds himself indebted to the celebrated Jesuit archaeologist and historian, Fr. Arthur Edward Jones, S.J., who devoted many of the best years of his life to this subject. He placed the outcome of his labours at the disposal of the Ontario Archives. The result was the publication of the Fifth Report of the Ontario Bureau of Archives, Huronia, 1908. At this stage, I wish also to acknowledge my indebtedness to the work of Mr. A. F. Hunter, which was published by the Ontario Department of Education in a series of pamphlets entitled "Notes on Sites of Huron Villages." (19) I am also indebted to the work of the Jesuit Indian Missionary, Fr. Julien Paquin, who compiled a careful chronological history of the Huron Missions, "The Tragedy of Old Huronia", published 1932 and to Mr. W. N. Fenton's contribution to Vol. 100 Smithsonian Misc. Coll. 1940 "Problems arising from the Historic North Eastern Position of the Iroquois."

The only original sources that have come to light on the period are the works of Champlain, (20) Sagard (21) and the annual reports and letters written by several of the Jesuit Missionaries who laboured there. The "Jesuit Relations" offer the most complete record of the whole period. A word on the composition and compilation of the Relations.

It was the duty of the missionaries to transmit to their superior at Quebec a written journal of their doings the superior in turn composed a narration or relation of the most important events which had occurred in the several missionary districts under his charge. This report was forwarded to the Provincial of the Order in France, and, after careful scrutiny and reediting, published by him in a series of duodecimo volumes known collectively as "The Jesuit Relations". In the closing years of the last century Reuben Gold Thwaites, Secretary of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, realized the incomparable value of these documents as source material for the early history of his country. To the actual Relations, he added many letters by different missionaries and other pertinent documents. He published the collection in 73 volumes under the title "The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents", 1896-1901. (22)

The known history of Huronia falls naturally into two parts, (1) 1615-29, (2) 1634-49. These are separated by the first English possession of Canada. Admiral David Kirk captured Quebec 1629. One of the conditions of the capitulation was that every Jesuit and Recollet should leave the colony. In March, 1632, Canada was ceded back to France by the treaty of St. Germain-en-Laye. The Jesuit Fathers were invited to return in sole charge of the Mission, since the Recollets lacked sufficient means and men to participate. Fr. Jones, S.J., subdivides the history of the first years into two period : (a) The period of the Recollets, 1615-25. Fr. Le Caron worked alone in the field 1615-16 he returned with Fr. Nicholas Viel and Bro. Sagard 1623 he and Bro. Sagard received orders to leave 1624 and Fr. Viel in 1625. It was nearing the end of his return journey that Fr. Viel was drowned with a Christian neophyte at Sault-au-Récollet. (b) The period of one Recollet, Fr. de la Roche de Daillon, and of the two Jesuits, Fr. Anne de Nous and Fr. Jean de Brébeuf.

In 1634 Fr. de Brébeuf returned with Frs. Davost and Daniel to reopen the mission to the Hurons. He established the first mission centre at Ihonatiria, an important village which stood somewhere in the north-eastern part of the township of Tiny - possibly on lot F. Conc. XVII on Pinery Point. (23) The village site of Ihonatiria had to be abandoned 1638. But in the meantime the second mission centre at Ossossané had been established 1637.

Ossossané was the capital town (24) of Huronia, the place where the most important councils were held. It was a village of 40 cabins. (25) There were five fires to a cabin and 2 families to a fire.

Fortifications were raised around the village under the direction of the missionaries. (26) The location of this village was changed three times during the missionary period, but the different sites were not far removed from one another. All the references in Champlain, Sagard, and the Relations seem to indicate the same locality. (27) Ossossané was about four leagues from Ihonatiria, (28) and three from Ste. Marie. (29) These distances point to its location along the shore of the Georgian Bay between Point Varwood or Dault's Bay and the village of St. Patrick. This is the location on Ducreux' map. Hunter registered four important sites (30) in that district. Father de Brébeuf described one of the important bone pits in connection with these sites. (31) One site, on lot 18, concession XII, tallies perfectly with the description given of it by the first French visitors, who called it La Rochelle because of the similarity of its location to the French town of that name. (32) The Jesuits called it "the Residence of the Immaculate Conception." (33) The Indian word Ossossané according to Fr. Jones' translation meant either (a) 'where the corn-tops wave' or (h) 'where the corn-tops or corn-tassels, or corn-blades, droop into the water.' (34) Fr. Le Jeune tells us that when the missions were resumed in 1633, Captains of this town begged the Missionaries to establish their residence among them. (35) Fr. de Brébeuf alludes to the moving of the village site and gives it as a reason for not immediately settling there in preference to Ihonatiria. (36) It was finally arranged at two Council meetings in December 1636 and then proclaimed publicly through the streets by an official crier that Ossossané would be a mission centre the coming Spring. (37) The residence was begun the following May under the direction of Fr. Pierre Pijart. On June 5th, 1637, he offered the first Mass therein. (38) The residence, to which I refer, was similar to an Indian long-house. (39) It was 12 brasses long. (40) It was divided into three compartments. The Indians were free to come and go in the first one, to receive and to give instructions or news. The second was the Chapel, and in the third the Fathers stored their small belongings. To the visiting Indians their few possessions such as a clock, weather vane, their clothes, books and writing materials, religious pictures and objects of devotion were subjects, first of interest, then of affection and presently of suspicion. The priests were lodged and fed in the manner of the savages. They owned no land in a borrowed field, they raised enough French grain to make the Sacred Host. (41) They were dependent on gifts from the Savages of corn, grain and squash, for their daily sustenance. Their drink was a flagon of water. They slept entirely dressed, on a mat flat on the ground.

What was historic about this mission at Ossossané in 1637? The historic fact reduces itself to this, that seven priests - at no time during the year were there more than four together in residence at Ossossané - survived a year of hardship and persecution, discharging their apostolic and humanitarian functions, in the heart of Huronia among some 20 to 30,000 savages, (42) mostly hostile, one thousand miles from any help. The answer to what makes this fact historic is conditioned by one's definition of history and by one's decision on what factors determine when a person or an event is historic. I consider man "is the cardinal fact on which all history hinges. Man's capacities remain a constant factor throughout." (43) I consider that the heroic is as much a part of human history as the political, economic, social, or religious. It is my contention that the fate of Catholicity in Canada, for that matter, in the northern part of North America, and not merely the lives of the seven Blackrobes, or of New France's possession of Huronia, hung in the balance throughout this year and was determined by the outcome. When the Empire of Huronia collapsed 12 or 13 years later, the Hurons dispersed, and the mission at an end, Catholicity was not liquidated. The dispersed or captive Hurons carried it with them and within four years, (44) the Iroquois invited the Missionnaries, Frs. Le Moyne, Dablon, Chaumonet, later Frs. Ragueneau, Le Mercier, and others, to establish mission residences in their midst. To this day there exists an unbroken tradition of our Faith among some Indian settlements as well as in Québec. That is due, in no small measure, to the Missionaries' victory in Ossossané in 1637. The facts (45) speak for themselves: the attacks withstood, the persecution suffered, the gains accomplished by the following seven missionaries, Frs. de Brébeuf, Le Mercier, Carnier, Ragueneau, Chastelain, Pijart, Jogues, under the leadership and guidance of Fr. de Brébeuf. (46) The attacks of the Iroquois came closer and fiercer. The annual trading trip because of them was in jeopardy. Finally the canoes set out later than usual. An epidemic of small-pox grew to plague proportions by mid-summer. The entire village benefitted by the priests' physical as well as spiritual ministrations. Yet the sorcerers, or Indian medicine-men, and the natives' fear of sickness and of death kept village life in a continuous tumult. Champlain, Sagard, and the Relations repeatedly testify to (1) the important position accorded to the medicine-men in the Indian communal life (2) to their antics, and (3) to the ill-will they bore to the missionaries and other white men. It little mattered whether their impostures were self-evident, or exposed by the Fathers, the Sorcerers blamed the priests for their waning influence and led the attack against them. No calumny was too gross, no whispering campaign too mean, no lie too ridiculous, no violence, even, too treacherous, to employ against the defenceless priests. Under the influence of their persecution-campaign the Captains of the district on three different occasions between June and the end of October, 1637, summoned a Couneil (47) to arraign the Blackrobes under the pretence of considering the cause of the disease and of their miseries. On each occasion the expulsion or death of the priests was the conclusion reached. After each decision, the execution of the sentence was stayed by Divine intervention. If you were an unbeliever in God, you would say it was stayed by the courage of the priests, more especially of their Superior, Fr. de Brébeuf, who spoke for them at the first two councils. But the priests explained their escape otherwise. Fr. de Brébeuf's defence was interrupted at the first council by a general invitation issued to the Council by an interloper, to attend a feast. The president hastily took the floor, the earlier decision was reversed, and the meeting concluded with expressions of the utmost goodwill and indebtedness to the missionaries.

Presently, four English vessels (48) appeared in the St. Lawrence they came as far as the Rivière desPrairies (Ottawa). A new flurry of rumours started. Once more the Blackrobes were accused of causing all the sickness. The murder of Fr. de Brébeuf was noised abroad. On the evening of Aug. 4th the second council (49) was summoned. All the priests were present, including Fr. de Brébeuf, who once more spoke in the missionaries' defence. The council postponed the conclusion of the whole matter until the return of the Hurons, who had gone down to Québec. (50) The priests made a vow of nine masses to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. On August 16th, Joseph Chiwatenwa, Joseph "the good Christian", as he was later called, was publicly baptized. Joseph became the first great lay apostle of the mission in Huronia. His family, one by one, received the gift of faith. They were called "the family of believers" and each in turn made a distinct contribution to the spread of Christianity, not only among the Hurons, but later among the Iroquois. Conversions multiplied and Ossossané began to earn its name of 'the nation of Christians'.

Nevertheless the persecution was once more resumed. On October 3rd the missionaries' cabin caught fire. The fleet returned from Québec. The traders verified Fr. de Brébeuf's explanation of why the priests had come to Huronia and why they visited the sick. The sorcerers were incensed. A third council (51) was summoned in the absence of Fr. de Brébeuf and without a hearing the death sentence was passed upon the priests. Fr. de Brébeuf returned. He set out at once to greet the principal men of the village. They merely bowed their heads, indicating in this way that it was all over with the fathers. Fr. de Brébeuf then drew up a form of testament to leave in the hands of some faithful Christians the five priests, Frs. de Brébeuf, Le Mercier, Chastelain, Garner, Ragueneau, made a vow of nine masses to St. Joseph, that if it were God's will, the mission might continue. Fr. de Brébeuf next invited the village to attend their farewell feast, given, in Indian fashion, when men were nearing death. That night the priests spent, kneeling around the altar, awaiting the death stroke. It was never delivered. By the end of their Novena, Nov. 6th, the persecution had ceased. The mission at Ossossané entered on a period of incredible peace… So many converts were made that it was necessary to consider building a separate parish church. On February 1st, 1638, a council was summoned which decided to acknowledge Fr. de Brébeuf as one of the Captains of the Village. He was to be Captain of Religious Affairs. This gave him the privilege of summoning the Council like any other Captain, at any and all times he saw fit. The Hurons at Ossossané hereby publicly recognized Catholicism as the religion of its people. In June, 1638, the new chapel was begun. (52)

On December 12th, 1638, the Sunday within the octave of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the first Mass was offered therein. Within the year the Church spread so far and so fast throughout Huronia that the new superior, Fr. Jerome Lalemant, deemed a change in the administration of the Church in Huronia wise. A central residence for the priests was erected in 1639 at Fort Ste Marie, from which the priests went in pairs on their various missions.

Such in brief is the story of what happened at Ossossané in 1637 and the immediate results. I have found no evidence in the records of Huronia to suggest that at any later date the Hurons themselves ever considered the question of closing the missions, eschewing Catholicity or denying their allegiance to the French. Rather I infer that from the end of 1637, Catholicity was established as an integral part of the native Canadian compound of national life. After the explorations of Cartier and others, it is the oldest European ingredient, and for Catholics at least, the most glorious. (53)

As I analyse this victory, won by the seven Missionaries, under the leadership of Fr. de Brébeuf in 1637, I conclude that the essence of it was spiritual. And that is as it should be, for the business or purpose of the Missionaries was apostolic. They came to Huronia to reclaim lost children of God for the greater glory of God. In the performance of their mission they fulfilled the historic rôle of Christianity, which is the same in 1945 as in 1637, the same as 2,000 years ago, its rôle is to challenge the sway of brute force in human society. They refined the brutal and ignorant way of life of the savages by their example, by their services, by Christ's teaching. They themselves were men of the highest culture of the age they were scholars, but above and beyond this, they were deeply spiritual men. For were they not sons of St. Ignatius, members of the Company of Jesus, the shock troops of the Church, at the service of the Pope? (54) They went where he wished them to go they did the work he wished them to do. Their only weapons were the offensive ones of Faith and Charity, the defensive ones of hope and purity of heart. Unrealistic weapons perhaps? Unrealistic men, if you will. But they demonstrated to the Indians a better way of life, which many Indians voluntarily embraced. I consider that this is a more progressive and more democratic contribution to the history of (Canadian) civilization than the rapid expansion of the frontier economy of the fur-trade in the first half of the 17th century, which was accelerated and attended by the pressure of European imperialistic aggression.

Sept. 26th - The Feast of the Jesuit Martyr Saints of North America

Since to-day the Catholic Church in Canada celebrates the feast of the Jesuit Martyr Saints of North America, (55) it seems proper that in conclusion, I should lead you from the hard won victory of Ossossané, 1637, to the glory and the shame of St. Ignace, March 16-17, 1649. Both events are a piece of the same pattern, the pattern woven by Christianity in the tapestry of human history, the story of the Church fulfilling its historic rôle. Fathers de Brébeuf, Carnier, Ragueneau, Chastelain, Le Mercier, kneeling all night at the foot of the altar in their little chapel at Ossossané, October 28-29, 1637 Frs. de Brébeuf and Lalemant tortured and burned to death, bound to their stakes on the Field of St. Ignace, March 16.17, 1649 our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, speaking out calmly, wisely, fearlessly, from Vatican City, 1945 all offer the same challenge to the sway of brute force in human society. The world has grown old and wise in her ways. The Prince of Darkness has profited by the experience of the ages. Yet Christ successfully drove him from the Mountain top and Christ rose in triumph after Calvary's shame. Sin in all its ugliness mocked at Brébeuf as he suffered his indescribable torments but the eyes of the savages quailed beneath his unflinching gaze. And they gouged out the eyes of the gentle Lalemant because he rolled them heavenwards. Then they cut out their hearts to eat and drank of their blood hoping to gain a similar strength. (56)

To what end? It is true that with the destruction of St. Louis and St. Ignace, with the defeat of the Hurons, and with the martyrdom of Frs. de Brébeuf and Lalemant, the colony of the Hurons collapsed. The mission ended the Hurons dispersed Fort Ste Marie fired by the missionaries themselves all of New France - Montreal, Three Rivers, Québec - was in mortal peril. The enemies of Christ liquidated the bodies of His Saints, of Jean de Brébeuf, Gabriel Lalemant, Isaac Jogues, Noël Chabanel, René Goupil, Antoine Daniel, Charles Carnier, and Jean de la Lande but they did not liquidate the Church of Christ. In this new age of anarchy and tyranny unabashed, when we, the people of the world, are crying in our darkness for some new light, need we, in Canada, seek it in fields afar? Is our hope and our inspiration elsewhere? Has the holocaust of St. Ignace of Ossernénon of St. Joseph's of Etharita of some lonely spot on the banks of the Nottawasaga, (57) no meaning to-day? As fellow Catholics, interested in Catholic contributions to the history of our country, I leave these questions with you, to answer at your will.

1. "Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents" in 73 vols., edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, Secy. of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. The Burrows Bros. Co., Cleveland, O. Publishers, 1896-1901. I shall hereafter refer to this series as Rel. Clev. edit. Location of Huronia, the country of the Hurons. 1615-50, Vol. V, pp. 278-79 pp. 292-94 XVI, pp. 225-27 XXXIII, pp. 61 ff. XXXIV, p. 247. Sagard, G. T., "The Long Journey to the Country of the Hurons." Intro. and notes by G. M. Wrong, Editor. Champlain Society, Toronto 1939, pp. 90-91. Champlain, Samuel de, "The Works of…," Edited by H. P. Biggar, 6 vols. Champlain Soc., Tor. 1922-36. Vol. III, p. 46 pp. 114-68 Vol. IV, pp. 238-333.

2. Between 1820 and 1828 the Government of Upper Canada made its survey and division of this land.

3. Rel. Clev. edit. Vol. XVI, 229-31 Wendot, Rel. Clev. edit. Vol. II, 303.

4. See Alfred Goldsworthy Bailey, "The Significance of the identity and disappearance of the Laurentian Iroquois." Proc. and Trans. Roy. Soc. Canada 3rd Series Vol. XXVII, Sec. 2, 97-107 (1933). Smithsonian Misc. Coll. Vol. 100, 1940. "Problems arising from the Historic North Eastern Position of the Iroquois." William N. Fenton, Bureau of American Ethnology, 159 ff. Rel. Clev. edit. VIII, p. 298.

5. Fr. Joseph Le Caron Recollet, was the first missionary to set foot in the country of the Herons. He arrived in Aug., 1615, and stayed until early summer, 1616. He returned with Fr. Nicholas Viel and Bro. Gabriel Sagard July, 1623 departed again June, 1624. The Fifth Report of the Ontario Bureau of Archives. Fr. A. E. Jones, S.J., Huronia, 1908, 269-281. Hereafter I shall refer to this volume as 5 R.O.B.A. Huronia, 1908. Champlain, "Works" III, 25-31. Rel. Clev. edit., IV, 262 171-73.

6. Fr. François Ducreux, S.J., historian and cartographer, published Historia Canadensis, 1664. He included one of the most useful maps of New France of the period. It contained an insert map of Huronia. 5 R.O.B.A. Huronia, 1908, 5-6. "Contributions of the Canadian Jesuits to Geographical Knowledge of New France 1632-65." Nellis M. Crouse, 1924, 38 48 ff.

7. Le Jeune's Relation of 1635: "Finally as to the Mission among the Hurons and other stationary tribes, it is of the greatest importance." Also Rel. Clev. edit. XXXIX, 49. Fr. Bressani "Brief Relation", 1653 XI, 7

8. Rel. Clev. edit. I. Intro. deals with location of the Algonkin and Montagnais Indians and it also includes a brief history of the first missions among them.

9. The more recent findings and conclusions are presented by Mr. W.N. Fenton in the articles referred to, Vol. 100, Simthosonian Misc. Coll. 1940. See especially bibliograhy, pp. 240-251.

10. The Five (later Six) Nations Confederacy has been dealt with perhaps more completely than any other group of North American Indians. See Bibliography above (8). Rel. Clev. edit. XLV, pp. 205 ff. Champlain works, 1, 141-4 II, 74-138 IV, 71-120 V, 130.

11. Rel. Clev. edit. I, note 31 note 33 VIII, 11, 59, 61 IX, 171-181 XXXIV, IM XXXVI, 250 XL, chap. 7, p. 211 XLIII, 171-75 XLV, 205 LVII, 21-25. Champlain Works III, 41 54 227-28.

12. Rel. Clev. edit. VIII, 57-65 XL, 211 213-15 Champlain Works III 91.

13. Champlain Works III, 34 5 R.O. B.A. Huronia, 1908 270-271 Nellis M. Crouse "Contributions of the Canadian Jesuits to the Geographical Knowledge of New France 1632-1675" 37-38. Rel. Clev. edit. XXXIII 65. Fr. Ragueneau in the Relation of 1647-48 discusses in his outline of Canadian Geography these two routes.

14. Rel. Clev. edit. XV 151 Letter of Fr. François du Perron, April 27, 1639.

15. Les Franciscains et le Canada, R.P.O.M. Jouve O.F.M. Quebec 1915. 76.

16. Sagard. Journey to the Huron Country. Toronto Champlain Soc. 1939, Chap. IV, pp. 55-67 Part II, Chap. V, 244-69.

17. Charlevoix. Histoire, Vols. I & II, 1744. Fr. de Brébeuf laboured 20 years in the Canadian Missions 15 of which were spent in Huronia 1626-29 1634-41 1644-49.

19. Mr. Hunter's pamphlets were published 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1907 respectively.

20. The Works of Samuel de Champlain, edited by H. P. Biggar, 6 vols. Champlain Soc. Toronto, 1922-36.

21. The Long Journey to the Country of the Hurons. G. T. Sagard 1939. Intro. and Notes by G. M. Wrong, Editor, Champlain Soc. Toronto.

22. This is commonly referred to as "The Jesuit Relations" Cleveland edition. There is also the Quebec edition in 3 vols. compiled under the auspices of the Canadian Government 1858.

Mr. Thwaites also had access to the series brought out by Shea and O'Callaghan. Shea's "Cramoisy Series", 1857-66, numbers 25 little volumes. The O'Callaghan series are seven in number. He selected from Fr. F. Martin, S.J., 2 vols. of "Relations éditées de la Nouvelle France 1672-79," Paris 1861, and from the new material published by Fr. Carayon, S.J., in "Première Mission des Jésuites au Canada" Paris 1864. He included "Le Journal des Jésuites" edited 1871 by Abbés Laverdière and Casgrain from the original manuscript in the archives of the Seminary of Quebec. His greatest source of unpublished material was the manuscript collection in the archives of St. Mary's College, Montreal.

23. The Tragedy of Old Huronia. 261. 5 R.O.B.A. Huronia 1908 differs somewhat from the more generally accepted location of this site. 28-31. A.F. Hunter "Sites in the Township of Tiny" 1899.

24. Rel. Clev. edit. V, 261 VIII, 103.

25. Rel. Clev. edit. VIII, 101 XI, 17 XV, 153. Sagard, Champlain Soc. Toronto, 70-90.

27. Rel. Clev. edit. V, 292 X, 291 XI, 17 XIX, 133-135 XX, 81, 147 XXXIV, 247, 251-53. Nellis M. Crouse "Contr. of the Canad. Jesuits to the Geographical Knowledge of New France 1632-1675", note 4, p. 51. The spot was first identified by Fr. F. Martin, S.J., 1855. Its location has never been seriously questioned since.

30. A. F. Hunter "Notes of sites of Huron Villages in the Township of Tiny" 1899, 34-37.

32. Fr. C. Garnier's letter to his brother Henry, April 1638.

33. Brébeuf's letter to the General, Ihonatiria, May 20th, 1637, Carayon "Première Mission" 160.

34. 5 R.O.B.A. Huronia, 1908 182-84.

36. Rel. Clev. edit. VIII. "Besides this village there was no other save La Rochelle in which we felt any inclination to settle. And this had been our idea all along for a year past. . But taking into consideration that they (of La Rochelle) were to change place the coming spring, as they had done in the past, we did not care to build a cabin to last but the winter.""

37. Rel. Clev. edit. XIII 183 ff. see also letter X by Fr. de Brébeuf, Carayon 157-161.

39. Rel. Clev. edit. XIV 59. Fr. Pijart's letter to his Superior, Fr. de Brébeuf "I find myself here in the midst of extraordinary confusion. . . I console myself with the thought that we are not building here a simple cabin, but a house for Our Lady, - or rather many beautiful chapels in the principal villages of the country, since it is here that we hope, with the aid of Heaven, to cast the seeds for a beautiful and plenteous harvest of souls." Champlain Works, III 122-123 describes Indian "lodges".

40. A brasse: a linear measure, of five old French feet, or 1.82 metres, equivalent to 5.318 English feet.

41. Rel. Clev. edit. XV. Letter to Fr. Joseph Imbert du Peron from his brother Fr. François du Peron, April 27th, 1639, Ossossané 159 ff.

42. 5 R.O.B.A. Huronia 1908, 424. Population.

43. Mortimer Adler 'How to think about War and Peace' 1943. 168. "Beneath all the variety of cultures, beneath the manifest differences in human life at different times and places, man is the cardinal fact on which all history hinges. Man's capacities remain a constant factor throughout."

45. The main facts are contained in four documents XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, Rel. Clev. edit. Vols. XIII, XIV, XV.

46. 5 R.O.B.A. Huronia 1908, 302-307, Carayon "Première Mission" letter X written by Fr. de Brébeuf to his General, May 1637, p. 157.

47. For an account of the first council at Angoutinc see Rel. Clev. edit. XV 27. Sagard 'Journey to the Huron Country' gives an account of How the Hurons conducted their Councils and Warfare. Chap. XVIII 148. Champlain Works III 144-155 gives an account of (a) Sorcerers treating the sick and of how they thereby gain honour and reputation (b) of the Councils, 157-160. Rel. Clev. edit. LXXII references.

50. The danger to the priests can be inferred from the following account by Fr. Le Mercier XV 49, "The war Captain, who seemed most incensed at us, finding himself greatly disappointed in his expectations, did not hesitate to say that he was sorry he had not kept that one of ours, who arrived last, and put him to the torture 'to draw from him' he said 'the whole truth that his brothers conceal from us. I would doubtless have ruined him, and caught him in some words.' But what could he have gained from a man who could not yet know him nor understand what was demanded of him?"

51. For an account of the third council and of what followed Oct. 28, 1637 see Rel. Clev. edit. XV 61 ff.

52. This Church was the first wooden church to be erected in Ontario. It was 20 ft. long, 16 ft. wide, and 24 ft. high. Rel. Clev. edit. XV 139. Fr. Le Mercier: ""If God grant us the favor to see this work finished, it will not be one of the largest, but one of the prettiest which has yet appeared in New France." Fr. F. du Peron to his brother, from Ossossané. "(Dec. 12, 1638) I had the good fortune to say the first Mass in the Chapel built among the Hurons and erected in honour of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady. The Chapel is very neatly built of timber work…almost similar in style and size to our Chapel of St. Julian." Rel. Clev. ed. XV 175.

53. See Charlevoix Histoire, Vol. I, 288-289 for statement of Champlain's motives in attempting to establish a colony in the Country of the Hurons.

Black Robe Historical Analysis

Black Robe presents the story of a French Jesuit missionary struggling to stay true to his religion while traveling from Champlain’s fur trading outpost to a Huron Native American mission in Nouvelle France during the 17th century. Father Paul La Forgue sets out on the 1,500 mile journey with members of the Algonquian tribe and a young Frenchman named Daniel Davost, determined to convert the “savages” to Christianity. Throughout the film, Father La Forgue faces the Algonquians’ beliefs that he is a demon, calling him “Black Robe”, and even abandoning him for a short period. Later, when his Algonquian guides and Daniel recover him, they are captured and tortured by an Iroquois tribe. Eventually, Father La Forgue escapes the Iroquois encampment and makes it to the Huron mission. There, at the request of the Hurons, he baptizes both their sick and healthy tribe members and vows to remain with them for the rest of his life. An epilogue title reveals that fifteen years after this vow, the Iroquois obliterate the converted Huron tribe and the Jesuits close the mission and return to Quebec. In the film Black Robe, the Algonquian, Iroquois and Huron Native American tribes are, with a few exceptions, accurately depicted through the costumes, languages spoken, beliefs conveyed and customs observed. Additionally, the fictional character Father La forgue closely parallels the historical accounts of Father Paul Le Jeune’s 1634 Native American encounters, Father Jean de Brebeuf’s trek from Samuel du Champlain’s fur trading outpost in Nouvelle-France to the Huron mission, as well as Noel Chabanel’s time spent at the same mission until his death and its ultimate demise in 1649 at the hands of Iroquois Native Americans.

Undoubtedly, the tribe with whom Father La Forgue has the most contact throughout the film Black Robe is the Algonquian tribe. The Algonquians were historically a nomadic tribe, making their role as guides for Father La Forgue credible. Consequently, their migratory lifestyle also presented the Jesuit missionaries with unique challenges in converting the Algonquians to Christianity, also suiting them to be the perfect group of Native Americans to be set in opposition to Father La Forgue’s beliefs in the film. Interestingly, although the Algonquians oppose Father La Forgue in religious beliefs, they are depicted throughout the film as the “good” tribe of Native Americans, leading to the theory that Native Americans who submitted to European control of American land and resources are typically coded as “good”, while those who resisted European settlement are coded as “bad”. Further, the film is believed by some critics to further the theme from classic western films in which the old stereotype of the lone hero (Father La Forgue) and the inferior or menacing “injun” is perpetuated.

Another tribe with whom Father La Forgue had regular contact in the film Black Robe was the Montagnais, a faction of the Algonquian tribe who were also migratory. The portions of the film about the Montagnais drew heavily from documented history. The Jesuit priests’ efforts to convert the Montagnais in the seventeenth century included the argument (as La Forgue did with Daniel in the film) that Christianity was simply more sensible than the Algonquian ideas of religion. The sorcerer in the film, Mestagoit, was based on a real Montagnais tribesman described in Father Paul Le Jeune’s portion of the Jesuit Relations. Father Le Jeune tells of a winter he spent with the Montagnais as a guest of the chief whose brother was the sorcerer, Mestagoit. All through this winter, Father Le Jeune and Mestagoit clashed. The two men competed over their beliefs about religion, the true afterlife, and how their beliefs were reflected among the other Native Americans in the tribe. He also outlines the smoke-filled sleeping tents and the gluttonous eating habits of the Montagnais tribesmen. Many of.