Harvest of Souls

Harvest of Souls: The Jesuit Missions and Colonialism in North America, 1632-1650

Carole Blackburn
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 184
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Harvest of Souls
    Book Description:

    By combining textual analysis with an ethnographic study of the Jesuits Blackburn is able to reveal the gap between the domineering language of the Relations and the limited authority that the Jesuits were able to exercise over Native people, who actively challenged much of what the Jesuits tried to do and say. She highlights the struggle between the Jesuits and Natives over the meaning of Christianity. The Jesuits' attempted to convey their Christian message through Native languages and cultural idioms. Blackburn shows that this resulted in the displacement of much of the content of the message and demonstrates that the Native people's acts of resistance took up and transformed aspects of the Jesuits' teachings in ways that subverted their authority. Harvest of Souls is essential for all those interested in new approaches to historical and contemporary relations between Europeans and Native peoples in North America.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6840-2
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Illustrations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    In 1640 the Jesuit missionary Paul Le Jeune described the outcome of a meeting of newly converted Christians residing in the small community of Sillery, near the French fort of Quebec. These Christians, who were among the most zealous of those living at Sillery, had met during the winter “in order to confer together upon the means of keeping themselves in the faith” (Thwaites 1896-1901, 20:143-5; hereafter cited by volume and page number). According to Le Jeune, one of these Christians, “in making an address, said that he thought more highly of prayers - it is thus that they speak...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Jesuit Beginnings in New France
    (pp. 21-41)

    The first Jesuits arrived in northeastern North America in 1611.¹ During the summer of that year, Fathers Pierre Biard and Enemond Massé accompanied Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt to the small, recently established settlement of Port-Royal, in what is now Nova Scotia. Samuel de Champlain had established Port-Royal as a settlement in 1605, and it was subsequently given to Poutrincourt as a seigneury. After Biard and Massé arrived, Poutrincourt returned to France, and relations between the two priests and his son, whom he had left in charge at Port-Royal, deteriorated. The situation was not improved when Poutrincourt lost the favour...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Wilderness
    (pp. 42-69)

    The Jesuits characterized the land they had come to in North America as a wilderness - a place that was barren, abandoned, and frequently hostile. Their writings reveal that these qualities of the wilderness were both physical and spiritual, and were manifest in both the land and its human inhabitants. Physically, the land was barren because much of it had never been cultivated, and the Jesuits ceaselessly promoted the processes of domestication that would render the landscape more familiar and mark it as the site of human agency. The Jesuits belonged to a religious tradition in which the wilderness was...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Law and Order
    (pp. 70-104)

    Shortly after arriving at Quebec in 1632, Paul Le Jeune reported an incident involving a Nipissing man who had been struck and wounded by a French boy.¹ It is not clear why the boy had hit this man - perhaps through fear, hostility, or a combination of the two. Le Jeune states only that the Nipissing had approached the boy out of interest while the latter was beating a drum, at which point the boy struck the man over the head severely enough to result in a bleeding wound (5:219). The man’s companions demanded that gifts be given to them...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Conversion and Conquest
    (pp. 105-128)

    The Jesuits hoped to promote the obedience and submission that was a necessary attribute of Christian life by reconfiguring Aboriginal social and political relationships. Conversion itself, however, and the Jesuits‘ ability to gain compliance most frequently occurred after a process of chastisement and humiliation that had been brought about by disease or the consequences of warfare. The Jesuits described the misfortunes that were increasingly experienced by Native people during the 1630s and 1640s as afflictions and crosses, and they wrote that these afflictions had an especially beneficial effect in inducing conversion and generating the humility and obedience that were appropriate...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 129-140)

    In 1644 Jérôme Lalemant defended the Jesuits’ slow progress in their missions in New France by writing: “As faith is not natural to these peoples, - as it seems to be in France, where it is imbibed with one’s mothers’ milk, - it is not a mere trifle to have made a man a Christian. More contests, more pains, and more labors are needed to retain and keep him in the Church than were required to win him to God” (28:55). This comment reveals the considerable difficulties the Jesuits encountered as they tried to convert Aboriginal people to Christianity, and...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 141-156)
  12. References
    (pp. 157-168)
  13. Index
    (pp. 169-173)