Jesuit Relations Essay
Response to The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents
When I think of the colonization of a new country, I think of the building of new towns, the establishing of new trade routes, and the cultivating of new crops.The Jesuits, however, had quite a different idea.
The Jesuits' central purpose in all of their expeditions was spreading their religion.While I knew that this was their fundamental goal, I did not comprehend the extent to which they pursued it.In every new area they colonized, from the Caicos Islands to Quebec, thefirst order of business was to "erect a chapel".Before they report on food or resources, the Jesuits report on the building of one or more new chapels and the ensuing missions that will begin.There was even a chapel set up for the Hurons held captive by the Iroquois.In each area they came to, the Jesuits would immediately begin trying to convert the new Indians they found there.One explorer made the comment, "the best of all is that there are a number of savages to teach".Obviously, they got pleasure not from acquiring new land or discovering new riches, but from creating new members for the Church.Often, they would pit Indian against Indian in a sense, using those who had already been converted to influence those who had not.The Jesuits did not discriminate between tribes; they attempted to convert everyone, including the Iroquois.
Though they definitely pushed their religion on the tribes, the Jesuits seemed to make friends more than foes.Their main threat were the Iroquois, who were eventually defeated and converted.
The Jesuits made great efforts to learn the native languages of the Indians they encountered.This enabled them to communicate more freely, thus increasing their ability to "teach" the Indians about Christianity.
Most of the reports in the Jesuit Relations dealt with the number of Indians that had been converted or that were i…