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The Huron-wendat Feast of The Dead: Indian-european Encounters in Early North America

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In 1625, a Jesuit missionary named Jean de Brébeuf, accompanied by other Jesuits and servants, went to what is now Canada and North America. This is the main story told in Erik R. Seeman’s Huron-Wendat Day of the Dead, but overall, the book presented a comparison of Catholic and Wendat beliefs at the time of the events. Jesuit relations, dating back to the seventeenth century, are inhabited by indigenous voices that the Jesuits attempted to convert to Catholicism. These voices can reveal much of the history of the natives and their encounter with the Europeans, once one grasps the nature of the Jesuit point of view. The similarities and differences between the beliefs of the Jesuits and Wendat eventually led the two groups to separate, which is not only due to their beliefs in separate lives and the confrontation between the Jesuits and the Wendat shamans; but also because the contacts with the French became increasingly important for their traditional customs and the split of the Wendat community caused by the conversion of Wendat to Christianity. This split would also lead to the complete destruction of the traditional Wendat world. This essay explores the duality of the vision of the Jesuit Jean de Brébeuf in his relations between 1635 and 1636, about the Wendat Huron of New France.

To begin with, one of the Jesuits first falters in their relationship with the Wendat was the misunderstanding of the Wendat culture and religion. Indeed, some Wendats did not want to be converted to the Catholic religion because of their own belief and because of the repercussions that could occur after that. So, one of the major problems that Brébeuf had with converting the Wendats to Catholicism was: the Christian afterlife. The first case that showed this issue was the case of a Wendat – named Joutaya – who showed promise of conversion who saw a sign while he dreamt. His dream came to him when he was ill – probably because of one of the diseases that the colonists brought with them when they came in the New World – and, finally, refused to be converted because of the warning that his brother had thrown at him saying: “How now, my brother, do you wish to leave us?.” It ought to be noticed that Wendat culture puts a high significance on dreams and their importance as they were viewed as exacting correspondences with the soul world. Not tuning in to or defying dreams was an uncommon and hazardous act. What Seeman comprehends from the dream is that Joutaya dreaded ‘leaving’ the religious confidence of the Wendat, yet it can likewise be comprehended that he dreaded leaving his sibling and family behind in the Wendat life following death while he went to paradise. Later on in Brébeuf’s main goal, during an especially horrible plague, a lady would not be baptized through water because she could not join her two dead children in the Wendat afterlife; it is noticed this was a long way from a detached wonder and this was the primary explanation behind Wendats not consenting to be baptized. So, Brébeuf though about to start by baptized the children before the adult because, in this way, parents would be more likely to join their children in the afterlife because “the potential for a reunion in heaven with their children won over many vacillating Wendats.” But the problem was that it erred the Wendats readiness to join their precursors too. So, this was one of the first Jesuits faults in their association with the Wendat.

Then, another thing that caused tensions between the Wendats and the French Jesuits was that Wendats must have been frustrated with the Jesuits who were on their and could do what they wanted. The explanation the Wendats managed the Jesuits was so as to proceed with an ongoing flood in the improvement of their death ways. The Wendat Feast of the Dead had a long-standing convention of putting products with the dead so as to show regard and adoration for them. The quantity of these blessings expanded fundamentally during early European contact, not simply by adding European merchandise to the grave yet in addition by utilizing European devices like “sharp iron awls and knives” to enhance and build the number of Wendat products. This implied that they expected to manage the Jesuits so as to stay on amicable terms with French dealers. This, obviously, caused a conundrum as the very power that wished to free the Wendats of their convictions was required whenever said convictions were to grow.

At last the fundamental issue brought about by these conditions was not the contention among Jesuits and Wendat, however between Wendats themselves. This unpleasant wonder was, much the same as the maladies that decimated a great part of the Wendats populace, inadvertently brought about by the Jesuits. Regardless of their underlying disappointment at changing over a wide number of Wendat the missionaries had, at the end, increased a noteworthy after, at one point the town of Ossossane chose the Jesuit Father Pierre-Joseph Chaumonot as their headman. This religious separation among the waning Wendat populace that was additionally recouping from pandemics and was under steady danger of Iroquois assault was seen by conventionalist Wendats as angering an effectively close to miserable circumstance.The conventionalists looked for solidarity however the Christian Wendats would not surrender their freshly discovered convictions and hence the traditionalist dropped the Wendat custom of aloof acknowledgment of outside convictions and started to make fiery gossip about Christianity. They started to be more and more violent and murdered a French servant named Jacques Douart Just through calm Wendats utilizing usual peacemaking technics was a mass catastrophe avoided. Some Wendats either left for fear of Iroquois attack or assimilated themselves, in the idea that the Iroquois society would protect them. At the point when the Iroquois sent their last attacks the modest number of Wendats that stayed ready for the picking was the shortcoming of the Jesuits. The Wendats had no unification and now approach to sort out security. Also, the absence of national solidarity implied that there was zero good to fend off any sort of intrusion.

The Wendats and Jesuits were pulled separated by afterlife convictions and by religious healers. The two could not stay on familiar terms, not in spite of their similitudes but because of them. It was a direct result of them, the European’s entrance to Wendat religious functions expected individuals to barge in on such rehearses and the individuals who acknowledged the Christian confidence just made different Wendats detested their new neighbors more. Most heartbreaking of all, however, Christian change of the Wendats, regardless of how good-natured, was what eventually made the Wendat country self-destructed.

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The Huron-Wendat Feast Of The Dead: Indian-european Encounters In Early North America. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from
“The Huron-Wendat Feast Of The Dead: Indian-european Encounters In Early North America.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
The Huron-Wendat Feast Of The Dead: Indian-european Encounters In Early North America. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Sept. 2021].
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