Native American Culture And Culture

1495 Words 6 Pages
Both Natives and Jesuits made concessions in order to get along with each other; an original culture and religion emerged. As scholar Richard White explains, “the middle ground depended on the inability of both sides to gain their ends through force. The middle ground grew according to the need of people to find a means, other than force, to gain the cooperation or consent of foreigners.”1In the case of the Hurons and Iroquois, these two political ensembles started to value the French as economical and political partners, and, likewise, the Jesuits, outnumbered and non-military trained, could not gain the Indians ' conversions by force in the long run. The middle ground appeared in the area of accommodation and common meaning between the Jesuits …show more content…
Likewise, Sam Gill explains that the figure of Mother Earth, commonly presented as an ancient and central figure of the Native American theological system, is actually a concept created by the Natives and Europeans ' interactions, such as the ones between the Jesuits and the Iroquois.7 This value is thus component of the middle ground, since it helps the Jesuits to make the Natives celebrate the performance of God in the world 's creation without completely preventing the Indians from putting a special force in this natural environmment, in accordance with their traditional …show more content…
Indeed, the Native interactions with the French Jesuits led to a cultural and religious syncretism, not a complete assimilation. While the Jesuits wrote hagiographies, or lives of saints, that boasted the missionaries achievements, maybe based on some elements of truth, to obtain more money, means and encouraged new conversions, some Indians, especially women, also used this new religion as a way of gaining more autonomy.9 In fact, Roman Catholicism employs female imagery, like the Virgin Mary, that Native women could see as symbols of power. Kateri Tekakwitha is an excellent example of how religious and cultural syncretism could serve both Jesuits and Indian purposes. She was an orphan Mohawk, disfigured by the smallpox epidemic that killed her family when she was 4. After her baptism, since “her relatives were displeased to see her devote all her free time to prayer” and especially refusing to marry, Kateri went to Kahnawake. She found there the “asylum, where her innocence and her religion would be shielded from danger.”10 Kateri Tekakwitha was the central figure in the group of Native women who in the 1670s pursued a life of Christian perfection, made of penances and prayers. Kateri Tekakwitha 's hagiography was written like any medieval hagiography, with the usual plot of a women refusing to marry, especially since “women saints were more likely to

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