Essay on The Native American And Native Americans

1266 Words Oct 22nd, 2015 6 Pages
When Jesuits arrived in North America in the early seventeenth century, neither they nor their Native American neighbors had any idea of the vast cultural and religious boundaries that separated them. Throughout their encounters, the Jesuits failed to see the Native Americans as anything but inferior. This hindered their ability to understand the native culture and to accomplish their goal of converting Indians to Catholicism. The Native Americans had no frame of reference with which to regard the Jesuits and were therefore unable to develop a thorough understanding of European life. Through trial, communication and conflict French missionaries and Native Americans did eventually develop a limited understanding of each other’s language, religion and customs. However, that understanding was always developed within the context of their own culture and would never provide an accurate depiction of the other. Unlike the other European colonists that came before or after the missionaries, the Jesuits made a point to learn the native’s languages. This led to a deeper understanding of hunting techniques, burial customs and religious practices, which allowed the Jesuits to more accurately document native life. It also gave natives an opportunity to explain certain aspects of their culture that could not be translated to French without loosing it’s meaning. Jean De Brébeuf, who lived primarily with the Huron, describes a similar problem that the French missionaries had when…

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