The reasons why I decided to incorporate my primary document analysis essay into my ePortfolio was because it showcases some of my learning throughout this course, as well as is evidence to support my main argument of this ePortfolio. This essay displays my learning throughout this course by showing my interpretations and ideas on the facts and information of my chosen research topic that I had the most interest in, which then also connects with my main argument of this ePortfolio; History is not just about the facts and information, but also the interpretations of others.

Primary Document Analysis Essay:

The Jesuits played a critical role in the identity of the Huron’s population in Canada’s early 1600s. The section “Relations of what occurred among the Hurons in the year 1635” from the historical book The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents edited by S. R Mealing, tells the reader about one of the historical accounts between the Jesuits and the Hurons. This section focuses on some key pieces of Huron identity which was documented by Father Brébeuf in 1635 when they encountered the Hurons. These focus points are the way of living in terms of housing, as well as the Huron religions, beliefs, customs, and morals.

In this time period and living in such a remote area, the Hurons had to be as resourceful as possible to get the most out of what they could come across. This resourcefulness is shown through the way the Hurons customized and built their houses to best accommodate their needs for survival. The Jesuits, in contrast, were appalled by the Huron’s dwellings and the way they lived. The Jesuits “compared them to bowers or garden arbors”[1] and further described them as “covered with cedar bark, some others with… ash, elm, fir, or spruce bark”[2]. In addition to the structural integrity of these houses, the Jesuits pointed out the houses were made with limited features, such as, “no cellar… [no] window nor chimney, only a miserable hole in the top of the cabin, left to permit the smoke to escape”[3]. Within these houses, the Hurons would use the fire for warmth and the “earth for their bedstead, as for a mattress and pillows, bark or rush mats from the forest was suitable. Then for sheet they would use the clothes they had on or animal skins they had”[4]. The layout of these cabins best suited the Hurons lifestyle and helped them to survive. The Jesuits did not give the Hurons enough credit for their resourceful thinking. This also shows the Hurons were methodical in the way they established their houses and could comprehend what was needed to be done so they could survive.

The Jesuits main focus of this exploration to the Hurons was to influence their Christian religion on the population. However, the Hurons already had their own views on the creator of the earth and man. This is shown in the comment by the headstrong Huron towards a Jesuit that, “[your religion] is good for your country and not for [ours], everyone’s country has its own fashion”[5]. The Hurons believed in “a certain woman called Eataensic”[6] who created earth and man, and had an “assistant named Jouskeha who was her son”[7]. This acknowledgement towards religion displeased the Jesuits, because they believed “it was so evident that there is a Divinity who has made Heaven and earth… but the [Hurons] misapprehended him grossly”[8]. The Hurons believed in eternal life “of the soul, which they believed to be corporeal”[9]. These souls however, are “neither punished or rewarded in the place where souls go after death”[10]. Going into further detail with this belief, “they do not make any distinction between the good and the bad… they honor equally the internment of both”[11]. This belief goes against the beliefs of the Jesuits because they believed in Hell and Heaven. These examples show some tension between the conflicting religious beliefs between the Jesuits and the Hurons at this time.

In terms of customs, the Hurons had a strict marriage custom that the Jesuits also felt was appropriate. The Hurons “only have one wife… and they do not marry their relatives… however distant they may be”[12]. This marriage custom the Hurons developed show that regardless of their “savage like ways”, they are able to think logically and make rules and guidelines for the community to follow. In regards to morals, the Jesuits believed the Hurons to be “lascivious, very lazy, liars, thieves, and beggars”[13]. However, in contrast to the beliefs of the Jesuits, the Hurons were pleasant people who showed “great love and union…exchange gifts, showed remarkable hospitality towards strangers and would share with them the best they had”[14].

The section of the “Relations of what occurred among the Hurons in the year 1635”, shows the identity of the Hurons in many different aspects such as the way of living, their religions, beliefs, customs, and morals. All of these aspects show how well rounded this population was and how the Hurons could prosper on their own. Their living arrangements showed how they are able to be resourceful with what the environment provided them. With their religions and beliefs, it showed us that the Hurons had an idea of their being a creator of the world and a life after death. In terms of customs and morals, this tells us they were able to make decisions and rules for their community to follow. All of these factors show us that these people were not savages as the Jesuits referred to them as, but logical, intelligent thinking people, even though in some of these aspects, the Jesuits did not approve of their method of thinking.



[1] Brébuef, “Relation of what occurred among the Hurons in the year 1635,” in S. R. Mealing (Ed), The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, The Carleton Library No. 7 (1963), 41.

[2] Ibid, 41.

[3] Ibid, 41.

[4] Ibid, 42.

[5] Ibid, 44.

[6] Ibid, 44.

[7] Ibid, 44.

[8] Ibid, 43-44.

[9] Ibid, 44.

[10] Ibid, 45.

[11] Ibid, 45.

[12] Ibid, 44.

[13] Ibid, 45.

[14] Ibid, 45.


Brébeuf, “Relation of what occurred among the Hurons in the year 1635,” in S. R. Mealing (Ed), The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, The Carleton Library No. 7 (1963): 39-47.