The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert

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  • Hardcover
  • 303 pages
  • The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert
  • Emma Anderson
  • English
  • 12 October 2017
  • 067402608X

About the Author: Emma Anderson

Librarian Note There isthan one author in the Goodreads database with this name.


The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native ConvertEmma Anderson Uses One Man S Compelling Story To Explore The Collision Of Christianity With Traditional Native Religion In Colonial North AmericaPierre Anthoine Pastedechouan Was Born Into A Nomadic Indigenous Community Of Innu Living Along The St Lawrence River In Present Day Quebec At Age Eleven, He Was Sent To France By Catholic Missionaries To Be Educated For Five Years, And Then Brought Back To Help Christianize His PeoplePastedechouan S Youthful Encounter With French Catholicism Engendered In Him A Fatal Religious Ambivalence Robbed Of Both His Traditional Religious Identity And Critical Survival Skills, He Had Difficulty Winning The Acceptance Of His Community Upon His Return At The Same Time, His Attempts To Prove Himself To His People Led The Jesuits To Regard Him With Increasing Suspicion Suspended Between Two Worlds, Pastedechouan Ultimately Became Estranged With Tragic Results From Both His Native Community And His Missionary MentorsAn Engaging Narrative Of Cultural Negotiation And Religious Coercion, Betrayal Of Faith Documents The Multiple Betrayals Of Identity And Culture Caused By One Young Man S Experiences With An Inflexible French Catholicism Pastedechouan S Story Illuminates Key Struggles To Retain And Impose Religious Identity On Both Sides Of The Seventeenth Century Atlantic, Even As It Has A Startling Relevance To The Contemporary Encounter Between Native And Non Native Peoples

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10 thoughts on “The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert

  1. Jonathan Coffin says:

    In the penultimate chapter of The Betrayal of Faith The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert, Emma Anderson explains the contribution of her research to the study of aboriginal religious identity in colonial North America She argues that the experiences of her 17th century Innu subject, Pierre Anthoine Pastedechouan, confound the categories that scholars commonly use to interpret aboriginal religious identity Pastedechouan s religious ambivalence, she argues, stand s as a mute rebu In the penultimate chapter of The Betrayal of Faith The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert, Emma Anderson explains the contribution of her research to the study of aboriginal religious identity in colonial North America She argues that the experiences of her 17th century Innu subject, Pierre Anthoine Pastedechouan, confound the categories that scholars commonly use to interpret aboriginal religious identity Pastedechouan s religious ambivalence, she argues, stand s as a mute rebuke to the ongoing scholarly propensity to isolate exemplary native converts for intensive study 212 213 Failure to pay adequate attention to such individuals as Pastedechouan , she contends, has resulted in a falsely dichotomized picture of aboriginal religious affiliation as a zero sum proposition instead of what Pastedechouan s story reveals it to be, a shifting, ambiguous, and highly variable association 213 Based on her ethno historical interpretation of both European historical records and aboriginal oral and visual sources, Anderson reconstructs the cultural milieus that informed Pastedechouan s ambivalent religious identity and uses them as a hermeneutic for interpreting the enigmatic behavior ascribed to him in French Catholic missionary writings Contrary to the tendency of scholars in her field to emphasize the distinct beliefs and practices that provoked external conflict between Europeans and Native North Americans, Anderson illuminates the features common to both cultures and explores the effect of their coexistence in the psycho spiritual life of Pastedechouan and other indigenous people like him, who came of age in both aboriginal and European cultural milieus, and as a consequence, belonged fully in neither Thus, Anderson offers a sensitive, thorough and often poetic reconstruction of Pastedechouan s culturally liminal existence and its tragic conclusion in an isolated early death In spite of her painstaking efforts to maintain cultural neutrality, however, Anderson s study presumes an individualistic Western anthropology that ultimately contradicts the collective cultural identity of Pastedechouan s natal Innu tribe.In her overview of early modern Innu and French colonial culture, Anderson illuminates the distinct and mutually exclusive beliefs and practices of each Her analysis of traditional Innu education in chapter 1 and French Recollet Christian education in chapter 2 reveals the fundamental incompatibility of their respective aims On the one hand, her explanation of Innu coming of age rituals in which young men and women acquired the spiritual and occupational capacities to fend for themselves and their future families reveals the practical purpose of Innu education to ensure the collective survival of the Innu tribe through the harsh North American winters On the other hand, her account of Recollet education at the French convent of La Baumette reveals the theoretical purpose of 17th century Christian education to civilize aboriginal converts and to procure their salvation in the next life The mutual exclusion of their respective educational aims intimates Pastedechouan s future isolation from his natal tribe on account of being educated and converted to Christianity in France during the time when his Innu contemporaries were being steeped in the spiritual and practical necessities that would enable them to contribute to their tribe s communal well being In spite of the mutually exclusive ways in which Innu natives and French colonials educated young people for adulthood, Anderson observes in both cultures a shared assimilative impetus that ultimately would account for Pastedechouan s cultural and religious ambivalence Following her description of the torture and cannibalism by which Innus sought to assimilate Mohawk prisoners of war into the Innu tribe, Anderson observes that attempts to incorporate other groups reflected the sincere Innu belief that their cultural dynamic was the best means of ensuring individual and collective happiness and longevity 47 In a similar manner, the Recollets sought to effect a transformation from savage to Frenchman, from Godless heathen to devout Catholic, and from one of them to one of us 93 Moreover, she observes in the mutual antipathy of French traders and missionaries a parallel to the tribal conflict that characterized North American aboriginal life Anderson s observation of the shared Innu and French colonial pretensions of cultural superiority constitutes the framework within which she chronicles the difficulty that Pastedechouan experienced as a member of the other in both cultures and the alienation and untimely death that he suffered as a consequence.In chapters 3 and 4, Anderson interprets Pastedechouan s ambivalence between the Innu culture of his youth and the Recollet Christian culture of his adolescence through the lens of his contentious four year relationship with French Jesuit convert, Paul Le Jeune, who studied Innu language under his tutelage Consistent with the common assimilative impetus that she observes in French missionary and traditional Innu culture, she notes the shared characteristics of Pastedechouan and his Jesuit companion that would culminate in the demise of the former and the missionary failure of the latter both the young aboriginal and the older ex Calvinist were the products of a French culture that understood religious identity in radically exclusivistic and agonistic terms 135 In the light of French Catholic exclusivism, Anderson attributes Pastedechouan s destructive drunken behavior during a winter hunt as the psycho spiritual manifestation of his inevitable failure to synthesize the religious practices of his natal Innu culture with the doctrinal principles of his adopted Christian faith This failure would effect his alienation from both communities and culminate in his early death from exposure To the same exclusivism, she attributes Le Jeune s intolerance of the religious syncretism of his aboriginal converts, his ultimate abandonment of Pastedechouan and his voluntary withdrawal from the French missionary effort.In spite of Anderson s painstaking efforts to reconstruct Pastedechouan s life from a standpoint of cultural neutrality, the biographical focus of her study presumes an individualistic Western anthropology that belies the collective cultural identity of the Innu tribe She observes that The harsh physical setting of their homeland with its long extreme winters, its engrained tradition of incessant intra aboriginal conflict, and with the advent of Europeans the specter of epidemic dictated that Innu privilege community over individual survival 40 The Innu communalism that Anderson here attributes to the practical contingencies of harsh weather, tribal conflict and European epidemic, she ascribes elsewhere to the fundamental Innu spiritual concept of the soul an individual s soul was and is seen as encompassing not simply his or her conscious awareness and capabilities but a deeper strata which is both, paradoxically, self and nonself 24 The Innu ritual implication of the soul to discover solutions to individual and collective problems 24 indicates that the soul constitutes the source of the mutually inclusive well being of both the individual and the community That the collective constitutes the fundament of Innu spiritual and subsistence practices suggests that the significance of any individual s state of being lies not with the individual herself, but with the community of which she is a part In accordance with Western individualistic anthropology, however, Anderson conceives of Pastedechouan s Innu cultural background as the source of his personal identity and fails to explore the effect of his tragic demise on the collective communal identity of his natal tribe She states simply that Pastedechouan s experiences, as tragic as they were, had only a peripheral effect upon the family members of his own generation and virtually no repercussion upon his possible descendants 232 Such a statement seems simply to assert onto the collective cultural identity of the Innu the Western concept of individual autonomy of which Pastedechouan, himself, was a victim.Overall, Anderson s scholarly reconstruction of the life of Pastedechouan offers a thorough analysis of 17th century colonial Canada and reveals the ambivalence of aboriginal religious and cultural identity as a result of European Christian missionization

  2. Pamela Parson says:

    Somewhat scholarly, but well worth the effort to read, especially for those of us who work cross culturally in a faith or church setting.