Delivered to the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, Uncasville, CT

Abstract:  As the French Jesuit presence in Quebec declined during the early 1790s, the Huron-Wendat and nearby French settlers began a series of separate petitions relating to their communal use of the mission church at Jeune-Lorette.  About 20 percent of the Huron-Wendat signed their names, suggesting they were literate in French.  In contrast, only about 2 percent of the French settlers were similarly able.   This paper probes this discrepency by examining the culture of education in the Jesuit missions among the Huron-Wendat living at Jeune-Lorette, the Abenaki at Odenak (St. François), and the Mohawk at Kahnawaké (Sault-St-Louis) following the British conquest of New France.  The issue of education in these communities has been a neglected topic in both the more general historiography of education in Quebec, but also in the history of the communities themselves.  Historians who examine literacy in this region, for example, focus on French settlers and their descendants – often completely ignoring the significant presence of Aboriginal villages near (and sometimes within) their areas of study.  The handful of historians who study the role of European education within these communities, primarily examine the introduction of European education during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries or the presence of students from these communities at Dartmouth College in the 1770s, 1780s, and 1790s.  This paper builds on these historiographies by exploring how the Huron-Wendat, Abenaki and Mohawk in the St. Lawrence Valley engaged with Jesuit pedagogies as the order’s overall influence along the St. Lawrence began to diminish at the end of the eighteenth century.

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