Emma Anderson is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa in Canada’s capital. An expert on the religious encounter between Catholic missionaries and Indigenous peoples in colonial North America, she is the author of two award-winning books published by Harvard University Press. The Betrayal of Faith: The Tragic Journey of a Colonial Native Convert (2007) explores the momentous transatlantic transformation of an Indigenous boy, Pierre-Antoine Pastedechouan. The Death and Afterlife of the North American Martyrs (2013) critically re-examines the lives and deaths of eight slain Jesuits in the 1640s, and probes the ongoing consequences of their cult for Indigenous peoples.
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The Enlightenment before the Enlightenment: Native Peoples, the Jesuit Relations, and the Indigenization of European Society
The Indigenous-European encounter in colonial North America was arguably more transformative of European than it was of Native cultures, because 17th century Indigenous peoples were modern in a way that Europeans were not – yet. Native philosophy and epistemology, by anticipating future European developments, represented something of an “Enlightenment before the Enlightenment.” Ironically, it would through the writings of Catholic missionaries that these seeds of indigeneity would be planted deep within European hearts and minds, where they would soon blossom and bear revolutionary fruit.