Hurons embrace Christianity but they still torture and kill captives.
Previously in The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century.
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We have seen that one of his two colleagues had set out for Onondaga with a deputation of six Hurons. This party was met by a hundred Mohawks, who captured them all and killed the six Hurons but spared the Onondaga, and compelled him to join them. Soon after, they made a sudden onset on about three hundred Hurons journeying through the forest from the town of St. Ignace; and, as many of them were women, they routed the whole, and took forty prisoners. The Onondaga bore part in the fray, and captured a Christian Huron girl; but the next day he insisted on returning to the Huron town. “Kill me, if you will,” he said to the Mohawks, “but I cannot follow you; for then I should be ashamed to appear among my countrymen, who sent me on a message of peace to the Hurons; and I must die with them, sooner than seem to act as their enemy.” On this, the Mohawks not only permitted him to go, but gave him the Huron girl whom he had taken; and the Onondaga led her back in safety to her countrymen. * Here, then, is a ray of light out of Egyptian darkness. The principle of honor was not extinct in these wild hearts.
[* “Celuy qui l’auoit prise estoit Onnontaeronnon, qui estant icy en os tage ŕ cause de la paix qui se traite auec les Onnontaeronnons, et s’estant trouué auec nos Hurons ŕ cette chasse, y fut pris tout des premiers par les Sonnontoueronnons (Annieronnons?), qui l’ayans reconnu ne luy firent aucun mal, et mesme l’obligerent de les suiure et prendre part ŕ leur victoire; et ainsi en ce rencontre cét Onnontaeronnon auoit fait sa prise, tellement neantmoins qu’il desira s’en retourner le lendemain, disant aux Sonnontoueronnons qu’ils le tuassent s’ils vouloient, mais qu’il ne pouuoit se resoudre ŕ les suiure, et qu’il auroit honte de reparoistre en son pays, les affaires qui l’auoient amené aux Hurons pour la paix ne permettant pas qu’il fist autre chose que de mourir avec eux plus tost que de paroistre s’estre comporté en ennemy. Ainsi les Sonnontoueronnons luy permirent de s’en retourner et de ramener cette bonne Chrestienne, qui estoit sa captiue, laquelle nous a consolé par le recit des entretiens de ces pauures gens dans leur affliction.” — Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, 65.
Apparently the word Sonnontoueronnons (Senecas), in the above, should read Annieronnons (Mohawks); for, on pp. 50, 57, the writer twice speaks of the party as Mohawks.]
We hear no more of the negotiations between the Onondagas and the Hurons. They and their results were swept away in the storm of events soon to be related.
How did it fare with the missions in these days of woe and terror? They had thriven beyond hope. The Hurons, in their time of trouble, had become tractable. They humbled themselves, and, in their desolation and despair, came for succor to the priests. There was a harvest of converts, not only exceeding in numbers that of all former years, but giving in many cases undeniable proofs of sincerity and fervor. In some towns the Christians outnumbered the heathen, and in nearly all they formed a strong party. The mission of La Conception, or Ossossané, was the most successful. Here there were now a church and one or more resident Jesuits, — as also at St. Joseph, St. Ignace, St. Michel, and St. Jean Baptiste:  for we have seen that the Huron towns were christened with names of saints. Each church had its bell, which was sometimes hung in a neighboring tree.  Every morning it rang its summons to mass; and, issuing from their dwellings of bark, the converts gathered within the sacred precinct, where the bare, rude walls, fresh from the axe and saw, contrasted with the sheen of tinsel and gilding, and the hues of gay draperies and gaudy pictures. At evening they met again at prayers; and on Sunday, masses, confession, catechism, sermons, and repeating the rosary consumed the whole day. 
[1: Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 56.]
[2: A fragment of one of these bells, found on the site of a Huron town, is preserved in the museum of Huron relics at the Laval University, Quebec. The bell was not large, but was of very elaborate workmanship. Before 1644 the Jesuits had used old copper kettles as a substitute. — Lettre de Lalemant, 31 March, 1644.]
[3: Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 56.]
These converts rarely took part in the burning of prisoners. On the contrary, they sometimes set their faces against the practice; and on one occasion, a certain Étienne Totiri, while his heathen countrymen were tormenting a captive Iroquois at St. Ignace, boldly denounced them, and promised them an eternity of flames and demons, unless they desisted. Not content with this, he addressed an exhortation to the sufferer in one of the intervals of his torture. The dying wretch demanded baptism, which Étienne took it upon himself to administer, amid the hootings of the crowd, who, as he ran with a cup of water from a neighboring house, pushed him to and fro to make him spill it, crying out, “Let him alone! Let the devils burn him after we have done!”
[Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 58. The Hurons often resisted the baptism of their prisoners, on the ground that Hell, and not Heaven, was the place to which they would have them go. — See Lalemant, Relation des Hurons, 1642, 60, Ragueneau, Ibid., 1648, 53, and several other passages.]
In regard to these atrocious scenes, which formed the favorite Huron recreation of a summer night, the Jesuits, it must be confessed, did not quite come up to the requirements of modern sensibility. They were offended at them, it is true, and prevented them when they could; but they were wholly given to the saving of souls, and held the body in scorn, as the vile source of incalculable mischief, worthy the worst inflictions that could be put upon it. What were a few hours of suffering to an eternity of bliss or woe? If the victim were heathen, these brief pangs were but the faint prelude of an undying flame; and if a Christian, they were the fiery portal of Heaven. They might, indeed, be a blessing; since, accepted in atonement for sin, they would shorten the torments of Purgatory. Yet, while schooling themselves to despise the body, and all the pain or pleasure that pertained to it, the Fathers were emphatic on one point. It must not be eaten. In the matter of cannibalism, they were loud and vehement in invective.
[The following curious case of conversion at the stake, gravely related by Lalemant, is worth preserving.
“An Iroquois was to be burned at a town some way off. What consolation to set forth, in the hottest summer weather, to deliver this poor victim from the hell prepared for him! The Father approaches him, and instructs him even in the midst of his torments. Forthwith the Faith finds a place in his heart, he recognizes and adores, as the author of his life, Him whose name he had never heard till the hour of his death. He receives the grace of baptism, and breathes nothing but heaven. . . . This newly made, but generous Christian, mounted on the scaffold which is the place of his torture, in the sight of a thousand spectators, who are at once his enemies, his judges, and his executioners, raises his eyes and his voice heavenward, and cries aloud, ‘Sun, who art witness of my torments, hear my words! I am about to die; but, after my death, I shall go to dwell in heaven.'” — Relation des Hurons, 1641, 67.
The Sun, it will be remembered, was the god of the heathen Iroquois. The convert appealed to his old deity to rejoice with him in his happy future.]
Undeniably, the Faith was making progress; yet it is not to be supposed that its path was a smooth one. The old opposition and the old calumnies were still alive and active. “It is la pričre that kills us. Your books and your strings of beads have bewitched the country. Before you came, we were happy and prosperous. You are magicians. Your charms kill our corn, and bring sickness and the Iroquois. Echon (Brébeuf) is a traitor among us, in league with our enemies.” Such discourse was still rife, openly and secretly.
The Huron who embraced the Faith renounced thenceforth, as we have seen, the feasts, dances, and games in which was his delight, since all these savored of diabolism. And if, being in health, he could not enjoy himself, so also, being sick, he could not be cured; for his physician was a sorcerer, whose medicines were charms and incantations. If the convert was a chief, his case was far worse; since, writes Father Lalemant, “to be a chief and a Christian is to combine water and fire; for the business of the chiefs is mainly to do the Devil’s bidding, preside over ceremonies of hell, and excite the young Indians to dances, feasts, and shameless indecencies.”
[Relation des Hurons, 1642, 89. The indecencies alluded to were chiefly naked dances, of a superstitious character, and the mystical cure called Andacwandet, before mentioned.]
It is not surprising, then, that proselytes were difficult to make, or that, being made, they often relapsed. The Jesuits complain that they had no means of controlling their converts, and coercing backsliders to stand fast; and they add, that the Iroquois, by destroying the fur-trade, had broken the principal bond between the Hurons and the French, and greatly weakened the influence of the mission.
[Lettre du P. Hierosme Lalemant, appended to the Relation of 1645.]
Among the slanders devised by the heathen party against the teachers of the obnoxious doctrine was one which found wide credence, even among the converts, and produced a great effect. They gave out that a baptized Huron girl, who had lately died, and was buried in the cemetery at Sainte Marie, had returned to life, and given a deplorable account of the heaven of the French. No sooner had she entered, — such was the story, — than they seized her, chained her to a stake, and tormented her all day with inconceivable cruelty. They did the same to all the other converted Hurons; for this was the recreation of the French, and especially of the Jesuits, in their celestial abode. They baptized Indians with no other object than that they might have them to torment in heaven; to which end they were willing to meet hardships and dangers in this life, just as a war-party invades the enemy’s country at great risk that it may bring home prisoners to burn. After her painful experience, an unknown friend secretly showed the girl a path down to the earth; and she hastened thither to warn her countrymen against the wiles of the missionaries.
[Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1646, 65.]
In the spring of 1648 the excitement of the heathen party reached a crisis. A young Frenchman, named Jacques Douart, in the service of the mission, going out at evening a short distance from the Jesuit house of Sainte Marie, was tomahawked by unknown Indians,  who proved to be two brothers, instigated by the heathen chiefs. A great commotion followed, and for a few days it seemed that the adverse parties would fall to blows, at a time when the common enemy threatened to destroy them both. But sager counsels prevailed. In view of the manifest strength of the Christians, the pagans lowered their tone; and it soon became apparent that it was the part of the Jesuits to insist boldly on satisfaction for the outrage. They made no demand that the murderers should be punished or surrendered, but, with their usual good sense in such matters, conformed to Indian usage, and required that the nation at large should make atonement for the crime by presents.  The number of these, their value, and the mode of delivering them were all fixed by ancient custom; and some of the converts, acting as counsel, advised the Fathers of every step it behooved them to take in a case of such importance. As this is the best illustration of Huron justice on record, it may be well to observe the method of procedure, — recollecting that the public, and not the criminal, was to pay the forfeit of the crime.
[4: Ragueneau, Relation des Hurons, 1648, 77. Compare Lettre du P. Jean de Brébeuf au T. R. P. Vincent Carafa, Général de la Compagnie de Jésus, Sainte Marie, 2 Juin, 1648, in Carayon.]
[5: See Introduction.]
– The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century, Chapter 24 by Francis Parkman
The below is from Francis Parkman’s Introduction.
If, at times, it may seem that range has been allowed to fancy, it is so in appearance only; since the minutest details of narrative or description rest on authentic documents or on personal observation.
Faithfulness to the truth of history involves far more than a research, however patient and scrupulous, into special facts. Such facts may be detailed with the most minute exactness, and yet the narrative, taken as a whole, may be unmeaning or untrue. The narrator must seek to imbue himself with the life and spirit of the time. He must study events in their bearings near and remote; in the character, habits, and manners of those who took part in them, he must himself be, as it were, a sharer or a spectator of the action he describes.
With respect to that special research which, if inadequate, is still in the most emphatic sense indispensable, it has been the writer’s aim to exhaust the existing material of every subject treated. While it would be folly to claim success in such an attempt, he has reason to hope that, so far at least as relates to the present volume, nothing of much importance has escaped him. With respect to the general preparation just alluded to, he has long been too fond of his theme to neglect any means within his reach of making his conception of it distinct and true.