Twas the Moon of Winter Time: Effects of Christian Religion in Indian Territory

By Johnny Hawke of ACTION

‘Twas in the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled,

That mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead,Jesus your King is born,

Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

– Huron Christmas Carol by St Jean De Brebeuf

We are now in the season of celebrating Christmas which is really Capitalism in disguise and at its best. Capitalism has exploited a Christian holiday which in turn is a Dictatorship Religion that has exploited the teachings of a prophet of a man named Jesus Christ. During this season of over indulgence I am reminded of the history of my people and this Traditional Wendat Territory where we now reside in and the influence Religion has played upon the oppression of my people and the similarities our people have with the man named Jesus.

This area is one of many where the Christian Religion was first introduced to Turtle Island. This was the Traditional Territory of the Wendat, the Anishinabe Ojibways trade partners and allies. Ojibway lived north of Gerogian Bay and relied heavily on the farming industry of the Wendat (Huron) of this area.

Religion causes Huron to loose their Homelands

Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons was a French Jesuit settlement in Wendake, the land of the Wendat, near modern Midland, Ontario, from 1639 to 1649. It was the first European settlement in what is now the province of Ontario. Eight missionaries from Sainte-Marie were martyred.

Established in 1639 by French Jesuits the mission acted as a centre and base of operations for Jesuit missionaries in the region as they worked amongst the Huron. It also provided an example of a functioning European community to the Huron. The mission was built near the Huron settlement of Quieunonascaranas, led by Chief Auoindaon.

Midland Ontario, Mural of Huron and Jesuit Grain Elevators

Iroquois aggression was on the rise. In Iroquois villages Jesuits were sexually molesting young girls in Seneca and Mohawk communities. The Iroquois also wanted to dominate the fur trade in the northern lands being persuaded by European Influence. When the Huron accepted the Jesuits and Christianity within their communities they became a target of the Iroquois. The weakened Wendat Nation was little match for the strengthened Iroquois who had used their trading alliances with the Dutch to gain firearms.

Eight of the missionaries St. Jean de Brébeuf, St. Noël Chabanel, St. Antoine Daniel, St. Charles Garnier, St. René Goupil, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Jean de Lalande and St. Gabriel Lallemant (1649) were martyred in the Huron-Iroquois wars. They were burned alive at the stake by Mohawk Warriors.

Burning of Jean De Brebeuf and Gabrial Lalemont by Iroquois

Owing to the proximity of their deaths to Sainte-Marie, the French recovered the bodies of Brébeuf and Lalemant to be buried at the mission.

In 1649, thousands of Huron refugees and a few Jesuit missionaries from Sainte-Marie among the Hurons took refuge during the winter on what is now Christian Island during the Huron-Iroquois wars. The Jesuits called the island St. Joseph Island. With insufficient food, many of the First Nations people starved during the winter. The island’s occupation by Huron Catholics and Jesuits was the basis for its name of “Christian” Island. Specifically, it was named in honour of the Canadian Martyrs.

The Jesuits and most of the Huron refugees left the island and travelled to Quebec in the summer of 1650. The remaining Huron, along with the surviving remnants of the Petun, an Iroquoian group living at the base of the Niagara Escarpment near present-day Collingwood, left the island in 1651. The Petun had suffered serious losses in Iroquois raids in late 1649 and 1650. Their descendants eventually settled in the Detroit-Windsor area. Some were later forcibly resettled by U.S. authorities in Oklahoma.

Religion affects Anishinabe Way of Life

Christian Island is now inhabited by the Anishinabe Ojibway and Pottowatomi peoples of Beausoleil First Nation. Our ancestors were nomadic, traveling from northern Georgian Bay and the United States around Lakes Huron and Michigan. They forced the Iroqouis back south in retaliation of the attacks on their allies the Huron and attempted take over of the Fur Trade in their northern territories. The Ojibway of this area have been defending this area from the Iroquois, British, USA to recent times Ontario Government in the fight for water at Site 41 Elmvale.

The early Canadian government tried to assimilate the Ojibway into the larger society. They encouraged the Beausoleil Band to give up their nomadic ways and traditions and take up Christianity. We settled at Coldwater in 1834-1842 as part of the Coldwater Narrows Reserve. Later the Anishinabe were displaced to Beausoleil Island in 1842, and still later, were displaced to Christian Island in 1856, where we have remained.

During these times from 1700 to late 1800’s Christianity was introduced to the Anishinabe. The Midewiwwin Society became less relevant and eventually driven under ground. Throughout the oppression of Christianity Anishinabe ways of thinking became polluted.

Our People have also been taken away by the United and Catholic Churches put in Residential Schools, stripped of their culture, languages and sexually abused.

Mohawk Warrior Society founder Louis Hall has this to say on Jesus and others, “Ancients like Socrates, Confucius, Chrishna, Zoroaster, a total of 16 “crucified” saviors were all credited with virgin births. This doesn’t add to their lustre but deducts from it as they tend to be regarded as myths by modern, learned sophisticates.

To say that any historic hero was virgin born and performed supernatural activities is to legendize them and make them unto myths, no service to their names and deeds, but to cast doubts that they ever lived. Deganawidah was born, lived and died and left behind a great instrument of peace as yet unappreciated by a criminal and ignorant mankind.” Louis Hall

Conclusion

Jesus was a man whose teachings were exploited for the gains of a Capitalist Regime, Religion and Government. The man was a rebel who challenged the status quo of the time. Deganiwida was just a man and his teachings were exploited by Capitalist Colonials who made the USA.  Jesus and us Anishinabe have a lot in common however Christianity is something that has been used to oppress us and take our lands and divide us and we have been crucified in the name of Jesus many a times.

Fuck Christmas, Jesus would Rebel against the Status Quo, Smash Capitalism


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Posted on December 19, 2010, in Imperialism & Colonialism, Indigenous Struggles, Radical History, Religion & Spirituality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Twas the Moon of Winter Time: Effects of Christian Religion in Indian Territory.

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