Review of “The Huron” by Brebeuf
First and foremost, Brebeuf (2019) praises the Huron Indians for their marriage customs. He is very pleased that the Huron are monogamous and that they do not partake in incest (Brebeuf, 2019). Continuing the theme of marriage, he also notes that husbands and wives demonstrate “great love and union” (Brebeuf, 2019, p. 18). Another positive thing Brebeuf (2019) says about the Huron is that they “share with [their guests] the best they have” (Brebeuf, 2019, p. 18). Such hospitality is also something he regards highly in the Huron.
One thing Brebeuf (2019) criticizes about the Huron is their perceived gluttony. He notes that they will engorge themselves to the point of being sick on religious feasts (Brebeuf, 2019). Another aspect of their lives he is negative about is that the Huron are, apparently, “very lazy” (Brebeuf, 2019, p. 18). However, he does not elaborate on this point further within the limits of the excerpt, so it is hard to judge whether this charge is well-founded.
Brebeuf (2019) views the Huron as potential but not immediately equal. On the one hand, he recognizes that the Huron are smart enough to develop the ideas of God and soul (Brebeuf, 2019). On the other hand, he criticizes them for developing what he sees as senseless superstitions (Brebeuf, 2019). Thus, he views them as capable of adopting Christian faith and virtues – and, hence, equal to all human beings in their potential – but not yet at the moment of his writing.
Overall, the document offers an interesting account of one of the most significant Native American groups. It gives an example of a more peaceful relationship between the colonizers and the natives than in either English or Spanish colonization. It also demonstrates that, even when coexisting peacefully with the native population, Europeans still tried to exert influence over them.
Brebeuf, J. (2019). On the customs and beliefs of the Huron. In E. Foner (Ed.) Voices of freedom: A documentary history, vol. 1 (6th ed.),(pp. 15-19). W. W. Norton & Company.