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Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal








This article explores ruptures of colonial representation in the 1634 contribution of Paul Le Jeune to the Jesuit Relations, particularly in regard to Le Jeune’s intense antipathy to the faith Native Americans placed in dreams and dream interpretation. Native peoples had highly ritualized frameworks for interpreting dreams that stood in stark opposition to the expressed evangelical agendas of the Jesuits. The Montagnais, with whom Le Jeune wintered in 1633–34, used dreams to speak to manitous, who would assist them in finding game and other endeavors. Dreaming itself, with its claims to prophetic vision, was a phenomenon that threatened to override doctrinaire stances. It had the power to erase familiar boundary lines of identity and culture, to express desires either unwelcome or unthinkable, and to force traumatic memories back into the forefront of one’s consciousness. Although the Jesuit order in New France labored to bring Native faith in dreams under colonial control, Le Jeune’s Relation reveals the inherent strains of imposing a dominant discourse of containment on an indigenous framework of engagement—strains that make themselves apparent in Le Jeune’s foray into liminality and his own dream of moose.


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Original Publication Citation

Lopenzina, D. (2015). Le Jeune dreams of moose: Altered states among the Montagnais in the Jesuit Relations of 1634. Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 13(1), 3-37.