The following paper by Richard Lundstrom was written on December 18th, 1972. I have copied it from an original mimeographed copy in its entirety and added interactive bi-directional links to the end notes. It is easy to read Mr. Lundstrom's papers and focus on the politics that he discusses, but to do so would mean missing the most important aspects of Mr. Lundstrom's writing which is to teach us about ourselves and our human nature. It should also be pointed out that Mr. Lundstrom was a devout Catholic and a Jesuit scholastic, and his focus on the Roman Catholic Church should not be taken to mean that other Christian Churches and other religions do not also have similar problems. The cause of all of the problems is not the churches, but rather our own human nature.


Peoples are supported by myth.

Myth fleshes out peoples' dreams of what they are; it sets up a teleology that at once renders their nations' actions inevitable and justifiable; it intermingles and confuses history with destiny; it assures that the gods will recognize, or better, create a nation's righteousness. It is the source of a nation's strength, so much so that Napoleon, no mean judge of power, would prefer control of a nation's mythology to command of its armies. It ratifies, it canonizes, it apotheosizes.

The problem is not that myth is always lethal. Indeed, its principle function seems to be that it brings man in to contact with the profound mystery of the universe on terms that are at once acceptable and delightful. In affective considerations, for example, it is much more satisfying to think of the sun as drawn by fractious stallions than to attribute its motion to two cold concepts such as rotation and orbit; children warm to the myth of great lakes squished out by Paul Bunyan's logger's boots more than to the scientific explanation of the ebb and flow of ages of ice; John Henry is preferable to the steam drill as, in terms of simple humanity, man must always be preferable to machine, and infinitely so.

The problem is that myth can become lethal. Perhaps it must, sooner or later. Thus the horses of the sun must be foddered daily with the flesh of ten thousand children, so we sacrifice them; Paul Bunyan must be the prototype and exemplar for the interminable and insatiable rape of mother earth, so we continue to violate her; "John Henry" so savages minds that the black man emerges from the myth as a great hulking brute of enormous potency and no sense. So the infinite longings and creativity and warm life blood of the black race are compacted, labeled hammer hefters, and discarded in some trash heap called an inner city or an inner core or a ghetto. And the mythmakers, the psychologists or sociologists or urbanologists, both conceal and justify the consequent enslavement. And the people who need the myth even murder the slaves by psychological extension of Berkeley's thesis that the unobserved doesn't exist.

America is supported by such myth. Its myth purports to give substance to basic nationally professed ideals: democracy, freedom from oppression, and material success deriving from morality and hard work. American history, as it is purveyed supports the myth. And American history as it is ingested by the masses of Americans, is, by and large, pure Bullfinch. Bullfinch it must be. For if our government and our church (those noblest of institutions, one human and the other divine) be complicit, to put it gently, in rapine, slavery, and genocide, what shall sustain us? Not the thought that such unpleasantries were but labor pains, the inevitable trauma of man emerging from a state of viciousness and evil to one of nobility and justice For the myth that has hidden from us what we have been, and have done, still hides from us what we still are, and what we still do. It's not that we must suppress historical truth to preserve the myth the way some societies we call closed do. We need not burn books, even though we sometimes do. The crucial realities, both historical and current, are quite available. We just ignore them. Probably we can't stand to confront them. To do so would not make us psychotic: it would simply reveal our psychosis. For even an incipient comprehension of the vast gulf between our myth and the reality would make our schizophrenia acute.

The reality is a continuum that connects Indian flesh sizzling over Puritan fires1 and Vietnamese flesh roasting under American napalm. The reality is a compulsion of a sick society to rid itself of men like Nat Turner and Crazy Horse, George Jackson and Richard Oakes, whose defiance uncovers the hypocrisy of a declaration affirming every man's right to liberty and life. The reality is an overwhelming greed that begins with the theft of a continent and continues with the merciless looting of every country on earth which lacks the strength to defend itself. And all is glossed over by a myth, by a concoction of myths called variously democracy, Christianity, free enterprise, or capitalism. The names are legion. In short, our myth hides what we are and what we do. It tells us we practice the virtues we violate. Our version of history supports the myth. And so, as a people, we continue to devastate the world and ourselves.

Paradoxically, we will never approach the ideal our myth envisions until we destroy the myth itself. So destroyed let it be. Unfortunately, it seems to have no recognizable linchpin or keystone whose removal could topple the whole insane structure. It must be dismantled therefore stone by stone, bolt by bolt.

À chacun son Boche.

On June 17, 1673, two white Europeans from France, one Marquette who was a Jesuit, and one Joliet who was not, nosed their canoes into the upper waters of the Mississippi River. They had traveled across Lake Michigan from the Straits of Mackinac to Green Bay, and thence along the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers to the Mississippi. On June 17, 1973, if we are to credit accounts in newspapers of towns like Prairie du Chien and Dubuque, two more canoes, bearing one Jesuit (and possibly three or more) will nose into the same waters at the same spot to celebrate the tercentenary of Marquette's trip.

These men will be celebrating something historical, to be sure, but all unwittingly, no doubt, they will be prolonging a pernicious myth The myth is all-American. It involves Christ's commission to preach to all nations. It is rooted in the Ignatian vision of the greater glory of God. It will glow red with the blood of the martyred St. Isaac Joques and St. John de Brébeuf, vivisected by the savage (let us except the sainted Tekakwitha) Indians for whose immortal souls these Frenchmen willingly died. And great imagined pageants of those good white men of the great white god who opened a continent to civilization and crashed their fair bodies like kamikazes against the bulwarks of red savagery and paganism, who went down in flaming torture or died fought out in some lonely forest -- all these marvels will fortify them. And there will be Masses along once clear streams with pine needles scented and soft as high-piled carpet underfoot. And there will be crowds along the way and cheers and flashing cameras and feature articles. And it will be God and America all the way to Helena, Ark, and back.

That's the way it goes. The stuff of myth.

The Indians had been there for a thousand generations but, no matter, they are ghosts now and they have no tercentenary to celebrate. They came to understand, as did their survivors, these white foreigners. The Winnebagoes, the fish-eating Sioux, who were among the first to be destroyed, called them wasichus, and so they are called by Indians today. Wasichu doesn't mean white: it just describes whites. It means, "he who grabs everything." And grab it they did, Marquette and Joliet, claiming the river, the bluffs that Marquette called mountains, and Col. Pike would later call peaks, all the land that drained into the river, all the animals with their skins and meat, claiming all, Indians and all, from sea to sea, for France. And claiming most of all the beaver, for his pelt was profit. And what about the Indians - the Winnebagoes, the Sac, the Fox, the Menominee, the Chippewa, the Sioux, the Illinois, the Miami, the Osage, the Pottawatomi -- who had called this land home even before the pyramids of Egypt were conceived by the mind of man? Well, they are ghosts and have no need to celebrate. And Marquette soon died mercifully innocent of the knowledge of good and evil; unaware that he had flanked the last continental barrier and rendered inevitable the genocide of the Indian people; that 217 years later, shortly before a spate of slugs loosed his own great spirit and shortly before the final massacre at Wounded Knee, Sitting Bull would lament, "Indians! There are no Indians left but me!"2

After Marquette's journey, the only question to be decided was which wasichus would be in on the ultimate kill, which whites would bring the Indians finally to bay and complete the slaughter begun by Columbus in 1492. We Americans were there. It might be said that we won.
Gaudeamus igitur.

But what about St. Isaac Jogues and St. John de Brébeuf, those Jesuit brothers of Marquette, and the other North American martyrs canonized, infallibly, by the Catholic church? They died under the hatchets of the savage Mohawk tribe of the Iroquois nation, witnesses in blood to Christ and the Catholic church. Shall we not at least celebrate them? It comes up hard against the myth to say "no", to say that they were executed by the Iroquois because of the Jesuits' responsibility for the French attempt to destroy the Iroquois nation in order to gain profit for France.

The French had come up the St. Lawrence looking for profit. The profit was in beaver pelts for which there was an enormous demand in Europe.3 The French secured the Hurons (themselves an Iroquoian people) as allies in order, through them, to control the fur trade. 4 They seduced the Hurons with the usual European products - guns, powder, shot, hatchets, traps, kettles -which gave the Indians who possessed them complete physical supremacy over those neighboring tribes who did not. The Iroquois maintained a semblance of parity with the Hurons for a time by trading beaver to the Dutch for these same products of European civilization.5 But soon the Iroquois beaver supply was depleted; the French and Hurons controlled the trade routes and the trade.6 The Iroquois must share in this trade or die 7 (a civilized arrangement imposed on the Indians with the arrival of the Europeans). Efforts between the Hurons and the Iroquois to share the trade were frequently frustrated by the French Jesuits 8 who, along with the civil authorities,9 wanted no peace that would divert furs to the Iroquois and thus wealth to the heretical Dutch.10 By inflaming animosities, priests helped prevent amicable settlement for 25 years (1620-1645). Under the profit motive triumphant, French missions were indistinguishable from French trade. Such an arrangement, as the Jesuit Father Rageuneau pointed out at the time, was "necessary for maintenance of the faith in all these regions, for the good of the French colonies, and the support of New France."11 Whatever other intentions the Jesuits had, the Iroquois considered them to be the "chief clerks of the fur trade." 12 Finally, however, under terms favorable to the French, a peace treaty was signed in 1645 between the Hurons and Iroquois which guaranteed Iroquois participation in the fur trade.13 Nonetheless, with French and Jesuit encouragement, the Hurons immediately broke the treaty 14 in 1646, by delivering all pelts to the French, thereby depriving the Iroquois of their only means of survival.

The Iroquois, consequently, did the one thing they could do - attack the French-Huron trade routes. 15 Joques was caught by an Iroquois war party in 1646, as he entered Mohawk territory in another attempt to convert them. Jean de Brébeuf was captured in the Iroquois attack on the French-Huron trading post near St. Ignace, Ontario, in 1649. Both were put to death. Repeated Iroquois attacks cut off the Hurons from their sources of trade, and since they were exclusively traders, they had no stores of food. In the winter of 1649-50, the Huron Nation ceased to exist. It starved to death. Of 35,000 members of a noble people, some 300 survivors straggled into Quebec after the spring thaw.16 Genocide. French variety. Orchestrated by church and state. 17

There seems no need to mention that Algonquin neophytes were armed with muskets;18 nor to mention that two Jesuit priests exercising civil authority, allowed the Iroquois to attack the unarmed non-Christian Algonquins;19 nor to mention that the Jesuit superior in New France (Father Lalemant) would write to his superior in Rome (Father Vitelleschi) correctly attributing severe loss of life among the Hurons to the plague, after having written four days previously to the highest civil authority in France (Cardinal Richelieu) attributing these same losses to fictitious depradations of the Iroquois so that more guns might be sent to kill them. 20 The Algonquins, the Hurons, and the Iroquois were so many ghosts. To be sure, the Iroquois would fight desperately for another 150 years, but in vain. They are crushed. One of their last reservations is being inundated by a USA dam. Cornplanter's grave is being drowned. So forget them. Rather let there be masses and anthems in the basilica as the people celebrate St. Isaac at Osseronon. Let there be chorused prayers by the path along which these red savages murdered this white saint. Never mind that religion had little to do with the execution of this martyr. Never mind that duplicity and violence for the sake of profit had much to do with it, We must light our candles. We must paddle our canoes. We must preserve our myth.

And what of Tekakwitha? What of the Venerable Kateri Tekakwitha,21 the glory of the Mohawks? Did she not leave her own people, the savage Mohawks, with their paganism and violence and lechery, and go to live with Marquette's fellow white Christian Jesuits? And did she not fast and pray and remain chaste? And did not her skin, as Father Holland rhapsodizes in the Song of Tekakwitha, immediately after her death turn from swarthy to white? Lily white. Whiteness, the ultimate criterion of her sanctity. Shall we not honor her? No, Tekakwitha needs no honor from us. She was what she was, and in honoring her these white Europeans are but canonizing themselves. And so, today, Indian children in mission schools are taught to emulate Kateri Tekakwitha, the white Mohawk - a dishonor to her, an insult to her people, and a testimony to our determination that our national myth will be perpetuated by any and all means possible. The Indian people do not need you, Tekakwitha. The whites do. You are a necessary part of our myth. And a pope, Pius XII, seals your alienation from your people when in the decree proclaiming your venerability, he affirms that you come from a people "most corrupt and steeped in heathen error". (Perhaps some theologian will rise up to render papal authority compatible with papal bigotry within the narrow confines of a single sentence.) But the myth is not disturbed by such irregularities.

So while the Indians are ghosts, the myth lives on. It reinforces our conviction of absolute righteousness in our history and our destiny. And so the horror has no end. Cotton Mather is Lt. Calley. French Catholicism and English Puritanism were alike bastard offsprings of Christianity and greed, as are any current counterparts. Ordinances of the original 13 "council fires", as the Indian called them, appropriating funds for Indian scalps, 22 are not qualitatively different from later-day Pentagon demands for Vietnamese body counts. The spirit that enabled American fighting men to wear Indian women's genitals as hat bands and play ball with their severed breasts 23 is the same spirit which in a later day would enable American fighting men to rape Vietnamese women before wasting them. The reality is ineffable and unsufferable tragedy. So we must have myth.

And so on June 17, 1973, will come two canoes, twenty foot, fiberglass.

But if they must come, let them not come like some dream of Marquette, black-robed, rampant, Christ's pale corpus extended in one fist over the prow of his canoe. And instead of two canoes, let there be seven, Seven Against the Myth. And with true Yankee ingenuity, let there be erected amidships in the first canoe, one Indian crucified; in the second, one black man lynched; in the third one Hiroshiman atomized; In the fourth, one niño starved. In the fifth, one Zulu chained. In the sixth, one Chicano hooked, and in the seventh, as an earnest of democracy and catholcity, one white European American brutalized by his own myth.

And let this melancholy procession of seven canoes in file cleave the heart of the nation from St. Ignace to the sea. And let all the people crowd the massive bluffs of this mighty Mississippi River to see what we have wrought. And as the paddle blades dip and flash and drip slowly, rhythmically, inexorably, let there be over the whole land no sound save silence and sobbing.

Then let each watcher return to his most sacred place to ponder how we may be free.

 

......Richard H. Lundstrom
   December 18, 1972

 

 

 


End Notes

1. Mather, Cotton, Magnalia Christi Americana, Vol. VIII.
 
2. Brown, Dee, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1970, P. 431.
 
3. Morison, Samuel Eliot, Samuel de Champlain Father of New France, Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1972, p. 24
 
4. Hunt, George T., The Wars of the Iroquois, the University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, 1967, pp. 23-86.
 
5. Hughes, Thomas, S.J., History of the Society of Jesus in North America , 3 Vols., Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1917, Vol. II, 1645-1773, p.267.
 
6. Hunt, op. cit., pp. 23-65.
 
7. Ibid., p. 40, pp. 86-90.
 
8. Charlevoix, Pierre F.X. De, History and General Description of New France, translated from French by John G. Shea, 6 Vols., New York, 1866-72, Vol. 2, pp. 34-35. Cited by Hunt, op. cit., p.70.

To prevent an independent peace between the Hurons and the Iroquois, Champlain sent (1625) Fathers Joseph le Caron and Father Gabriel Sagard to the Huron towns to break up any such negotiations. In his Histoire du Canada et Voyages que les Frères Recollects y Ont Faicts Pour le Conversion des Infidèles Depuis l'an 1615, (4 Vols., Paris, 1866) Fr. Sagard reports his work thus:

Ie m'estois autrefois voulu entremettre d'une paix entre les Hurons & les Hiroquois pour pouvoir planter le S. Evangile par tout & faciliter les chemins à la traicte à plusieurs nations pui n'y one point d'accez, mais quelques Messieurs de la Société me dirent qu'il n'estois pas expedient & pour cause d'autant que si les Hurons avoient paix avec les Hiroquois, les mesmes Hiroquois meneroient les Hurons à la traicte des Flamands & les divertoient de Kebec, qui est plus esloigné. (Vol. 3, p. 811.) Cited by Hunt, op. cit., p. 70.

9. Hunt, op. cit., p. 70.
 
10. Ibid. pp.69-72. Hughes, S.J., op. cit., p. 269.
 
11. Thwaite, Reuben G., Ed., The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 73 Vols., Cleveland, 1896-1901, Vol. 34, p. 205 Cited by Hunt, op. cit., p. 71
 
12. Hunt, op. cit., p. 71.
 
13. Ibid., p. 82.
 
14. Thwaite, op. cit., vol. 28, p. 141, cited by Hunt, op. cit., p. 81

Part of Jogues's commission on this journey to the land of the Mohawks was to persuade them to discipline the upper Iroquois by denying them trade relations with the Dutch until they observed the peace treaty of 1645. (Jesuit Relations, vol. 29, p. 151, p. 183.)

15. Hunt, op. cit., p. 86 pp.87-92
 
16. Ibid., p. 94.
 
17. After 1649, the genocide of the Iroquois nation was part of Jesuit planning. As Father Hughes, S.J., states:

Some twelve years earlier (1651), the Jesuit Gabriel Druiliettes, who signed himself as "priest teaching in Kennebec," had treated with John Winthrop of Connecticut, and other colonial authorities, on the subject of exterminating the Iroquois. A long account of these negotiations submitted to Winthrop was closed by the Jesuit with these words: "Here you have it in full at least this favourable disposition of these three colonies is enough to ground a hope that permission will be granted the volunteers who will undertake to deliver the blow; or, at least, that letters or communication will be given for the province of Maryland, which consists entirely of English Catholics situated near enough to the Iroquois."

These genocidal plans for the Iroquois were later shared (1653) by Mgr. Laval, first Bishop of Quebec. (Cf. Hughes, S.J,, op. cit., p. 266.)

(Hughes reports this planned genocide with approval influenced, perhaps, by Parkman's general attitude that things French and/or Jesuit mean perfection, and things Indian corruption. Joseph Donnelly, S.J., --Jacques Marquette, S.J. 1637-1675, Loyola U. Press, Chicago, 1968, p. 79--seems sympathetic to the idea of the genocide of the Iroquois. The awesome bigotry and racism against the Indians reflected by Fr. Donnelly and, say, Samuel Eliot Morison (Samuel de Champlain Father of New France and Christopher Columbus, Mariner establish them as academic analogues to such activists as George Washington, the Paxton boys, Andrew Jackson, Col. Chivington, Generals Sherman and Custer and--more recently--Lt. Calley and President Nixon. -R.H.L,)


 
18. Thwaite, op. cit., vol. 25, p. 9, 11, 27, 219-223. Cited by Hunt, op. cit., p. 73.
 
19. Thwaite, op. cit., vol. 28, pp. 149-151.

The two Jesuits were Fathers Vimont and Le Jeune. This betrayal was kept secret and thus appeared in the Journal des Jesuites in Latin as opposed to the usual French. Nor did the Jesuits explain how to distinguish a Christian Algonquin from a non-Christian one.


 
20. Ibid., vol. 17, pp. 223, 229
 
21. For matters concerning Tekakwitha, cf.

Lecompte, S.J., Edward, Glory of the Mohawks, Bruce, Milwaukee, 1944. (Includes decree of Pius XII.)

Sargent, Daniel, Catherine Tekakwitha, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, 1936

Holland, Fr., S.J., The Song of Tekakwitha.

22. Hughes, S.J., op. cit., pp. 269-271; 330-331; 409-410.
 
23. Deloria, Vine, Jr., ed., Of Utmost Good Faith, Straight Arrow Books, San Francisco, 1971, P. 160.
 
24. Brown, Dee, op. cit., p. 90.
 

Approximate Translations: 

À chacun son Boche - (French) To each his hard head - Actually Boche appears to be a derogatory term usually referring to Germans and deriving from a word that usually refers to wooden boxes, giving the meaning of wooden head or hard headed. 

Gaudeamus igitur - (Latin) Therefore I say let us rejoice!


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