Heather Sanford

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Throughout the seventeenth century, contests over medicinal orthodoxy between American Indians and Jesuit missionaries revealed the limits of compromise and communicated the values that determined the extent of their cooperation. When French Jesuits arrived in Acadia in 1611, they became witnesses to an epidemic that eventually eliminated an overwhelming majority of the Native population. Publicly proclaiming their desire to save souls, the priests converted disease into an evangelical tool. They began to use healing to persuade Wabanakis of the grace, power, and superiority of the Christian god. This article focuses on the convergence of spirituality and healing in Wabanaki and Jesuit remedial culture from the missionaries’ arrival in 1611 through their capitulation to the British in 1710. It specifically explores how Jesuit missionaries attempted to use healing as a conversion strategy to overcome he communicative and material barriers that inhibited their proselytical progress among the indigenous population of Acadia. Heather Sanford is a PhD student at Brown University. She is interested in early American history, knowledge production, and exchange, and the history of medicine in the Atlantic world.