Presenter Information

Daniel A. Scalberg


In the eighteenth century, huge numbers of coureurs de bois, illegal French fur traders, selectively engaged in elements of indigenous peoples’ practices and even combined them with certain Christian rituals. They did this to foster trading relationships with the indigenous peoples who controlled the land. For their part, these peoples used intermarriage and other religious rituals to integrate the French into their societies. Contrary to missionaries’ complaints, these French did not lack religion, but their understanding of it was certainly different from the clergy’s. The coureurs de bois were not interested in “establishing a Church under the highest ideals of reform Catholicism in a new land,” and the French population was too scattered to accomplish this in any case.