ABSTRACT

The conventional wisdom in native studies in Canada holds that the Indigenous peoples accepted Christianity quite willingly, and did not see a fundamental conflict with their older beliefs. However, there is evidence that questions the conventional wisdom, based on participatory research with the Cree people of James Bay area, eastern subarctic Quebec. The evidence is in the form of missionary stories, a series of jokes and narratives that capture some of the areas of tension between Cree practices/beliefs and missionary teachings. This chapter investigates the role of humor in dealing with these areas of tension and the uneasy fit between the two traditions, Indigenous and Western. The analysis provides insights regarding the role of missionaries, not only in converting Indigenous peoples to Christianity, but as part of a colonial project to weaken Indigenous cultural links to the land and eventually to remove people from the land, a view held widely across the Canadian North.