1724 · Paris
Joseph-François Lafitau was a French Jesuit missionary, ethnologist, and naturalist. He is best known for his use of the comparative method in the field of scientific anthropology, the discovery of ginseng, and his writings on the Iroquois. Lafitau was the first of the Jesuit missionaries in Canada to have a scientific point of view. Lafitau is best known for his important discoveries on the Iroquois society. He arrived in Quebec in 1711 amidst a period of hostility between the Five Nations prior to the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht. The woods were deemed unsafe for travelers and therefore he was ordered to join the Iroquois on the south shore of the St. Lawrence valley in Sault St. Louis, also known as Kahnawake. Sault St. Louis already shared a great tradition with both the members of his order and the Iroquois by the time Lafitau arrived. He noticed the importance of women in Iroquois society, the universality of marriage as an institution, age grading, the classificatory system of relationship, and the pulse of Indian politics in the town council. Lafitau also contributed to existing scholarship on the Iroquois Long-house; he details the rules of residence and social organization. Lafitau's observations provide a greater understanding of Iroquois kinship and exogamy. His major work, Moeurs des Sauvages Amériquains, written in French, was first published in 1724 in Paris. It is entitled Customs of the American Indians Compared with the Customs of Primitive Times and is 1,100 pages in total. In 1974, Dr. William Fenton and Dr. Elizabeth Moore translated and edited the work as part of the Champlain Society's General Series.
Minor wear; moderate damp-staining, corners bumped, spine ends rubbed else a very good set. (Inventory #: A2019)