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Boyhood and Girlhood
Digital History ID 632

Author:   Gabriel Sagard
Date:1632

Annotation: A French missionary describes boyhood and girlhood among the Huron.


Document: The usual and daily practice of the young boys is none other than drawing the bow and shooting the arrow, making it rise and glide in a straight line a little higher than the ground. They play a game with curved sticks, making them slide over the snow and hit a ball of light wood, just as is done in our parts; they learn to throw the prong with which they spear fish, and practice other little sports and exercises, and then they put in an appearance at the lodge at meal-times, or else when they feel hungry. But if a mother asks her son to go for water or wood or do some similar household service, he will reply to her that this is a girl's work and will do none of it....

Just as the little boys have their special training and teach one another to shoot with the bow as soon as they begin to walk, so also the little girls, whenever they begin to put one foot in front of the other, have a little stick put into their hands to train them and teach them early to pound corn, and when they are grown somewhat they also play various little games with their companions, and in the course of these small frolics they are trained quietly to perform trifling and petty household duties, sometimes also to do the evil that they see going on before their eyes...They vie with one another as to which shall have the most lovers....

Source: Gabriel Sagard, The Long Journey to the Country of the Hurons (1632), ed. by George M. Wrong, trans. by H.H. Langston (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1939).

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