Goals and Objectives--Grades 9 - 12
Voices and Choices--Marie Rouensa
Note: It is a good idea to print
Level Three for easy reference.
Marie Rouensa is a Kaskaskia Indian woman who
has become assimilated into French society and culture through her
conversion to Catholicism and her two marriages, both to French
men. As she lies dying, she must settle her will and decide what to
do about her son Michel Accault, who has rejected French society
and Catholicism to return to the Kaskaskia.
These themes can be explored with either a social studies or
language arts curriculum. Use these themes to tie in other
resources to your class discussion, i.e., other books, other
cultures, students' own lives.
- Cultural assimilation--what happens when two very
different cultures come into contact? How does one culture come to
- Women and wealth on the French Frontier--Marie Rouensa
was one of the most powerful women of her time. How did she rise to
These questions which come at the end of each story, minus "the
answer", can be used to start class discussions or be assigned as
What role did Catholicism play in separating the French and the
French institutions and laws were built upon a Judeo/Christian
belief system. Their customs and traditions involved the Catholic
church and expressed their belief in a God who had created an
ordered world in which man was the central player. They believed
that the earth was man's to cultivate and that man was superior to
all other creatures, because man had a soul. The Native American
belief system was much different than that of the French. The
Kaskaskia believed that man had come from the earth and that the
earth should be treated with respect. Animals were also treated
with respect and regarded as equal to if not wiser than man. The
difference between the world view of the Native Americans and the
world view of the French colonists served as a communication
barrier between the two peoples.
What role did Catholicism play in joining the French and the
Those of the Kaskaskia who did convert to Catholicism were
quickly assimilated into French culture. There were certain
advantages and disadvantages to being a part of French society on
the frontier. Indian women who married French men were considered
French citizens. Like Marie Rouensa, they inherited land and wealth
in the form of European goods through their husbands. Children of
the union between an Indian woman and French man were considered
French citizens. These children could choose either culture.
Why was Marie Rouensa so determined to have her son return to
the Catholic faith?
As a Catholic, Marie Rouensa was afraid for her son's soul. If
he did not return to the Faith, then there was no assurance, in her
mind, that Michel Accault would go to heaven in the afterlife. She
had also become a prominent citizen within the French community.
Her son's rejection of Catholicism was also a rejection of French
society and culture. In a sense, by rejecting Catholicism, he was
rejecting Marie Rouensa and her status as a French woman.
In what ways did French inheritance laws work to provide a type
of social security for a widow and her children?
By assuring the widow and her children an equal share of the
husband's estate, French inheritance laws protected the family from
becoming destitute upon the death of the husband. Moreover, the
wealth that a woman acquired made her an attractive bride. Most
widows remarried on the French frontier.
These are suggested classroom activities and student projects
that you may want to use with your students or as models to create
1. Travel Writing
Pretend to be a travel writer and describe the village of
- What might you have seen, heard, smelled, or touched?
- Where might you go to find a glimmer of the past in the
- Create your own research/field trip.
2. The Village Plan
Develop your own French colonial village based on what you have
learned from the narratives, Maps, Objects, and Side by Side.
- Draw a plan for the village.
- Describe the inhabitants of the village.
- Go into a house and describe the architecture, the objects, the
smells, and the lifestyle of the inhabitants.
- Write a day-in-the-life of one of the inhabitants.
3. Estate Inventory
Write a mock inventory for a house that you imagine as part of your
For an example of estate inventories from the 1700s refer to Clues to the Past
- What do the people of the household own?
- Where did the household objects come from?
- Draw a picture of some of the most important objects in the
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