ENJALRAN, JEAN, Jesuit priest, missionary; b. 10 Oct. 1639 at Rodez, France; d. 18 Feb. 1718 in the same city.
Jean Enjalran entered the Society of Jesus at Toulouse on 18 Sept. 1656. After completing the novitiate he taught at Cahors, Pamiers, and Aurillac. He did his ecclesiastical studies at Toulouse and Tournon. After his ordination he taught philosophy at Toulouse (1673–75) and was prefect of studies there during the academic year 1675–76.
Enjalran reached Quebec on 22 July 1676. Shortly after his arrival, on 13 October, he wrote a lengthy letter describing conditions in New France. After a year at Sillery studying the Algonkian tongue, the new recruit was assigned to the Ottawa mission with his headquarters at Saint-Ignace. Enjalran is said to have become an expert in the Ottawa language, thereby gaining great influence over those tribesmen, as well as the Hurons dwelling at the mission. With only four years of mission experience, Enjalran was appointed, in 1681, superior of the Ottawa mission, a position which he held until 1688.
In 1683 the French erected Fort Buade at Saint-Ignace and gave the command of the garrison to the very able Olivier Morel de La Durantaye who continued in the office until 1690. Enjalran was most helpful to the commandant during Governor Le Febvre* de La Barre’s unsuccessful campaign against the Iroquois, encouraging the Hurons and Ottawas to join the conflict under the command of La Durantaye. Three years later, in 1687, Enjalran played a major role in convincing the Ottawas and Hurons to join the French again, when Governor Brisay de Denonville launched another attack against the Iroquois. In that campaign Enjalran was chaplain of the forces from the west and was himself wounded in battle, though not seriously.
The following year, 1688, Enjalran went to France. After 1688 Enjalran’s name does not appear in the annual list of Jesuits attached to the mission of New France. He clearly did return, however, and was active in the controversy between Cadillac [Laumet] and the Jesuits regarding the removal of the Ottawas and Hurons from Saint-Ignace to Fort Pontchartrain at Detroit.
After La Durantaye was replaced by La Porte de Louvigny as commandant of Fort Buade in 1690, the Jesuit missionaries constantly complained of the bad influence which the soldiers at the fort exercised on the Indians. Most of the missionaries contended that the Indians should not be put in contact with Europeans until they had had sufficient experience with Europeans to enter their sophisticated world. Further, the Jesuits contended that since they alone had been commissioned by the bishop of Quebec to effect the conversion of the Indians no other group of priests should be allowed to begin a mission field, or at least not start one near an already existing mission. When Cadillac obtained authority to open his post at Detroit, he proposed inviting the Recollets to act as post chaplains and to serve the French population which he hoped would grow up around the fort [see Delhalle]. As for the Indians, Cadillac planned to invite the Jesuit missionaries from Saint-Ignace to transfer their mission effort, along with their neophytes, to the new post.
Father Enjalran did not share the opinion of his fellow Jesuits regarding mission policy. He believed that isolating the Indians was not feasible. In his view, the Indians should be taught to speak French, adopt French customs, and enter into the society of their French neighbours as quickly as possible. Further, Enjalran felt that Cadillac’s establishment at Detroit was strategically important and should be encouraged by the presence of Jesuit missionaries. Since the difference of opinion between Enjalran and his fellow Jesuits was on a question of policy, the. matter was referred to Father Claude Dablon*, superior of all the Jesuits in New France, who ruled in favour of Father Enjalran’s opponents. Dablon withdrew Enjalran from missionary work.
Before his departure from Canada, Father Enjalran performed one final important service. In 1700 Governor Callière despatched him with Le Gardeur de Courtemanche to induce the Ottawas to attend the great peace parley held at Montreal during the summer of 1701. Enjalran was not only helpful in persuading the Indians to attend the meeting, but he was also able to convince the Ottawas to surrender two Iroquois prisoners, whom he brought back to Montreal. When the western tribes met with Callière Enjalran acted as the official interpreter for them.
Enjalran left Canada shortly after 27 Aug. 1702. He died 16 years later in his native town of Rodez.
Charlevoix, History (Shea), V, 150, 153. Découvertes et établissements des Français (Margry), V, 207, 211–12. JR (Thwaites), LX, 104–47; LXI, 103–47; LXIII, 175. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IX. Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIe siecle, III, 511–12.