This image, probably of a Franciscan, decorated Carte du Canada ou de La Nouvelle France, Paris, 1703. Reproduction. Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Englishmen imagined bringing the Powhatans to Christianity, but settlers made little effort to change Native peoples' beliefs and practices, and Pocahontas was virtually their only convert. After a Powhatan attack killed one-fourth of the newcomers in 1622, the English in Virginia largely abandoned the idea of converting indigenous peoples or incorporating them into English colonial society.
Jesuit missionaries lived in Huron villages and learned new languages in which to teach and translate the Bible. They set up schools, and pious French settlers became godparents to indigenous children. Yet the project of transforming Native peoples into Frenchmen involved some contradictions: while the church encouraged converts to become sedentary farmers, the fur companies needed hunters who would spend long months away from church and mission.
In New Mexico, Franciscans established missions and sought to bring Pueblo peoples into their orbit. They sought conversions by staging impressive ceremonies, giving gifts to converts, and proselytizing children, thus creating divisions in Pueblo families.