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Christian Jules Oudin

OUDIN, Christian Jules (oo-dang), West Indian missionary, born near Fort Royal, Martinique, in 1681; died in Naples, Italy, in 1741. He was descended on his mother's side from a Carib cacique. Oudin received his education in Paris, became a Jesuit, and was employed in missionary work in Santo Domingo for several years. In 1723 he came to Louisiana in answer to an invitation from the Mississippi company, and sailed up the river for several hundred miles. He founded in 1724 a mission among the Natchez Indians in southern Arkansas, which prospered, but he claimed that the French and Spanish traders demoralized the Indians by selling them spirits, and forbade them access to his missions unless he were present. The traders complained, and Oudin was summoned to New Orleans in 1729. He easily justified himself, but, the policy of the French authorities being to promote trade with the Indians at any cost, he was sent to labor among the Tonicas. Here he not only succeeded for some time in keeping the traders from the Indians, but even organized parties to chase them when they came in sight. He was recalled again, but refused to leave his mission, although his ecclesiatical superiors urged him to obey. A detachment of soldiers was despatched to capture him in 1735, but he eluded them for several months, and when at last he was taken he appealed to the Indians to defend him. Negotiations continued for several hours with the chiefs, but, Oudin taking advantage of the respite to excite the Indians, the commander of the detachment seized him and carried him off. A short but bloody engagement followed with the Indians, in which three soldiers and a far greater number of Indians were either killed or wounded. Oudin was carried in chains to New Orleans, and placed in the city dungeon, but the Jesuits claimed jurisdiction over him, and, despite the governor's protest, sesured a decree from the king's council that sustained their pretensions. Oudin embarked for France in 1736, and upon his arrival in Bordeaux went immediately to Rome and presented his justification to the general of the order, who only censured him. He was not allowed to return to Louisiana, but was attached to the college of the Jesuits in Naples. He published "Memoire justificatif sur ma mission parmi les Indiens Natchez et Tonicas" (Rome, 1736).

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