It’s hard to imagine that my undergraduate career—and Historical scholarship—has finally come to an end. I first heard about the Ramonat Seminar by stumbling into Professor Karamaski’s office last spring. I asked him, as I always did, what he was working on with Native American History. He told me that he had been putting together a seminar to expand on the topics I first learned in his course on the History of the American Frontier Movement. I am truly lucky that I took the time that day to talk with him about the Ramonat Seminar. Not only because I was able to fulfill my Engaged Learning Credits, but because I was able to fully understand what it meant to be a student in the realm of Jesuit teachings. This last year has allowed me to understand that institutions of today have a long history that needs to be authentically understood.
The Ramonat Seminar has helped me understand the relationship between the Catholic Church and Native American captive-slavery. This past semester I have put together the most comprehensive research paper of my undergraduate career. Though I am disappointed that my research was not selected for Ramonat Research Award, I am confident that this paper was my strongest scholarship yet!
By far my favorite part of the Ramonat Seminar was Professor Karamaski’s lectures in the fall and spring semesters. This was mainly because I felt less pressure and more freedom to absorb information in a way that benefited my future understanding of History. When it came to the process of writing my research, I also found database research extremely rewarding. As I discovered new and interesting information on Jesuit and captive-Indian slavery, my confidence grew because the primary documents I found were only located because of my understanding of how to efficiently navigate online research; a skill that will most certainly help me in law school, next fall.
The hardest part of the seminar was narrowing down the focus of my research and being able to articulate my topic to others while presenting. Because my research goal was very ambitious, I hesitated to initially engage with sources in an active manner. It was not until after I submitted my first draft, that I was able to understand which texts were less relevant and which sources were foundational to my argument. Additionally, even after my final presentation I still struggled with my ability to explain the transition of enslavement practices clearly.
I feel that I made the most progress with my research while revising and adding to my final paper. By having such an early and strict first deadline, I was put in a place where my revision could become very useful to my final paper. During my revision process, I was able to fix EVERY problem Professor Karamaski and Marie found, and provide additional information that clearly brought the focus of my paper to argue against Brett Rushforth’s beliefs. Part of the reason why I was taken back by not receiving the Ramonat Award, was because I felt that my final paper was exceedingly stronger than my first draft.
I wish that I had more time with understanding the further implications of slavery in Kaskaskia, Illinois. This struggle to know more comes from my inability to confidently answer Susan Ramonat’s questions, after my presentation. I too would have like to know whether or not there is documentation of Jesuit priests traveling down-river to personally selected “their” new African slaves.
All in all, I am extremely proud of my work this semester and thankful for all of the help I received, while finishing my Historical education strong.