24 December 2015

Indian Nations and Tribes of the Great Lakes in 1640

The following is Chapter X of the Jesuit Relation XL (1640), Fr. Joseph-Marie Chaumont to R. P. Philippe Nappi, the Superior of the Professed House to which he belonged.  It is taken from the English translation published in 1898 by Burrows Brothers Co., and lists several native tribes and bands which I have identified in parentheses and italics following the names of the original text.  While there had been warfare more or less continuously since 1570, and some movement, this was the usual small-scale frontier variety and nothing like the chaos and horror of the Beaver Wars.  This account provides a good snapshot of the Great Lakes tribes and where they were just before the Haudenosaunee overturned the apple cart.

I SHALL be at a loss to make known my thoughts in this Chapter, for my mind thinks more than it can express. Let us enumerate some of the nations partly adjacent to the banks of the great river, and then I will try to express my thoughts.

At the entrance to the great gulf of St. Lawrence, on the Northern shore, we find the Esquimaux (Eskimo) tribes, —very barbarous, and hostile to the Europeans, it is said; following the same Northern shore upwards we find the Chisedech (Naskapi subtribe) and Bersiamite (Naskapi subtribe) peoples; these are insignificant nations, of whom we know little, who have dealings with other inland tribes.  Then we find the Savages of Tadoussac (Innu subtribe), who have intercourse with the Porcupine nation (Kakouchaki), and through them with other Savages farther inland.  Continuing up the river we reach Kebec, and then the three Rivers.  The Savages who frequent these two settlements go to trade with the Attikamegues (Naskapi subtribe), and these with three or four other small nations which are North of their country.

When we reach the first rapid found in the great river St. Lawrence, which we call “sault saint Louis,” we come to another stream called the “River des Prairies.”  This river is thus named because when a certain Frenchman named des Prairies, charged with piloting a bark to the sault St. Louis, came to this junction or meeting of these two rivers, instead of coasting along the Southern shore, where the sault saint Louis is, he turned to the North, towards the other river which as yet had no French name, and which, since that time, has been called the “River des Prairies.”

Going up this river, then, we find the Ouaouechka—órini (Weskarini), which we call the “petite nation” of the Algonquins.  Going still farther up the river we find the Kichesipirini (actual name), the Savages of the Island, who have adjacent to them, in the territory to the North, the Kotakoutouemi (Outaoukotwemiwek).  To the South of the Island are the Kinounchepirini (Keinouche band of the Ottawa), the Mataouchkarini (Matawachkarini, an Algonkin subtribe), the Ountchatarounounga (Ononchataronon*), the Sagahiganirini (Algonkin subtribe), the Sagnitaouigama (Algonkin subtribe), and then the Hurons, who are at the entrance to the fresh-water sea.

[*The Ononchataron, an Algonkin subtribe, claimed to be the original inhabitants of Montreal Island expelled by the Huron.]

These last six nations are between the river saint Lawrence and the River des Prairies. Leaving the River des Prairies when it turns directly to the North, that we may go to the Southwest, we come to Lake Nipisin, where the Nipisiriniens (Nipissing) are found.  These have upon their North the Timiscimi (Timiscaming, Algonkin subtribe), the Outimagami (Anishinaabe group), the Ouachegami (Ojibwe subgroup), the Mitchitamou (Mistassini, a band of Cree), the Outurbi (Ojibwe subgroup), the Kiristinon (Cree), who live on the shores of the North sea whither the Nipisiriniens go to trade.  Let us return now to the fresh-water sea.  This sea is nothing but a large Lake which, becoming narrower in the West, or the West Northwest, forms another smaller Lake, which then begins to enlarge into another great Lake or second fresh-water sea.  Such are the nations that border these great Lakes or seas of the North.

I have said that at the entrance to the first of these Lakes we find the Hurons.  Leaving them, to sail farther up in the lake, we find on the North the Ouasouarini (Ojibwe subgroup); farther up are the Outchougai (Ojibwe subgroup), and still farther up, at the mouth of the river which comes from Lake Nipisin, are the Atchiligouan (Ojibwe subgroup).  Beyond, upon the same shores of this fresh-water sea, are the Amikouai (Amika*, ‘Beaver People’, an Anishnaabeg group), or the nation of the Beaver.  To the South of these is an Island in this fresh-water sea about thirty leagues long, inhabited by the Outaouan (Ottawa); these are people who have come from the nation of the raised hair.  After the Amikouai, upon the same shores of the great lake, are the Oumisagai (Mississagua), whom we pass while proceeding to Baouichtigouian (an Ojibwe village) —that is to say, to the nation of the people of the Sault, for, in fact, there is a Rapid, which rushes at this point into the fresh-water sea.

Beyond this rapid we find the little lake, upon the shores of which, to the North, are the Roquai (Noquet, a Menominee subbgroup).  To the North of these are the Mantoue (Makoukuwe, a band of the Fox), people who navigate very little, living upon the fruits of the earth.  Passing this smaller lake, we enter the second fresh-water sea, upon the shores of which are the Maroumine (Menominee); and still farther, upon the same banks, dwell the Ouinipigou (Winnebago), a sedentary people, who are very numerous; some of the French call them the “Nation of Stinkards,” because the Algonquin word “ouinipeg” signifies “bad-smelling water,” and they apply this name to the water of the salt sea, —so that these peoples are called Ouinipigou because they come from the shores of a sea about which we have no knowledge; and hence they ought not to be called the nation of Stinkards, but the nation of the sea.

In the neighborhood of this nation are the Naduesiu (Sioux), the Assinipour (Assinibion), the Eriniouai (Illinois), the Rasaouakoueton (Mascouten), and the Pouutouatami (Potawatami).  These are the names of a part of the nations which are beyond the shores of the great river saint Lawrence and of the great lakes of the Hurons on the North.  I will now visit the Southern shores.  I will say, by the way, that sieur Nicolet, interpreter of the Algonquin and: Huron languages for the Gentlemen of new France,. has given me the names of these nations, which he himself has visited, for the most part in their own country.  All these peoples understand Algonquin, except the Hurons, who have a language of their own, as also have the Ouinipigou, or people of the sea.  We have been told this year that an Algonquin, journeying beyond these peoples, encountered nations extremely populous.  “I saw them assembled,” said he, “as if at a fair, buying and selling, in numbers so great that they could not be counted;” it conveyed an idea of the cities of Europe.  I do not know what there is in this. Let us now visit the Southern coast of the great river St. Lawrence.

From its mouth up to the sault St. Louis are to be found the Savages of Cape Breton.  The Souricois (Mikmak) are farther inland; we also meet the Savages of Miscou and Gasp√©; between the shores of the Acadian sea and the great river are the Etechemins (Maliseet), the Pentagouetch (Penobscot), the Abnaquiois (Abenaki), the Nahiganiouetch (Mahican), and a few other nations, but they are all very small. 

Continuing to ascend this great river from the sault St. Louis, we find to the South very flourishing nations, all sedentary and very numerous, — such as the Agneehrono (Mohawk), the Oneiochronon (Oneida), the Onontaehronon (Onondaga), the Konkhandeenhronon (Chonkande*), the Oniouenhronon (Cayuga), the Andastoehronon (Andaste), the Sonontouehronon (Seneca), the Andoouanchronon (Ataronchronon**, a Huron subtribe), the Kontareahronon (Huron subtribe), the Ouendat (the Wendat/Huron proper), the Khionontatehronon (Petun, or Tionantati), the Oherokouaehronon (Neutral subtribe), the Aondironon (Neutral subtribe), the Ongmarahronon (Onguiarahronon, or Niagara, a Neutral subtribe), the Akhrakuaeronon (Atra’kwae***), the Oneronon (Wenro), the Ehressaronon (Aouechissaronon, later n. of Lake Erie), the Attiouendaronk (Chonnonton), the Eriehronon (Erie), the Totontaratonhronon (‘Otter People’, band of Algonkin****), the Ahriottaehronon (Ariatoeronon  later n. of Lake Erie), the Oscouarahronon (*****Pawichtigouek; an Ojibwe group), the Huattoehronon (Sauk), the Skenchiohronon (Fox), the Attistaehronon (Potawatami), the Ontarahronon (Kickapoo), the Aoueatsiouaenhronon (Winnebago), the Attochingochronon (band of Ojibwe), the Attiouendarankhronon (Neutrals).

[*The anonymous map of “Nouvelle France” of 1641 places these people among the Algonquian tribes north of the St. Lawrence River.]

[**These ‘God People’ of Christian Algonquian-speaking natives were primarily the Weskarini band of Algonkin who sought refuge with the Huron from the Haudenosaunee and became the fifth member of their confederacy.]

[***Denominated as “Akhrakvaetonon” on the anonymous map of 1641 of “Nouvelle France”, these are probably the same as the Kahkwa of Seneca legend and an Erie subgroup.]

[****Later sought refuge with the Huron and became part of the Ataronchronon subtribe.]

[*****Also Pagittoecii, Skiaeronon, and Passinaouek]

All these nations are sedentary, as I have already said.  They cultivate the land, and consequently are very populous. I have taken their names from a Huron map that Father Paul Ragueneau sent me. There is no doubt that these peoples are at the North of Virginia, Florida, and perhaps even new Mexico. Here is a glorious field for Gospel laborers, and well strewn with Crosses.  The greater part of these tribes understand the Huron language.


(Anonymous map of 'Nouvelle France' 1641)

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