Greetings to everyone! It’s powwow weekend here at Aamjiwnaang. The weather is not looking so great however. It’s cloudy and rain is in the forecast. I hope they’re wrong.
When we last left Detroit in the fall of 1738 the nations were in great turmoil. The Ottawa of both Detroit and Saginaw and their allies the Potawatomi, also of Detroit, and the Saulteux Ojibwa of the St. Clair and Au Sable Rivers were threatening to destroy the Wyandotte of Detroit. The Wyandotte were afraid for their women and children so were determined to move out of the area. Their preference was to be allowed to move to Quebec to be with their Iroquoian speaking brothers. The Mohawk and Huron of Quebec were all Jesuit converts. They were also considering moving to Upstate New York to live among the Five Nation Iroquois. They were allies but the Five Nation still held the faith of their fathers.
The French were desperately trying to make peace between them because the Wyandotte were allies with the Iroquois and the Ottawa were allies with all the other Nations of the Upper Great Lakes. If the Wyandotte located among the Five Nations then they would lose them to the British. They wanted to avoid this at all costs. A larger problem was that this situation could have easily gotten out of hand and turned into a full-blown war with the French in the middle.
So, how did things come to this? To understand we have to return to the following spring. The Wyandotte had called a council at Sieur de Noyelles’ house. He was the commandant of Detroit. The chiefs or their representatives of all of the above mentioned nations were there. They presented a belt to the Ottawa saying that by that belt they wished all to know that they had made peace with the Flathead and they now considered them brothers. They wished all would follow in order to make peace reign in the whole land. Then they issued a warning saying that if any of the other Detroit nations sent war parties against the Flathead it would assure that some of their young men would go ahead and warn them that they were coming to devour them. The Flathead were also called Choctaw and got their name from their practice of artificially flattening their foreheads when very young.
The Ottawa refused the belt asking the Wyandotte who they thought they were to dictate law to them. They accused the Wyandotte of considering bad actions and then take refuse with the Flathead. They took the belt and gave it to de Noyelles saying that it was him who represented Onontio, the governor, and that if the governor accepted it then they would honor his wishes.
The Ottawa also said the Wyandotte should remember that at the last general peace Onontio gave all the nations the Flathead to devour because they had become friendly with the British; that their blood was shed on the trails of the Flathead and on their mats. Their bones were still in the lodges of their enemy with their scalps hanging over them and that the frames on which they were burned were still spread out with the steaks still standing. Moreover, they said, if the Flathead Nation wanted peace with them they would have approached them and then they would consider peace or not.
The Wyandotte gave also gave a belt to the Potawatomi but were given a similar reply. They gave a third to the Saulteux who said because they were young men they would take it to their elders who would decide what to do. Then the council then broke up.
Sometime soon after this the Ottawa, Potawatomi and Ojibwa raised a war party of 17 men and set out for Flathead country. Two parties of Wyandotte joined them on the trail but did not continue on with them. When the war party reached their destination they found themselves surrounded by warriors in the forest all making the call of the raven. This was a common thing done before an attack signifying they were looking for blood. This surprised the Ottawa because this was not a custom of the Flathead so they suspected Wyandotte treachery.
Suddenly they found themselves attacked in the front by the Flathead and in the rear by the Wyandotte. One of the Ottawa recognized one of the Wyandotte and he killed him. Only three escaped the ambush including the Ottawa who had recognized the Wyandotte warrior. Five others were made prisoner and nine were killed.
NEXT WEEK: The Detroit Ottawa are Furious!