More of France’s Allies Revolt!

August 22, 2010

While Nicholas’ warriors were harassing Detroit the Saulteaux Ojibwa from the St. Clair joined in. They had killed and carried off some of the local farmers’ cattle and some of the farms were attacked by “unknown Indians”. This was the work of some of the more brazen young men who were disregarding their chief’s disapproval. All this upheaval made it impossible for the French to get the fall harvest in putting the post in jeopardy.

A party of chiefs and warriors arrived at Montreal to visit the Governor General. Among them were eight Ottawa chiefs and eight other warriors including two Seneca and some Wyandotte from Lorette who had accompanied Sieur Beleatre to Detroit the year before. Four Wyandotte chiefs were also with them including Sastaredzy, the principal chief and Tayachatin another main chief.

In the council with the governor they professed their loyalty and the Wyandotte, who had converted to Christianity, asked for Father La Richardie to return to Detroit to minister to their needs. He was their former missionary and they had the utmost confidence and respect for him. The French saw this as an opportunity to assist in settling things down at Detroit so they jumped at the chance. The governor quickly gave his approval, the priest consented and the deal was done.

Things were bad at Detroit with some of the young warriors getting out of control but they were worse at Michilimackinac. There was total confusion at that post. The Ottawa, Saulteaux Ojibwa and Mississauga were ill-disposed toward the French. The Ottawa of Saginaw had already struck a blow by killing three Frenchmen who were on their way from Detroit to Michilimackinac. The Saulteaux attacked two French canoes at La Cloche, an island in Georgian Bay between present day Little Current and Birch Island. One of the canoes escaped by discarding their cargo and fleeing to Michilimackinac while the other was totally defeated. Another Frenchman was stabbed by the Saulteaux just two leagues from the post at La Grosse Isle. 

The post itself was on high alert. Various warriors had killed all the horses and cattle they could not catch and were continuously hurling insults and threats at the fort. Only a few at a time were allowed inside the post and only under the strictest control. A council was held but ended in recrimination when it was discovered that some of the young warriors had come armed with knives. The French were in a very precarious position as they only had 28 men manning the post. They were relieved a few days later when de Noyelle and a contingent of Frenchmen arrived from Point Chagouamigon on Lake Superior.

At the same time an Ottawa name Nequionamin arrived with alarming news. He reported to the commandant that the Iroquois, the Wyandotte and the Flathead had reached an agreement with the English to attack and destroy all French everywhere. He also reported that the Nations of Detroit were in on the plot. The Ottawa led the revolt, the Potawatomi would cooperate as well as the Mississauga and the Saulteaux of St. Clair. He said the Ottawa of Saginaw had already struck referring to the three they had killed on Lake Huron. They also had sent 70 men to council with the Ottawa of Michilimackinac but they were reluctant because they had a contingent of their village visiting Montreal. He advised the commandant not to let anyone leave the fort and to keep a strict watch. The French needed to gain some control!

NEXT WEEK:  St. Pierre to the Rescue! August 1747


The Saga Continues

July 20, 2010

It’s been two weeks since I last wrote a post. Summer always seems to be so busy with outdoor projects that my writing seems to suffer. However, I also seem to get a lot of ‘other things’ done so the guilty feelings about my neglect is tempered somewhat.

In the last post the year of 1740 was one of tension and mistrust among the nations of Detroit. 1741 was no different. In one instance a Wyandotte woman was working in their cornfield when a party of Saulteux happened along. They threatened the woman with death and killed her dog in front of her. This frightened her very badly and set the whole Wyandotte village on edge.

In another incident an Ottawa man in a state of intoxication accused the Wyandotte of killing his brother. This story spread throughout the Ottawa and their allies’ villages. De Noyan had to get involved in order to prevent things from getting out of hand. He implored the Ottawa not to act on the word of a drunken man so they took his advice. It proved to be a good thing too as the rumour turned out to be false.

De Noyan came up with a plan to make peace. He advised the Wyandotte to break their peace with the Choctaw and attack them taking as many prisoners as possible. Then they could offer the prisoners to the Ottawa as payment for the blood shed at the original ambush. They could also reclaim their ally status because they had attacked the enemy of the Ottawa.

However, the plan was thwarted by a few who did not want to break their peace with the Flathead. They had secretly sent a collar to them warning of the plan. Not only did this foul up De Noyan’s plan but they also warned them of an impending Ottawa attack. A large party had left Detroit to make a raid on the Flathead but when they arrived in their country they only found two abandoned villages.

Finally the Governor decided to allow them to move to Quebec. He sent his nephew to present his words to the Ottawa, Saulteax, Potawatomi and Mississauga of Detroit. He had to say it was his idea that the Wyandotte should be removed and not the Wyandotte’s desire due to fear. He didn’t like this but after four years of prodding by Detroit’s commandant and the Black Robes he gave in.

Unfortunately by this time the Wyandotte had broken into three factions. The majority still wanted to remove to Quebec as did Sastarestsy Taatchatin. This group had moved to the little Lake. This is what the French called what today is Rondeau Bay on the north shore of Lake Erie. Orontony or Nicholas and his followers set up a village at Sandusky Bay in Ohio and Angouirot, the third Wyandotte chief, had a smaller following that wanted to set up a new village about three leagues from Detroit on Grand Isle in the Detroit River.

This fracture of the Wyandotte Nation gave Governor Beauharnois cause to reconsider his offer. He had always wanted the Wyandotte to stay at Detroit and for peace among the nations there to be the norm. Three Wyandotte chiefs had gone to Montreal in 1742 to pick out the land they thought they would be allowed to move to but Beauharnois gave them a new message to take back to Detroit.

He sent word back to the Wyandotte elders that he understood that they had left the decision-making on the matter of moving to their young men and that they had all decided to move to Grosse Isle. This contravened what the elders had begged him to do and although he did not understand what had caused misunderstandings among them he was pleased that all the unpleasantries at Detroit had apparently been smoothed over. Therefore, he could not place them anywhere because he had no information regarding the decisions taken by the Wyandotte Nation. All he could do was be pleased that they had decided to move nearby Detroit and he wished that they would live in peace at whatever place they chose to settle.

Governor Beauharnois also had a new ally for peace that only served to reinforce his decision. The great Ottawa chief Mekinac had moved to Detroit from Michilimackinac. He was one of the signees of the Great Peace Treaty of 1701 and was highly influential among his nation. He had visited Beauharnois that same year in Montreal along with chief Kinousakis. They led the two factions of the Detroit Ottawa. Both expressed their great desire for peace and promised to work with the French commandant toward that end. So Beauharnois had reason to believe that all would eventually be worked out. The Wyandotte never did move to Quebec but would instead remain in the Detroit area for another 150 years.

NEXT WEEK: First Nations of the Upper Country Revolt -1747


The Detroit Ottawa Are Furious!

July 5, 2010

When the three escapees arrived back at the Ottawa village they uttered the cries for the dead. The Wyandotte came to the village when they heard the wailing and those who had survived the ambush said it was the Wyandotte that had killed them. The Wyandotte denied having any part of it saying they were allies to the Ottawa and could not slay their brothers.

The warrior who had recognized and killed the Wyandotte warrior at the ambush accused the Wyandotte of not only being capable of killing their brothers but their father as well! He said the only reason they have not done so is there were so few of them. He told of hearing of the cries of the raven just before the attack explaining that he had been on several sorties against the Flathead and they never used this cry. It was a Wyandotte tradition. He then announced the killing of the Wyandotte warrior from Detroit that he recognized and said if it were untrue let them produce that man as he was missing from the Wyandotte congregation.

After his accusations the Wyandotte returned to their village and fortified themselves from attack. The Jesuit fathers returned to the safety of the French fort and the Ottawa congregated around the Wyandotte fort. They called out to those inside their fortification saying that it seemed they were afraid walling themselves up in their stronghold daring not to come out while the Ottawa were out in the open. They accused the Wyandotte of fearing an attack but said they were mistaken. They allow them to go to their cornfields unmolested but when they did decide to attack them they would declare it as they were incapable of any treachery.

The Ottawa sent three sticks of porcelain to the Five Nations meeting them at Niagara. They presented them to their representatives with the request that they remain neutral in the dispute but if their intentions were to take the Wyandotte’s side they should declare it first. The Iroquoian envoys said they could not provide an answer but would take the strings to their towns.

The Wyandotte requested assistance from the French by appealing directly to Governor Beauharnois at Montreal. They also sent belts to the Christian Mohawk at Lake of the Two Mountains and St. Louis Falls asking them to take their side and provide asylum for them in Quebec. 

The French realized they had a full-fledged crisis on their hands. De Noyelles issued orders that no Frenchman should sell any powder, lead or guns to either side of the dispute. They were afraid this could cause the other side to accuse the French of providing the means of one side destroying the other. Beauharnois sent a great number of presents to Detroit with instructions to de Noyelles to settle things down.

However, dissention persisted for the next two years with the Ottawa, Ojibwa and Potawatomi threatening the Wyandotte with extermination and the Wyandotte men fearing for their families. In the fall of 1738 they formally asked the governor for asylum. They sent word to Beauharnois that they had met with an emissary at Michilimackinac sent by their brothers from Sault St. Louis. They were invited by them to come settle with them because they were currently living amongst a multitude of nations that liked them not.

However, they recalled an invitation given them by the former Governor Vaudreuil to come live near him where they would have asylum, a Father and a protector. This was the option they preferred most and if it was not repeated by Beauharnois they said they preferred to withdraw somewhere else to die, but if he did grant their request they asked to be sent a military man to guide them safely through the nations who were intent on destroying them.

In June of 1739 they sent the words of Sastarestsy Taatchatin and Orontony to Beauharnois. They asked the governor again to provide asylum near him. They said this was always their only wish and that would never change. They also issued warnings saying that if they were not allowed to settle in Quebec they would be forced to do something the governor would not like but did not say what. Probably this was a veiled reference to going over to the English side. They also said that they could never be strong in their new religion unless remove from among so many nations that were not Christian.

The Wyandotte were desperate. They implored de Noyelle along with the three Black Gowns at the Mission of l’assomption Among the Huron to write to the governor on their behalf recommending so strongly their request that the governor would be sure to grant it. In the summer of 1740 he wrote to the governor saying that after desperately trying to bring peace he now thought it impossible. Although it was the wish of the governor that they stay at Detroit he thought it would either bring on their destruction or they would ally themselves with the Iroquois and the British. Like Father de la Richardie he also felt that their move to Montreal would be no loss because the Shawnee were ready to take their place at Detroit. Would Beauharnois finally consent?

NEXT WEEK: The Saga Continues


More Upheaval at Detroit!

June 27, 2010

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!


And The Winner Is…

January 27, 2010

Fort du Detroit 1763

Last week we left Cadillac struggling with various opponents to his dream of monopolizing the fur trade at de troit. Fathers Carheil and Marest were doing their best to keep their First Nation charges at Michillimakinac. The Jesuits had also established a mission at the St. Joseph to destroy de troit, or so he thought. Now even more problems appear.

Governor de Callieres died and his replacement was Philippe de Rigault, Marquis de Vaudreuil. He was visited in Montreal by a delegation of Ottawa representing about 80 people left at Michilimakinac. They told him that they wished to die in their villages and refused to move to de troit.  

Vaudreuil  had also received word that the Miami and Wyandotte that had moved to de troit had met in council with the Seneca Iroquois about safe passage through their territory. They wished to explore trade with the British at Albany. Quarante Sols, the Wyandotte chief of de troit confirmed this and Vaudreuil forbade it.  The Company of the Colony was also complaining loudly about the cost of establishing the new post.

All this led de Vaudreuil to send a report to France. Count Ponchartrain, Minister in charge of the Colony, was informed that he and Indendant Beauharnois had decided to send Father Marest back to his mission because the Ottawa and Wyandotte there refused to move. He also stated that if trade between their First Nation allies and the British was ever established it would be because of de troit. It was burdensome to the Colony as well because of the exorbitant costs of enticing the First Nations to give up their villages and move to lands around Fort Ponchartrain. He advised that de troit be abandoned.

Cadillac fought back. He appealed in a letter directly to the King. The job of getting all the nations around to move to de troit was all but complete. He reported that there had been to date 2,000 First Nations people living around the new fort. They had 400 men under arms, ample protection from attack by the Iroquois. These 2,000 souls included a village of mixed Saulteux and Mississauga Ojibwa, all the Wyandotte except 30 who remained a Michillimakinac, a Miami village of about 30 families, and all the Ottawa except the 80 that remained at Michillimakinac. There were also some Nipissing that joined the Ottawa and a village of Delaware Loup. Trade was being done and at no cost to France’s treasury.

Cadillac also informed the King of the bickering that was going on in the far country of the Colony. The Sioux had attacked and killed some Miami and it had escalated to a war between the Sioux and eight of France’s First Nation allies. Cadillac took credit for brokering a peace but implored the King to augment the new fort with French regulars and settlers, not abandoned it. He said the reason the peace was so hard to keep was because of the lack of a French presence in the far country. Cadillac won out. The newly established Fort Ponchartrain would not only survive but would be expanded.

Cadillac was an imposing presence, well liked by the First Nations and could manage the affairs of the new post quite well. However, the one area he had problems with was trade. The Miami and the Wyandotte did secure safe passage to Albany. So did the Saulteux and Mississauga Ojibwa.  At the same time the Great Peace Treaty was being negociated in Montreal a number of Ojibwa chiefs travelled to Albany with some French fur traders to explore the idea of trade with the British.

Towasquaye a Wyandotte trader visited Albany a couple of years later and found he was treated well. He returned with a delegation sent by the chiefs of de troit to visit the governor Lord Cornbury. Tehonwahonkarachqua, a Miami and son-in-law of Michipichy the principle Wyandotte sachem and Rughkiwahaddi a Wyandotte spoke for their chiefs. They found not only were they well received but the goods were cheaper and of better quality than French goods. 

This would lead to competition driving the price of European goods down to the benefit of the First Nations, but that would be in the future. Monopolizing trade would not be the only problem the French would have to deal with. Much larger problems loomed on the horizon!

NEXT WEEK: Trouble in Paridise…1706.


More Intrigues at Detroit

January 20, 2010

Hi everyone! Another week gone by with some major things happening in the world. A major earthquake in Haiti which is a catastrophe the likes of which we have not seen. They need so much help and I urge everyone to give to a registered charity. Also a big election in Massachusetts yesterday that’s going to bring big changes in U.S. politics.

Now to get back to the story of the founding of Detroit not only was Cadillac having trouble with the Jesuits discouraging the First Nations from settling around the new Fort Ponchartrain but the various indigenous peoples were reluctant themselves. The Miami and Potawatomi were settled along the St. Joseph River in southwestern Michigan.  A group of about 30 Wyandotte families were living near them.

Michipichy, called by the French Quarante-Sous, was the head chief of the Wyandotte at the St. Joseph. The governor asked him in Montreal to go back to the St. Joseph and bring his people who were there to de troit, which he did. He also obtained a promise from the Miami that were there that they would also move to de troit after they collected the bones of their dead and set them in order.

Cadillac claimed they would all be there if the missionaries had not dissuaded them. They encouraged them to settle at the St. Joseph because they had a small mission already there and they wanted to expand it. He also claimed that the real reason they wanted to do this was to make de troit fail because he had brought a Grey Robe or Recollect priest there. The Augustinian Recollects and Jesuits were competing missionaries.

Another strange thing had happened. The governor, de Callieres, had told the head chief of the Miami in Montreal to settle on the St. Joseph after instructing Cadillac invite all the First Nations to settle at  de troit. This only served to confuse the Miami as well as the Wyandotte. So Michipichy went to Michillimakinac to see Sastaresty the head chief there. They were under they impression that the governor did not want them to go to Detroit. They decided to sent their elders to Montreal to see the governor to settle the dispute and to do whatever de Callieres wanted.

All this confusion made its way back to France even all the way to the King. Louis XIV sent a letter back to the Canadian officials detailing his wishes. His Majesty reported that on the one hand Sieur de la Mothe Cadillac is adamant that de troit will produce all the effects expected of it.

On the other hand others have reported that the land there is no good and will not produce the food required to support the population expected there. There is only the poor fishing available and the hunting grounds are 30 to 40 leagues away. There is also the fear of attack by the Iroquois and because the colony lacked the means to defend the newly established fort the result would be that war would recommence. Also, the Company of the Colony were reporting that the cost of establishing this new venture was so exorbitant that it was impossible to sustain. It seems Cadillac had a host of opponents all with their own agendas. 

So the King ordered through Governor de Callieres and Intendant Beauharnais that Cadillac and the most important of the French settlers at de troit meet and discuss the pros and cons of establishing the new settlement and outline them in a document. Also, all present at the deliberations were to sign the document. His Majesty would then be able to make an informed decision whether to continue augmenting that post, or to leave it as a trading post only or to abandon it altogether.

NEXT WEEK: And the Winner Is…


Great Changes and Expansions

January 14, 2010

I’ve got some excellent feedback on my posts so I’d like to thank those who have made comments. It gives me encouragement to carry on realizing that people are profiting from my work.

There was another great change that took place besides the general peace brought on by the Great Peace Treaty. The French closed their trading post at Michilimackinac and governor Callieres ordered Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac to establish a new one at de troit. The Company of the Colony was formed in 1700 as an association to secure the monopoly of the western fur trade and Cadillac was one of its directors. By the way The Company became insolvent in 1705 and the monopoly was handed over to Cadillac. The French were worried about British trade incursions into the upper country and this new fort was also designed to block them. Cadillac had the idea that if he invited all the nations from the far country to establish themselves around his new post this would not only enhance trade but also firm up military alliances. However, his plan had some wrinkles in it.

For one thing it had its detractors. Although the Church’s superiors in Montreal were on board the Jesuit missionaries at Michilimakinac harbored secret resentments. They were jealous of their mission and saw it as a detriment to all their hard work in the upper country.

Callieres wrote to the Fathers at Michilimakinac asking them to go with the Ottawa and Wyandotte to de troit and both Fathers Etienne de Carheil and Joseph Marest wrote supporting letters back to their superiors but Cadillac accused them of working against the project by dividing their First Nation charges with lies about the new post and by uttering threats if they moved there.

Cadillac was right. At a council held at Fort Ponchartrain on October 3, 1701 the First Nations betrayed the Jesuits real intentions. Ontonagan spoke for all the Ottawa. He was a major chief and was also known as Jean Le Blanc. He informed Cadillac that the missionaries had shown them a letter from him supposedly sent by three Iroquois that he had met on Lake St. Clair. Cadillac was supposed to have said in this letter that the Ottawa should not go to de troit because the Iroquois there will betray them and they would all become dead men.

Cadillac denied he wrote any such letter. He told Ontonagan that although the Black Robes and the Grey Robes (the Jesuits and Recollects) were the rulers of religion and never lied about such matters as for other matters he could not speak for them.

Koussildouer, the oldest Ottawa chief relayed a message to Cadillac from Ouilemek, chief of the Potawatomi. He informed him that next spring Ouilemek would take the Potawatomi to live near the Miami on the St. Joseph River. He would then come to trade at the new post and if the prices were good he would come often, otherwise he would trade with the British at Albany.

Cadillac’s response to this was that Ouilemek was welcome at Fort Ponchartrain but if he wished to trade elsewhere he could do as he saw fit and it would not bother Cadillac.

The Wyandotte spoke at the council next. Alleyooue and Quarante-Sous agreed with what Ontonagan had said. He said that although Father de Carheil had told the Wyandotte the same things they did not believe him because Ontonio or the Governor had told them in Montreal to go and encamp near Fort Ponchartrain. Father de Carheil had invited them to go and encamp near the Miami but to return to Michilimakinac the following year. Alleyooue said that they had granted him what he asked but only to get rid of him. Their real desire was to move to de troit near the new fort.

Alleyooue also said that Father de Carheil told them at their last council with him that Cadillac was not establishing a new post at de troit but was only going there to trade after which he would return to Montreal.

The Wyandotte informed Father de Carheil that they would tell Cadillac all that was said in their councils with him and he forbade them to do so. Not only did they disobey the missionary but asked Cadillac for land near the new post where they could establish themselves.

Cadillac commended them and suggested that Father de Carheil was probably just mistaken in his belief that he was only going to de troit to trade. He pointed out the new fort already built and lands cleared that it would be a permanent post. He then promised them land to settle on as soon as they arrived. 

On the other hand the Ojibwa preferred to keep themselves at arm’s length from the French. Although they needed the trade for European goods they liked to keep their distance. This attitude dovetailed with Young Gull’s wish to move to St. Clair country. He had fallen in love with the place when he stayed at Fort St. Joseph in 1686. So he led a large group of Saulteux Ojibwa south from the St. Mary’s River district and established villages on the Black River and Swan Creek in present-day Michigan.

The Mississauga expanded in the eastern part of Southern Ontario taking up residence between the Grand and Gananoque Rivers. They established themselves on the Grand, at the mouth of the Credit River, at Lake Scugog and Rice Lake. However, they did set up a village just north of the new post at de troit.

The Amikouai Ojibwa expanded across Georgian Bay to its south shore with villages at present-day Cold Water, Owen Sound and at the mouth of the Saugeen River.

NEXT WEEK: More Intrigues at Detroit