Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Hochelagans and the Mohawks: A Link in Iroquois History



(Presented by John Reade and read May 26, 1899.)

The exact origin and first history of the race whose energy so stunted the growth of early Canada and made the cause of France in America impossible, have long been wrapped in mystery. In the days of the first white settlements the Iroquois are found leagued as the Five Nations in their familiar territory from the Mohawk River westward. Whence they came thither has always been a disputed question. The early Jesuits agreed that they were an off-shoot of the Huron race whose strongholds were thickly sown on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, but the Jesuits were not clear as to their course of migration from that region, it being merely remarked that they had once possessed some settlements on the St. Lawrence below Montreal, with the apparent inference that they had arrived at these by way of Lake Champlain. Later writers have drawn the same inference from the mention made to Cartier by the Hochelagans of certain enemies from the south whose name and direction had a likeness to later Iroquois conditions. Charlevoix was persuaded by persons who he considered had sufficiently studied the subject that their seats before they left for the country of the Five Nations were about Montreal. The late Horatio Hale put the more recently current and widely accepted form of this view as follows: "The clear and positive traditions of all the surviving tribes, Hurons, Iroquois and Tuscaroras, point to the Lower St. Lawrence as the earliest known abode of their stock. Here the first explorer, Cartier, found Indians of this stock at Hochelaga and Stadacona, now the sites of Montreal and Quebec. Centuries before his time, according to the native tradition, the ancestors of the Huron-Iroquois family had dwelt in this locality, or still further east and nearer to the river's mouth. As the numbers increased, dissensions arose. The hive swarmed and band after band moved off to the west and south."
"Their first station on the south side of the lakes was at the mouth of the Oswego River.Advancing to the southeast, the emigrants struck the River Hudson" and thence the ocean. Most of them returned to the Mohawk River, where the Huron speech was altered to Mohawk. In Iroquois tradition and in the constitution of their League the Canienga (Mohawk) nation ranks as 'eldest brother' of the family. A comparison of the dialects proves this tradition to be well founded. The Canienga language approaches nearest to the Huron, and is undoubtedly the source from which all the other Iroquois dialects are derived. Cusick states positively that the other families, as he styles them, of the Iroquois household, leaving the Mohawks in their original abode, proceeded step by step to the westward. The Oneidas halted at their creek, the Onondagas at their mountain, the Cayugas at their lake and the Senecas or Sonontowans, the great hill people, at a lofty eminence which rises south of the Canandaigua Lake." Hale appeals also to the Wyandot tradition recorded by Peter Dooyentate Clark, that the Huron originally lived about Montreal near the "Senecas," until war broke out and drove them westward. He sets the formation of the League of the Long House as far back as the fourteenth century.
All these authors, it will be seen, together with every historian who has referred to the League,—treat of the Five Nations as always having been one people. A very different view, based principally on archæology, has however been recently accepted by at least several of the leading authorities on the subject,—the view that the Iroquois League was acompound of two distinct peoples, the Mohawks, in the east, including the Oneidas; and the Senecas, in the west, including the Onondagas and Cayugas. Rev. W.M. Beauchamp, of Baldwinsville, the most thorough living student of the matter, first suggested a late date for the coming of the Mohawks and formation of the League. He had noticed that the three Seneca dialects differed very greatly from the two Mohawk, and that while the local relics of the former showed they had been long settled in their country, those of the latter evidenced a very recent occupation. He had several battles with Hale on the subject, the latter arguing chiefly from tradition and change of language. "The probability," writes Mr. Beauchamp—privately to the writer—"is that a division took place at Lake Erie, or perhaps further west; some passed on the north side and became the Neutrals and Hurons; the vanguard becoming the Mohawks or Hochelagans, afterwards Mohawks and Oneidas. Part went far south, as the Tuscaroras and Cherokees, and a more northern branch, the Andastes; part followed the south shore and became the Eries, Senecas and Cayugas; part went to the east of Lake Ontario, removing and becoming the Onondagas, when the Huron war began."
It is noticeable that the earliest accounts of the Five Nations speak of them as of two kinds—Mohawks and "Sinnekes," or as termed by the French the Inferior and Superior Iroquois. For example Antony Van Corlear's Journal, edited by Gen. James Grant Wilson, also certain of the New York documents. The most thorough local student of early Mohawk town-sites, Mr. S.L. Frey, of Palatine Bridge, N.Y., supports Mr. Beauchamp in his view of the late coming of the Mohawks into the Mohawk River Valley, where they have always been settled in historic times. According to him, although these people changed their sites every 25 or 30 years from failure of the wood supply and other causes, only four prehistoric sites have been discovered in that district, all the others containing relics of European origin. Mr. Beauchamp believes even this number too large. Both put forward the idea that the Mohawks were the ancient race of Hochelaga, whose town on the island of Montreal was visited by Jacques Cartier in 1535, and had disappeared completely in 1608 when Champlain founded Quebec. "What had become of these people?" writes Mr. Frey, in his pamphlet "The Mohawks." "An overwhelming force of wandering Algonquins had destroyed their towns. To what new land had they gone? I think we shall find them seated in the impregnable strongholds among the hills and in the dense forests of the Mohawk Valley."
It is my privilege to take up their theory from the Montreal end and in the light of the local archæology of this place and of early French historical lore, to supply links which seem to throw considerable light on the problem.

The description given by Cartier of the picturesque palisaded town of Hochelaga, situated near the foot of Mount Royal, surrounded by cornfields, has frequently been quoted. But other points of Cartier's narrative, concerning the numbers and relations of the population, have scarcely been studied. Let us examine this phase of it. During his first voyage in 1534, in the neighbourhood of Gaspé, he met on the water the first people speaking the tongue of this race, a temporary fishing community of over 200 souls, men, women and children, in some 40 canoes, under which they slept, having evidently no village there, but belonging, as afterwards is stated, to Stadacona. He seized and carried to France two of them, who, when he returned next year, called the place where they had been taken Honguédo, and said that the north shore, above Anticosti Island, was the commencement of inhabited country which led to Canada (the Quebec region), Hochelaga, (Montreal) and the country of Saguenay, far to the west "whence came the red copper" (of which axes have since been found in the débris of Hochelaga, and which, in fact, came from Lake Superior), and that no man they ever heard of had ever been to the end of the great river of fresh water above. Here we have the first indication of the racial situation of the Hochelagans. At the mouth of the Saguenay River—so called because it was one of the routes to the Sagnenay of the Algonquins, west of the Upper Ottawa—he found four fishing canoes from Canada. Plenty of fishing was prosecuted from this point upwards. In "the Province of Canada," he proceeds, "there are several peoples in unwalled villages." At the Isle of Orleans, just below Quebec, the principal peace chief, or, Agouhanna of "Canada," Donnaconna, came to them with 12 canoes from the town (ville) of Stadacona, or Stadaconé, which was surrounded by tilled land on the heights. Twenty-five canoes from Stadacona afterwards visited them; and later Donnaconna brought on board "10 or 12 other of the greatest chiefs" with more than 500 persons, men, women and children, some doubtless from the neighbouring settlements. If the same 200 persons as in the previous year were absent fishing at Gaspé, and others in other spots, these figures argue a considerable population.
Below Stadacona, were four "peoples and settlements": Ajoasté, Starnatam, Tailla (on a mountain) and Satadin or Stadin. Above Stadacona were Tekenouday (on a mountain) and Hochelay (Achelacy or Hagouchouda) which was in open country. Further up were Hochelaga and some settlements on the island of Montreal, and various other places unobserved by Cartier, belonging to the same race; who according to a later statement of the remnant of them, confirmed by archæology, had several "towns" on the island of Montreal and inhabited "all the hills to the south and east." The hills to be seen from Mount Royal to the south are the northern slopes of the Adirondacks; while to the east are the lone volcanic eminences in the plain, Montarville, Beloeil, Rougemont, Johnson, Yamaska, Shefford, Orford and the Green Mountains. All these hills deserve search for Huron-Iroquois town-sites. The general sense of this paragraph includes an implication also of settlements towards and on Lake Champlain, that is to say, when taken in connection with the landscape. (My own dwelling overlooks this landscape.) At the same time let me say that perhaps due inquiries might locate some of the sites of Ajoaste and the other villages in the Quebec district. In Cartier's third voyage he refers obscurely, in treating of Montreal, to "the said town of Tutonaguy." This word, with French pronunciation, appears to be the same as that still given by Mohawks to the Island,—Tiotiaké, meaning "deep water beside shallow," that is to say, "below the Rapid." In the so-called Cabot map of 1544 the name Hochelaga is replaced by "Tutonaer," apparently from some map of Cartier's. It may be a reproduction of some lost map of his. Lewis H. Morgan gives "Tiotiake" as "Do-de-a-ga." Another place named by Cartier is Maisouna, to which the chief of Hochelay had been gone two days when the explorer made his settlement a visit. On a map of Ortelius of 1556 quoted by Parkman this name appears to be given as Muscova, a district placed on the right bank of the Richelieu River and opposite Hochelay, but possibly this is a pure guess, though it is a likely one. It may perhaps be conjectured that Stadacona, Tailla and Tekenouday, being on heights, were the oldest strongholds in their region.
All the country was covered with forests "except around the peoples, who cut it down to make their settlement and tillage." At Stadacona he was shown five scalps of a race called Toudamans from the south, with whom they were constantly at war, and who had killed about 200 of their people at Massacre Island, Bic, in a cave, while they were on the way to Honguédo to fish. All these names must of course be given the old French pronunciation.
Proceeding up the river near Hochelaga he found "a great number of dwellings along the shore" inhabited by fisherfolk, as was the custom of the Huron-Iroquois in the summer season. The village called Hochelay was situated about forty-five miles above Stadacona, at the Richelieu rapid, between which and Hochelaga, a distance of about 135 miles, he mentions no village. This absence of settlements I attribute to the fact that the intermediate Three Rivers region was an ancient special appurtenance of the Algonquins, with whom the Hochelagans were to all appearance then on terms of friendly sufferance and trade, if not alliance. In later days the same region was uninhabited, on account of Iroquois incursions by the River Richelieu and Lake Champlain. In the islands at the head of Lake St. Peter, Cartier met five hunters who directed him to Hochelaga. "More than a thousand" persons, he says, received them with joy at Hochelaga. This expression of number however is not very definite. It is frequently used by Dante to signify a multitude in the Divina Comédia. The town of Hochelaga consisted of "about fifty houses, in length about fifty paces each at most, and twelve or fifteen paces wide," made of bark on sapling frames in the manner of the Iroquois long houses. The round "fifties" are obviously approximate. The plan of the town given in Ramusio shows some forty-five fires, each serving some five families, but the interior division differs so greatly from that of early Huron and Iroquois houses, and from his phrase "fifty by twelve or fifteen," that it appears to be the result of inaccurate drawing. There is therefore considerable room for difference as to the population of the town, ranging from say 1,200 to 2,000 souls, the verbal description which is much the more authoritative, inclining in favour of the latter. Any estimate of the total population of the Hochelagan race on the river, must be a guess. If, however, those on the island of Montreal be set at 2,000, and the "more than 500" of Stadacona be considered as a fair average for the principal town and 300 (which also was the average estimated by Père Lalemant for the Neutral nation) as an average for the eight or so villages of the Quebec district, (the absentees, such as the 200 at Gaspé from Stadacona being perhaps offset by contingents from the places close to Stadacona) we have some 4,900 accounted for. Those on all the hills to the south and east of Mount Royal would add anywhere from say 3,000 to an indefinitely greater number more. Perhaps 5,000, however, should not be exceeded as the limit for these hills and Lake Champlain. We arrive therefore at a guess of from 7,900 to 9,900 as the total. As the lower figures seem conservative, compared with the early average of Huron and Iroquois villages, the guess may perhaps be raised a little to say from 10,000 to 11,000. "This people confines itself to tillage and fishing, for they do not leave their country and are not migratory like those of Canada and Saguenay, although the said Canadians are subject to them, with eight or nine other peoples who are on the said river." Nevertheless the site of Hochelaga, unearthed in 1860, shows them to have been traders to some extent with the west, evidently through the Ottawa Algonquins. What Cartier did during his brief visit to the town itself is well known. The main point for us is that three men led him to the top of Mount Royal and showed him the country. They told him of the Ottawa River and of three great rapids in the St. Lawrence, after passing which, "one could sail more than three moons along the said river," doubtless meaning along the Great Lakes. Silver and brass they identified as coming from that region, and "there were Agojudas, or wicked people, armed even to the fingers," of whom they showed "the make of their armor, which is of cords and wood laced and woven together; giving to understand that the said Agojudas are continually at war with one and other." This testimony clearly describes the armour of the early Hurons and Iroquois as found by Champlain, and seems to relate to war between the Hurons and Senecas at that period and to an aversion to them by the people of the town of Hochelaga themselves; who were, however, living in security from them at the time, apparently cut off from regular communication with them by Algonquin peoples, particularly those of the Ottawa, who controlled Huron communication with the lower St. Lawrence in the same way in Champlain's days.
On returning to Stadacona, Cartier, by talking with Donnaconna, learnt what showed this land of Saguenay so much talked of by these people, to be undoubtedly the Huron country. "The straight and good and safest road to it is by the Fleuve (St. Lawrence), to above Hochelaga and by the river which descends from the said Saguenay and enters the said Fleuve (as we had seen); and thence it takes a month to reach." This is simply the Ottawa route to Lake Huron used by the Jesuits in the next century. What they had seen was the Ottawa River entering the St. Lawrence—from the top of Mount Royal, whence it is visible to-day. The name Saguenay may possibly be Saginaw,—the old Saguenam, the "very deep bay on the west shore of Lake Huron," of Charlevoix, (Book XI.) though it is not necessarily Saginaw Bay itself, as such names shift. "And they gave to understand that in that country the people are clothed with clothes like us, and there are many peoples in towns and good persons and that they have a great quantity of gold and of red copper. And they told us that all the land from the said first river to Hochelagea and Saguenay is an island surrounded by streams and the said great river (St. Lawrence); and that after passing Saguenay, said river (Ottawa) enters two or three great lakes of water, very large; after which a fresh water sea is reached, whereof there is no mention of having seen the end, as they have heard from those of the Saguenay; for they told us they had never been there themselves." Yet later, in chapter XIX., it is stated that old Donnaconna assured them he had been in the land of the Saguenay, where he related several impossible marvels, such as people of only one leg. It is to be noted that "the peoples in towns," who are apparently Huron-Iroquois, are here referred to as "good people," while the Hochelagans speak of them as "wicked." This is explicable enough as a difference of view on distant races with whom they had no contact. It seems to imply that the "Canada" people were not in such close communication with the town of Hochelaga as to have the same opinions and perhaps the Canada view of the Hurons as good persons was the original view of the early settlers, while the Hochelagans may have had unpleasant later experiences or echo those of the Ottawa Algonquins. But furthermore they told him of the Richelieu River where apparently it took a month to go with their canoes from Sainte Croix (Stadacona) to a country "where there are never ice nor snow; but where there are constant wars one against another, and there are oranges, almonds, nuts, plums, and other kinds of fruit in great abundance, and oil is made from trees, very good for the cure of diseases; there the inhabitants are clothed and accoutred in skins like themselves." This land Cartier considered to be Florida,—but the point for our present purpose is the frequenting of the Richelieu, Lake Champlain and lands far south of them by the Hochelagans at that period. At the beginning of the seventeenth century Capt. John Smith met the canoes of an Iroquois people on the upper part of Chesapeake Bay.
We may now draw some conclusions. Originally the population of the St. Lawrence valley seems to have been occupied by Algonquins, as these people surrounded it on all sides. A question I would like to see investigated is whether any of these built villages and grew corn here, as did some of the Algonquins of the New England coast and those of Allumette Island on the Ottawa. This might explain some of the deserted Indian clearings which the early Jesuits noted along the shore of the river, and of which Champlain, in 1611, used one of about 60 acres at Place Royale, Montreal. Cartier, it is seen, expressly explains some of them to be Huron-Iroquois clearings cultivated under his own observation. The known Algonquins of the immediate region were all nomadic.
In 1534 we have, from below Stadacona (Quebec) to above Hochelaga (Montreal), and down the Richelieu River to Lake Champlain, the valley in possession of a Huron-Iroquois race, dominated by Hochelaga, a town of say 2,000 souls, judging from the Huron average and from Cartier's details. The descendants of the Hochelagans in 1642 pointed out the spots where there were "several towns" on the island. Mr. Beauchamp holds, with Parkman, Dawson and other writers, that "those who pointed out spots in 1642 were of anAlgonquin tribe, not descendants of the Mohawk Hochelagans, but locally their successors." But I cannot accept this Algonquin theory, as their connection with the Hochelagans is too explicit and I shall give other reasons further on. The savages, it is true, called the island by an Algonquin name; "the island where there was a city or village," the Algonquin phrase for which was Minitik-Outen-Entagougiban, but these later terms have small bearing. The site of one of the towns on the island is conjectured, from the finding of relics, to have been at Longue Pointe, nine miles below Hochelaga; a village appears from Cartier's account of his third voyage to have existed about the Lachine Rapids; and another was some miles below, probably at Point St. Charles or the Little River at Verdun. Fourteen skeletons, buried after the Mohawk fashion, have been discovered on the upper slope of Westmount, the southern ridge of Mount Royal, about a mile from Hochelaga and not far from an old Indian well, indicating possibly the proximity of another pre-historic town-site of the race, and at any rate a burying ground. The identification and excavations were made by the writer. If, however, the southern enemies, called Toudamans, five of whose scalps were shown Cartier at Stadacona, were, as one conjecture has it, Tonontouans or Senecas, the Iroquois identity theory must be varied, but it is much more likely the Toudamans were the Etchemins. At any rate it seems clear that the Hochelagan race came down the St. Lawrence as a spur (probably an adventurous fishing party) from the great Huron-Iroquois centre about Lake Huron; for that their advent had been recent appears from the fewness of sites discovered, from the smallness of the population, considering the richness of the country, and especially from the fact that the Huron, and the Seneca, and their own tongues were still mutually comprehensible, notwithstanding the rapid changes of Indian dialects. Everything considered, their coming might perhaps be placed about 1450, which could give time for the settlements on Lake Champlain, unearthed by Dr. D.S. Kellogg and others and rendered probable by their pottery and other evidence as being Huron-Iroquois. Cartier, as we have seen, described the Hochelagan towns along the river.