Wendat, circa 1679 - circa 1750

Note: All narratives about people are, to the extent possible, based on primary and secondary historical sources. Some narratives necessarily contain invented, yet plausible, scenarios and personal attributes. Please see About This Narrative to learn more about how this person's narrative was created.

Tsohahisen - Prologue | Attack on Deerfield | The March | Parting Ways | Captivity | Epilogue | About This Narrative |


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The young Wendat warrior Tsohahisen won fame for his fighting skills during the attack on Deerfield, and later became a chief.
Illustration copyright Francis Back.

Tsohahisen, a Wendat (Huron) man who participated in the 1704 attack on Deerfield, was born in 1679 at Lorette, a village of mostly Christian Wendats near Quebec. He was of the second generation born after the dispersal of the Wendats from their homeland of Wendake in 1650. Tsohahisen's grandparents had been among a group of several hundred Wendats who fled to Quebec with Jesuit missionaries after relentless attacks by the Iroquois Confederacy. The once-powerful Wendats had already been decimated by epidemics of smallpox and other European diseases. Wendat society was also divided by the struggle between adopting the Catholicism forcefully introduced by the French and maintaining their traditional culture. Other Wendats went west—joining former trading partners such as the Tionontati (Petun) and the Atiwendaron (Neutral), who were in turn driven further west by the Iroquois—or were assimilated by the Iroquois.

Grandmother's Memories

Tsohahisen's ahshutä' (grandmother) was one of a few elders in Lorette who had lived as an adult in Wendake, on the shores of Georgian Bay. The family belonged to the Attigneenongnahac nation, who with the Attignawantan had founded the Wendat Confederacy that came to include five nations. In the longhouse at night, Ahshutä' told them stories about the beauty of Wendake, with its abundant cornfields, its lakes and rivers full of fish, its many populous towns. She told about the prosperity and power of the Wendat, who traded with peoples to the north and south and reaped great wealth from their control of trade throughout the region. Wendake was the center of the world, Ahshutä' said, through which all the great trading routes and the most precious goods must pass—black squirrel skins from the Atiwendaron, tobacco from the Tionontati, buffalo robes and copper from the Ottawa and the Nipissing. Ahshutä' was from the town of Teanaustaye, where her clan, the Wolf, controlled a major trade route. The chief of her clan was highly respected for his generosity in giving gifts and providing large feasts to the community and visiting traders.

Ahshutä' also told the young people about the French coming to Wendake, and how trade with them at first brought even greater wealth and power to the Wendats. When the French desired beaver skins, they had to learn the Wendat language and follow Wendat ways of trade and diplomacy, giving gifts and demonstrating respect. The furs from the north and west that the French coveted, and the iron hatchets and copper kettles that the Ottawa and Tionontati desired, all passed through Wendat hands. The Wendats also loved these new French things, seeming to forget about the ceramic pots and stone knives that had always served them well.

The Great Sickness

Ahshutä' wanted Tsohahisen to know and remember everything, the terrible things as well as the beauty of the homeland. She told how the Jesuit priests came to Wendake, bringing a new religion—and devastating illnesses. Her voice heavy with sorrow, Ahshutä' spoke of the epidemics that killed entire villages, and how the tragedy divided the nation. The French said they would trade only with Wendats who converted to Christianity, and would cut off trade if their Jesuit priests were harmed. But many believed that the Jesuits were sorcerers who caused the sickness with their baptismal water, their images of gods, the communion wafers they said were the body of Christ. In the towns where Christian converts became a majority, the priests placed themselves higher than the chiefs and the councils, and forbade traditional ceremonies and customs. Never before had a single person or a council issued such orders; the Wendat way was to make decisions by consensus, and even then individuals were free to act according to their own conscience. The division between traditionalists and Christians split towns and even families, as Christian men were expelled from their wives' longhouses for trying to change the way things were done.

And then came the Rotinonsionni (Iroquois Confederacy) with a new kind of war. For generations, Wendat and Iroquois war parties had raided each other's territory, the young men demonstrating their valor and capturing a few prisoners. Now the Rotinonsionni armies were destroying entire towns.

Devastation and Exile

In 1648, the Rotinonsionni attacked Ahshutä's town, Teanaustaye—St. Joseph, as the French called it—and despite its fortifications destroyed it, killing or capturing over 700 of its 2,000 people. Even the Jesuits had no power against the Rotinonsionni; Father Daniel, the head of the mission, was slain. Ahshutä' and her family survived the attack, but fled the town and spent two years in starvation and flight. No one dared to stay in one place long enough to raise corn. They sought protection among the French priests and soldiers at Sainte-Marie and moved with them to the island of Gahoendoe. Finally, Ahshutä's family was among 300 Christianized refugees who went with the Jesuits to Quebec, to live under their protection on the Ile d'Orleans. But even there the Wendat were not safe from the Rotinonsionni. The Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) attacked their settlement and killed or captured 70 people—including Grandfather, who was tortured to death.

Ahshutä' said that she would have died of sorrow, if it had not been for the birth of her daughter, Tsohahisen's mother, a few months later in Quebec, where survivors of the attack had retreated. Even after all this, many Wendats went with the Rotinonsionni the next year, because so many of their relatives, captured during raids in Wendake, were living among the nations of the Confederacy. The Attignawantans went with the Kanienkehaka. The Arendahronons went with the Onondagas—who killed all but one of the men en route, while Father Ragueneau and his workmen looked on. The small group of Attigneenongnahac stayed with the French, moving several more times until they settled in Ancienne-Lorette in 1673. Six years later, Tsohahisen was born.

Growing up in Lorette

Tsohahisen grew up in his grandmother's longhouse, with his mother, father, and sister, as well as his mother's older sisters and their children. His uncles had been killed, as had many men of their generation. The whole community numbered only about 150 people. Still, there were some strong elders and enough younger men to carry on the traditional tasks of men: hunting, fishing, clearing land for cornfields, building longhouses, and making canoes and snowshoes.

When he was very young, Tsohahisen helped his mother and aunts plant corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers. They did not have much land for planting, and Ahshutä' said that the soil was not as good as it had been in Wendake. There, the women could grow enough corn to trade with the Ottawas and Nipissings, store for years of drought, and provide for generous feasts and gifts. Here in Lorette, however, the nearby forests were rich with beaver, which the men could sell to the French in Quebec. In one of many changes to their traditional ways, the Wendats became more dependent on hunting than on agriculture. The women also gathered and sold a fern that was esteemed by European doctors.

Tsohahisen's mother and aunts were devout Christians. They were especially devoted to Our Lady of Lorette, in whose chapel they frequently prayed for the souls of the Wendat who had died in the epidemics and wars, that they might be released to travel to the village of the dead. Tsohahisen's grandmother, although she also prayed to Our Lady, wanted to be sure he grew up with knowledge of Wendat traditions. When he was 15, she sent him to fast in the forest under the guise of a hunting trip. His guardian spirit came to him after ten days, and urged him to become a great Christian Wendat warrior.

After his vision, Tsohahisen devoted himself to perfecting both his warrior skills and his understanding of Christianity. He spent months in the forest, hunting with the men and learning from the warriors among them. In the fall they hunted beaver. They returned to the village for the Feast of All Saints, which they celebrated as a Christian version of the Wendat Feast of the Dead to honor the souls of their fallen relatives. When he was in the village, Tsohahisen sought out Father De Couvert for instruction in the catechism. In mid-winter, the whole family went in search of moose and deer.

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Wendat showshoes were known for their quality. The French purchased quantities of them to outfit winter military expeditions. Click here to link to the artifact page for more information.
Courtesy of Musée de la Civilization.

Tsohahisen was eager to join the French in fighting the Rotinonsionni. At 17, he undertook his first major expedition, one against the Onondaga and Oneida led by the French governor Frontenac. He knew that he earned the respect of his comrades from various Native nations and of the French, although he did not see as much direct combat as he had hoped. The Onondaga and Oneida had largely deserted the villages they encountered and burned.

The next year, the Wendat community moved to Jeune-Lorette, across the river from Ancienne-Lorette by the Kabir Kouba Falls. Tsohahisen and the other young men built new longhouses. At Jeune-Lorette there was even less land suitable for planting, so hunting became still more important. The chiefs cultivated alliances among the Native villages along the St. Lawrence—with the Wôbanakiak (Abenaki) in Odanak and even with the Kanienkehaka who lived in Kahnawake and Sault-au-Récollet, near Montreal. The former enemies now had in common their close alliance with the French and the presence of Christian missions in their villages.

New England Expedition

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Reproduction of a capot, a hooded coat such as those worn on the expedition by both French and Wendats. Click here to go to its artifact page for more information.
Courtesy of élise Dubac.

Several years later, Penobscots from Maine and Pennacooks from Cowass asked the Wendat to join them in attacking the English, who had been encroaching on Wôbanaki homelands for decades and had recently raided peaceful villages to slaughter their women, elders, and children. The Wendat, allied with the Wôbanakiak since the Great Peace, agreed. Their decision was reinforced when they found that the French governor, De Vaudreuil, was backing an expedition against New England. The French offered to provide weapons and supplies, and to compensate warriors for time away from their families and hunting grounds. Father De Couvert also supported the action, counseling that the English were heretics against the faith.

Lorette's great chief, Tsawenhohi, (1) was to lead their party to Fort Chambly—where they would rendezvous with French, Wôbanaki, and Kanienkehaka fighters—and on to battle in New England. Tsohahisen was ready. He hoped to win glory for himself and his people, and to bring captives home to Lorette. There were so many dead to replace, and only 20 warriors to carry out the task. Tsohahisen danced at the war feast, attended a solemn mass, and set out, singing his war song.

Tsohahisen - Prologue | Attack on Deerfield | The March | Parting Ways | Captivity | Epilogue | About This Narrative |

Attack on Deerfield
February 29, 1704

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Tsohahisen joined the attack against the Stebbins house.
Illustration copyright Francis Back.

Tsohahisen felt strong and determined as he entered the English village. He was ready to fight bravely to enhance his reputation as a warrior and bring captives back to Lorette. The long journey was as nothing to him, now that the battle was at hand.

With a band of his fellow Wendats (Huron) and some Wôbanakiak, Tsohahisen headed for a group of small, rough-looking houses, not much bigger than Wôbanaki wigwams. (These were temporary shelters for families whose homes were outside the palisade.) They surrounded the houses and broke down the doors. The men, women, and children inside were surprised, many still in their beds, and were easy to capture and subdue.

A couple of men stayed with the captives while Tsohahisen and the others moved south through the village. Joining some fighters from Sault-au-Récollet, Tsohahisen's group attacked several large houses on the east side of the common. The English were awake now and fighting back, so the raiders sometimes had to kill rather than capture. They killed 12 people and captured six, then torched the houses.

Tsohahisen felt unstoppable. He ran on to the southwest corner of the palisaded village, where there were more temporary shelters and some houses. There they captured about a dozen more people and killed several—but more must have died when the flames consumed their houses.

Tsohahisen heard the war cry of the Wendat great chief, and he turned north again toward the gate through which they had entered. He saw Chief Tsawenhohi and many others—French officers and militia, Wôbanakiak, and other Wendats—surrounding a large house. Gunfire poured from the windows. Tsohahisen saw the French officer De Batilly fall wounded. Screaming his war cry, he grabbed a burning brand and ran toward the house. The chief raised a torch in salute, and led the Wendats on a charge to set the house afire. The deadly rain of bullets from the house forced them back, killing several of Tsohahisen's comrades and wounding Chief Tsawenhohi severely. They retreated with the wounded chief to a nearby house, from which they continued to fire on the resisting English.

While others burned houses and barns and killed livestock, and the Kanienkehaka began moving their captives out of the town, Tsohahisen and other Wendat warriors were still trading fire with the English barricaded inside the house. Suddenly, English militia on horseback rode through the south gate of the town. The French and the Wendat beat back the initial charge, covering for each other as they donned their snowshoes to retreat north across the meadows.

Tsohahisen - Prologue | Attack on Deerfield | The March | Parting Ways | Captivity | Epilogue | About This Narrative |

The March
February 29-March 1, 1704

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Tsohahisen arrived at the rendezvous point after helping to ambush and rout the pursuing English.
Illustration copyright Francis Back.

Tsohahisen, the young Wendat (Huron) warrior, was among the last of the raiders to cross the Deerfield River and reach the rendezvous point, the camp they had left early that morning.

After fleeing across the meadows from English pursuit, carrying their chief and the other wounded men, Tsohahisen and his comrades joined Lieutenant Hertel de Rouville and the canadiens in hiding along the south bank of the river. When the pursuing English drew near, they stood up and fired. The ambush was successful, and the English fell back. The allies pushed the English back across the meadows, killing and wounding several. But five of their own were killed and more were wounded, so when the English fled behind the town palisade, Tsohahisen and the others turned and headed for the river.

When they finally arrived at the camp, they were pleased to see the great number of captives from the town. Tsohahisen had fought boldly and helped to capture many people, but the English militia arrived before he was able to claim a captive of his own. He was disappointed, though he knew from the respect shown by the French officers and his Wendat comrades that they approved of his bravery and skill in the fight.

The Wendats were disheartened to see their great chief's wounds. He would die soon, and they would lose yet another leader. Tsohahisen prayed for guidance. The chief's death would require retribution: the death by ritual torture of a captive. Father De Couvert had preached in the strongest terms against this practice. It was one thing to kill a man in battle, the priest said, but it was not Christian to inflict torture in revenge.

Tsohahisen - Prologue | Attack on Deerfield | The March | Parting Ways | Captivity | Epilogue | About This Narrative |

Parting Ways
March 1-8, 1704

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Tsohahisen and his Wendat comrades parted from the Wobanakiak and Kanienkehaka warriors with whom they had fought and traveled.
Illustration copyright Francis Back.

As the raiding party broke into smaller groups and the Wendats (Huron) headed north along the Connecticut River, Tsohahisen tried to communicate to his captive that he would be adopted into a loving family. A few days earlier, Tsohahisen had won his captive not in battle but by demonstrating skills highly valued among the Wendat: diplomacy and eloquence. Back in Lorette, the priest would praise him for his Christian virtues.

On the second day of the march, Tsawenhohi, the great chief of the Lorette Wendats, died from wounds sustained in the battle. He was buried immediately, as was traditional for those who had died a violent death, and to keep his body from desecration by the English. The following day, all of the chiefs sat in council to decide on a more equal distribution of the captives, as some had several captives and others had none. In the Wendat council, the great chief's nephew stepped forward and asked for a captive. It was part of the Wendat tradition of the mourning war to kill an enemy captive with ritual torture and burning, in order to exact retribution and console the bereaved family. The young men were angry at the chief's death and had already begun to prepare a stake to bind the victim to, stripping bark from trees around the camp.

The circle of people around the council fire murmured. The elders did not speak out. They were reluctant both to support the idea because they knew it conflicted with the Christian values adopted by many in Lorette, and to condemn it, because they too felt the chief's loss deeply and the torture ritual was the traditional path of consolation. The young men continued to "clamor for this right of arms, this reward of victory, this sole consolation for the chief and afflicted family." (2)

Tsohahisen rose to speak. Though not a chief, he commanded attention through his proper bearing and his eloquence. He pleaded for the life of the captive, reminding the council that they were Christians from Lorette, well-known throughout New France for their Christian values. The cruelty of torture, he said, would bring shame to those who called themselves Christian. They could not torture this man without branding the reputation of Lorette with the greatest disgrace.

Tsawenhohi's nephew insisted, saying that only the sacrifice of a captive could do honor to the great chief's death. Other relatives spoke up to agree. They said that this was their custom, and they must uphold it. They who had suffered so much at the hands of their enemies could not afford to show mercy. If their enemies no longer feared a terrible death by torture at Wendat hands, they would grow even fiercer and more ferocious in their attacks on the Wendat nation.

Tsohahisen spoke again, this time as a Wendat warrior rather than a Christian. " 'I also,' said he, raising his voice, 'am related to that Chief whose fall in battle we mourn, and whose death you would avenge by an unworthy cruelty. To me also is the captive due; I claim him as my own, and I contend that such is my right. If any one lay hands on him against my will, let him look to me for chastisement.' "

"Astounded at this speech, the assembly were mute, and no one dared to decide upon any greater severity toward the captive." (3)

Tsohahisen - Prologue | Attack on Deerfield | The March | Parting Ways | Captivity | Epilogue | About This Narrative |

February 1704 – October 1705

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Tsohahisen won his captive through his eloquence in council as much as his bravery in the raid on Deerfield.
Illustration copyright Francis Back.

As he paddled the heavily laden canoe across the strong current, Tsohahisen was glad they were nearing home. The Wendat (Huron) war party had been away for about six months, having left Lorette for the gathering place at Fort Chambly shortly after the Feast of the Dead. (4) They had responded to the appeal from the Wôbanakiak and the French governor to join the raid against New England in order to honor their alliances and pursue a mourning war in expiation for the many deaths among their people. Traditionally, a raiding expedition was also an opportunity for young men to prove themselves and gain status.

Now they were approaching Lorette with three strong and healthy captives, two young men and a young woman. (5) Tsohahisen, already a veteran of other expeditions, had surely gained status through his actions on this one. He had fought with great valor and fearlessness in the raid on the English town, and had earned respect both for his boldness and his eloquence when he spoke out in council for the life of the youngest English captive, Jonathan. Some of Tsohahisen's fellow young warriors grumbled when he claimed the captive for himself, but the older men in the council admired the diplomacy with which he balanced the claims of tradition with those of their new religion. Tsohahisen reflected that these three young people, once adopted into Wendat families, could help strengthen the small community much more than would the consolation brought by their ritual deaths.

Home Again

The party landed their canoes near Sillery, where some Wendats had lived in the first decade after leaving their homeland. They could see the high promontory of Quebec in the distance, but wanted to avoid taking their captives through the capital, given the interest French civilians sometimes took in them. Taking up their burdens again, they struck off overland toward Lorette. When they heard the great noise of the Kabir Kouba falls, the Wendat warriors shouted their pleasure at the sound of home. Tsohahisen's prisoner Jonathan looked puzzled, so Tsohahisen tried to tell him with words and gestures that they were near their destination.

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View of Jeune-Lorette, now known as Wendake after the original Wendat homeland on Lake Ontario, circa 1697.
Illustration copyright Frank Gregory.

Tsohahisen was proud when their small band of 19 warriors arrived in the village with their three young captives. There were few men around to greet them—those in their prime who had not gone to the war were away, perhaps fishing—but the children and many of the women soon surrounded them in welcome. Tsohahisen brought Jonathan to his grandmother, Ahshutä', who as the longhouse matron would have the final word on his adoption. He told Ahshutä' the whole story, and she blessed him for his strength in resisting those who would have sacrificed the English boy and for his skill in oratory. Jonathan was made part of the longhouse.

Grandmother Ahshutä' directed Tsohahisen to give an enditenhwa, a thanksgiving feast, to celebrate his good fortune and safe return, and to soothe the feelings of those he had opposed in the council that decided Jonathan's fate. After he and his kinsmen spent a few weeks hunting and fishing locally to fill the kettles, the feast was given to everyone's satisfaction. (6)

Educating the New Wendat

Jonathan was adopted into Grandmother's clan, the Wolf clan of the Attigneenongnahac nation. He was given the name Achiendase, "he has a new name," but Tsohahisen usually called him Hihwaten, "my nephew," to signify their close relationship. (7) Tsohahisen found Hihwaten an eager learner who was unusually quick in acquiring the Wendat language. Hihwaten seemed to share Tsohahisen's love for hunting, fishing, and making things with his hands, like the Wendats' elegant snowshoes and bark-hulled canoes.

As spring turned to summer, and the corn grew and ripened, Tsohahisen felt comfortable taking Hihwaten Jonathan with him on trading trips to Quebec. The two had a strong bond, both because they were kinsmen and because Tsohahisen had saved Hihwaten's life. Hihwaten showed little interest in the French; he didn't understand the language and even shied away from Father De Couvert, despite Tsohahisen's urgings to respect and confide in the priest. Hihwaten looked like a Wendat now, in his clothing and hairstyle. So Tsohahisen had no fear that concerned French citizens would try to "rescue" Hihwaten, and trusted him when the two brought vegetables and other goods to Quebec to sell and barter.

Twenty Silver Crowns

Tsohahisen had left Hihwaten with the vegetables they were selling while he sought a merchant who was interested in the beaver furs he had to trade. He was waiting outside the merchant's shop when he saw Hihwaten running toward him, waving. Hihwaten ran up, grabbed his arm, and talked excitedly about an Englishman who wanted to see him. Tsohahisen thought perhaps that this person was a kinsman of Hihwaten, and was prepared to greet him with respect.

He saw a finely dressed young Englishman, close in age to Hihwaten. The Englishman could not speak Wendat, so Hihwaten translated, telling Tsohahisen that the man was William Dudley, the son of the English governor. Dudley almost immediately held out to Tsohahisen 20 silver crowns, which struck Tsohahisen as rude. This Englishman clearly did not know the proper way to behave. Offering gifts should be part of a civilized exchange, in which the two parties involved sat down together, perhaps sharing food and smoking tobacco, and then exchanged gifts reciprocally. If this Dudley was trying to be friendly and develop a trading relationship with the generous gift of 20 crowns, he was spoiling the opportunity through his abruptness.

Embarrassed, Tsohahisen took the money. Hihwaten said "He is buying me from you." Tsohahisen told Hihwaten that he could not sell him—some things, like the land, could not be traded or sold, and they were bound together by kinship and fate. "Go and visit with your English friend," Tsohahisen said. "I will bring him furs for this money, and then we can return home to Lorette together."

But Dudley quickly took Hihwaten Jonathan to a ship lying close by in the river and hustled him aboard. When Tsohahisen came to take Hihwaten home, the English refused to let them see one another. Tsohahisen called for Dudley and held the 20 silver crowns out to him, but Dudley refused and sent him away. Tsohahisen lamented the loss of his nephew. What was money in his place—money that could not hunt and fish to help feed the community, could not have children to increase the dwindling population, could not help maintain the Wendat traditions? (8)

Tsohahisen - Prologue | Attack on Deerfield | The March | Parting Ways | Captivity | Epilogue | About This Narrative |

1705 – circa 1750

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Wendat (Huron) woman and man wearing clothing of both traditional and European materials: European blankets, hat, and cloth for the skirt and shirt; Wendat jewelry and skin leggings and moccasins. 18th-century watercolor by an unknown artist.
Courtesy of City of Montreal Records Management and Archives.

Tsohahisen's prominence among his people grew in the following years. He continued to be a leader, both as a warrior and as someone who was able to integrate traditional Wendat (Huron) values with those of the Catholic religion, which had a strong influence on many people at Lorette. Balancing the two was not easy, as was evident in the conflict over sacrificing Jonathan Hoyt in retribution for the death of Tsawenhohi, the Wendats' great chief.

Tsohahisen became a yarihwa ondwtayuehte, a war chief, of the Wolf clan. He continued to fight with the French and Native allies against the English. Writing in 1710, Jesuit Father Louis D'Avaugour, who had come to Lorette to assist Father De Couvert, describes Tsohahisen's reputation as a fighter "in the war quite lately waged." This was the attempted invasion in the summer of 1709 by an army of English colonists and their Iroquois and other Native allies, led by Colonel Francis Nicholson. The French learned of the approach of Nicholson's army, and Governor Vaudreuil decided to make a preemptive strike: "The Marquis de Vaudreuil, the commander of the war, judged it best not to wait for the English. He therefore hastily gathered two thousand men, partly French and partly savages." The call to arms came to Lorette: "Thereupon great joy was felt in the whole village. No one of an age to fight was missing, not even two old men aged sixty years." But Tsohahisen, "that warrior chief. . . . was the first to take up arms, the last to lay them aside. Wherever he fought, the army was routed, defeated, and slaughtered." Furthermore, writes D'Avaugour: "To the French as well as to the savages, he is an incentive to live well and to fight well. He is all covered with honorable wounds received in battle; and, if the French Mars had found ten such as he in the other nations of Canada, long ago no enemy of the French, no Iroquois would have been left." (9)

Tsohahisen may have fought against the English again during the Fourth Anglo-Abenaki War in the 1720s. The English in Massachusetts were encroaching on Wôbanaki land in northern New England, and the Norridgewocks (in today's Maine) fought back. With the French governor's support, the alliance that had joined in the Deerfield attack was activated, and Wendats from Lorette, along with Kanienkehaka (Mohawks) from Kahnawake and Wôbanakiak from Odanak and elsewhere, fought alongside the Wôbanakiak in New England. Tsohahisen survived this campaign, but another chief from Lorette was killed in a raid on Rutland, Massachusetts, in 1723.

After the war ended and it became easier to travel, Tsohahisen visited his former captive and adopted kinsman in Deerfield. Jonathan Hoyt's family stories describe a fond relationship between the two: "his old Indian master came from Canada to make him a friendly visit, he was well received, and treated kindly. When he left, they took an affectionate leave of each other expecting to meet here no more." (10) According to historian Emma Lewis Coleman, Tsohahisen came so often, sometimes accompanied by his sister, that it became a financial burden and Jonathan ultimately petitioned the General Court for reimbursement. (11)

As Tsohahisen aged, he was sad to see the people of Lorette adopting European ways more and more. When new dwellings were needed, they built square wooden houses like those of the French, rather than new longhouses. They dressed like their French neighbors. Wendat warriors won a few captives during ongoing raids against the English, but not enough were adopted into the community to keep it growing. Many young people married outside the community.

As a respected elder, Tsohahisen preserved traditional ways and passed them on to the young people of Lorette. He taught young men his skills in hunting, fishing, warfare, and handicrafts. He told and retold the stories his grandmother had told him—of the origin of the Wendat people, the glories of the great Wendat Confederacy, and life in their homeland of Wendake. When Tsohahisen died, he was honored with ceremonies both Christian and traditional, as befitted the man who so skillfully balanced these two cultures—"that warrior chief, not more remarkable and famous for his skill in battle than for his Christian piety." (12)

Tsohahisen - Prologue | Attack on Deerfield | The March | Parting Ways | Captivity | Epilogue | About This Narrative |

About This Narrative

Much of what we know about Tsohahisen comes from a letter written in 1710 by Father Louis D'Avaugour (1670-1732), the Jesuit priest for the village of Lorette, to Father Joseph Germain, the Superior General of the Canadian Missions. Father Louis D'Avaugour calls the warrior "Thaovenhosen"; Wendat linguists today suggest the name "Tsohahisen" because there is no "V" in the Wendat language, and Tsohahisen is a Wendat name used from that day to this. The Wendats also caution against taking Father D'Avaugour's account as unbiased truth; the Jesuits needed to present a positive picture to their superiors in France of their success in converting Native Canadians in order to gain continued resources and support.

Father D'Avaugour describes the daily and seasonal life of the Wendats at Lorette, and tells the story of Tsohahisen's advocacy for a Deerfield captive's life. He does not, however, tell us anything about Tsohahisen's parents, lineage, or previous life. From John Williams's "Biographical Memoir," published with The Redeemed Captive in the 1853 edition, we have the story of Jonathan Hoyt's ransom and his Native master's subsequent visits to him in Deerfield. Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney, in Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield, suggest that Jonathan Hoyt was the captive Tsohahisen saved (John Demos, in The Unredeemed Captive, argues that this captive was John Williams). Other background for our imagining of Tsohahisen's life is drawn from studies of Wendat lifeways and histories of their situation from the 1620s through the early 1700s. This narrative was written by Freda Brackley.

See Further Reading for a list of sources used in creating this narrative. For a discussion of issues related to telling people's stories on the site, see: Bringing History to Life: The People in The Many Stories of 1704.

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