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Title: Hochelagans and Mohawks - A Link in Iroquois History
Author: Lighthall, W. D. (William Douw), 1857-1954
Language: English
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From the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada

Second Series--1899-1900

Volume V Section Ii

English History, Literature, Archæology, Etc.


A Link in Iroquois History



For Sale by J. Hope & Sons, Ottawa; The Copp-Clark Co., Toronto
Bernard Quaritch, London, England


II. Hochelagans and 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[1] 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.[2] 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 a _compound 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

It is my privilege to take up their theory from the Montreal end and in
the light of the local archaeology 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_)[3] 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_."[4] 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

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[5] 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

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

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 an _Algonquin_ 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,"[6] 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[7]; 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.[8] Cartier, as we
have seen, described the Hochelagan towns along the river.


The likeness of the names Tekenouday and Ajoasté to that of the Huron
town Tekenonkiaye, and the Andastean Andoasté, shows how close was the
relationship. Nevertheless the Hochelagans were quite cut off from
the Hurons, whose country as we have found, some of them point to and
describe to Cartier as inhabited by evil men. As the Stadacona people,
more distant, independently refer to them as good, no war could have
been then proceeding with them.

In 1540 when Roberval came--and down to 1543--the conditions were still
unchanged. What of the events between this date and the coming of
Champlain in 1605? This period can be filled up to some extent.

About 1560 the Hurons came down, conquered the Hochelagans and their
subject peoples and destroyed Hochelaga. I reach this date as follows:
In 1646 (Relation of 1646, p. 34) Père Lalemant reports that "under the
Algonquin name" the French included "a diversity of small peoples,"
one of which was named the Onontchataronons or "the tribe of Iroquet,"
"whose ancestors formerly inhabited the island of Montreal," and one of
their old men "aged say eighty years" said "my mother told me that in
her youth _the Hurons_ drove us from this island." (1646, p. 40.) This
makes it clear that the inroad was _Huron_. Note that this man of eighty
years does not mention having _himself_ lived on the island; and also
the addition "_in her youth_." This fact brings us back to before 1566.
But in 1642, another "old man" states that his "grandfathers" had lived
there. Note that he does not say his parents nor himself. These two
statements, I think, reasoning from the average ages of old men, carry
us back to about 1550-60. Champlain, in 1622, notes a remark of two
Iroquois that the war with the Hurons was then "more than fifty years"
old. The Huron inroad could not likely have occurred for several years
after 1542, for so serious an incursion would have taken some years
to grow to such a point out of profound peace. 1550 would therefore
appear a little early. The facts demonstrate incidentally a period of
prosperity and dominance on the part of the Hurons themselves, for
instead of a mere incursion, it exhibits, even if made by invitation of
the Algonquins, a permanent breaking through of the barriers between the
Huron country and the Montreal neighbourhood, and a continuance of their
power long enough and sufficiently to press forward against the enemy
even into Lake Champlain. It also shows that the Superior Iroquois were
not then strong enough to confine them. Before the League, the latter
were only weak single tribes. When Dutch firearms were added to the
advantage of the league, the Hurons finally fell from their power, which
was therefore apparently at its height about 1560.

Charlevoix, _Histoire de la Nouvelle France_, end of Bk. V., after
describing the first mass at Ville Marie, in 1642, says: "The evening of
the same day M. de Maisonneuve desired to visit the Mountain which gave
the island its name, and two old Indians who accompanied him thither,
having led him to the top, told him they were of the tribe who had
formerly inhabited this country." "We were," they added, "_very
numerous_ and all the hills (_collines_) which you see to the south and
east, were peopled. The Hurons drove thence our ancestors, of whom a
part took refuge among the Abénakis, _others withdrew into the Iroquois
cantons_, a few remained with our conquerors." They promised Maisonneuve
to do all they could to bring back their people, "but apparently could
not succeed in reassembling the fragments of this dispersed tribe,
which doubtless is that of the Iroquois of which I have spoken in my

A proof that this people of Iroquet were not originally Algonquins is
that by their own testimony they had cultivated the ground, one of them
actually took up a handful of the soil and called attention to its
goodness; and they also directly connected themselves in a positive
manner with the Hochelagans by the dates and circumstances indicated
in their remarks as above interpreted. The use of the term "Algonquin"
concerning them is very ambiguous and as they were merged among
Algonquin tribes they were no doubt accustomed to use that language.
Their Huron-Iroquois name, the fact that they were put forward to
interpret to the Iroquois in Champlain's first excursion; and that a
portion of them had joined the Iroquois, another portion the Hurons, and
the rest remained a little band by themselves, seem to add convincingly
to the proof that they were not true Algonquins. Their two names
"Onontchataronons" and "Iroquet" are Iroquois. The ending "Onons" (Onwe)
means "men" and is not properly part of the name. Charlevoix thought
them Hurons, from their name. They were a very small band and, while
mentioned several times in the Jesuit Relations, had disappeared by the
end of the seventeenth century from active history. It was doubtless
impossible for a remnant so placed to maintain themselves against the
great Iroquois war parties.

A minor question to suggest itself is whether there is any connection
between the names "Iroquet" and "Iroquois". Were they originally forms
of the same word? Or were they two related names of divisions of a
people? Certainly two closely related peoples have these closely similar
names. They were as clearly used as names of distinct tribes however,
in the seventeenth century. The derivation of "Iroquois" given by
Charlevoix from "hiro"--"I have spoken" does not seem at all likely;
but the analogy of the first syllables of the names Er-ié, Hur-ons,
Hir-oquois, Ir-oquet and Cherokee may have something in it.

The Iroquets or Hochelagans attributed their great disaster,--the
destruction of their towns and dispossession of their island,--to the
Hurons, but Charlevoix[9] records an Algonquin victory over them which
seems to have preceded, and contributed to, that event, though the
lateness of Charlevoix renders the story not so reliable in detail as
the personal recollections of the Iroquets above given: His story[10]
given "on the authority of those most versed in the old history of the
country", proceeds as follows: "Some Algonquins were at war with the
Onontcharonnons better known under the name of Tribe of Iroquet, and
whose former residence was, it is said, in the Island of Montreal. The
name they bear proclaims, they were of Huron speech; nevertheless it
is claimed that it was the Hurons who drove them from their ancient
country, and who in part destroyed them. However that may be, they were
at the time I speak of, at war with the Algonquins, who, to finish
this war at one stroke, thought of a stratagem, which succeeded". This
stratagem was an ambush placed on both sides of the River Bécancour
near Three Rivers, with some pretended fishermen out in canoes as
decoys. The Iroquets attacked and pursued the fishermen, but in the
moment of victory, a hail of arrows issued from the bushes along both
shores. Their canoes being pierced, and the majority wounded, they all
perished. "The tribe of Iroquet never recovered from this disaster; and
none to day remain. The quantity of corpses in the water and on the
banks of the river so infected it, that it retains the name of Rivière
Puante"; (Stinking River).

Charlevoix[11] gives, as well supported, the story of the origin of the
war between the Iroquois and Algonquins. "The Iroquois had made with
them a sort of alliance very useful to both." They gave grain for
game and armed aid, and thus both lived long on good terms. At last a
disagreement rose in a joint party of 12 young hunters, on account of
the Iroquois succeeding while the Algonquins failed in the chase. The
Algonquins, therefore, maliciously tomahawked the Iroquois in their
sleep. Thence arose the war.

In 1608, according to Ferland[12] based evidently upon the statement of
Champlain, the remnant of the Hochelagans left in Canada occupied the
triangle above Montreal now bounded by Vandreuil, Kingston and Ottawa.
This perhaps indicates it as the upper part of their former territory.
Sanson's map places them at about the same part of the Ottawa in the
middle of the seventeenth century and identifies them with La Petite
Nation, giving them as "Onontcharonons ou La Petite Nation". That
remnant accompanied Champlain against the Iroquois, being of course
under the influence of their masters the Hurons and Algonquins.
Doubtless their blood is presently represented among the Huron and
Algonquin mission Indians of Oka, Lorette, Petite Nation, etc., and
perhaps among those of Caughnawaga and to some extent, greater or less,
among the Six Nations proper.

From the foregoing outline of their history, it does not appear as
if the Hochelagans were exactly the Mohawks proper. It seems more
likely that by 1560, settlements, at first mere fishing-parties, then
fishing-villages, and later more developed strongholds with agriculture,
had already been made on Lake Champlain by independent offshoots of the
Hochelagan communities, of perhaps some generations standing, and not
unlikely by arrangement with the Algonquins of the Lake similar to the
understanding on the river St. Lawrence, as peace and travel appear to
have existed there. The bonds of confederacy between village and village
were always shifting and loose among these races until the Great League.
To their Lake Champlain cousins the Hochelagans would naturally fly for
refuge in the day of defeat, for there was no other direction suitable
for their retreat. The Hurons and Algonquins carried on the war against
the fused peoples, down into Lake Champlain. When, after more than
fifty years of the struggle, Champlain goes down to that Lake in 1609,
he finds there the clearings from which they have been driven, and
marks their cabins on his map of the southeast shore. This testimony
is confirmed by that of archaeology showing their movement at the same
period into the Mohawk Valley. Doubtless their grandchildren among the
Iroquois, like their grandchildren among the Algonquins, remembered
perfectly well the fact of their Huron and Algonquin wrongs, and led
many a war party back to scenes known to them through tradition, and
which it was their ambition to recover. It seems then to be the fact
that the Mohawks proper, or some of their villages, while perhaps not
exactly Hochelagans, were part of the kindred peoples recently sprung
from and dominated by them and were driven out at the same time. The
two peoples--Mohawks and Iroquets--had no great time before, if not at
the time of Cartier's arrival--been one race living together in the St.
Lawrence valley: In the territory just west of the Mohawk valley, they
found the "Senecas" as the Onondagas, Cayugas and Senecas together were
at first called, and soon, through the genius of the Mohawk Hiawatha,
they formed with them the famous League, in the face of the common
enemy. By that time the Oneidas had become separated from the Mohawks.
These indications place the date of the League very near 1600. The
studies of Dr. Kellogg of Plattsburgh on the New York side of Lake
Champlain and of others on the Vermont shore, who have discovered
several Mohawk sites on that side of the lake may be expected to supply
a link of much interest on the whole question, from the comparison of
pottery and pipes. On the whole the Hochelagan facts throw much light
both forward on the history of the Iroquois and backwards on that of the
Huron stock. Interpreted as above, they afford a meagre but connected
story through a period hitherto lost in darkness, and perhaps a ray by
which further links may still be discovered through continued
archæological investigation.

     NOTE. Like the numbers of the Hochelagan race, the question
     how long they had been in the St. Lawrence valley must be
     problematical. Sir William Dawson describes the site of Hochelaga
     as indicating a residence of several generations. Their own
     statements regarding the Huron country--that they "had never
     been there", and that they gathered their knowledge of it
     from the Ottawa Algonquins, permits some deductions. If the
     Hochelagans--including their old men--had never been westward among
     their kindred, it is plain that the migration must have taken place
     more than the period of an old man's life previous--that is to say
     more than say eighty years. If to this we add that the old men
     appear not even to have derived such knowledge as they possessed
     from their parents but from strangers, then the average full
     life of aged parents should be added, or say sixty years more,
     making a total of at least one hundred and forty years since the
     immigration. Something might, it is true, be allowed for a sojourn
     at intermediate points: and the scantiness of the remarks is also
     to be remembered. But there remains to account for the considerable
     population which had grown up in the land from apparently one
     centre. If the original intruders were four hundred, for example,
     then in doubling every twenty years, they would number 12,800
     in a century. But this rate is higher than their state of
     "Middle-Barbarism" is likely to have permitted and a hundred and
     fifty years would seem to be as fast as they could be expected to
     attain the population they possessed in Cartier's time.


[1] "Iroquois Book of Rites," p. 10.

[2] _Ibid._, p. 13.

[3] The latter I conjecture not to be the real name of the place but
that the Stadacona people had referred to Hochelay as "Agojuda" or
wicked. The chief of Hochelay on one occasion warned Cartier of plots at
Stadacona, and there appears to have been some antagonism between the
places. The Hochelay people seem to have been Hochelagans proper not
Stadacona Hochelagans. Hochelay-aga could mean "people of Hochelay."

[4] Relation of 1642.

[5] Similar armour, though highly elaborated, is to be seen in the suits
of Japanese warriors, made of cords and lacquered wood woven together.

[6] Relation of 1642, p. 36.

[7] Two of the Huron nations settled in Canada West about 1400; another
about 1590; the fourth in 1610. See Relations,--W.M. Beauchamp.

[8] Dr. Kellogg, whose collection is very large and his studies
valuable, writes me as follows: "In 1886 Mr. Frey sent me a little box
of Indian pottery from his vicinity (the Mohawk Valley). It contained
chiefly edge pieces of jars, whose ornamentation outside near the top
was in _lines_, and nearly every one of these pieces also had the _deep
finger nail indentation_. I spread these out on a board. Many had also
the small circle ornamentation, made perhaps by the end of a hollow
bone. This pottery I have always called Iroquois. At two sites near
Plattsburg this type prevails. But otherwise whenever we have found this
type we have looked on it curiously. It is _not_ the type prevailing
here. The type here has ornamentations consisting of dots and dotted
lines, dots in lines, scallop stamps, etc. These dots on a single jar
are hundreds and perhaps thousands in number. Even in Vermont the
Iroquois type is abundant. This confirms what Champlain's Indian friends
told him about the country around the mountains in the east (i.e. in
Vermont) being occupied by their enemies.... The pottery here indicates
a much closer relation with that at Hochelaga than with that at Palatine
Bridge (Mohawk Valley, N.Y.)."

[9] Journal, Vol. I., pp. 162-4.

[10] Journal Historique d'un Voyage à L'Am., Lettre VI.

[11] Journal, end of Letter XII.

[12] Hist. du Canada, Vol. I., p. 92.

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