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THE LAST OF THE HURONS.
FATE OF THE VANQUISHED. — THE REFUGEES OF ST. JEAN BAPTISTE
AND ST. MICHEL. — THE TOBACCO NATION AND ITS WANDERINGS. – THE MODERN Wyandots. — THE BITER Bır. – The HURONS AT QUEBEC. — NOTRE-DAME DE LORETTE.
Iroquois bullets and tomahawks had killed the Hurons by hundreds, but famine and disease had killed incomparably more. The miseries of the starving crowd on Isle St. Joseph had been shared in an equal degree by smaller bands, who had wintered in remote and secret retreats of the wilderness. Of those who survived that season of death, many were so weakened that they could not endure the hardships of a wandering life, which was new to them. The Hurons lived by agriculture: their fields and crops were destroyed, and they were so hunted from place to place that they could rarely till the soil. Game was very scarce; and, without agriculture, the country could support only a scanty and scattered population like that which maintained a struggling existence in the wilderness of the lower St. Lawrence, The mortality among the exiles was prodigious.
It is a matter of some interest to trace the fortunes of the shattered fragments of a nation once prosperous, and, in its own eyes and those of its neighbors, powerful and great. None were left alive within their ancient domain. Some had sought refuge among the Neutrals and the Eries, and shared the disasters which soon overwhelmed those tribes; others succeeded in reaching the Andastes; while the inhabitants of two towns, St. Michel and St. Jean Baptiste, had recourse to an expedient which seems equally strange and desperate, but which was in accordance with Indian practices They contrived to open a communication with the Seneca Nation of the Iroquois, and promised to change their nationality and turn Senecas as the price of their lives. The victors accepted the proposal; and the inhabitants of these two towns, joined by a few other Hurons, migrated in a body to the Seneca country. They were not distributed among different villages, but were allowed to form a town by themselves, where they were afterwards joined by some prisoners of the Neutral Nation. They identified themselves with the Iroquois in all but religion, — holding so fast to their faith, that, eighteen years after, a Jesuit missionary found that many of them were still good Catholics.?
The division of the Hurons called, the “Tobacco 1150–71.] HURONS AT MICHT MACKINAC. 529 Nation,” favored by their isolated position among mountains, had held their ground longer than the rest; but at length they, too, were compelled to fly, together with such other Hurons as had taken refuge with them. They made their way northward, and settled on the Island of Michilimackinac, where they were joined by the Ottawas, who, with other Algonquins, had been driven by fear of the Iroquois from the western shores of Lake Huron and the banks of the river O:tawa. At Michilimackinac the Hurons and their allies were again attacked by the Iroquois, and, after remaining several years, they made another remove, and took possession of the islands at the mouth of the Green Bay of Lake Michigan. Even here their old enemy did not leave them in peace; whereupon they fortified themselves on the mainland, and afterwards migrated southward and westward. This brought them in contact with the Illinois, — an Algonquin people, at that time very numerous, but who, like many other tribes at this epoch, were doomed to a rapid diminution from wars with other savage nations. Continuing their migration westward, the Hurons and Ottawas reached the Mississippi, where they fell in with the Sioux. They soon quarrelled with those fierce children of the prairie, who drove them from their country. They retreated to the southwestern extremity of Lake Superior, and settled on Point Saint Esprit, or Shagwamigon Point, near the Islands of the Twelve Apostles. As the Sioux continued to harass them,
i Compare Relation, 1651, 4; 1660, 14, 28; and 1670, 69. The Huron town among the Senecas was called Gandougaraé. Father Fremin was here in 1668, and gives an account of his visit in the Relation of 1670.
they left this place about the year 1671, and returned to Michilimackinac, where they settled, not on the island, but on the neighboring Point St. Ignace, now Graham's Point, on the north side of the strait. The greater part of them afterwards removed thence to Detroit and Sandusky, where they lived under the name of Wyandots until within the present century, maintaining a marked influence over the surrounding Algonquins. They bore an active part, on the side of the French, in the war which ended in the reduction of Canada; and they were the most formidable enemies of the English in the Indian war under Pontiac.1 The government of the United States at length removed them to reserves on the western frontier, where a remnant of them may still be found. Thus it appears that the Wyandots, whose name is so conspicuous in the history of our border wars, are descendants of the ancient Hurons, and chiefly of that portion of them called the “Tobacco Nation."2
When Ragueneau and his party left Isle St. Joseph for Quebec, the greater number of the Hurons chose to remain. They took possession of the stone fort
1 See“ History of the Conspiracy of Pontiac."
2 The migrations of this band of the Hurons may be traced by detached passages and incidental remarks in the Relations of 1654, 1660, 1667, 1670, 1671, and 1672. Nicolas Perrot, in his chapter, Deffaitte et Füitte des Hurons chassés de leur Pays, and in the chapter following, gives a long and rather confused account of their movements and adventures. See also La Poterie, Histoire de l'Amérique Septentrionale, ii. 51–56. According to the Relation of 1670, the Hurons, when living at Shagwamigon Point, numbered about fifteen bundred souls.
1650.] ETIENNE ANNAOTAHA.
531 which the French had abandoned, and where, witli reasonable vigilance, they could maintain themselves against attack. In the succeeding autumn a small Iroquois war-party had the audacity to cross over to the island, and build a fort of felled trees in the woods. The Hurons attacked them; but the invaders made so fierce a defence that they kept their assailants at bay, and at length retreated with little or no loss. Soon after, a much larger band of Onondaga Iroquois, approaching undiscovered, built a fort on the main-land, opposite the island, but concealed from sight in the forest. Here they waited to waylay any party of Hurons who might venture ashore. A Huron war-chief, named Étienne Annaotaha, whose life is described as a succession of conflicts and adventures, and who is said to have been always in luck, landed with a few companions and fell into an ambuscade of the Iroquois. He prepared to defend himself, when they called out to him that they came not as enemies, but as friends, and that they brought wampum-belts and presents to persuade the Hurons to forget the past, go back with them to their country, become their adopted countrymen, and live with them as one nation. Étienne suspected treachery, but concealed his distrust, and advanced towards the Iroquois with an air of the utmost confidence. They received him with open arms, and pressed him to accept their invitation; but he replied that there were older and wiser men among the Hurons, whose counsels all the people followed, and that they ought