Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who were Iroquet’s “people?”

In my previous post I had stated that Brule was sent by Champlain to live with an Algonquin chief named Iroquet and his people. I also stated that Iroquet was the Chief of the Petite Nation (Weskarini) who lived on the Ottawa River south of Ottawa (Quebec side on the Petite Nation River).
While these assumptions may be supported by some others works it is apparent from further readings that not all researchers agree with this opinion. ( and identify the “people of Iroquet” as the Onontchataronon who lived on the South Nation River which empties into the Ottawa River directly across from the Petite Nation River.

Why does this matter?

If we are to attempt to identify the village or winter camp occupied by Iroquet and his people when they visited Huronia we need to be able to compare artifacts from Iroquet’s or the Onontchataronon homeland with those found in the Arendarhonon territory of Huronia. It would also be interesting to attempt to determine what route Iroquet and his people would have taken on their trips to Huronia. Did they come via the French River as suggested by some or the Trent Severn that may have been more direct given that the headwaters of the South Nation River are located north of Brockville and that this route would have taken them through what has been stated to be prime Huron hunting territory during the peak fall hunting season.

Another question that is raised about Iroquet and his people is that of their cultural affiliation. There is much discussion amongst historians, anthropologists and archaeologists as to the ancestry of the Onontchataronon and the people of Iroquet. Were they Algonquin as indicated by Champlain or was that simply the language that they spoke because they lived in the Algonquin territory of the lower Ottawa. Some suggest that they were the descendants of the people vanquished from Hochelega (Montreal) between 1580 and 1600 and that they were a mix of Algonquin and Huron (Arendarhonon) refugees who settled in the lower Ottawa Valley. If this is the case then it may be very difficult to distinguish between artifacts left by Iroquet and his people and the Arendarhonon in whose territory they reportedly wintered.

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