Life during the Iroquois wars was tense, frightening, and chaotic. The French colonists and missions at the time were always on high alert for attack from the Iroquois confederacy. While it would appear from our point of view that these attacks were sheer brutality, but the Iroquois had suffered much at the hands of the newscomers, and felt very justified in their war. The Europeans not only brought troops, they brought the plague of smallpox, and many groups of the Iroquois confederacy had been near decimated by the disease. Skirmishes turned into more sustained attacks, and the French government was worried.
To expand on our last post: The Life and Times of Catherine Annennontak, when the Hurons were nearly destroyed by the Iroquois, this destabalized the fur trade between the French and the Aboriginals as the Huron had acted as the go-between for the Ojibwe and Cree further North who wanted no contact with the French. The Compagnie des Cent-Associes now became bankrupt, their forces depleted and their trade all but eliminated. In 1665, the French King sent the Carignan-Salieres regiment to Canada – this regiment comprised a great task force of experienced soldiers tht were meant to assist the Compagnie des Cent-Associes in the battle against the Iroquois. Unfortunately, these forces went out and completely destroyed several Mohawk villages that had already been deeply affected by smallpox. The slaughter of these villages further enraged the Iroquois, and their attacks escalated in frequency and violence.
Members of the Carignan-Salieres regiment would usually stay on rotation for two years, then have the opportunity to return to France. Some, however, opted to stay and try their luck in the new colony, often because they found wives. Jean Mouflet was just such a soldier. He remained when the regiment went home to France after a two year campaign against the Iroquois. He married Anne Dodin, a filles du roi sent by King Louis to help boost the population of Quebec. Jean recieved a pension and a plot of land, and he and Anne settled down to start their family. They had 8 children together.
One of their children was also named Anne. She grew up on her family’s farm, going on to marry a man by the name of Mathias Chateaudeau. They had two sons, Jean and Etienne. Anne was very young when she married Mathias. In fact, a special dispensation was made to allow the marriage, because at 11 years and 8 months old, Anne was not actually of legal age (12) to marry. Young love can be powerful, and Anne must have imagined she and her husband would have a lifetime together, but life had harsher lessons in mind.
Any idyllic dreams the couple may have had for the future were shattered one fateful night when the Iroquois exacted their revenge on Lachine. Stories say it was a stormy night, surely adding to the immense confusion and fear such an attack would provoke. 29 settlers werre killed in the initial raid, including Anne’s parents and two of her sisters. Also among the dead were Anne’s beloved husband, Mathias. More than 90 settlers were taken as prisoners of the Iroquois, including Anne. Many, including Anne’s son, Jean, died in captivity due to harsh conditions and often harsh treatment from their captors. Anne, miraculously, survived, and a year after her ordeal, she returned home to rebuild her shattered life.
Upon her return, Anne married a Christian Iroquois of the Onandaga by the name of Jacques Rene Tsibene. There are no real details in the histories about exactly where or when they met or how long they courted. They married when Anne was 25 years old. Jacques must have greatly adored Anne, who one can only imagine missed her previous family terribly. As a tribute to Anne’s first husband, Jacques adopted the nickname “Massias”. The couple settled down at La Montagne – a mission settlement near Montreal. As they added a son, Paul-Mathias Tsihome, they had moved to Kanehstake and were settled there. The “Beaver Wars” still raged on, and Massias would play a pivotal role in the outcome of the conflict.
Massias, or Tsiheme, maintained a close relationship with his Iroquois kin. Even though Kanehstake had it’s own slant on religion and politics, it still maintained those kinship and trade relationships with the Five Nations. Tsiheme would often act as an envoy, communicating with the French on behalf of Five Nation deputies. One moment where Tsiheme’s intervention was incredibly important was during the last days of governer Frontenac, who had returned to Montreal to take charge after the horrors of the Lachine raid that killed Anne’s family.
In 1698, a young man named Tegayeste was entrusted with the responsibility to deliver a wampum belt on behalf of the Onanadaga people, asking the Canadian Iroquois to assist them in their pleas for peace with the governor. The governer refused to see the young man who had been given the responsibility of delivering a gift of peace. This greatly angered the Christian Iroquois in Frotenac’s company. They saw no reason why he would turn down a fair offer of peace and a chance to end the killing. Tsiheme was especially vocal about this with Frotenac. He convinced Frontenac to request a meeting with the Chiefs of the Five Nations, assuring him that if he could get them all together, the Christian Iroquois would help and peace could be negotiated. However, he also warned that if Frontenac did not position for peace, he would be the “first to wage war” against the French.
Frontenac passed away before the deal was completed. It was his successor, Louis-Hector de Calliere that would bring lasting peace to the situation. He called a peace council in Montreal and came to the table as a diplomat, instead of an oppressor. He managed to sign preliminary treaties with several groups, and then invited all Amerindians of the Great Lakes area to a summit in Montreal in summer, 1701. Thirty-nine Nations sent representatives, and Tsiheme was among them. He had met with governor Calliere before the summit began, when there was an uproar that interrupted the proceedings. News arrived that a band of hunters had been ambushed by Ottawa warriors. This was in violation of preliminary agreements that had been signed, and had to be dealt with immediately. The chiefs sought a meeting with the governer and Tsiheme was the first once again to speak up.
Jacques Rene asked that the attackers be punished. Then he made a more personal request. Due to his involvement in the peace process, he was constantly travelling and had been unable to hunt
for his family, and was feeling bad about the hardships his family had to endure in his absence. “I ask of you”, he said “for my son, a donkey no more than 10-12 years old that will be able to haul wood for heating.” They accomodated his request. His steadfast committment to working through the peace process meant he became a very vital part of the treaty. The Great Peace of Montreal is still recognized as a valid treaty to this day.
Unfortunately, history doesn’t tell us about exactly what happened to Tsiheme, however, we do know that when he passed, Anne spent some time alone. She was something of a local celebrity, being a survivor of Lachine. She was very much a part of her community and the lives of her mature family. After being alone for many years, Anne married once again at age 45. She did not have any children from this marriage, but surely took great joy in watching her children have their own children, and the legacy of her beloved husbands carried on. Anne died at the age of 71. Considering the era in which she lived, and the tragedy she survived, her legacy speaks to a strength that few people could imagine.
Massacre starts Métis link