Charles Garrad

In the late 1950’s Charles learned that a farmer at Craigleith, Ontario, was ploughing up broken native pottery, smoking pipes, bone and stone tools, and other artifacts, from a field where a native village had once stood. No-one knew who had lived there or when, or was concerned to save the artifacts from being destroyed by further ploughing.  Charles began collecting the artifacts to save and study them, commenced research into the identity of the villagers, located other people similarly concerned, and together lobbied the Ontario government for protective legislation.  By the 1970’s, the Ontario Government passed laws protecting archaeological sites and native graves.  Charles was President of The Ontario Archaeological Society and had identified the occupants of the site as The Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma.

He contacted the Tribe and received an encouraging reply from Juanita McQuistion.  They have remained in touch since.  After much correspondence, in July 1975 Chief Leonard Cotter confirmed the Tribe’s “awareness and approval of the work you are accomplishing to understand, and at the same time, preserve our ancestral remains in Ontario” and invited Charles to attend the next Annual Tribal Council.  At the Council Charles found that most people knew that their ancestors had come from Ohio via Kansas, but no-one present knew that a hundred years before Ohio, the Tribe had lived in Canada, where Charles was researching and preserving their village sites and cemeteries.  However, when he visited Cecilia (Cecile) Wallace, a much-respected senior matron, she knew that her grandmother, Mary Williams Walker, had been born in Canada on the Ontario side of the Detroit River (the Anderdon Wyandotte Reserve, terminated 1892) and that her cousin Mary McKee, who was born on the opposite (Michigan) side of the River (River Huron Wyandotte Reserve, terminated 1843) later lived at Anderdon before moving to Oklahoma.  Several days after Charles’ first visit Cecile announced that as she was now 83 and had never had a son, she would adopt one now.  She adopted Charles  on September 4, 1975, in a formal traditional ceremony which was attended by a number of people and recorded in the Miami News Record, and gave him a name owned by the Big Turtle Clan, “Tauromee”.  The previous Tauromee was the Chief at Kansas at the time that some Wyandottes were removed to Oklahoma.

Already by this time, Charles’ work in Ontario was sufficiently well known that the Smithsonian Institution at Washington asked  him to publish in their  “Handbook of North American Indians”.   He did so, and provided information to other contributors.

Charles returned to Oklahoma in 1976 to visit his adopted mother and again in 1979 at the invitation of the Tribe to speak at a ceremony.  In 1978 Charles received a Certificate of Appreciation and Honorary Membership in The Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma  signed by Chief Mont Cotter, Second Chief Philip Peacock and Councillors Gloria Durbin and Mary Jane Newton.

In 1982, a quarter of a century after he first visited the village site at Craigleith, he was able to conclude that it had been “Ekarenniondi”, the last principal town of the Wyandotte Deer Tribe, and existed from about 1635 to 1650.  In 1648 it received Bear and Turtle refugees from the Town of Ossossane, and in 1649 Wolf refugees from the Town of Etharita, which had been attacked by the Iroquois.  Mainly due to European diseases, the formerly independent Deer, Wolf and Turtle tribes were now too few in number to remain tribes, and they politically reorganized themselves as three phratries of one Wyandotte Tribe.  For some years Charles has aggragated that the two village sites where the three names first came together be preserved as a park to commemorate the Birth of the Wyandotte Tribe.

In 1999 Wyandotte descendants from Kansas, Oklahoma, Detroit and Quebec met twice in Ontario, to reconcile and form a new Confederacy.  Charles was invited to join the group to represent the research that had brought them all together.  At that time, and subsequently, he escorted Chief Bearskin, Sherri Clemons, Principal Chief English from Kansas, and other  Wyandotte visitors, to the Craigleith area ancestral to the Wyandottes of Kansas and Oklahoma.  During her second visit Chief English adopted Charles, his wife Ella and colleague John Steckley, into the Wyandot Nation of Kansas.

During his more than half a century of research on the Wyandottes in Ontario Charles conducted many archaeological test excavations and wrote hundreds of reports, but every village site and cemetery he found and monitors still exists.   With the collaboration of  Charles’ many colleagues over many years, the migration route  of the Wyandottes  from Craigleith in 1650, to Kansas and Oklahoma today, is now well established.   Charles’ continuing research  into the ancient history of the Wyandotte people now extends back some 4,000 years.  He calculates that at about seven hundred years ago  the Wyandottes comprised some 25 separate but related tribes, two of which had lived in his part of Ontario.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization has undertaken to publish his research.  It took Charles fifteen years to write  a manuscript .  As no date for publication is set, in conformance with his undertaking to the Tribal Council in 1975 to inform the Tribe as to its ancestral remains in Ontario, Charles and his wife Ella intend to attend the Tribe’s Cultural Days in 2011, and to present to the Tribe a copy of his (as yet) unpublished manuscript.

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