Commemorating the 350th Anniversary

of the Dispersal of the Wyandots from Ontario, and Celebrating Their Return. 

by Charles Garrad

Research Bulletin no. 36 of the Petun Research Institute, June 2003

Photograph Figure 3 Copyright @ 2003 Sherri L. Clemons, with permission.

Text and other Figures Copyright @2003 Charles Garrad and Petun Research Institute. All rights reserved. Permission is given to scholars and reviewers to quote in scholarly works and published reviews.

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Garrad, Charles
Commemorating the 350th Anniversary of the Dispersal of the Wyandots from Ontario, and Celebrating Their Return.

ISSN 1208-0217

1. Indians of North America – Canada – Wyandot 2. Indians of North America – Wyandot – History 3. Title I. Garrad, Charles 1930-

The Petun Research Institute is a registered charitable Foundation, incorporated in 1995 to conduct and publish interdisciplinary scholarly research particularly relating to the Petun-Wyandot native people. The Institute conducts archaeological surveys and excavations within the Petun Archaeological Zone of Ontario under applicable legislation, maintains an Artifact Repository, provides research facilities to accredited scholars, conducts and supports interdisciplinary studies and research related to the Petun-Wyandot and other native peoples, advises and assists researchers, educators, Native organizations and other appropriate agencies, provides public outreach and educational programs, and publishes research results. The Institute owns no capital assets and pays no salaries. Its work to date has been entirely supported by donations, sales and fees-for-service. To summarise its aims, the Institute has adopted the slogan ROPE – Research, Outreach, Publication, Education.

The name PETUN first appears in the writings of Samuel de Champlain, applied to those native wendat Wyandot peoples who, until 1650, resided in Ontario south of Georgian Bay and between the Nottawasaga River and the Blue Mountains, and whose descendants today reside primarily in Oklahoma, Kansas and the Detroit Valley. This paper is dedicated to all wendat people in the present and the past.

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Commemorating the 350th Anniversary of the Dispersal of the  yandots from Ontario,

and Celebrating Their Return.

Charles Garrad

June 2003



En 1650, les peuples wendat Huron/Petun se sont dispersés des comtés du Simcoe du nord et du Grey de l’est en Ontario. Ils se sont dirigés principalement en deux sens opposés:- à l’ouest, de Craigleith, avec la tribu Odawa, aux lacs Michigan et Supérieur et, puis plus lard, vers la vallée de Détroit, Ohio, puis à Kansas et à Oklahoma; à l’est, de l’île Chrétien, avec les Français, pour s’installer au Québec.

Deux fois en 1999, leg descendants des deux migrations sont retournés en Ontario afin de se reconcilier et de former une nouvelle Confédération en célébration de leur héritage qu’ils avaient en commun en Ontario auparavant.


In 1650, the Huron/Petun wendat (Wyandot) peoples dispersed from northern Simcoe and eastern Grey Counties of Ontario, principally in two opposite directions:- west, from Craigleith, with the Odawa, to Lakes Michigan and Superior, and ultimately to the Detroit Valley, Ohio, Kansas and Oklahoma; and east, from Christian Island, with the French, to Quebec.

In 1999, descendants of both migrations returned twice to Ontario to reconcile and to form a new Confederacy celebrating their common Ontario heritage.

The following text is adapted from a slide presentation to the 27th Annual Symposium of the Ontario Archaeological Society, Midland, Ontario, in October 2000, in commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the Dispersals of the Huron and Petun wendat (Wyandot) peoples from Ontario. The Symposium was attended by Janith English, Principal Chief of the Wyandot Nation of Kansas, to whom a letter of Greetings from the Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, on behalf of the people of Ontario, was presented by the writer.



Figure 1: (Map) Dispersal Routes 1650-1651.

Figure 2: (Map) The Migration of the Wyandot Tribe from Craigleith and the Location of Three Modern Descendant Groups

Figure 3: (Photograph) The First 1999 Return. Some participants in the Reconciliation Ceremony, Midland, June 1999. Photograph by Sherri L. Clemons, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma. Left to right.

Seated in front:
Chief Leaford Bearskin, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma;
Chief Frances J. Gartner, Wyandot of Anderdon;
Chief Luc Lainé, La Nation Huronne-Wendat of Lorette;
Chief Janith English, Wyandot Nation of Kansas.

Standing in rear:
Father Michael Stogre, S.J.,
Earlene Roskob, Councilperson, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma,
Ramona L. Reid, Councilperson, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma,
Rev. Adrian Jacobs, Cayuga First Nation, Anglican Minister, and son.
Gilbert Tremblay & Mireille Langelier, Quebec,
Raymond Gros-Louis, La Nation Huronne-Wendat of Lorette,
Darren English, Cultural Co-ordinator, Wyandot Nation of Kansas,
Charles Garrad, Wyandot historian,
Rev. Arie G. Van Eek, Christian Reformed Church,
Rev. Norman Newbery, Anglican Minister, Elmvale,
Rev. Brent Faquhar, Pastor, Midland Alliance Church.

Figure 4: (Photograph) The Second 1999 Return. Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma Piper Navaho aircraft, Midland airport, August 1999. Note the Turtle insignia and “Wyandotte Nation” identification.

Standing left to right:
Robert E. Reid, tribal pilot,
Mary Jane Gallaspy, tribal member,
Juanita McQuistion, former tribal Secretary,
Ella Garrad,
Sherri L. Clemons, tribal member,
Jim Bland, Second Chief,
Charles Garrad.

The Huron

In 1639, Father Jerome Lalemant stated that the Huron comprised “four Nations, or rather four different collections or assemblages of grouped family stocks.. the general name, and that which is common to these four Nations, in the language of the country is wendat; the individual names are Attignawantan, Attigneenongnahac, Arenahronons, and Tohontaenraf” (JR16:227). Today the name wendat is usually rendered Wyandot and Wyandotte. The French came to call the four nations Huron, although this name was not exclusive to them. Unexplained at the time was that two years earlier a fifth name had been mentioned, the Ataronchronons (JR13:61,270n 7). Evidently the Ataronchronons were not a “Nation” in the sense that the others were (Jones 1909:447).


In 1971, Conrad Heidenreich cartographically delineated the geographic territories of the five groups. He gave their native names with English equivalents from west to east as: the Attignaouantan (Bear Tribe); the Ataronchronnon (Tribe Beyond the Silted Lake); the Tahontaenrat (White Ears or Deer Tribe); the Attingneenongnahac (Barking Dogs or Cord Tribe); and the Arendaronnon (Rock Tribe)(Heidenreich 1971:Map 17).

Other scholars have similarly wrestled with the problem of most appropriately rendering these names (Trigger 1976:437n5). Perhaps the most recent is John Steckley who offers: Atinnia8enten (“they are of bear country” 1982a:30; 1997:25); Ataronchronnon (“people who live where the earth is swampy” or “people in the swamp, mud, or clay” 1986:47-48; 1991b:18; 1997:25); Atahontaenrat (“two white ears” 1997:25); Atingeennonniahak (“they used to make cord” (for fishing nets) 1982b, 1993a, 1997:25); Arendaeronnon (“people at the rock” 1997:25). Fortunately, for our purposes at this time we can use Steckley’s alternative simplified nomenclature, Bear, Bog, Deer, Cord and Rock (Steckley 1997:25) without exploring further alternative renderings and etymologies (Trigger 1976:30,437n5).

The Bog

The origin, composition and fate of the fifth-named group, the Ataronchronons, Atoronchrons (“Nation beyond the morass, or silted lake”, “People who dwelt beyond the Fens”, per Jones 1909:314,447; or simply Bog per above) were not explained, and even yet are not understood. Because the Jesuits built Ste. Marie in Bog territory, Father Arthur E. Jones speculated the Bog were “a medley of several clans”, “a congeries of other clans”, inferentially Christians, who had moved to be nearer to Ste. Marie (Jones 1909:447,465). That the Bog were not a Nation like the others is indicated by their exclusion from Father Lalemant’s list, but the reason cannot be related to Ste. Marie as their first mention was in 1637 (as Ataconchronons JR 13:61, perhaps a misprint for Ataronchronons JR 13:270n 7, per JR19:167)two years before Ste. Marie was proposed (JR19:133-135; Trigger 1976:437n6) and the Ataronchrononswere hostile to the Jesuits (JR19: 167-169). Their name, unlike the others, described a geographic location i.e. where the earth is swampy, so it would seem that in 1637 it was the swamp, or perhaps beavers in the swamp, that was the attraction. By 1639 the Bog already had four formal villages (A.F. Hunter in JR 19:269n7) with some fourteen hundred people (JR19:167-181).

By 1647 the neighbouring Rock, on the eastern frontier, had entirely vacated “their Country, which was too much exposed to the enemy, and to withdraw into other more populous Villages, which are also more easily defended” (JR33:81). The Villages to which the Rock removed were presumably those of the Bog. Yet in 1648 it seems there were still four Nations (Trigger 1976:748).

From what is known of their dialect John Steckley suggests the Bog may have been an offshoot of the Northern (see later) Bear or the Rock or vice versa (Steckley 1991b:18; 1997:33). It seems that the Bog were expansions of several Huron Nations into the refuge of the Wye Marsh area. Their fate at the time of the Dispersal, according to Father Jones “need not be considered, as they were but a congeries of other clans” (1909:447). That the Bog were a conglomerate of various component groups which separately returned to their parent Nations to disappear individually from history seems a reasonable explanation. Some of them are said to have joined the Tahontaenrat (Deer) and presumably with them joined the Neutral (JR36:119; Trigger 1976:767).


The Petun

There were seven, not five, wendat groups in the Wyandot homeland of wendake. West of the Bear, but no further distant to the west than were the most distant Rock villages to the east, were the territories of “two different Nations.. the Wolves ., (and) the Deer” (hannaarisk8a and oskenntonton per Father Pierre Potier 1920: 152) which together, in 1647, comprised the Tobacco Nation (JR33:143) or Petun. The geographical detachment of the Petuns from the other Hurons because of the intervening Nottawasaga River valley initially created an apparent separate identity for the Petun, but the French soon ceased distinguishing them from the other Hurons. As with the Bog, the other four Nations called the Petun by a name which described their geographic location, ‘Etionnontateronnon’ (various renderings) (“people (who live) where there is a hill” Steckley 1990b:22; 1993b:20). What they called themselves collectively was not recorded at the time, but their thriving post-Dispersal descendants have always called themselves wendat, today Wyandot or Wyandotte. The Petun Deer would form the nucleus of the Western Wyandot migration and the future historic Wyandot Tribe (Steckley 1997:26).

The Petun Oskenntonton Deer and the Huron Tahontaenrat Deer, although both wendat, were not the same people. Dialect and ancestry linked the Petun Deer particularly to the Southern (see later) Bear and possibly in consequence the related Cord (Steckley 1991b:20; 1992: 12; 1997:23,24,32). The Huron Deer accent was different from that of the Bear (JR10:11; Steckley 1997:26) and consequently from that of the Cord and Petun Deer. The Petun Deer settled in their historic location perhaps as much as half a century before the Huron Deer arrived.


Whatever these seven groups had in common, it was not dialect, nor their dates of arrival into their respective pre-Dispersal territories. In 1639 the Jesuit Hierosme Lalemant wrote that the Bear and Cord “are the most important, having received the others into their country, as it were, and adopted them. .. These … two speak with certainty of the settlements of their Ancestors.. for more than two hundred years back.. (and) term each other ‘brother’ and sister’ in the councils and assemblies”. They were the most populous, “through having, in the course of time, adopted more families” (who remain) “distinct little Nations in those where they have been adopted” (JR16:227-229; Steckley 1992:12, 1997:25). Steckley concludes from the evidence of their shared language traits that the (Southern, see later) Bear and Cord “may at one time have been one group, or at least shared a heritage different from that of the Northern Bear” (1992: 12; 1993b:25).

Two such “distinct little Nations” which joined the existing Bear-Cord alliance have been identified. The first was a Bear-related group which became the ‘Northern’ Bear, but always remained distinct from the original or “Southern” bear culturally, politically, and in dialect (Steckley 1990a:29; 1991a:15; 1991b:19; 1992:12-13). Presumably due to their proximity, the Northern and Southern Bear grew more alike linguistically over time (Steckley 1993b:23- 25), but their relationship never rivalled the closeness which existed between the Southern Bear and the Petun Deer, which, from shared language traits, extended back to pre-Huronia times (Steckley 1993b:25; 1997:24; Garrad & Steckley 1998:4).

In 1639 the Southern Bear gained a new component with the arrival and adoption of the Wenrohoronnons (Wenro), an event witnessed and recorded by the Jesuits. John Steckley


has deduced that because the Wenros were Turtles they were adopted into the Turtle dominated village and territory of Ossossane within the Southern Bear (Steckley 1982a:30- 31; 1985:17-19; 1997:32). The augmented Turtle presence became the major component within the Southern Bear. The participation of the Wenros in the subsequent migration of the Southern Bear to the Petun Deer, their later emergence as the Turtle Phratry of the Wyandot Tribe, and their effect on the later history of the Tribe for hundreds of years can be traced (Garrad 1998; Garrad & Steckley 1998:5).

The founding Southern Bear and Cord families reportedly arrived more than two hundred years before the Jesuits, suggesting a date of ca. 1400 or earlier, archaeologically the Middleport period. Others arrived later, some, according to Father Lalemant, to settle among the Bear or Cord and lose their separate identity. The Rock arrived ca. 1590, and the Huron Deer ca. 1610 (JR16:227). These settled in separate but adjacent territories, and each retained its identity.

The Rock dialect was distinct from the Southern Bear, although necessarily sharing some features (JR20:21; Steckley 1991 b:20; 1991c:12; 1991d: 11-13; 1997:26). The more closely related Southern Bear, Petun Deer, and the Cord, formed one group; the Northern Bear, Huron Deer, Bog and Rock another. The status of the Petun Wolf in these groupings, and whether their relationship with the Petun Deer was recent, or of antiquity, is unknown. The reason why the Rock, Huron Deer and Bog were not adopted by the Bear, Cord, or Petun, but remained independent in their own territories, is also unknown, and would not seem adequately explained merely by their having a different dialect (JR1 0: 11; Steckley 1991 b: 18, 1991d: 11;), a different earlier history or later arrival. Speculatively, these peoples may have had historic and cultural reasons for independence rooted in the pre-Huronia past, of which the evidence may be the ease with which these peoples abandoned the alliance under the stress of the Iroquois attacks, each reacting independently. The principal relationship to survive the Dispersal of 1650 A. D. was between the Southern Bear and the Petun Deer, to which were attached the remnants of the Petun Wolf.

The French sources give no dates for the arrival into their historic homeland of the Petun Deer and Wolf. These were not identified by name until as late as 1647 (JR33:143). Because of the common ancestry and language of the Petun Deer, Southern Bear and Cord, it has been suggested that they all may have once been one people, and that all three arrived into their historic positions at the same time, as early as 1300 to 1420 a.d., based on the presence or proximity of Middleport occupations in all three areas (Steckley 1993b:20-26; 1997:33-35, citing Dean Snow). A debate on this proposal must await another time. It is true that Middleport, classic Lalonde and Late Lalonde occupations are all found in or near the historic Petun area, but these do not seem to commence sequences which lead to the historic Petun. Based on present evidence the writer believes these occupations were not ancestral to the Petun but were transient, perhaps even displaced by the arriving Petun. Both Wolf and Petun Deer sequences are presently interpreted as commencing in the Late Protohistoric period, the late 1500s.

The Wolf and Petun Deer were subsequently augmented by further arrivals. Neutrals were among the Wolf in 1616 and 1639 (Champlain 19293:100; JR20:47-51). It is not possible at present to speculate if the Petun Deer of 1647 were descended from the original migrants who arrived in the late 1500s, or from a subsequent group that later attached itself to them and became dominant.

While they do not appear to have arrived as early as proposed by Dean Snow, the Petun


Wolf and Deer were in place earlier than the Rock, Huron Deer or Bog. Presumably the Petun Wolf and Deer could have occupied the territories subsequently taken by these peoples but chose not to do so. The reasons they settled on the west side of the Nottawasaga River valley instead the east among the other Wyandots need not be debated here. From their respective locations on the arc of Nottawasaga Bay, the Petun Deer and Southern Bear could see and access the other’s territory directly across the Bay. The value of this was demonstrated in March 1649 when the Southern Bear crossed the ice to take refuge with their kin the Petun Deer.

Unknown are the terms of the Petun alliance with the Algonquin peoples, principally the “Cheveux-releves” Odawa, into whose territory the alien Petun-wendat were allowed to move and take up residence. There developed a mutual cooperative commercial dependency, a shared Dispersal and post-Dispersal experience (Garrad 1999). If the post-Dispersal Wyandot Tribe is remarkable for the tenacity of the continuing relationship throughout later history between the Petun Deer and the Turtle element of the Huron Bear, it is equally so for its unending relationship with an Odawa band, their “inseparable companions” (Charlevoix 1960:27). In Oklahoma their Reservations adjoined.


The work of Gary Warrick in summarising the archaeological evidence for the movement of the various Huron-Petun wendat components of the Ontario Iroquois from the Lake Ontario shore north to Huronia, seems to confirm Father Lalemant’s statement. As late as the Uren Period the future Huronia was still entirely Algonquin territory, with the Iroquoians along the north Lake Ontario shore and as far north as the Barrie area. By the Middleport Period two distinct clusters of Iroquoian villages were established in territories in Huronia presumably corresponding to the future Bear and Cord, with a third group in the Barrie area. Two or more groups arrived later (Warrick 1990:349, 355, 373, 375). Coinciding with these movements the large cluster of Middleport villages on the Don River north of Lake Ontario reduced over time.

Unexplained is the population with substantial villages which appeared in the Humber River valley in the Late Late Prehistoric Period (Warrick 1990:375). Of these, the Seed-Barker and Woodbridge-MacKenzie villages have been associated with the Petun Wolf Sidey-Mackay village (Burgar 1998; Emerson 1954:253-255, 259-260; 1961: 187-200; et al), and both have been proposed as proto-Petun. This writer rejects these long-accepted proposals. French trade goods found on the Woodbridge-MacKenzie Site places it too late to be ancestrally Petun. The Seneca or Seneca-like presence tentatively identified on the Seed-Barker Site may yet demonstrate a connection to the later Barrie area populations, continuing to the Huron Deer (Burgar 1998), or, because of their earlier date of arrival, the Rock.

The perhaps substantial role of the Neutral, who certainly contributed to the development of the Petun, and therefore perhaps, by extension, to the origins and growth of the Bear and the Cord, is little understood. A companion study needs to be done of the evolution and migrations of the Neutral populations, modelled on Gary Warrick’s excellent work with the Huron/Petun.

The origins of those Ontario Iroquoian populations on the north shore of Lake Ontario who subsequently moved north to become the Huron, and may or may not have contributed to


the Petun, while not wholly understood, is of relevance in reconstructing the Dispersal. The supposed Roebuck presence on both the MacKenzie-Woodbridge and Sidey-Mackay village sites (Emerson 1954:251-252, 255, 259-261; Wintemberg 1946:182) may indicate that the dispersed St. Lawrence Iroquoian peoples contributed to these populations, but this source alone could not provide the great numbers of people who arrived continually on the north shore of Lake Ontario from Uren to Protohistoric times, as documented by Gary Warrick (1990), or even the populations which settled in the previously unoccupied Humber Valley at a date which must be subsequent to the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy.

If the segment of the Seed-Barker population tentatively identified as Seneca-like (Burgar 1998) are truly Seneca but recently departed from the New York Seneca homeland, the question arises of why and when this particular band rejected or were refused the protection of the Great Peace of the Five Nations Iroquois Confederacy constitution, and was thus compelled to war or flight (Parker 1916: 10). Flight around, or across, Lake Ontario from the south shore to the north was feasible (MacDonald & Williamson 1995: 13 Figure 3; Trigger 1987:Plate 33) for all Five Nations people who found the terms of the new Confederacy unacceptable. From the north Ontario shore, and later Huronia, removed groups could continue warfare both against traditional enemies in the former New York homeland, and also against their own more politically adaptable former kin who had accepted the Great Peace. Could this explain the persistent mutual hostility between the Rock and one or more Iroquois Confederacy groups? Could this have been a reason why the Rock were not adopted into the Bear, Cord, or the Petun, but were kept at a distance, both geographically and politically, an intentional disassociation with the antagonisms brought by the anti- Confederacy newcomers towards their former kin? Another question for another time.

Iroquois Invasions

The hit-and-run small-raid or single-village-attack pattern of Iroquoian warfare which had hitherto prevailed as recently as 1642 (Huron Rock village Contarea) was abandoned when a massive war party arrived in Huronia in July 1648. The reasons for the Iroquois change of tactic is another topic not examined here, but in 1648, as in 1642, and again in 1649, the invading Iroquois entered Huronia through the territory of the Rock. Father Jones explains this as simply because the Iroquois came from a base camp they first established east of the Narrows which necessarily led them first to the Rock (Jones 1909:434). This may well be so, but if, on arriving in Huronia, a visit to the Rock people was high on the Iroquois list of priorities, it would be understandable. It was the Ochasteguis Rock who, in 1608-1609, were the first Hurons to contact the French, and embroiled the French, in the person of Samuel de Champlain, into warfare with the Iroquois (JR 20: 19; Trigger 1976:288). In 1609 they, with Montagnais and Algonquin allies, conducted Champlain and his arquebusiers into Iroquoia and an easy victory through the first use of firearms. Champlain went with them again in 1610, and again in 1615. His purpose in going to Huronia that year was to accompany a war party against the Iroquois which assembled at the principal Rock town of Cahiague (Champlain 19293:49). In 1640 Father Lalemant confirmed that the “so special alliance” between the Rock and the French continued (JR20:21). Champlain’s easy victory of 1609, and another, more costly, in 1610, had a lasting price. His interventions were “bitterly resented by the Iroquois .. their thirst for vengeance, and their hatred for both French and Huron were intensified beyond measure” (Jones 1909:432-433). Champlain escalated the pattern of warfare and ensured the enmity of the Iroquois to the French and all allies of the French, but particularly, one might suspect, to the Rock. It was the fate of the Rock to be absorbed into the Seneca and Onondaga, partly from pre-Dispersal Huronia


and the remainder from post-Dispersal Quebec. If, as some believe, it was the Mohawk that Champlain and the Rock attacked in 1609, and the Oneida in 1615, one wonders why it was the Seneca and Onondaga that wanted to incorporate them. Similarly unexplained is why it was the Mohawk that took an interest in acquiring Bear people.

Among various reasons proposed by scholars for the Iroquois invasions of Huronia was the desire to adopt captives. The Iroquois Confederacy was mandated by the Great Peace to adopt other peoples by invitation and then by force if necessary (Parker 1916:8). Incorporating into the Confederacy those peoples viewed as ancestrally their own, but which had rejected the Great Peace brought by Dekanawida and his messenger Hiawatha, and had in consequence sought safety in distance, might have been a priority. Whether the seemingly random attacks by the Iroquois on the Hurons were actually selectively aimed at compelling specific populations to return home is a possibility to be considered.

After traversing the territory of the Rock in July 1648 the Iroquois continued into that of the Cord. When they returned in March 1649, their route was again through the Rock and then through the Cord to the Deer and the Bog. The Bear were not attacked. Father Jones explained this was because “they dwelt further west and north-west” (Jones 1909:435), and does not consider the possibility of the Iroquois having a selective military agenda and perhaps specific target villages and populations that excluded the Bear, and others whose independence predated Dekanawida’s message. The Bear did expect to be attacked. They sent out warriors, and joined in the general abandonment of the Huronia mainland. This would seem to support Father Jones’ theory that they were spared only because of the inconvenience of reaching them. Some Bog, with Huron Deer, fled to the Neutral, the former to disappear from further mention and the latter eventually to remove to the Seneca (Trigger 1976:767, 828, 829; Steckley 1990b:20-21; 1997:25). This hints at their connections if not their origins, and is consistent with the possible earlier Seneca-like presence on the Seed-Barker site (Burgar 1998).

In March 1649 the Southern Bear, especially the Turtle component of the principal village of Ossossane, crossed Georgian Bay overnight on the ice to seek and receive refuge with the Petun Deer (JR34:203; JR35:81; JR39:251; Jones 1909:437). Their evident ready acceptance at probably the worst time of year speaks volumes about the current and ancestral relationship of these two peoples, to which the Wenros and any other late-comers among the Bear fell heir. Under the direction of Father Chaumonot, who was part of this migration, the Christian element subsequently removed to Christian Island and became part of the migration to Quebec the following year (JR37: 169; Trigger 1976:804). Those of the Southern Bear who remained with the Petun for an uncertain future chose to abandon their brothers the Cord, and their French allies, to retain the ancient relationship with the Petun Deer.

In June 1649, the French establishment moved from the mainland to Christian Island, preceded, accompanied and followed by numbers of wendat from the various Huron Nations, including the Christian element from Ossossane who arrived via the Petun, and those of the Rock who had not already gone over to the Seneca. Others voluntarily went to the Iroquois, to join relatives among them (Trigger 1976:784). The Cord elected to remain with the French, removing with them to Christian Island in 1649, and to Quebec the following year. The rupture of the ancient Bear-Cord brother-sister relationship was confirmed.

Having removed the wendat from the Huronia mainland on the east side of the Nottawasaga


river, the Iroquois now turned to those on the west. Their selection of the principal Petun Wolf village of Etharita for attack in December 1649 may indeed as have been as unplanned and opportune as it is presented in the record (JR35:107-109), but the fact that the Iroquois had attacked this same village at its previous location in 1640 (JR21:181; Garrad 1973) and possibly again in 1647 (JR33:83; Jones 1909:440) at least allows the suggestion that the choice was deliberate, continuing a history of antagonism between the Petun Wolf and one or more of the Confederacy Iroquois tribes, inferentially the Seneca and Onondaga, among whom Petun captives were found in 1654 and 1655 (JR33:83; JR41 :97; JR42:73). As with the Huron Bear, the Petun Deer were not molested, again perhaps for the reason that they were too distant from the action, but possibly because it was the Wolf, not the Deer, who were deemed to have failed an invitation “to come into the Great Peace” and were therefore subject to compulsion by war (Parker 1916:9-10).

The 1650 Dispersals

In 1650, those who had survived the Iroquois attacks of 1648 and 1649 began abandoning their Huronia/Petunia homeland. The two principal migrations took place in opposite directions (Figure 1).

The Eastern Migration

The best recorded migration in 1650 was that of some three hundred of the Huron-wendat who had wintered on Christian Island. These went to Quebec, accompanied by sixty Frenchmen from the abandoned Huron Mission (JR35:199; Jones 1909:439). Their route via the French and Ottawa Rivers, along which Iroquois might be expected, presumably relied for safety on their numerical strength and the presence of armed French soldiers. Other groups followed, both in 1650 and in 1651 when some of the people who had wintered on Manitoulin and other islands, and on the north shore of Georgian Bay, (Trigger 1976:778-779) descended to Quebec. At least one undocumented migration followed, by a more difficult but safer route, if the apparent abandonment en route of an undoubted Jesuit artifact (Coyne 1926) may be so interpreted.

For nearly half a century after their arrival in Quebec the people of the Eastern Wyandot migration were unsettled. During this period many were annexed by the Iroquois to add to those taken in pre-Dispersal Huronia. Some Bear went to the Mohawk, and the remaining Rock to the Onondaga, leaving mainly Cord people. These finally settled at Jeune Lorette in 1697 and remain there and nearby to this day as the Hurons of Lorette, the Huron-Wendat of Wendake, “made up principally of the descendants of the Cord.. and of not a few Mohawks” (Jones 1909:447; Morissonneau 1978; Steckley 1997:25; Trigger 1976:804-813, 819).

Others who fled to Manitoulin and other islands, and to the north shore, remained, and were absorbed into the local indigenous Algonkian populations, with the loss of their wendat identity. As late as 1896 Andrew F. Hunter thought he could detect individuals of Huron ancestry among the Odawas of Manitoulin Island (JR14:286n9).

The Western Migration

Undocumented at the time, but reconstructed through later French writings (JR50:307; JR55:171; JR56:115-117; Charlevoix 1960:27; et al), oral tradition (e.g. Clarke 1870) and


archaeology (e.g. Branstner 1992; Mason 1986; et al), is the route of the probably earlier and more certainly larger migration of the Western Wyandot, summarised and illustrated by Elizabeth Tooker (1978). The two Petun villages overlooking Nottawasaga Bay at Craigleith, already seasonally home to wintering Odawas, crowded since March 1649 with Huron Bear-Turtle refugees from Ossossane, to which were added in December the survivors of the Iroquois attack on the principal Wolf village (Etharita) in which their winter supplies were destroyed, must have needed food urgently (Trigger 1976:789). Consequently, their reported removal to Michilimackinac, where abundant fish and game could be obtained (JR55:159; 56:115-117), probably took place as early in the spring of 1650 as possible. In this choice may be seen the presence and guidance of their Odawa allies on what was perhaps to them the normal, if on this occasion somewhat precipitately commenced, seasonal round. From Michilimackinac they removed for a stay of some years, until the Iroquois found them again, on Rock Island in lake Michigan. The site of their village was located and identified by archaeologists Ron and Carol Mason through comparison with artifacts from the sites at Craigleith, Ontario, and because the journal “Ontario Archaeology” is read internationally (Garrad 1969; Mason 1986). From Rock Island they moved slowly through inland Michigan to the Mississippi and the Black River to emerge and settle on Lake Superior at Chequamegon ca. 1665. From there they re-established contact with the Eastern Wyandot and the French at Quebec. The Jesuits commenced the mission of St. Esprit. Unwise enough to antagonise the nearby Sioux, the migrants moved in 1671 back to the vicinity of Michilimackinac and to the Jesuit mission of St. Ignace.

In 1701 the incredible happened, peace with the Iroquois opened up territories claimed by the Iroquois by conquest. The French, under Cadillac, moved quickly into the Detroit Valley, built a fort, and invited the Upper Lakes Indians to join them. The Western Wyandot left St. Ignace and followed. They flourished at Detroit, extending to both sides of the river and soon south to beyond Lake Erie. They expanded by adoption, and as the adoptees easily merged into Wyandot society they may have been Wyandot themselves, perhaps Neutral and especially Petun and Huron people who had taken refuge with the Neutral. The Western Wyandot at Detroit, now the Wyandot Tribe, maintained contact with the Eastern Wyandot of Quebec, but rejected moving there. Until this time at least the Petun Deer were dominant in the Wyandot Tribe, the Huron component being “minor players” (Steckley 1993b:20; 1997:27).

Recent innovative work by John Steckley confirms that both migrations were far more complex than has been presented here (Trigger 1976:782-788). He compared pre- Dispersal wendat personal names identified to clan or nation in the Jesuit Relations (JR), with post-Dispersal names in use about a century later among the Western wendat (the Wyandot Tribe) at Detroit in 1745, and among the Eastern wendat at Lorette in 1763 (Steckley 1998a,b). Only the former Southern Bear, with eight names at Detroit and four at Lorette, conform to expectancy. Names from all four Huron-wendat Nations were present among the Western Wyandot, and in larger numbers than among the Eastern Wyandot. How meaningful this is, and if there is some sort of recording bias, have yet to be assessed. The Cord, for example, had only two names among the Eastern Wyandot compared with seven among the Western Wyandot, the reversal of what might have been expected. Nevertheless on linguistic grounds Steckley confirms Father Jones’ observation that the Cord were “the core group making up the Huron of Lorette” (Steckley 1998b: 1). Also to be explained is that twelve names were duplicated among both distant groups. It may be that contact, exchange and movement between the two was at a surprisingly high level. Perhaps the functioning of Wyandot society at the time required the perpetuation of certain rank-names. It is known, for example, that the name Sastaretse, the principal chief of the


Western Wyandot Deer-Wolf-Turtle amalgam which emerged in history as The Wyandot Tribe, was also claimed by the Eastern Wyandot while at Ancienne Lorette (Jones 1909:458; Vincent Tehariolina 1984:81).

In the Detroit Valley the Wyandot Tribe, descendants of the Western Wyandot migration, survived incredible events. The British supplanted the French, and provoked the Pontiac revolt. Some distant British colonists rebelled against the home government to create the American Revolution, resulting in the arrival in Ontario Wyandot territory of refugee Loyalists. An international border was established through their territory separating the Michigan and Ohio Wyandot from those on the Ontario side of the river. Then followed the War of 1812, the progressive surrender of their lands to the British/Canadian and U.S. governments, their confinement to reserves and, particularly in Ohio and Michigan, the invasion by largely hostile Euro-American settlers. The U.S. government grew in power sufficiently to compel the removal of the Indian peoples from the north-eastern States to unceded Indian Territory west of the Missouri River. In 1843 the Wyandot of Ohio and Michigan were removed. Some of the Ontario Wyandot, not subject to U.S. jurisdiction, voluntarily accompanied the migrants. The new Indian Territory soon became the State of Kansas, and the Wyandot settlement there evolved into the present Kansas City, Kansas. In 1855 the U.S. government terminated the status of The Wyandot Tribe in Kansas. Those Wyandots who rejected this move reformed the Tribe in the Indian Territory to the south, which soon became Oklahoma. As late as 1874 the voters’ list of the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma was still organised by phratry and clan, the Deer and Bear still together (Hancks n.d., 125-127), echoing pre-Dispersal Ontario centuries earlier. The Wyandot who had remained in Ontario south of Windsor became known as the Wyandots of Anderdon, taking the name of the township which contained their last Reserve, which they surrendered in 1892. Descendants continue to live in the area on both sides of the river and have recently formally reorganized as the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation.

How many wendats lost their identity by being absorbed into the Iroquois Confederacy and Algonquin and other groups is not known. Within several generations at least one of the descendants of wendat captives, Joseph Brant, attained high rank among the Iroquois (Norton 1970: 105). The identifiable modern descendants of the Eastern Wyandot migration from Christian Island are the Huron-Wendat of Lorette, Quebec. The three groups identifiably descended from the Western Wyandot migration from Craigleith in 1650 are today the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation in the Detroit valley, the Wyandot Nation of Kansas, and the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma (Figure 2).

All four groups lost their culture and language and were largely absorbed into the surrounding mainstream dominant society. As the Eastern Wyandot became French, and the Western Wyandot Anglo-American, formal communication between them virtually ceased, but in 1999 several events occurred in the Ontario homeland that promise to redress this situation.

The 1999 Returns

In 1999, members of the Huronia Reconciliation Committee of the Midland Alliance Church invited “descendants of the people involved in the early history of Huronia, from the 1600s to the 1800s, .. the French, British, Jesuits, Hurons, Iroquois, .. the government .. (and) Dutch.. for a weekend of talking, listening and learning, which led to repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation among all involved” (Pelletier 1999). This significant event,


held over three days June 4-6, brought together descendants of the four wendat groups for the first time in many years. The delegates of the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma arrived in their own aircraft. Other aboriginal people also participated, including guest speakers Elijah Harper and Brenda Nadjiwan for the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Non-aboriginal delegates included local politicians, clergy, historians, John Steckley (Hechon) and Charles Garrad (Tauromee), representing Ontario Wyandot heritage research. Events included a tour and supper at Ste. Marie-Among-the-Hurons. The weekend closed with “gift-giving between each of the representatives, and the signalling of new friendships, understanding and new beginnings” (Pelletier 1999). The Reconciliation Ceremony in June smoothed the path for later events in August 1999.

On the weekend of August 27-29, 1999, representatives of the four wendat groups again came together at Midland, Ontario, for ceremonies culminating with the forming of a new Wyandot Confederacy. Formal events commenced Friday August 27 with ceremonies of welcome held in the Penetanguishene Community Centre. Delegates from Lorette, Quebec, arrived by chartered bus, and from Oklahoma by the tribal aircraft. Ceremonies through Saturday August 28 commenced at sunrise. Following purification, Angie and John Steckley, Ella and Charles Garrad, and Eric Marason of San Francisco, were formally adopted into the Wyandot Nation of Kansas by Principal Chief Janith K. English, assisted by Cultural Co-ordinator Darren English and Sherri L. Clemons of the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma. The ceremonial arrival of participants by canoe up the Wye River and welcoming ceremonies took up most of the day. In the evening a feast in the Papal Field at the Martyrs’ Shrine was followed by the reading and signing of a manifesto affirming the new Confederacy by representatives of the four ouendat groups.

After a Sunrise Ceremony, Sunday 29th was dedicated to the ceremonial re-enactment of the Feast of the Dead at the Ossossane ossuary. The Royal Ontario Museum returned to the site for reburial by the Wyandot delegates the material excavated in the 1950s by Kenneth E. Kidd, and donated the deed of the property to the Huron-Wendat of Lorette (Avery 1999, Beal 1999. Wilkes 1999, Withers 1999). On Thursday August 26, in preparation for this event, a ceremony of purification and honouring was conducted in the artifact storage rooms of the Royal Ontario Museum as the material for reburial was being assembled. The material was escorted from Toronto by Dr. Mima Kapches of the Museum and Chief Janith K. English. The burial pit was lined with eighty beaver pelts and endowed with clay pots made for the occasion and other containers of foods and gifts. Each of the 300 boxes of bones and two of artifacts emptied into the pit was blessed and purified, as was every person who approached the pit. The proceedings were accompanied by a solitary rattle from Lorette, a single drum played by Ted Warrow of Anderdon, and the cry of “hi-hi-hi” from the assembly. It was announced that henceforth a ceremony will take place at the Ossossane ossuary annually each August.

In the year 2000, Wyandot descendants from Anderdon and Kansas returned to Ontario to participate in an archaeological excavation in the former Petun homeland.

Summary and Conclusions

Four modern groups are recognised as the descendants of the wendat (Wyandot) peoples who left Ontario 350 years ago to become the Eastern (the Huron-Wendat of Lorette) and Western (The Wyandot Tribe) Wyandot, the latter now divided into three groups in three locations. In 1999 representatives of all four groups returned twice to Ontario to renew the


past relationship and to form a new confederacy. A precedent was established for the return of archaeologically excavated materials and artifacts to the ground, with appropriate respect and ceremony. The new Wyandot Confederacy potentially offers a means for Wyandot participation and representation in future considerations affecting their ancestral archaeological remains in Ontario.


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PRI36-1Figure 1: (Map) Dispersal Routes 1650-1651.


Figure 2: (Map) The Migration of the Wyandot Tribe from Craigleith and the Location of Three Modern Descendant Groups


Figure 3: (Photograph) The First 1999 Return. Some participants in the Reconciliation Ceremony, Midland, June 1999. Photograph by Sherri L. Clemons, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma. Left to right.

Seated in front:
Chief Leaford Bearskin, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma;
Chief Frances J. Gartner, Wyandot of Anderdon;
Chief Luc Lainé, La Nation Huronne-Wendat of Lorette;
Chief Janith English, Wyandot Nation of Kansas.

Standing in rear:
Father Michael Stogre, S.J.,
Earlene Roskob, Councilperson, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma,
Ramona L. Reid, Councilperson, Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma,
Rev. Adrian Jacobs, Cayuga First Nation, Anglican Minister, and son.
Gilbert Tremblay & Mireille Langelier, Quebec,
Raymond Gros-Louis, La Nation Huronne-Wendat of Lorette,
Darren English, Cultural Co-ordinator, Wyandot Nation of Kansas,
Charles Garrad, Wyandot historian,
Rev. Arie G. Van Eek, Christian Reformed Church,
Rev. Norman Newbery, Anglican Minister, Elmvale,
Rev. Brent Faquhar, Pastor, Midland Alliance Church.


Figure 4: (Photograph) The Second 1999 Return. Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma Piper Navaho aircraft, Midland airport, August 1999. Note the Turtle insignia and “Wyandotte Nation” identification.

Standing left to right:
Robert E. Reid, tribal pilot,
Mary Jane Gallaspy, tribal member,
Juanita McQuistion, former tribal Secretary,
Ella Garrad,
Sherri L. Clemons, tribal member,
Jim Bland, Second Chief,
Charles Garrad.

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