Kondiaronk, the Rat

Cover of the Jesuit Relations for 1662-1663
Cover of the Jesuit Relations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

France would have had a better chance of keeping Canada if it had been possible to secure the backings of the Iroquois.

The Five Nations tribes eventually gave their full support to the British, whom they disliked — but they hated the French more at that time. There was one period of peace between the Iroquois and the French and it lasted nearly 20 years.

On December 13, 1667, representatives of the Onondagas, Cayugas, and the Senecas signed a peace treaty at Quebec. They had been greatly impressed by the arrival of the Marquis de Tracy and the famous Carignan-Salieres Regiment on June 30. The fifth Iroquois tribe, the fierce Mohawks, did not capitulate until Tracy captured Andaraque.

The peace between the French and the Iroquois was due in part to the efforts of a half-breed spokesman for the Indians who was known as the “Flemish Bastard“. Although the “Flemish Bastard” helped to bring about peace, he was not popular with the French clergy.

Father Ragueneau wrote in the Jesuit Relations:

“This commander, the most prominent among the enemies of the Faith, was a Hollander — or rather, an execrable issue of sin, the monstrous offspring of a Dutch heretic father and a pagan woman.”

His mother was actually a Mohawk.

Although the peace was broken several times, it was feared by other Indian nations, in whose interest it was to keep the French and the Iroquois at war with each other.

Crafty Huron chief Kondiaronk, the Rat, governed his people in the Great Lakes area from Michilimackinac. After the incidents at Fort Frontenac and the massacre at Lachine, he learned that the Iroquois were sending a delegation to Fort Frontenac to try to work out another peace treaty. Kondiaronk ambushed them, killed one of the chiefs, and took the others prisoner. Then he pretended that he had acted under the orders of the French, and allowed them to “escape.”

When the Iroquois arrived back in their villages they described what they had been led to believe was the treachery of the French. That was the end of any possible peace between the Iroquois and Onontio, the French governors were called.

“Spanish civilization crushed the Indians; English civilization scorned and neglected him; French civilization embraced and cherished him.” – Francis Parkman, 1865

“The making of peace is in fact more difficult than has been the winning of the war.” – John W. Dafoe, 1919

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