OUREHOUARE (Orehaoue, Horehouasse), Iroquois war-chief, galley-slave, confidant, and ambassador of Buade de Frontenac; b. c. 1650; d. 1698.
Ourehouare was a chief of the Cayuga villages which had been established on the Bay of Quinte before the founding of Fort Frontenac (Cataracoui) in 1673. In 1687 the governor, Brisay* de Denonville, invaded the Iroquois homeland and won a partial victory which prevented the Iroquois, backed by the English, from wresting the western fur trade from French control.
Bochart* de Champigny, the intendant, went in advance of the main force, 17 June 1687, to Fort Cataracoui, where he seized a group of Cayuga hunters encamped near the fort. Another group he lured into the fort, on pretext of a feast, but imprisoned them instead. En route to the country of the Senecas, Jean Peré, another member of the expedition, captured Ourehouare and several other Indians near Montreal and these prisoners were added to the others in the fort. The tribesmen, numbering 51 braves, were stripped, and tied to stakes in the compound of the fort, where they underwent torture at the hands of the French and their Indian allies. On the return of the invading French army, the captives were transported down the St. Lawrence River to Quebec, leaving behind them 150 helpless women and children. In accordance with the French king’s request, Ourehouare and his fellow captives were subsequently shipped to France where they were forced to serve in the king’s galleys.
This treacherous behaviour on the part of the French unleashed savage warfare throughout the length of the St. Lawrence River for more than a decade. Raiding parties of Iroquois carried tomahawk, scalping knife, and torch to isolated communities and threatened the destruction of the French colony.
Alarmed at the deterioration of affairs in New France, Louis XIV in 1689 decided to return the Indian captives, and to replace Governor de Denonville with Count Frontenac. When the latter sailed for Quebec, he was accompanied by Ourehouare and 13 Cayuga braves, all that had survived two years of slavery in the king’s galleys during France’s wars against the Mediterranean pirates. On the long voyage Frontenac exerted himself to the utmost to gain the confidence and friendship of Ourehouare, inviting the chief to dine with him and showering him with gifts. In Quebec, Ourehouare was given a suite in the Château Saint-Louis, and was admitted to the governor’s inner circle. As a result, he became a firm friend of Frontenac. He acted as the governor’s ambassador in several attempts at reconciliation with the Iroquois and participated in retaliatory attacks on enemy posts. Ourehouare never returned to his homeland. He died of pleurisy in Quebec in 1698, before peace could be attained, and was buried there with full military honours.
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