KOUTAOILIBOE (Katalouibois, Koutaouileone, Outaouliboy), a leading Ottawa chief of the Kiskakon clan, from Michilimackinac; fl. 1700–1712.
In September 1700 Koutaoiliboe represented the four Ottawa clans at Callière’s peace conference with the Iroquois. The chief promised loyalty to the French and urged that hostilities cease between the Iroquois and western Indians. A year later, Father Joseph-Jacques Marest, writing from Michilimackinac, mentioned that Koutaoiliboe was one of his most trusted couriers. He carried messages for the French between Michilimackinac, Detroit, and Montreal from then until 1712.
After the Le Pesant affair at Detroit, much bitterness remained between the Ottawas and Miamis. In late summer of 1706, some Detroit Ottawas passed through Michilimackinac on their way to destroy the Miami post on the St Joseph River. They urged their Michilimackinac cousins, led by Onaské and Koutaoiliboe, to join the attack. Father Marest convinced Koutaoiliboe, however, that it would be unwise to attack the Saint-Joseph post, as there were missionaries there. The Ottawas did not relish the idea of another dispute over the death of a priest, such as had recently caused differences at Detroit [see Constantin Delhalle]. They retired with gifts from Father Marest, who explained to Rigaud de Vaudreuil: “[Koutaoiliboe] has sufficient intelligence, and influence, and is well affected enough towards us, to deserve to be conciliated.”
Koutaoiliboe went to Detroit in August 1707 to attend the councils concerning Le Pesant. After being mistakenly accused by Cadillac [Laumet] and Jean-Paul Legardeur de Saint-Pierre of intrigue in the affair, he and other chiefs were sent with Saint-Pierre and Pierre d’Ailleboust d’Argenteuil to Michilimackinac to get custody of Le Pesant. According to Koutaoiliboe – confirmed by d’Argenteuil and Saint-Pierre – he had much to do with convincing Le Pesant to surrender and go to Detroit. At a council in Montreal in October 1707, Vaudreuil said to Koutaoiliboe: “I know that Kataouliboûé’s mind has always been well disposed, and his heart French; I have therefore a real esteem for him.” At that time Vaudreuil gave Koutaoiliboe and the other Michilimackinac Ottawas permission to travel freely between Michilimackinac, Detroit, and Montreal, a policy he reaffirmed in July 1708. In July 1710 Koutaoiliboe visited Vaudreuil, reminded him of the Kiskakons’ loyalty, and asked that the fort at Michilimackinac, abandoned since 1698, be re-established.
Father Marest wrote to Vaudreuil in June 1712 that the current Fox-French conflict in Detroit [see Pemoussa] was further reason for Michilimackinac to be re-established. The letter was sent via Koutaoiliboe, who, according to Marest, agreed with his plans. The missionary said that an Ottawa war chief, Saguima*, would remain in Michilimackinac; Saguima had more influence over the tribe than Koutaoiliboe and was greatly feared by the enemy.
In a subsequent letter Marest explained to Vaudreuil that Koutaoiliboe was upset because Detroit was getting all the supplies and troops, whereas the Michilimackinac Ottawas had more frequently proven their loyalty. Marest claimed that Koutaoiliboe was the only Ottawa who was always loyal to Vaudreuil. Marest was probably correct in his analysis of Koutaoiliboe’s views, but it must be remembered that Marest was envious of the shift of French resources from Michilimackinac to Detroit,
Vaudreuil met Koutaoiliboe and Ouenemek at Montreal in July 1712 to discuss the Fox problem. Koutaoiliboe presented a grandiose plan for destroying the Foxes; Vaudreuil instead agreed with Ouenemek who urged a more cautious approach.
We do not have a report of Koutaoiliboe’s death, but in 1706 he was said to be one of the “old men.”
AN, Col., C11A, 24, f.259; 26, ff.75, 124, 138; 31, ff.114–20; 33, f.77. La Poterie, Histoire (1722), IV, 61–62. Michigan Pioneer Coll., XXXIII, 114–15, 346–50, 354–61, 366–67, 553–57. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IX, 624, 718–19. Sheldon, Early history of Michigan, 261–62, 271–75.