KIOTSEAETON (Kioutsaeton) dit “Le Crochet” (The Hook), Mohawk chief, orator, and envoy to the French during the peace negotiations, 1645–46, between the French, their Indian allies, and the Mohawks; fl. 1645–46.
Kiotseaeton was a famous Mohawk orator, first of all a professional speaker for the council chiefs, appointed to speak for them, not for himself, and only secondly a man who handled words dramatically. Eloquence, however, was regarded by the Indians as second only to courage in hunting and in war. Their oratory was slow and deliberate, but fluent; logical, repetitious, rhetorical, frequently sarcastic, rich in simile and metaphor, and invariably dignified (Jenness, Indians of Canada, 200–1). Woven belts of wampum were used as gift exchanges by the orator to confirm his statements.
In 1645 both the French and the Mohawks were eager for peace. The negotiations of that year represent a serious attempt by the Mohawks to end the long strife with the French and their Indian allies, in which the fur trade was deeply involved. In 1642 Iroquois hostilities had broken out against the Hurons, middlemen in the northern fur trade with the French, as the Mohawks had less furs to trade. They began a series of raids on the Huron fur convoys, which used the Ottawa River as their trading route. French settlements were menaced, colonization came to a standstill, and no military aid was available from France itself.
In the spring of 1644, the famous Algonkin chief, Pieskaret, with six members of his tribe, was on a hunting trip to Lake Champlain, where they fell in, by chance, with a party of 13 Mohawks, 11 of whom they killed. Tokhrahenehiaron, one of the two survivors, with two other released captives, was sent back to the Mohawk country by the French with a proposal from Huault de Montmagny, the governor “to bring about universal peace among all the Nations.” The Mohawks responded by dispatching Kiotseaeton to discuss terms for peace. He arrived at Trois-Rivières 5 July 1645, accompanied by two other Mohawks and Guillaume Couture*, who had remained as a prisoner in the Mohawk country, after his capture with Father Isaac Jogues three years previously. Tokhrahenehiaron, also, was one of the party. Kiotseaeton, profusely adorned with wampum, declared the purpose of his people “to enter into the designs of the French, of the Hurons, and of the Algonquins.” Champflour, the commandant at Trois-Rivières, welcomed the embassy. News of its arrival was sent to the governor at Quebec, who came to Trois-Rivières and appointed 12 July as the date for a conference.
Father Jogues, who had come from Montreal, was also present at the great peace council, attended with ceremonial pomp and pageantry on the part of both the Indians and the French. In addition to the French and Mohawk delegations, Huron, Algonkin, Montagnais, and Attikamegue deputies were also represented but their most important spokesmen were absent. Seventeen wampum belts were presented by Kiotseaeton, with an equivalent number of “words” or addresses. The seventeenth or last present was the collar worn at home by Honatteniate, one of the two Mohawks most recently captured by the French. The governor made his reply to the embassy, 14 July, presenting 14 gifts with as many messages to the visiting Mohawks.
There is some uncertainty surrounding the discussions. Two recent secondary sources (Hunt, Wars of the Iroquois, 77–78, 82, 86 and Desrosiers, Iroquoisie, 303–8, 321–24, 328–36) infer that the Mohawks demanded a share of the northern fur trade, in which the Hurons acted as middlemen for the French. The settlement, as recorded in JR (Thwaites), XXVII, states merely that “Thus was peace concluded with them [the Mohawks],” subject to the following conditions, “that they should commit no act of hostility against the Hurons, or against the other Nations who are our [French] allies, until the chiefs of those Nations who were not present had treated with them.” It is clear, however, that two private conversations took place between the governor, “Le Crochet” (by inference, Kiotseaeton), and Couture. At the first of these meetings, Kiotseaeton proposed that the Algonkins be excluded from the terms then under discussion. Montmagny, however, refused to abandon his allies, whereupon Kiotseaeton showed himself “chagrined at this repulse.” Nevertheless, in the second conference, the governor made the proposal to include the Christian Algonkins only in the protective terms of the treaty. (JR (Thwaites) XXVIII, 149, 151, 315.)
It is evident that the Jesuits at Quebec and Sillery had no knowledge of this secret condition (JR (Thwaites), XXVIII, 147–51) until news was brought from Trois-Rivières 8 Jan. 1646 by Tandihetsi, a Huron, that all the Algonkins were planning to hold a council there. Its purpose was to inform the Algonkins that some Mohawks had “spoke in confidence to Tandihetsi, who was accompanying them, and told him the secret of their country, – to wit, that no peace was desired with the Atichawata [Algonkins], but it was desired with the Hurons and the French; that the French had consented thereto, and that consequently nothing but the opportunity was now awaited for exterminating the Atichawata, and that 300 Annieronons [Mohawks] could certainly come by the middle of February  for the execution of this plan” (JR (Thwaites), XXVIII, 149).
Fathers Jérôme Lalemant and Jean de Quen, who were surprised that their confrères at Trois-Rivières had not informed them of the proposed council and its objectives, reported Tandihetsi’s message to the governor, who then told them what had transpired earlier in the two private discussions with Kiotseaeton. In the interval between the deliberations, Montmagny, fearing that peace would be endangered by refusing Kiotseaeton’s demands, had consulted Fathers Barthélemy Vimont and Paul Le Jeune, who “thought that the difficulty might be smoothed over.” (There is no evidence in the Relations that Vimont and Le Jeune had actually been present at the two meetings with Kiotseaeton.) On 23 Jan. 1646, Pierre Boucher*, Toupin, his brother-in-law, and a Mohawk, arrived in Quebec from Trois-Rivières, bearing letters which stated that everything which “the Huron Tandihetsi had said was false, – at least, in the main” (JR,(Thwaites), XXVIII, 155).
A second parley was held between the French, Mohawks, Hurons, Algonkins, and Iroquets, 18–20 Sept. 1646 and the peace terms were subsequently ratified in the Mohawk villages. Two Algonkins, two Hurons, and two Frenchmen were included in the embassy, headed by Couture, which was sent to the Mohawk county on behalf of the French, while three Mohawks remained in New France. The French embassy, accompanied by seven Mohawk ambassadors, did not return to New France until February 1646.
Kiotseaeton was again present at Trois-Rivières 7 May 1646, as head of a third Mohawk peace embassy. Following this meeting, Father Jogues and Jean Bourdon set out 16 May for the Mohawk country to confirm the peace. After his return, 7 June, Father Jogues received permission to go back to the Mohawk country as a missionary and left Montreal on 24 September. His devoted efforts, however, soon ended in tragedy. Despite the treaty, hostilities were renewed, and the murder of Father Jogues in the Mohawk country 18 Oct. 1646 was an ominous prelude to the bloody war which culminated in the destruction of the Huron trading “empire” in 1649.
Du Creux, History (Conacher), II, 408–13, 436–37. JR (Thwaites), XXVII, 247–73, 275–303; XXVIII, 147–51, 291–303, 315; XXIX, 47–49.
© 1966–2023 University of Toronto/Université Laval
Cite This Article
Thomas Grassmann, “KIOTSEAETON, Le Crochet,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed March 26, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/kiotseaeton_1E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Thomas Grassmann|
|Title of Article:||KIOTSEAETON, Le Crochet|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1966|
|Year of revision:||1979|
|Access Date:||March 26, 2023|