MANITOUGATCHE (Manitoucharche, Manitouchatche, known as “La Nasse”), baptized Joseph, Montagnais Indian and friend of the French, one of the first Indians to adopt, in part, the French way of life; d. 1634.
On the morning of 19 July 1629 Manitougatche brought news to Quebec that three English ships were approaching the Île d’Orléans destined for Quebec. This message was confirmed the same day when English vessels arrived at Quebec and an officer came ashore with a letter from Lewis and Thomas Kirke calling upon Champlain to surrender the fort and settlement to the English. After negotiations, the surrender was effected on Friday, 20 July 1629.
Prior to the surrender by the French, Manitougatche and his family lived near Quebec in a cabin on cleared land given to him by the Jesuits. Following the expulsion of the Recollets and the Jesuits by the English in 1629, Manitougatche, molested by the new régime, removed “to the Islands” (identity unknown) and continued to farm the land. When Quebec was restored to the French in 1632, the Jesuits returned the same year and Manitougatche visited the missionaries, promising to again construct his cabin near them and to commit his son to their care. The Jesuits agreed to educate the boy.
On 13 Oct. 1633, Manitougatche and other Indians placed their goods and belongings in care of the Jesuits for safekeeping, probably because they were absent on a bear hunt from which they returned on 24 October. On this occasion Manitougatche, in the words of Father Paul Le Jeune, “carried with him a great shield, very long and very wide. . . . They raise it up and cover themselves with it. It is made of one single piece of very light cedar . . . a little bent or curved, the better to cover the body; and, in order that if an arrow or blow should split it, it might still hold together, it was sewed at the top and bottom with a leather string.” Shortly thereafter, on 8 Nov. 1633, Manitougatche and his entire family, consisting of two or three households, arrived and camped near the house of the Jesuits. The reported presence of a considerable number of Iroquois near Quebec, 13 Nov. 1633, caused Manitougatche to lead his entire group to cabins near the settlement where protection was provided; but he himself returned to the house of the Jesuits stating that if he was destined for death it was his wish to die near the missionaries. Evidently Manitougatche adopted some French customs because on 30 Nov. 1633 he started building a cabin of wood, fashioning boards with a hatchet and using nails obtained by burning a derelict boat.
The known life of Manitougatche does not include great deeds as a warrior. It can probably best be described as that of an Indian adopting, in part, new customs and acquiring convictions unknown to his ancestors. Little is recorded of his family other than that he had a son and sons-in-law. Among the latter, Pierre Pastedechouan is mentioned. When residing near the Jesuits, Manitougatche participated in Christian religious services. His baptism was delayed by the missionaries who always required adult Indians to undergo a lengthy period of probation to test their sincerity. Toward the end of 1633, suffering from an unnamed disease, Manitougatche was cared for at the Jesuit dwelling where he was baptized on 3 April 1634 and named Joseph. He died on Holy Saturday 1634 and was buried according to the ritual of the Roman Catholic Church. Champlain released his people from work and sent them to attend the funeral of Manitougatche.
Champlain, Works (Biggar), VI, 49–66. Du Creux, History (Conacher), I, 49–52, 137, 141 (the “Nassa” referred to, 137, 141, is “La Nasse”). JR (Thwaites), V, 57, 93–97, 103–5, 107, 111, 121, 163; VI, 119–25. Le Clercq, First establishment of the faith (Shea), I, 289. Sagard, Histoire du Canada (Tross), IV, 895–97, 904.