ANNENRAES, famous Onondaga chief; d. 1654.
Annenraes emerges from the troubled years immediately preceding the destruction of Huronia. After the peace negotiations and treaty, 1645–46 (subsequently broken, see Kiotseaeton), there was only a brief respite in the Huron–Iroquois struggle. During the early part of 1647, a body of Onondagas attempted an onslaught against Huron territory but met disaster. Two Susquehanna deputies also arrived in Huronia with the offer of help for their Huron allies if it were needed. A Huron embassy, headed by the chief Ondaaiondiont, was sent in April 1647 to the Susquehanna country.
Huron warriors had pursued the invading Onondagas, killed the chief, taken some prisoners, and dispersed the others. As usual, the prisoners were burned to death, with the exception of one named Annenraes, considered the most important of the captives. With the coming of spring, Annenraes learned that some of the Hurons resented the fact that he was still alive. He thereupon confided to a friend that he intended to escape and to return to his own people. His plan was communicated to some principal chiefs of the Huron council, who realized that they might gain a possible advantage with the Onondagas by assisting Annenraes to escape, as he was reputed to wield authority in his own country. Accordingly, Annenraes was provided with necessities for the journey, given presents, disguised, and permitted to start off by night.
Having passed Lake Ontario, Annenraes came upon 300 Onondagas, who were making canoes in which to cross the lake, their object being to attack the Hurons and thus to avenge his supposed death. These Onondagas were to join additional bands of Senecas and Cayugas, the total force to consist of 800 warriors, all intent upon war against Huronia. The unexpected arrival of Annenraes upset the plans of the war-party, the members of which regarded him as one returned from the dead. Instead of continuing their military preparations, the warriors now considered the possibility of peace and returned to Onondaga, where they held a council.
Their deliberations resulted in the sending of an Onondaga embassy to the Hurons, bearing suitable gifts to pave the way for preliminary discussions on a peace treaty. This embassy arrived at the village of Saint-Ignace II (near Sturgeon Bay, Ontario), in the Huron country 9 July 1648. At its head was an Indian named Soines, born a Huron but naturalized as an Onondaga. Although negotiations were conducted back and forth between the Hurons and the Onondagas, peace did not ensue. The Onondagas seemed to favour peace, the Cayugas appeared to be of the same mind, the Oneidas were reported as not opposed, but the Senecas would not hear of peace and the Mohawks, it is stated, were against the proposal because they were jealous that the Onondagas had taken the initiative. The Huron embassy, headed by Ondaaiondiont, had also involved the Susquehannahs in the Huron–Iroquois negotiations.
These developments profoundly disturbed the Mohawks and the Senecas, who felt themselves, in consequence, increasingly isolated. After a series of inconclusive skirmishes in 1648, the desperate Mohawks and Senecas completely destroyed Huronia in 1649 and dispersed the Tobacco nation and the Neutrals in the years that followed.
Throughout the peace negotiations of 1648 between the Hurons and the Onondagas, the name of Annenraes is not mentioned. Six years later, in 1654, the French at Montreal were informed by some Onondagas that a new war was in progress. The Erie nation had attacked the Senecas as well as an army of Onondagas. These Onondaga warriors were returning to their own country after a victory won in the direction of Lake Huron, when the rearguard, composed of 80 picked men, was assaulted by Eries and completely cut to pieces. Annenraes, one of the greatest captains of the Onondagas, was captured by a group of Erie skirmishers almost at the gates of the Onondaga village. The exact month of the capture and subsequent death of Annenraes is not recorded. However, at Onondaga on 10 Aug. 1654, Father Simon Le Moyne addressed a general council of Iroquois (the Mohawks were absent) and offered 19 words or presents, the last of which is recorded as follows, “Finally, with the nineteenth present, I wiped away the tears of all the young warriors, caused by the death of their great Captain Anneneraes, who had been taken Captive by the cat (Erie) Nation not long before.”