AOUENANO (Awenano, Awanano), Seneca civil chief and Iroquois negotiator; fl. 1699–1701.
Aouenano played a leading role in the negotiations with the French which led to the peace treaty of 1701. He was one of eight Seneca civil chiefs, who were appointed by virtue of their war experiences, their mother’s lineage, their gravity, and their persuasive eloquence. These mature, and often elderly, men served as peacekeepers among their people and as envoys in external relations. Aouenano dealt primarily with the French while other Seneca chiefs treated with the agents of New York province.
Aouenano’s entire family was killed in the summer of 1699 when Indian allies of the French invaded the Seneca lands. He evidently contained his desire for revenge and attempted to bring hostilities to an end. In that same year, he and a Seneca chief called Assichqua sent a messenger to the governor of New France with two belts of wampum to discuss peace. The Onondaga chiefs told the English that this was a private mission without Seneca or other Iroquois authorization. Governor Callière answered the message of the two chiefs by sending back two wampum belts as a sign of favour.
On 18 July 1700, Aouenano arrived in Montreal with Tonatakout and two other Seneca chiefs and the Onondaga sachems Aradgi and Ohonsiowanne. Their embassy sought an end to attacks by the French allies and requested a general exchange of prisoners. Although the ambassadors claimed to speak for the entire Iroquois league, the Mohawks excepted, Callière would not accept them as such and he demanded that the Cayugas and Oneidas send their own deputies.
Two weeks before the arrival of the six ambassadors in Montreal, another Iroquois delegation at Albany had asked the English to press the French and their Indian allies into extending the peace established by the Treaty of Ryswyck to the Iroquois. The English refused to give them military aid and left the Iroquois no option but to obtain what terms they could from the French.
Four of the ambassadors to Montreal were left with the French while the others with Father Bruyas, Chabert de Joncaire and Paul Le Moyne de Maricourt returned to gather the prisoners held by the Iroquois and to collect deputies from the Cayugas and Oneidas.
Aouenano was present at the final peace conference held through July and August 1701 at Montreal. His major contribution was a conciliatory funeral oration pronounced over the body of Kondiaronk, chief of the Michilimackinac Hurons. On behalf of the four Iroquois nations present, he called upon their enemies to partake of Kondiaronk’s desire for reconciliation.
The peace treaty signed on 4 Aug 1701, and later accepted by the Mohawks, was a turning point in French-Iroquois relations. By the terms of the treaty, the Iroquois were to remain neutral in any French-English conflict. Moreover, should they be wronged by one of the French allies, they had to accept mediation by the French before retaliating. The Iroquois accepted these restraints on their freedom of action only because of their weakened state, the absence of English military support, and the combined threat of the French and their Indian partners.
AN, Col., C11A, 18, pp. 46–51; 19, pp 78–86 (copies in PAC). [The PAC transcript of AN, Col., C11A, 18 (p. 46) gives the date of the Indians’ arrival in Montreal as 17 July; the microfilmed original (f.81) gives 18 July.] La Potherie, Histoire (1722), IV, 135–46, 230–31 NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IV, 658, 694; IX, 708, 711. Y. F. Zoltvany, “Philippe de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, governor of New France (1703–1725),” unpublished ph.d. thesis, University of Alberta, 1963, 54–55.