ATIRONTA, Pierre, Huron captain; d. 1672.
Atironta was a resident of the Huron village situated near Quebec from 1666 until his death. The inhabitants of this village were survivors of the Huron nation who, after a winter of starvation and death on Île Saint-Joseph (now Christian Island), escaped with the French party of priests, lay-brothers, workmen, and soldiers under Father Ragueneau, and arrived at Quebec 28 July 1650.
They first camped near the Hôtel-Dieu, moving to the Île d’Orléans the following March. In 1651, this nucleus was joined by the Hurons of the Sillery settlement and by those who had fled to Ekaentouton (Manitoulin Island). In 1654, still another group of Hurons who had been living at Trois-Rivières joined them. On 20 May 1656 they were stealthily attacked by Iroquois when several of their number were killed or made captive. For safety, they returned to Quebec where they remained until 1668; then, after a short sojourn at Beauport they settled at Côte Saint-Michel, Notre-Dame-de-Foy, in 1669. At this time they numbered about 210. They settled at Ancienne-Lorette in 1673. They were then increasing in population, partly from the addition of Iroquois converts. Basically the remnant of the mission to the Hurons, the Indians of this village were Christians under the care of the Jesuits.
During the six years that Pierre Atironta resided among the Huron exiles, he was deeply devoted to Christian beliefs and practices, and, although of advanced age, he learned by heart all the Huron prayers. He became dogique of his cabin, leading others in prayer night and morning. He held no resentment against the Iroquois by whom he was cruelly treated. He introduced, in the village, the practice of visiting and praying for the sick. Contrary to Indian custom, he reproved his children when necessary and also others whose behaviour offended him. While health permitted, he worked continually in the fields and in his house, and although he in the end endured great suffering, he gave no sign of pain.