EROUACHY (Eroachi, Esrouachit), known to the French as “La Ferrière,” “La Forière,” “La Fourière,” “La Foyrière”; chief of the Montagnais Indians around Tadoussac; frequently acted as self-appointed negotiator between his people and the French; fl. 1618–36?
Erouachy professed friendship for the French and sought favours from them. In 1618 he was sent to Quebec to negotiate with the French concerning the murder of two Europeans by Montagnais Indians near Cap Tourmente two years before. In July 1623, he warned the French of an impending attack on Tadoussac and Quebec, which Cherououny, another Montagnais leader, was fomenting, perhaps at the instigation of the independent fur-traders.
In 1627 the Montagnais were still annoyed by French restrictions on trade, claiming that the trading company charged more for goods than did the independent traders. When two more Frenchmen, Dumoulin and Henri, the servant of Mme Hébert [see Rollet], were murdered near Quebec in October of that year, the French exacted three young men as hostages until those responsible were delivered to them. Erouachy again undertook to negotiate with the French. In May 1628, he came to Quebec with a man whom Chomina, a Montagnais Indian friendly to the French, had accused of the murders. Erouachy tried to justify his companion by blaming the killings on some Algonkins. When Champlain refused to believe his story and arrested the suspect, he urged him to treat him well and to await further evidence. Erouachy spent the winter among the Abenakis, and in April 1629 he returned to Quebec to propose an alliance between that tribe and the French. The proposal greatly pleased Champlain, since the Abenakis were said to grow corn and he thought some Frenchmen might winter among them if the ships from France, captured the previous summer by David Kirke and again threatened by the English, did not succeed in reaching Quebec.
Erouachy also affirmed his friendship for the French and warned them to beware of the Indians at Tadoussac, whom they already knew had given aid to Kirke, who had captured that post in the previous year. Erouachy also offered to send one of his own men along in order to protect any Frenchmen who were hunting or fishing away from the settlement. He also repeated a story he had heard among the Mahicans, blaming the machinations of an Allumette Island Indian for the death of Pierre Magnan and Cherououny, while on a peace mission to the Iroquois country. At this time Erouachy again pleaded for the prisoner, and Champlain promised he would do nothing until the return of the ships and the annual gathering of the Indians.
In June, when the French at Quebec had run out of food, Erouachy insisted that the prisoner, now ill from unaccustomed confinement, be released. Fearing the Indians and in precarious circumstances, Champlain ultimately agreed to this, but only if a new hostage were given and if Chomina, to whom went the final credit for the prisoner’s release, were elected as the chief representative of the tribes who traded with the French. This action seems to have been prompted partly by French distrust of Erouachy, to whom Chomina was also hostile.
Champlain’s brief accounts throw little light on the character of Erouachy or on the broader aspects of his life. Like his enemy and possible rival Cherououny, he seems to have felt far from well disposed toward the French at Quebec. There is no evidence that he commanded any positive respect among his own people. Perhaps a weak man by nature he sought to gain the favour of the French but never succeeded in winning their confidence.
In 1636 the Jesuits mention that Erouachy’s wife offered his daughter for baptism. It is not clear whether Erouachy was alive or dead at this time.