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GAWÈHE (Degawehe, Gawickie, Goweaaey, Goweah, Koé, Kouée, Koweahe, baptized Pierre), chief councillor of the Wolf clan of the Oneidas. His official title in the Iroquois federal council may have been Deyo’ha’gwen de’, meaning Through the Opening or Open Voice; d. c. 1 June 1766 at Fort Stanwix (near Rome, N.Y.).

Gawèhe took an active part in the Seven Years’ War. He is first recorded in 1756 as an intelligence courier for Sir William Johnson*, the superintendent of northern Indians. During the abortive campaign against the French fort at Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.), he was commissioned lieutenant by Major-General William Shirley.

In the early stages of the war a majority of Iroquois doubted an English victory, and the Oneidas feared a French attack. Although Gawèhe professed continued allegiance to England, he took the precaution of keeping communications open with Canada. Encouraged by Johnson to pass a war belt through the Confederacy, the Oneida chief instead accepted a French invitation to a conference at Montreal with Governor Pierre de Rigaud* de Vaudreuil, where he declared his fidelity to the French. In 1757 he made frequent trips to François Picquet*’s mission of La Présentation (Oswegatchie, now Ogdensburg, N.Y.) and to Montreal, once delivering to Vaudreuil an offer of an alliance from dissident German settlers in the colony of New York. A possibility exists that Gawèhe was secretly acting in the English interest, for Johnson continued to pay him for services rendered; more likely he was assessing for the Iroquois the military strength of both European powers.

By 1760 England was completing its conquest of Canada, and Gawèhe joined Major-General Jeffery Amherst*’s drive on Montreal. He continued working for the English during the unrest inspired by Pontiac in 1763 and 1764, supplying Johnson with intelligence on the western Indians. When he died in 1766, possibly of a bayonet wound received in a drinking brawl, Johnson accepted responsibility for his family and provided presents for the condolence ritual.

Arthur Einhorn

Inv. des papiers de Léry (P.-G. Roy), III, 8, 10. Johnson papers (Sullivan et al.) NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), VII, 151–52, 232; VIII, 240; X, 461–65, 499–518. W. N. Fenton, The roll call of the Iroquois chiefs; a study of a mnemonic cane from the Six Nations reserve (Washington, 1950), 60.

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Cite This Article

Arthur Einhorn, “GAWÈHE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed February 26, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gawehe_3E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gawehe_3E.html
Author of Article:   Arthur Einhorn
Title of Article:   GAWÈHE
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1974
Year of revision:   1974
Access Date:   February 26, 2024