NEGABAMAT, Noël, known as Tekouerimat, one of the principal Montagnais chiefs of Sillery; b. c. 1600; d. 19 March 1666.
Noël Negabamat’s life is one of the best examples of the success of the policy of the French missionaries, who wanted both to convert the American Indians to Catholicism and to integrate them into the European way of living. When Father Paul Le Jeune founded a centre at Sillery where the nomadic tribes might settle down (1637), Negabamat, brother of the Montagnais chief Chomina and leader of a troop of Montagnais who had settled in the neighbourhood, asked permission to establish himself close to the Jesuits’ residence. In the spring of the next year he and his followers settled permanently there with another chief, Negaskoumat. Around this nucleus of some 20 men the whole village was to develop. Negabamat, elegantly dressed in French fashion, was the first neophyte of importance in the colony; he presented himself for baptism at Quebec on 8 Dec. 1638. He adopted the name of Noël in honour of M. de Sillery. His wife decided to call herself Marie.
From that time on the friends and enemies of France were those of Negabamat. In 1645 he took an active part in the preliminary peace negotiations between the French, the Hurons, and the Algonkins on the one hand, and the Iroquois on the other. When the war began again three years later, he set out for Trois-Rivières with his men to bring help to his allies. In 1646 he exerted his powerful influence On the Abenakis to induce them to ask for a missionary. Father Gabriel Druillettes was chosen, and Negabamat went with him as an ambassador. In 1650 he rendered the same service, and followed the Jesuit to Boston and Plymouth, in order to persuade the Sokokis, the Penacooks, and the Mahicans to join the French. Negabamat composed a very interesting account of this journey and sent it to France to his old friend, Father Paul Le Jeune, who sent him in return a magnificent robe woven with gold thread.
Meanwhile, in the winter of 1647–48, he set out once more with Father Druillettes to visit the small tribes of the lower St. Lawrence. There he negotiated a treaty with the Algonkin chief Étouat, and received as his share of the trans-action the right to hunt in the richest game region near Tadoussac.
The French conferred several great honours upon Negabamat. He carried the canopy during the Corpus Christi procession at Quebec. In 1665, as “the oldest of the Christians,” he also had a place of distinction at the great ceremonies that marked the arrival of M. de Prouville de Tracy at Quebec.
The Jesuit Relations speak of Negabamat with nothing but praise. There one reads that he was handsome, well built, a powerful orator, intelli-gent, an exemplary Christian. Mother Marie de l’Incarnation [see Guyart] says that he was a true saint, and his own people wondered whether he did not want to become a Jesuit. In any case, he always exercised a great influence over his own kind, and was a constant friend to the French cause. “I am growing old, but the faith is not growing old in me,” he declared in 1652, adding, apparently without nostalgia: “I am almost entirely French.”