ONONWAROGO (Red Head), a chief warrior of the Onondagas; Son of Kakȣenthiony, who was also known as Red Head; d. 24 June 1764 at Oswego (Chouaguen).
Historical records first mention Ononwarogo in 1751, when he instigated the migration of a number of Onondagas to François Picquet*’s mission of La Présentation (Oswegatchie, now Ogdensburg, N.Y.). Ononwarogo seems to have been an active French partisan until the early stages of the Seven Years’ War in America. About 1755 he threw in his lot with the British, but he was for some time suspected of being a French agent. By 1757, however, he was carrying regular intelligence reports on French movements to Sir William Johnson*, the British superintendent of northern Indians, and was apparently trusted enough to be dispatched on missions important to British interests.
Ononwarogo recruited Indians to accompany Lieutenant-Colonel John Bradstreet* against Fort Frontenac (now Kingston, Ont.) in the summer of 1758, and distinguished himself by his bravery during the attack. Later in the summer he took part in scouting expeditions around La Présentation, which was still held by the French, and as a delegate from Onondaga he attended a conference at Easton, Pennsylvania, in the fall.
The fact that Johnson provided him with clothing, money, and numerous weapons during the latter stages of the war suggests that Ononwarogo was active in the conflict. When in 1759 Johnson and Brigadier-General Thomas Gage* were planning an offensive against Montreal, Ononwarogo drew a detailed map of the French fortifications along the upper St Lawrence River. In late August 1759 Johnson attempted to dispatch him to La Présentation in an effort to induce the Indians of that mission to abandon the French. The Six Nations Council objected vigorously, however. They may have believed that Ononwarogo would be viewed as a traitor by those he had previously converted to the French interest. Rather than have his presence inflame matters, they persuaded Johnson to send others. Ononwarogo was dispatched instead to Cayuga country to recruit warriors for the campaign against Montreal, scheduled for the spring of 1760.
During and after Pontiac’s uprising, Ononwarogo frequently brought Johnson intelligence regarding the western Indians and on several occasions acted as a mediator between those Indians and the English. He died on 24 June 1764, apparently from overdrinking, while trading at Oswego. Johnson, who attended the condolence ceremony, described him as “a very ready fellow and much esteemed.”