OTREOUTI (Hateouati, Hoteouate, Hotrehouati, Houtreouati, Oureouhat, Outreouhati, dit “La Grande Gueule” (“Big Mouth”), “Grangular,” or “Grangula”), famous Onondaga chief and orator, often a deputy from his nation in peace negotiations between the Iroquois and the French; fl. 1659–88.
The renowned Onondaga orator and chief, Otreouti, appears during the complicated peace negotiations, 1653–67, between the French and the Iroquois in the critical years following the destruction of Huronia in 1649. Otreouti is first named in a French reply, 28 April 1659, to peace proposals made at Quebec by Oneida ambassadors, on behalf of their own tribe and of the Onondagas and Mohawks. “If Otrewati and his eight comrades had not fled,” said the French spokesman, “I would have gone back with them to Onnontage [Onondaga].” This doubtless referred to Otreouti and the Onondaga prisoners who escaped 19 Oct. 1658, after breaking two iron bars in the windows of their Montreal jail.
In the summer of 1661, while Father Simon Le Moyne was at Onondaga negotiating for peace, Otreouti led 30 Onondagas against Montreal, in retaliation for the insult of having been imprisoned there. In the vicinity of Montreal, Otreouti and his followers surprised Father Jacques Le Maistre, a Sulpician, and other Frenchmen, who were working in a field of grain. They killed two, including Father Le Maistre, and took one captive. Father Le Maistre they decapitated and, putting on the priest’s cassock, Otreouti strutted defiantly in full view of the inhabitants of Montreal.
In September 1661, on the way back to Onondaga, Otreouti, who still wore the murdered priest’s black cassock, and his companions, who were carrying some French scalps, met a Seneca and Onondaga embassy led by Garakontié, an Onondaga chief friendly to the French, on its way to Montreal to deliver nine French captives. The ambassadors were shocked at the sight. They halted, deliberating in council for some time as to whether they would be safe in going on to Montreal. Garakontié prevailed in the end and the embassy, with the nine captives, reached Montreal 5 Oct. 1661.
Four years later, Otreouti was one of six Onondaga ambassadors who attested articles of peace 13 Dec. 1665 at Quebec with the French in the name of their own nation, and of the Senecas, the Cayugas, and the Oneidas. The role of Otreouti in the negotiations of 1665 is not clear, witness an enigmatic entry in the Jesuit Journal of 8 Dec. 1665: “La grand gueule (‘big mouth’) then learned, I know not from whom, of the design of Monsieur the governor respecting Anniee [Mohawks]; and he informed Garakontie of it in our reception room.”
Otreouti is not mentioned again in colonial records for almost 19 years, until the time of Governor Le Febvre de La Barre’s invasion of the Mohawk country in 1684. On 18 July 1684, the Jesuit, Father Jean de Lamberville*, wrote from the Onondaga mission to La Barre (whose small force had proceeded only as far as Lake St. Francis) about a council of Onondagas, Senecas, Cayugas, and Oneidas, in which Otreouti played a part. “La Grande Gueule,” the priest reported, “and his triumvirate have assuredly signalized themselves in this rencounter”; and again, 17 Aug. 1684, “1 gave La Grande Gueule your belt underhand, and have remarked to him the things you wish him to effect. He calls himself your best friend and you have done well to have attached to you this hoc [sic] who has the strongest head and loudest voice among the Iroquois.”
La Barre had informed Governor Dongan of New York that he was obliged to wage war against the Iroquois and asked that English sup-port be withheld. When Dongan heard of the councils at Onondaga, however, he sent Aernout Cornelissen Viele there to warn the Iroquois not to enter into conversations with the French without his, Dongan’s, permission. Father de Lamberville reported this to La Barre 28 Aug. 1684, noting that La Grande Gueule considered Dongan’s message strange, and was “exhorting all the warriors and chiefs not to listen to the proposals of a man who seemed to be drunk, so opposed to all reason was what he uttered.” Despite Dongan’s intervention, a meeting between the Iroquois and La Barre took place 5 Sept. 1684 at La Famine, on the south shore of Lake Ontario, where the Onondagas mediated between the French and the Senecas. On that occasion, “Hateouati, who is Orator of that Nation [Onondagas], spoke by fifteen presents, not only On behalf of the Senecas, but of the four Iroquois Nations also.”
La Barre in 1684 obtained only a doubtful truce. Otreouti promised to give 1,000 beaver skins in recompense for recent Iroquois raids on the French in the Illinois country and to refrain from attacks upon the Miami Indians; but he refused to make peace with the Illinois, nor would he agree to respect French voyageurs in the Illinois country and in the neighbourhood of Fort Saint-Louis.
M. de Meulles*, the intendant, gave a somewhat critical account of the meeting at La Famine in a letter to M. de Seignelay, dated Quebec 10 Oct. 1684, “There came altogether on this embassy only a certain sycophant who seeks merely a good dinner, and a real buffoon, called among the French la Grande Gueule, accompanied by eight or ten miserable fellows, who fooled the General in a most shameful manner, as you will perceive by the articles of peace I have the honor to send you, and which I doubt not he also will send you.”
Three years later, Governor Brisay* de Denonville gave a much more favourable picture of Otreouti in his “Memoir of the expedition against the Senecas, October 1687.” “Last day of June . We arrived within half a league of Cataracouy [Cataraqui]. . . . On arriving at that Fort, I thought proper to send to the village of the Onontagues [Onondagas], the son and the brother of an Indian named Hotre-houati, one of the most distinguished and influential of the said village, from whom we had derived great assistance in checking the incursions which the Senecas and other Iroquois had made the past year under the instigation of Colonel Dongan, Governor of New-York, and whose influence, as well as that of his other friends, Father de Lamberville made use of to frustrate the Colonel’s ill designs.”
Otreouti is again mentioned when the Onondagas, Cayugas, and Oneidas, after Denonville’s defeat of the Senecas in 1687, executed a declaration of neutrality in the presence of Denonville at Montreal 15 June 1688. His name appears among those of the Onondaga signatories. Below the signatures and totems appears the following statement, “The man called La grande gueule by the French, and Otreouaté by the Iroquois, who spoke here at Montreal in public on several occasions in June, and twice repeated what precedes in the speeches, did himself, assisted by two Iroquois, affix the subjoined Totems and delineate with his own hand the figures of these Animals; which he did in quality of Speaker and Deputy of the three Iroquois Nations, to wit, Of the Cayugas, Onontagues [Onondagas] and Oneidas.”
The last reference to Otreouti, as La Grande Gueule, appears in the “Relation of the events of the war, and state of affairs in Canada,” dated Quebec, 30 Oct. 1688.
JR (Thwaites), XLIV, 119; XLV, 89; XLVI, 219; XLVII, 73, 77, 93–97; XLIX, 179–81. L.-A Lahontan, Nouveaux voyages dons l’Amérique septentrionale (2v., La Haye, 1703); Otreouti is the model for “La Grangula.” NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), III, 121-25; IX, 236–39, 247, 255–58, 362, 384–86, 388–93. Eccles, Frontenac, 169–70, 189. Lanctot, Histoire du Canada, II, 118, 142.