OUMASASIKWEIE (known to the French as “La Grenouille” (“The Frog”)), Algonkin Indian of the Allumette Island tribe, traitor and intriguer; fl. 1633–36.
Oumasasikweie played a discreditable role in the trade rivalries between the Indians of New France and the Mohawks, who wished to prevent them from trading with the Dutch at Fort Orange (“Memorial presented by Kiliaen van Rensselaer”). He belonged to the Indian group known as the Algonkins of the Island (Allumette Island, now Morrison Island in the Ottawa River, near Pembroke, Ontario) and also as the Island tribe. Members of the Algonkian family, they were named Kichesipirini but the Hurons called them Ehonkehronons.
This captain visited the Jesuits 1 April 1633 in Quebec, presented some elk meat, engaged in conversation with them, and stated that he would be pleased to have his son educated by the Jesuits but that his wife did not agree. The same year, on 10 July, a son of La Grenouille became seriously ill at Quebec. Father Brébeuf and Father de Nouë went to his cabin, where they found the child at the point of death. With the consent of his parents, the child was baptized as François. Next evening he died.
The Jesuit Relation of 1635 mentions La Grenouille in connection with a rumour current in New France during August of that year. “I have heard,” states the writer, Father Paul Le Jeune, “a report, I do not know how true it is, that a certain Savage named the Frog [La Grenouille] who acts as a Captain here, has said that the Hiroquois, with whom he had made a treaty of peace, have incited them [Algonkins of the Island] to kill some of the Hurons, and to make war against them.” The Relation continues, “Those best informed believe that this is a ruse of those who trade with these Tribes, and who are striving to divert through their agency, the Hurons from their commerce with our French; which would happen if our Montagnais made war against them; and then they [the traders] would attract them to their settlements and there would result a very considerable injury to the Associated Gentlemen of the Company of New France.” While the part played by Oumasasikweie is not clear, he seems to have been the instigator of the 1634 peace treaty (favourable to the Dutch) between the Algonkins, the Montagnais, the Onondagas, and the Mohawks, which was soon broken by an Iroquois attack on the Algonkins 10 Aug. 1635.
There is no doubt, however, that La Grenouille was distrusted in New France. “This wicked man,” says the Relation of 1636, “had more authority than the Captains, and his influence extended even among all those Tribes. His plans were laid to divert them entirely from commerce and friendship with the French. To this end he had negotiated peace with his enemies; but God, who knew the malice of his heart, crushed him, and permitted the most wicked of the Savages [the Iroquois] to be involved in his crimes. For in trying to open a way to the Foreigners through the lands of their enemies, whom he thought he had won over, they imbrued their hands in his blood, slaughtering him miserably, as well as those whose pride had caused us the most trouble.”
As the Relation states, Oumasasikweie was betrayed in his turn by the Iroquois, who were, he thought, favourably disposed to his plans. He and a number of his accomplices were massacred in the Iroquois country, while they were trying to open a commercial route to Fort Orange (Albany, N.Y.).
The date of Oumasasikweie’s death is not fully recorded, but must have occurred before 18 July 1636, because on that day, M. Du Plessis-Bochart, who met some hundreds of Indians at the Richelieu River in an attempt to promote peace with the Iroquois, exonerated Makheabichtichiou, a Montagnais captain, from the charge that he had received presents from the Iroquois and that he had betrayed Oumasasikweie and his companions. Oumasasikweie’s wife survived him. A baptismal record (1638–40) of the mission of Saint-Joseph at Sillery contains this entry, “Cecilia Natoukwabekwe, wife of the late La Grenouille.”
Du Creux, History (Conacher), I, 148 n.3, 152–54. JR(Thwaites), V, 179–81, 227–33, 239, 291 n.57; VIII, 25, 59–61; IX, 95–97, 245; XX, 309. Van Rensselaer Bowier manuscripts, ed. A. J. F. van Laer (Albany, N.Y., 1908), 235–50.