OUNANGUISSÉ (Onanguisset, Onanguicé), a pro-French Potawatomi chief of St Joseph River, probably of Sauk origin, and an important leader among the tribes of the Great Lakes; fl. 1695–1716.
Ounanguissé was one of the most influential and independent spokesmen for the Indian allies of the northwest. Described by Charlevoix* as “a talented man and a good speaker,” he was regarded by the colonial officials as a vital link in maintaining their influence among the Great Lakes tribes. In 1695 he depicted himself to Governor Buade* de Frontenac as a lifelong ally of the French, and warned him privately against the treachery of the Foxes and Mascoutens, whose spokesmen were also present. A few days later Iroquois were reported near Montreal, and Ounanguissé and the other Indians from the Baie des Puants (Green Bay) area accompanied Daneau de Muy and a force of 700–800 men to Île Perrot. After a week during which no enemy was sighted, Ounanguissé and his men tired of the campaign and returned to Montreal. Frontenac chided him for leaving the army while under orders, but gave the Indians presents and sent them off in good temper. In 1697 Ounanguissé boldly warned Frontenac that if the French persisted in prohibiting traders from coming to his people, they would never again carry their furs or come to parley at Montreal. Nor was this considered an idle threat for, as Le Roy de La Potherie suggested, Ounanguissé, by virtue of hereditary ties and his general prestige, was capable of leading several tribes out of the French alliance.
In 1701, at the peace conference in Montreal between the French, their allies, and the Iroquois, Ounanguissé represented the Sauks and Illinois as well as the Potawatomis, and, on certain key issues, he spoke on behalf of nearly all the Great Lakes tribes. Shrewdly aware that the French were counting heavily on his influence, he joined the Fox chief Noro in requesting that Governor Callière send Nicolas Perrot back to St Joseph River in order to assure the implementation of the peace. He further disconcerted the French officials by vividly outlining to his fellow chiefs the serious difficulties that could arise if the Iroquois, who had failed to bring their prisoners, should prove insincere. At the formal ratification of the treaty he was singularly impressive, wearing the head of a bull buffalo with the horns hanging over his ears.
In 1716, Governor Rigaud de Vaudreuil credited Ounanguissé with leading part of an allied war party that inflicted defeats on two large bands of Mascoutens and Foxes. His son and namesake was also a Potawatomi chief and was active as late as 1747.
AN, Col., C11A, 19, ff.42–42v. Charlevoix, History (Shea), V, 69, 143–44, 151–52. Indian tribes (Blair), II, 255. La Poterie, Histoire (1722), III, 301–2; IV, 53–57, 206–11, 212–13, 224–26, 234, 245–46, 249. Michigan Pioneer Coll., XXXIII, 576. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IX, 620–23, 673, 723. Wis. State Hist. Soc. Coll., XVI, 160–65, 168; XVII, 490–92. Eccles, Frontenac, 328–33.