TEOUATIRON (Tewathiron, Thewathiron), baptized Joseph, a native of the Huron village of Saint-Ignace (near Waubaushene, Ontario); d. 1640 or 1641.
Teouatiron was one of the original six students of the Jesuit seminary at Quebec in 1636. Although 12 Huron boys had been promised to the Jesuits, the mothers and especially the grandmothers, were loath to see them depart to such a distance, and only one of the 12, Satouta, made the journey with Father Antoine Daniel in the summer of 1636. The other five boys were recruited, but only after pleadings, promises, and many gifts, from their fathers whom they had accompanied to the trade. One, rather “peevish,” returned to his village the first year, and two died. The following summer Aiandacé, the youngest, returned, leaving only Teouatiron and Andehoua. The boys lived apart, under the direction of Father Daniel and were furnished with all necessities. Their day was regulated by prayers, instruction, and free hours which they spent hunting and fishing, making bows and arrows, or clearing land.
They were “petted” by the French, dressed in French clothing, and taught French manners. Teouatiron was described as of an affable, compliant nature, but a little “duller” than his fellow Andehoua. He prepared himself for baptism in the winter of 1637–38 “by an extraordinary fast,” by “diminishing the pleasures of the chase, to which he is strongly inclined,” and by long inward reflection. His godparents, François Derré de Gand and “Mlle Repentigny” [Mme Pierre Legardeur de Repentigny] gave him the name of Joseph. Andehoua was baptized at the same time and given the name of Jean-Armand. The two boys were united by strong and affectionate bonds and while at the seminary were never known to have a disagreement.
At one time Teouatiron remained obstinate about a wilful act and was summoned before Father Paul Le Jeune. He had been angered by imagining that he was being forced by threats to believe in God and had acted to show that his heart would not be won by fear. However, he looked on Father Daniel as a father, he maintained, and had no desire to leave. When supplies were low in Quebec, he and Jean-Armand elected to remain rather than return to the temptations of living with their own people.
In the summer of 1637 Teouatiron was given permission to go to his country, in company with Father Ragueneau to visit his mother who was “quite old.” On the homeward route he met his uncle Taratouan who convinced him that he should return to the seminary. On Lake St. Peter the party was ambushed by Iroquois.
Teouatiron and his two companions were pursued to the south shore, where they rushed into the woods, abandoning all their luggage, even clothes. After a day in hiding, Teouatiron made his way to safety at Trois-Rivières in an abandoned Iroquois canoe. His companions were saved after lighting a great beacon fire on the south shore. Teouatiron proceeded immediately to the seminary suffering from cuts and scratches after running through brush and nettles.
In the early spring of 1638, when fear grew as to the fate of the French in the Huron country, Teouatiron and Andehoua offered to go there to assess the situation. They embarked with Father Daniel, a courageous young Frenchman, and a party of Algonkins. From Hurons travelling to Quebec, some of whom were friends of Teouatiron, they learned that conditions in the Huron country had improved and Father Daniel sent Teouatiron back to Quebec.
The transition from the freedom of their earlier life to the restraints of the seminary caused many problems and often confusion for the boys and also the Jesuits. The latter hoped that by teaching a nucleus of young men the European way of life, a Christian village of Huron Indians might be founded near Quebec which would afford protection against attack and which would be of assistance in promoting the fur trade.
Andehoua’s fine example as a preacher to his people in the summer of 1638 led the priests to request that Teouatiron also be sent up as a preacher for “his populous town.” Teouatiron spent two years in the seminary but after his return to his own country he reverted to the customs of his people. The Jesuits laboured, at times successfully, to maintain his Christian beliefs, meanwhile sympathizing with the difficulties suffered by one so young in withstanding the impact of his native culture. In the winter of 1640–41 an accidental fire caused his death. The priests who were present ran to his assistance and had the consolation of bringing him, in the end, into the Christian fold.