WENEMOUET (Wenemowet, Wenemuit, Winnenimmit, Awenemwet, Nimimitt, Nimquid; and after 1726, Wenongonet, Wenungenit, Wenoggenet, Wanungonet, Ouenanguenet), a chief of the Penobscot division of the Abenakis; d. March 1730.
In Abenaki Wenemouet’s name is winí-mαw∂wet, meaning “weak war chief.” With 13 other Abenaki chiefs he signed the peace treaty with the English at Mares Point (now Merepoint, Me.) on 7 Jan. 1698/99. He was probably one of the delegation of more than 40 Penobscots who went with the Jesuit Pierre de La Chasse* to visit Governor Callière at Quebec in October 1702. The Penobscots were unenthusiastic about fighting with the French unless Quebec was threatened with actual conquest, which would deprive them of French support against New England. The delegation asked Callière whether he could sell them goods at a fair price, and the governor arranged with the Quebec merchants to supply them cheaply. At the end of Queen Anne’s War Wenemouet and 18 other Abenaki chiefs signed a peace with the English at the second conference of Portsmouth, on 28 July 1714.
In 1722 the Penobscots joined the other Abenakis against the English [see Mog]. Sometime late in 1724 or early in 1725 Wenemouet became head chief of the Penobscots. He was aware that the Penobscot villages were vulnerable to attack and that the French were not actively supporting his tribe; the Penobscots consequently welcomed English overtures for peace in December 1724. The next summer the tribe sent wampum belts proposing peace with the English to their allies, the Canadian Abenakis and the Hurons of Lorette. These Indians rejected the proposals, bringing about a partial political separation of the Penobscots from other divisions of the Abenaki nation and from the French in Canada. A complete rupture did not occur, however.
After preliminary negotiations Governor Dummer of Massachusetts and Wenemouet agreed on a cease-fire east of the Kennebec River, and on 31 July 1725 Dummer ordered an end to all hostilities against the Penobscot division of the Abenakis. Wenemouet twice sent emissaries to Boston in the autumn of that year to draw up terms for a permanent peace, and agreed to urge the other Abenaki tribes to join. The Canadian Abenakis and some of their allies nevertheless continued to make raids on New England, and did not participate in the treaty which Wenemouet and about 40 of his tribesmen concluded with the English on 5 August 1726. During the lengthy conference Wenemouet spoke little because he was ill, and Sauguaaram* (Loron) provided most of the oratory. Dummer reassured the Penobscots about their land titles and guaranteed them the same privileges as other English subjects.
At a meeting of the chiefs and elders of the Penobscot tribe in September 1726, Wenemouet’s name was officially changed to Wenongonet to honour and perpetuate the name of a former leader, head chief from 1698 to 1724. In October Wenemouet sent two messengers, Alexis and François-Xavier, to Quebec to request the new governor, Charles de Beauharnois* de La Boische, “to arrest the hatchet of their brethren” settled in Canada, “there bound of which would inevitably fall on them.” The French in vain urged the Penobscots to continue the war against the English. The envoys visited Quebec, Bécancour, Saint-François, and Caughnawaga, and persuaded most of the Canadian Abenakis and mission Iroquois to end the war, despite the opposition of Beauharnois and Fathers Aubery* and La Chasse. The two Penobscots arrived home in March 1727 and reported that the peace had been accepted by almost all the Canadian Indians. The only ones who remained hostile were 16 men and 2 chiefs, Gray Lock* and Onedahauet (Comhommon), of Saint-François and Missiassik (on the Missisquoi R., Vt.). Earlier in March Wenemouet had denied any knowledge of Gray Lock’s activities, and he now made a complete report of the results of the Canadian mission to John Gyles*, to be relayed to Dummer.
Wenemouet was devoted to establishing a lasting peace. In late April he sent messengers to all the Abenaki tribes, the Malecites, and the Micmacs asking them to attend the Penobscot annual meeting and hear of the peace. In May he sent the Canadian Abenakis a wampum belt to confirm that he strongly opposed any further hostilities. Some of the Norridgewocks left Canada in May 1727 to resettle in their old village, and a large body of Canadian Abenakis and Iroquois camped at Taconock (now Winslow, Me.) on the Kennebec River to await arrangements for a final treaty. Dummer and a New England delegation finally established a satisfactory peace with all divisions of the Abenakis at Falmouth (now Portland, Me.) on 27 July. On behalf of the Penobscots Wenemouet asked that Gyles remain as commander of the fort at St George’s River, and that they be supplied with a gunsmith.
In 1729 Wenemouet protested “tree cutting” and the encroachment of English settlement on Abenaki lands. He notified the Massachusetts authorities that “if any Pass St. Georges River to Plant we shall not thinke them to be our frinds.”
Near the end of his life Wenemouet was described as “a well looking man, more like a frenchman than an Indian,” who seemed “grave and reserved.” He died in March 1730. By freeing the Penobscots from French ties and seeking an amicable accommodation with the English, he enabled his people to avoid defeat and to retain at least part of their ancient territory into modern times. Although the aged Moxus of the Norridgewocks was the nominal head chief of the Abenaki nation, Wenemouet assumed tacit leadership and induced all the Abenaki tribes to forsake their old alliance with Quebec and to seek peace. After his death, the continued encroachment of the New Englanders upon Abenaki lands once again forced his nation to resume ties with the French and the Indian allies who had supported the Abenakis in 1722.
Joseph Baxter, Journal of several visits to the Indians of the Kennebec River, 1717, ed. Elias Nason (Boston, 1867), 16. The conference with the Eastern Indians at the ratification of the peace held at Falmouth in Casco-bay in July and August 1726 (Boston, 1726). The conference with the Eastern Indians at the further ratification of the peace held at Falmouth in Casco-bay in July 1727 (Boston, 1727). Documentary hist. of Maine, X, 317–18, 358, 365–66, 375–78, 385–87, 389–92, 408–9, 445–47, 458–68; XI, 150–51; XXIII, 235. “Journal of Edward Goddard, 1726” in Trans., 1917–19 (Col. Soc. Mass. pub., XX, Boston, 1920) 128–47. Maine Hist. Soc. Coll., 1st ser., III (1853), 355–58, 377–447. New Eng. Hist. and Geneal. Register, XXI (1867), 58. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IX, 736–38, 955–56, 990–91. Penhallow, History of wars with Eastern Indians (1726), 118, 129. [Thomas Westbrook, et al.], Letters of Colonel Thomas Westbrook and others relative to Indian affairs in Maine 1722–26, ed. W. B. Trask (Boston, 1901), 157. Frederick Kidder, The Abenaki Indians; their treaties of 1713 and 1717 . . . (Portland, 1859), 19–21.
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Cite This Article
Frank T. Siebert, Jr., “WENEMOUET,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 1, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/wenemouet_2E.html.
The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:
|Author of Article:||Frank T. Siebert, Jr.|
|Title of Article:||WENEMOUET|
|Publication Name:||Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 2|
|Publisher:||University of Toronto/Université Laval|
|Year of publication:||1969|
|Year of revision:||1982|
|Access Date:||June 1, 2023|