The French and Indian War

At the beginning of the conflict, both the French and the English did their best to lure away each other’s native allies. Since the community of Kahnawà:ke was becoming overcrowded, a new community was established at the lush hunting and fishing grounds known as Ahkwesáhsne, halfway between Kahnawà:ke and another settlement at Oswegatchie (present-day Ogdensburg, New York.) As a French officer noted in 1754,

My negotiation with the Mohawks succeeds admirably, as you will see by their propositions, but they cannot settle in the village of the Sault St. Louis, because the lands in that quarter are exhausted, so that more than thirty families belonging to that mission, being unable to collect wherewithal to feed themselves, are going to settle at Lake St. Francis, twenty leagues above Montreal, on the south side, where there are very good lands; the Mohawks have agreed with these thirty families to accompany them; this change, which costs the King only the erection of a saw-mill, that will furnish abundantly wherewith to build the cabins, becomes very advantageous to the Colony, in as far as it will be easy in time of war, to be informed of all that might occur in the direction of Choueguen; besides, La Presentation, and this new village on Lake St. Francis, the Sault St. Louis and the Lake of the Two Mountains, will form a barrier which will protect the government of Montreal against all incursions, because in that weak quarter, the troops that might be sent thither, will be always supported by these Indians.10

Meanwhile, William Johnson, an Irish fur trader living in the Mohawk Valley, was tasked by the British with luring some of New France’s Iroquois allies back to their original territories. On September 8, 1755, these diplomatic efforts suffered a devastating setback at the Battle of Lake George. Mohawk warriors attached to the French met in hand-to-hand combat with Mohawk Valley Mohawks marching with the British. Some seventy Mohawks died at an ambush known as the “Bloody Morning Scout,” including the Mohawk Valley chief known as King Hendrick.

As that conflict came to a close, the British army descended the St. Lawrence River, accompanied by warriors from the Rotinonhsón:ni Confederacy, on their way to conquer Montreal in the summer of 1760. According to Major John Knox,

Sir William Johnson and his Myrmidons went to Hasquesashnagh, a small Indian village of the five nations, to smoke the pipe of peace, and to assure them of our protection, upon their future good behavior.11

The native allies of New France agreed to take hold of the Silver Covenant Chain of Peace and Friendship with the British and their Iroquois allies. The two alliances made peace at a council held in Kahnawà:ke in September of 1760.

10  O’Callaghan, E.B., ed., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, Weed, Parsons Printing Company, Albany, vol. X, p. 266-267.
11  Knox, J. An Historical Journal of the Campaigns in North America for the years 1757, 1758, 1759, and 1760, The Champlain Society, Toronto, 1914, vol. II, p. 556.

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