ONDAAIONDIONT, Charles, Huron Indian, admirable Christian of long standing, head of an embassy to the Susquehannah Indians; fl. 1645–49.
What is known of Ondaaiondiont’s life coincides with the fateful years immediately preceding the destruction of Huronia, which finally ended the Huron-Iroquois struggle. Early in 1647, two Susquehannah Indians, who had been sent as deputies by their chiefs, visited the Hurons in Canada. They stated that ambassadors should be sent to the Susquehannah chiefs if the Hurons found themselves too weak to oppose their enemies. In response to this invitation, on 13 April 1647, an embassy did leave Huronia for the Susquehannah country, with the Christian Ondaaiondiont at its head and including four additional Christian and four non-Christian Hurons. This was one of two embassies – the second was sent to the Onondagas [see Annenraes].
The Huron envoys under Ondaaiondiont reached the Susquehannah country at the beginning of June. Here Ondaaiondiont represented the Huron country as “The Land of Souls,” a place where war and fear of enemies created havoc; where blood covered the country and the cabins contained only corpses. The Susquehannah chiefs lamented the misfortunes suffered by the Hurons, adding that these calamities must be averted. Councils were held and qualified messengers were sent to the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas to seek peace between these nations and the Hurons. The Susquehannahs promised that if the Mohawks refused to participate in the proposed peace, they would renew the war which they had waged with them for some years past. Thus the Hurons were negotiating for peace with the Onondagas directly through Annenraes and indirectly through the Susquehannahs.
While still among the Susquehannahs, Ondaaiondiont extended his journey by three days to visit the settlements of the Dutch and Swedes, Europeans friendly to the Susquehannahs, who were respectively located on the east and west banks of the Delaware River, which demarcates the present states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It is not known, however, whether Ondaaiondiont visited one or both of these colonies. The captain of the European settlement was surprised to hear Ondaaiondiont preach Christian doctrine in an authoritative manner. During this visit, a vessel arrived with news that Father Jogues had been killed by the Mohawks the previous year (1646). Two letters (one of which was lost en route) and a printed page torn out of a book were given to Ondaaiondiont to deliver to the Jesuits in Huronia.
Returning to the Susquehannah country, Ondaaiondiont learned that the deputies sent to the Iroquois had not yet returned. Anxious to report to his people the action taken by the Susquehannahs, he appointed one of his companions to stay in the Susquehannah country to witness what should transpire, and he himself set out with his entourage, 15 Aug. 1647, on the homeward journey. Suspecting a Seneca ambush, Ondaaiondiont made a detour which required 40 days travel instead of the usual 10 days needed to go from the Susquehannah country to the land of the Neutrals.
The Susquehannah proposals to the Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, and Senecas ended in failure. The Hurons were attacked repeatedly by their enemies, in particular the Mohawks and Senecas, until, in 1649, their country was completely devastated. The exaggerated picture of Huron misery, given to the Susquehannahs by Ondaaiondiont in 1647, was now the reality. Ossossanë (La Conception, “The Believing Village”) was destroyed during March 1649 and with it fell Charles Ondaaiondiont, killed by an arquebus shot.
JR (Thwaites), XXX, 57–59; XXXIII, 129–33, 135; XXXIV, 217. “Report of Governor Johan Printz 1647,” in Narratives of Pennsylvnaia (Meyers), 120–29: in Original narratives (Jameson), and maps of New Belgium or New Netherland by Visscher, van der Donck, and others in ibid., in Narratives of New Netherland (Jameson), and in other vols. of Original narratives (Jameson).