AKOMÁPIS (also Ackmobish and Agmabesh), NICHOLAS, a Malecite captain; the name probably means the young snowshoer, although snowshoe strap is a possibility; fl. 1778–80 in the Saint John valley (N.B.).
During their war of independence the Americans persistently worked for an alliance with the Indians of the Saint John River and, encouraged by Chief Ambroise Saint-Aubin, Malecites participated in Jonathan Eddy*’s attack on Fort Cumberland (near Sackville, N.B.) in 1776 and John Allan*’s expedition to the Saint John valley in 1777. The concerned British established Fort Howe at the mouth of the river in the fall of 1777 [see Gilfred Studholme] and in July 1778 appointed a deputy superintendent of Indian affairs for the area. Their concern was justified, for in August the Indians declared war on the British and ordered them from the area. Attempting conciliation, Nova Scotia’s superintendent of Indian affairs, Michael Francklin, called a conference at Menagouèche (Saint John, N.B.). Nicholas Akomápis was one of four captains who attended, along with the Malecite chiefs Pierre Tomah and François Xavier and eight principal Malecites. Also present were 12 Micmacs and the missionary Joseph-Mathurin Bourg.
The main meeting occurred on 24 Sept. 1778. The Indians took an oath of allegiance to the king and signed a treaty agreeing to compensate the British for property stolen or destroyed, to remain neutral in the war, and to notify the British of American activities in the area. They solemnized these promises with a wampum belt. In return the British presented the Indians with gifts, introduced Bourg as the missionary who had been promised them, and agreed to build a trading post on the Saint John River. The following day the Indians visited a British ship in the harbour, where they drank the king’s health. On 26 September they departed after a period of final speech-making, singing, and dancing.
Akomápis was somewhat prominent in events surrounding the treaty. Along with two other Indians he served as a courier for the British. His sincerity in signing the treaty is suggested by his subsequent pursuit of two British deserters and by his attempt with another Indian to capture the crew of an American whale-boat operating in the area. It may have been the latter incident which caused the British to have “a gold laced Hatt” made for him in September 1779. Other mention of Akomápis reveals him to have been involved, like many other Indians of the time, in the fur trade; he was compensated by the British in 1778 for three beaver traps stolen by soldiers. After 1779 little further mention of Akomápis appears in written records. Along with the other Malecites of the Saint John River he undoubtedly accepted gifts from the British once again in May 1780 in exchange for a promise to protect men cutting masts in the area.
Despite Akomápis’ apparent loyalty to the British, he may have found it expedient to deal with the Americans as well. One “Nichola Agmabesh” and two of his sons appear on a 1780 list of “Indians . . . that are and have Been in the Service of the United States.”
PANS, RG 1, 45, docs.65–66; 212, 6 Nov. 1778, p.355. Military operations in eastern Maine and N.S. (Kidder), 284. “Selections from the papers and correspondence of James White, esquire, A.D. 1762–1783,” ed. W. O. Raymond, N.B. Hist. Soc., Coll., I (1894–97), no.3, 306–40.é