AMANTACHA, baptized as Louis de Sainte-Foi, a Huron educated in France, later a friend and aide of the Jesuit missionaries; b. 1610? in the Huron country; d. probably 1636 in the Iroquois country.
Amantacha’s father, Soranhes, lived in Teanaostaiaë (Mission of Saint-Joseph II) and was an early and active participant in the fur trade. When Father Nicolas Viel was in the Huron country, Soranhes promised him that he would let his son live with the French and be educated by them. In this, as in his other dealings with the missionaries, he appears to have been motivated largely by the desire to gain favour with the French authorities at Quebec. In 1626 he took Amantacha, then aged 16, to Quebec where he entrusted him to the care of Father Joseph Le Caron. Several ships were willing to take the boy to France and a dispute as to his guardianship broke out between the Recollets, Jesuits, and Émery de Caën. Finally Father Joseph gave over the Recollets’ claim to the Jesuits.
Amantacha was taken to France by de Caën and once there was secured for the Jesuits by M. de Ventadour. He was baptized in the cathedral of Rouen, his godparents being the Duc de Longueville and Mme de Villars. A rumour that he was the son of the king of Canada attracted a large crowd to the baptism. He remained for two years in France where he was educated by the Jesuits and learned to read and write. On his return to Canada in 1628 his ship – one of the fleet of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés under the command of the admiral Roquemont de Brison – was seized by the British. Hearing that he was the son of a native king and thinking that he might be useful in the future, the English kept Amantacha when they released the other passengers. He was taken to Quebec in 1629, but freed when the Kirkes discovered his real status. He then returned to the Huron country with Étienne Brûlé.
Following their return, he sought to assist Champlain and the Jesuits in their dealings with his people. He visited Quebec in the summers of 1632 and 1633, exhorting his people to trade once more with the French and showing some interest in religion, although the Jesuits had mixed feelings about his conduct. Amantacha, anxious to gain prestige among his people as a warrior, participated in their raids on the Iroquois. In 1634 he and his father were in a party of warriors ambushed by the enemy. His father escaped to the Neutral nation, but Amantacha was captured and managed to get away only after the Iroquois had cut off a finger. Back in the Huron country he did much to help the Jesuits, while his father, again hoping to win French favour in trade, attributed his escape to God and expressed the wish that his whole family be converted. The Jesuits went to his village and spent some time instructing them, but little came of this.
During holy week 1636 Amantacha visited the Jesuits. Then he left with his uncle on a raid into the Iroquois country from which he did not return. He was apparently captured, and while some members of his family believed that he continued to live with a Mohawk family, most were of the opinion that he had been killed. His father, Soranhes, died unbaptized on 24 Aug. 1637. He is said to have committed suicide through grief over the loss of his son.
JR (Thwaites), passim (gives details of Amantacha’s later life). Le Clercq, First establishment of the faith (Shea). Sagard, Histoire du Canada (Tross), IV (the best primary source on Amantacha’s early life). Desrosiers, Iroquoisie, 135.