CHACHAGOUESSE (Chachagwessiou, Chachagouache, Chachagonache, Chachagonesse, Nicanapé), Illinois chief of Le Rocher (Starved Rock); fl. 1674–1712.
For more than 40 years Chachagouesse was a powerful chief and astute negotiator for the Illinois Indians. Father Jacques Marquette*, with whom he travelled for some 15 days in November of 1674 on Marquette’s expedition to establish a mission among the Illinois, described him as “greatly esteemed among his people, partly because he engages in the fur trade.” Marquette added that Chachagouesse and his companions were hard bargainers who seldom gave more for a robe than a Frenchman would, even when dealing with their own tribesmen.
In 1712, Renaud Dubuisson, commandant at Detroit, selected Chachagouesse, whom he described as a man of great authority, to travel to Montreal with Makisabi, a Potawatomi chief, to negotiate a peace settlement between the Illinois and the Miamis, Dubuisson, stressing the importance of such a peace, claimed that the Miamis had threatened to remove themselves to the Oyau River at the end of Lake Erie – the very place where the English were planning to build a fort. Throughout the deliberations, Chachagouesse, who was accompanied by his daughter, assumed a modest, beseeching pose, but despite the elaborate metaphors of his Indian oratory, he was firmly resolved to conclude peace only on condition that Frenchmen, preferably a ten-man garrison, be sent to enforce its terms and to resume trade with the Illinois. Governor Rigaud de Vaudreuil yielded to this demand and agreed to send Pierre de Liette with Chachagouesse to the Illinois and Jean-Baptiste Bissot de Vinsenne to the Miamis.
AN, Col., C11A, 33, ff.91–94, 101–2. Early narratives of the northwest, 1634–1699, ed. L. P. Kellogg (Original narratives of early American history, [XVII], New York, 1917), 263–66. JR (Thwaites), LIX, 167–75. Michigan Pioneer Coll., XXXIII, 550, 559–61. NYCD (O’Callaghan and Fernow), IX, 865. Wis. State Hist. Soc. Coll., XVI, 285. Eccles, Frontenac, 328–33.