HONATTENIATE (known also as “Le Berger” [the lover or shepherd]), Mohawk Indian, friend of the French and protector of Father Jogues; b. in the Mohawk Valley of present New York State; d. 1650 in Paris.
The story of Honatteniate illustrates the devotion which he and many nameless Indians felt for the French. His mother was the adopted “aunt” of Father Isaac Jogues during his first captivity, 1642–43, in the Mohawk country, a relationship honoured by her son at the risk of his own life.
Honatteniate played a role as hostage in the crucial peace negotiations of 1645 [see Kiotseaeton]. He was one of two Mohawks captured during the spring of 1645 by a war-party of Algonkins under Pieskaret secreted on an island in Lake Champlain. Brought unharmed to Sillery by the Algonkins, the two Mohawks were delivered 18 May to Governor Huault de Montmagny, who ordered them transferred to Trois-Rivières with instructions to the commandant, Sieur de Champflour, to liberate Tokhrahenehiaron, a Mohawk captured previously by the French. The latter was told to inform his nation that Honatteniate would be set free after the Mohawks had advised the governor of their peaceful intentions.
Tokhrahenehiaron and two prominent Mohawk envoys were present 12 July 1645 during the important peace negotiations at Trois-Rivières, where Kiotseaeton, the famous Mohawk orator, presented 17 words (there were 17 divisions in his address) and each was confirmed by a belt of wampum. The seventeenth and last belt was one which had been worn by Honatteniate in his own country and which his mother had sent in gratitude that her son’s life had been spared by the French. As a result of the peace treaty ratified In May 1646, Honatteniate and his companions returned home. Father Jogues, with Jean Bourdon, was in the Mohawk country 16 May–29 June to confirm the peace.
Father Jogues started on his third and last journey to the Mohawk country, 24 Sept. 1646, to found a mission there. Unknown to the priest, the Mohawks had repudiated the recently established peace. On his arrival at the Mohawk village, he was seized and treated as a prisoner. But Honatteniate was with him when a Mohawk hatchet struck him down on the evening of 18 Oct. 1646. The Indian attempted to avert the blow but was disabled by a gash in the arm. A second, swift stroke, and the priest was dead.
Honatteniate delivered himself into the hands of the French at Trois-Rivières, 30 May 1648. He said that he had loved them from the time they spared his life. His trust was not reciprocated and his feet were shackled. Even this indignity did not turn him against the French. Later he proved his sincerity by acting on several occasions as intermediary between the French and other Mohawks, who frequented the vicinity of Trois-Rivières.
Honatteniate was now a man without a country and a target for Mohawk retaliation. Eventually it was decided that, as a safety precaution, he should be sent to France in the care of the Jesuit fathers. He left Quebec in the company of a priest, Oct. 1649. The two arrived at Havre-de-Grâce (Le Havre), 7 December and from there travelled to Dieppe. In Paris Honatteniate developed a serious fever around 20 Jan. 1650. He died 26 January, a short time after his baptism, aged about 35 years.