Searching for Hendrick: Correction of a Historic Conflation

The Mohawk chief who was known to the English as Hendrick Peters has long been a major figure in New York history. His central role in the colonial period events of the eighteenth century has been described many times. It is a measure of his significance that Hendrick and his ally William Johnson were the subjects of a statue erected at Lake George, which was in turn on the seal that graced the title page of this journal through 2002. Yet Hendrick has always seemed larger than life. Supposedly born in 1660, he was already middle-aged when he presumably stood for a portrait in London in 1710. After that he figured prominently in colonial politics, eventually becoming a close ally of William Johnson. He died in battle against the French at Lake George in 1755 at the age of ninety-five, or so the story has been told. How could one man have accomplished so much and lived so long? The answer is that he did not. Hendrick was actually two men with the same Dutch/English name whose lifetimes overlapped. Both historians and anthropologists (including this one) have long conflated the two, turning them into a single figure in various books and articles. How we can disentangle the two Mohawk chiefs and why it is important that we do so is what this article is about.

The Two Hendricks

The Mohawk sachems both known to the English as Hendrick were very different men whose lives overlapped but whose active years did not. Conflation of the two over the years has led to a blurring of two biographies into a single improbably long one with several internal contradictions. This article sets straight the separate and very different histories of Tejonihokarawa (Wolf Clan League sachem, religious leader, and diplomat) and Theyanoguin (Bear Clan Mohawk sachem, political leader, and warrior).

There has been much historical interest over the years in the Mohawk chief (or “sachem”) known to the English as Hendrick Peters. That name figures prominently in the colonial ethnohistory of the Mohawk Nation, the League of the Iroquois, and their relations with the British and French in North America. A 1710 portrait of Hendrick Peters adorns the dust jacket of William Fenton’s The Great Law of the Longhouse,[2] as it does my own The Iroquois.[3] We wrote our books around the same time. Although we were in communication, neither of us knew that the other was planning to use the same image, nor did either of us think to mention it. The coincidence is indication of the importance Hendrick Peters had for the Iroquois, not to mention the power of that particular image.

Around the time that my book on the Iroquois was nearing completion, Robert Grumet asked me to contribute a chapter on Hendrick Peters to a book he was preparing on Northeastern Indian biographies.[4] The first versions of several of those chapters were delivered as papers at the 1993 meetings of the Northeast Anthropological Association in Danbury, Connecticut. The book reached publication three years later in 1996. In my chapter I followed other historians and anthropologists in attributing the Mohawk name “Theyanoguin” to the man also called Hendrick Peters, and attempted to make sense of a very long timeline from his birth sometime before 1680 and his death in battle at Lake George, New York, in 1755. I also had to make sense of several inconsistent drawings and portraits of Hendrick Peters, none of which we could afford to reproduce in the book.

Barbara Sivertsen wrote to me on May 20, 1996, to inform me that her exhaustive and meticulous book on Mohawk genealogy was about to come out and that her work showed that Hendrick Peters was not one Mohawk sachem, but two.[5] It took me a little time to digest this information, but even had I done so in a matter of hours it was far too late to revise the chapter in Northeastern Indian Lives. I subsequently wrote a codicil to the chapter correcting the error, which I have distributed to colleagues and various scholars who have contacted me about it in the years since. I also delivered a formal correction to colleagues at the annual Conference on Iroquois Research in Rensselaerville, New York, on October 4, 1997. William Fenton was in attendance and his book on The Great Law of the Longhouse was not published until 1998, but, as in my own case, it was too late for him to make the revisions that two Hendricks would require. Reaction that Saturday evening varied from amusement to agitation, and several colleagues found common ground in the opinion that it did not really matter whether there were one or two Hendricks. Subsequent queries from other scholars, such as Gail MacLeitch and Andrew Lipman, both of whom live and work in the United Kingdom and do not have access to the informal exchanges between Iroquois specialists in the United States, have convinced me that the error really does matter and that formal correction is needed. I have written this article in order to set the record straight.[6]

One and One Make Two

Barbara Sivertsen has shown that the Hendrick Peters known to the Mohawks as Tejonihokarawa was a member of the Wolf Clan, while the Hendrick Peters also known as Theyanoguin was a member of the Bear Clan. Her research shows that Tejonihokarawa was born around 1660, and that Theyanoguin was born in 1692. The problem for historians has been that Tejonihokarawa’s career faded in the late 1730s, just as Theyanoguin was starting to be noticed by British sources. Because both were known by the same name to the British, and their all-important clan affiliations were largely ignored by non-Mohawks, their histories as leading Mohawk figures came to be joined end to end by subsequent historians and anthropologists.[7]

There were clues that the rest of us should have seen before Sivertsen sorted out their separate genealogies. Had Theyanoguin been the same man who visited Queen Anne in 1710 he would have been a very improbable ninety-five years old at the time of his death in battle at Lake George in 1755. Separation of the two as historic Mohawk figures also sorts out what is a very confusing and inconsistent array of contemporary portraits. For example, the 1710 portrait of Tejonihokarawa clearly shows his Wolf Clan affiliation,[8] while it is known from other sources that Theyanoguin was a Bear Clan member. Finally, a prominent scar and a tattoo both appear on portraits of Theyanoguin but are missing from portraits that we now realize are of Tejonihokarawa. Perhaps if the tattoos had been present on the earlier portraits and missing on the later ones (rather than the reverse) we might have caught the problem earlier. As it was I convinced myself that Hendrick had simply acquired the tattoos sometime after 1710. Disentangling the two Hendricks allows us to provide them with the separate biographies they deserve.


Hendrick Peters Tejonihokarawa was a member of the Wolf Clan who was born around 1660. He lived in the lower Mohawk village at Fort Hunter, called Tionondoroge by the Mohawks. Another Mohawk community was located westward upriver, nearer the other end of what is now Montgomery County, and it was common at the time for people to refer to both communities as “castles,” distinguishing between them as upper castle and lower castle.

Tejonihokarawa was persuaded to convert to Christianity around 1690 by the Dutch pastor Godfrey Dellius.[9] This is probably when he acquired his European name, Hendrick Peters. He later became a Protestant preacher, and he visited Catholic Mohawks in Canada in 1697, subsequently discouraging others from moving there.[10] In 1698 Tejonihokarawa and another Christian Mohawk accused Peter Schuyler, Godfrey Dellius, and three others of fraudulently obtaining their signatures on a deed of land. The deed was subsequently invalidated and Dellius was suspended from his religious duties.[11] Tejonihokarawa was one of the signatories to another document conveying eight hundred square miles of Iroquois hunting grounds to William III in 1701. The transcribed name is “Teoniahigarawe,” with Hendrick indicated as an alias.[12] Tejonihokarawa signed the document with a pictograph of what is most probably his wolf totem, and the other nineteen signatories signed similarly.

Tejonihokarawa was persuaded to recruit warriors to join Francis Nicholson’s planned attack on Canada in 1709. The expedition was aborted, but Tejonihokarawa’s participation put him solidly on the side of the British interest.[13]

Tejonihokarawa’s 1710 Trip to England

Peter Schuyler and Francis Nicholson subsequently took Tejonihokarawa, Cenelitonoro (John), Sagayonguaroughton (Brant Thowariage, possibly the grandfather of Joseph Brant), and a Mahican man to London to meet Queen Anne in 1710. Captain Abraham Schuyler was brought along as interpreter, and it appears that none of the Indians spoke English. Schuyler’s and Nicholson’s purpose for the trip was to gain support for another assault on New France, and they wished to emphasize the importance of their Indian allies. Tejonihokarawa’s agenda was to appeal to the Queen for aid in fighting the French and for Anglican missionaries. The details of this extraordinary trip are available in several sources and need not be repeated here, except to note that sources invariably confuse Tejonihokarawa with the younger Theyanoguin, who was only about eighteen at the time.[14]

The four men posed for portraits by John Verelst (1648–1734). Each of the four shows the subject’s clan in the form of an animal totem. A wolf at Tejonihokarawa’s heel clearly indicates his clan affiliation, which is also known from other sources.[15] It bears the caption “Tee Yee Neen Ho Ga Row, Emperor of the Six Nations 1710” in the lower left corner. The portrait is now in the Public Archives of Canada (C-92420). Malvina Bolus describes him as being about six feet tall, and regarded by others as handsome and well proportioned.[16] Verelst’s rendering certainly supports that assessment. He is shown holding a wampum belt and his visage is consistent with his age, which was about fifty at the time. Portraits were also made by John Faber the elder.[17] There were in addition various other unauthorized (and inaccurate) prints sold around London at the time.[18] Four miniature portraits on ivory by Bernard Lens, Jr., show the men with down feather ear decorations. None of the portraits of Tejonihokarawa show the three tattooed lines and the long scar that appear on his face in later portraits of Theyanoguin. Like many others who once thought the two men were one, I assumed that these features had not yet been acquired in 1710.

Fort Hunter and the Palatines

Tejonihokarawa might have already been a sachem of the League of the Iroquois in 1710, probably with the title of Sharenhowaneh, one of the three Mohawk Wolf Clan sachems.[19] Fifty sachems represented the Mohawks and four other constituent nations in the League of the Iroquois, but they were not equally distributed. The Mohawks had nine of the fifty League sachems, each known by the name of its first holder and each normally held for life by its incumbent. The Oneidas had nine, the Onondagas fourteen, the Cayugas ten, and the Senecas eight. Upon the death of a sachem, a new sachem was “raised up” as part of the condolence ceremony, and the new sachem assumed the position’s name. The designation was thus both a name and a title, sometimes used in concert with other names, sometimes used instead of them. The Wolf, Turtle, and Bear Clans of the Mohawks had three sachems each, although the Turtle Clan position named for Ayonhwathah (Hiawatha) was always left vacant in honor of its first occupant. Together with the forty-one League sachems from the other nations they made up the roster of sachems of the League of the Iroquois as it was known through the work of Lewis Henry Morgan in the nineteenth century.[20] Each League sachem position was held as a name by a particular clan segment (matrilineage) and the matrons of that unit were charged with the duty of nominating a suitable man to assume the position and name upon the death of its previous holder. Tejonihokarawa thus held the title/name of Sharenhowaneh in addition to his adult given name and the Christian name Hendrick Peters. Finally, “Tejonihokarawa” (Doorkeeper) was equivalent to the title of a Seneca League sachem, which Fenton explains by saying that “League titles in one nation sometimes occur as personal names in other nations.”[21] It was a fitting name for a leading man among the Mohawks, who, like the Senecas at the other end of the great symbolic longhouse, were regarded as doorkeepers for the entire League of the Iroquois.

While in London, Tejonihokarawa did not go by his League sachem title of Sharenhowaneh. If not already a League sachem in 1710, he became one soon after his return from London. His request for missionaries had been successful, and missionaries established a chapel at Fort Hunter in 1711. Queen Anne also wanted to assist Palatine German refugees by finding them homes. The Palatines by that time were living in the Hudson Valley and looking for land in Mohawk territory. Tejonihokarawa offered them land through Governor Hunter upon his return from London, and, with John Weiser’s aid, the Palatines moved to the Schoharie in the fall of 1712.[22]

Tejonihokarawa, Taragiorus, and three other sachems went to Albany in November 1712 to meet with Rev. William Andrews, the new missionary.[23] Tejonihokarawa made a long speech of gratitude, thanking the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury for sending Andrews. Young Conrad Weiser, son of the already famous John Weiser, returned with them to the valley a few days later, and there he began learning Mohawk in the house of a Mohawk sachem named Quaynant.[24] Tejonihokarawa served as a lay preacher and took up residence near the chapel. The arrangement was difficult because Andrews’s Mohawk translator was Dutch and did not understand English. Thomas Barclay, who was in charge of religious affairs in Albany, subsequently sent John Oliver to facilitate translation from English to Dutch to Mohawk.[25]

Tejonihokarawa was deposed as League sachem by Wolf Clan matrons in the winter of 1712–13. This rare example reveals that the matrons could recall as well as nominate League sachems.[26] This was apparently because he decided that the appointment of Andrews as a missionary had been a mistake. Tejonihokarawa specifically objected to tithing 10 percent of all incomes to the new chapel, but he was in a minority, and the matrons turned him out.[27] According to a letter from Governor Hunter, Tejonihokarawa was also accused of having poisoned someone.[28] However, accusations of this kind, usually baseless, were common ploys in Iroquois politics. I speculated in 1996 that this incident might have prompted Tejonihokarawa to move forty-eight kilometers westward up the Mohawk from the lower village at Fort Hunter to the upper village, but that was because I was still confusing him with Theyanoguin, who later lived at the upper village in what is now Fort Plain, New York, which was commonly referred to as “Canajoharie” at the time. There is no evidence to indicate that Tejonihokarawa left the community at Fort Hunter.

Andrews resigned his post as missionary at Fort Hunter in June 1719 and went to Virginia, leaving the chapel and its contents in the charge of the commandant of the fort.[29] The mission to the Iroquois was suspended for eight years. Tejonihokarawa was restored to his position as League sachem with the title Sharenhowaneh by 1720, for he reappears as a League sachem in the colonial documents.[30] Discipline had apparently lapsed during his time out of office, for Tejonihokarawa was complaining soon to the authorities in Albany that soldiers at the fort were selling liquor to the Indians.

Tejonihokarawa led a peacemaking expedition to Massachusetts and Maine in 1722.[31] The Abenakis were at odds with the New Englanders, and Tejonihokarawa thought that it would serve the interests of everyone if the Mohawks (and thus the League of the Iroquois) could increase their influence there. However, Massachusetts officials recognized the diplomatic mission as a recruitment effort, and kept the Mohawks from making direct contact with the Abenakis. The New Englanders spent two weeks reciting Abenaki offenses, while Tejonihokarawa recited the benefits of condolence, peace, and participation in the great Covenant Chain.[32] The Covenant Chain was the network of friendship that was forged by the Iroquois and Governor Andros at a 1677 meeting in Albany.[33] The arrangement had made the five Iroquois nations first among Indian nations and cemented their friendship with the British. On this occasion, however, the New Englanders deflected Mohawk efforts to expand Iroquois influence in New England.

The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel reopened its Mohawk mission in 1727, and it continued for many years. The Society appointed John Miln to fill the positions previously held by Thomas Barclay and William Andrews. Miln served for four years before his health failed and he had to return to England. He was replaced by Henry Barclay, son of Thomas. The younger Barclay was very active, extending his preaching to the upper village at Canajoharie so that both Mohawk communities were served. Tejonihokarawa died sometime after April 1735, about the time that Theyanoguin of Canajoharie began to rise to political importance. Barclay built a new stone church at Fort Hunter in 1741 and opened schools in both Mohawk villages the following year.[34]


Theyanoguin (also variously spelled Thoyanoguen, Tiyanoga, etc.) was a member of the Bear Clan who was born March 28, 1692. That made him only eighteen years old in 1710 when Tejonihokarawa, the man with whom he has been so often confused, traveled to London to visit Queen Anne. Theyanoguin was born in Westfield, Massachusetts, to a Mahican father and a Mohawk mother. This made him entirely Mohawk in the eyes of the matrilineal Iroquois. He was known as “Long Bow” as a child, and Theyanoguin was his adult Mohawk given name.[35] He too was known to the British as Hendrick Peters, and was later often called King Hendrick by them. The French later called him Tête Blanche for his white hair. He also sometimes was referred to as Henry or Henry Peters.[36]

Brant Thowariage, a member of the Bear Clan, later had the Mohawk League chief (sachem) title “Saquainquaragton” (also variously spelled Saquainwaraghton, Sayenquerachta, Soiengarahta, etc.). Brant Thowariage had been one of the three men who accompanied Tejonihokarawa to England in 1710, and he died that same year. His sachem title was later bestowed upon Theyanoguin, which is consistent with other evidence that the latter was also a member of the Bear Clan. However, this sachem title was not one of the three League sachem titles held by the Mohawk Bear Clan. Anthropologists have often assumed that unlike League sachemships, local (national) sachemships were not hereditary within clans. However, anthropologist Thomas Abler has shown that these offices were hereditary within clans in the Seneca case and, even without the specific evidence provided by Theyanoguin’s inheritance, it would be reasonable to infer that they were in the Mohawk case as well.[37]

Theyanoguin lived in the upper Mohawk community, which was often referred to as “Canajoharie” in the eighteenth century. However, the village was not located at the site of modern Canajoharie, New York, but rather a few kilometers west of it. During the first half of the eighteenth century, the upper community was located in part on Prospect Hill in what is now Fort Plain, New York, and in part still farther west at the village of Dekanohage, opposite the mouth of East Canada Creek. By 1755, the upper Mohawks had abandoned Prospect Hill and were living mainly around Dekanohage, and it was near there that William Johnson had a fort constructed for the protection of the upper community in 1747. A newer fort was built a short distance away in Dekanohage a few years later. This was initially called Fort Canajoharie but it was later renamed Fort Hendrick in honor of Theyanoguin.[38]

Theyanoguin’s 1740 Trip to England

Many secondary sources claim that Theyanoguin made his own trip to England around 1740.[39] He was forty-eight years old by that time and a leading Mohawk. On that occasion King George II supposedly presented him with a suit that included a green coat with gold lace and a cocked hat.[40] It is further asserted that Theyanoguin sat for a portrait in this costume, and engravings were later made from the portrait.[41] All of them show Theyanoguin holding a stylized tomahawk in his right hand, a pronounced scar on his left cheek, long tattooed lines across his face and forehead, and a partial sunburst tattoo around his ear. Biographer James Flexner published a good copy of the original, attributing it to I. Faber and erroneously dating it to 1710.[42] The artist could not have been the elder John Faber, who died in 1721. More likely it was his son, if the portraits were truly of Theyanoguin. Later on, portraits of a younger Theyanoguin were published by Lydekker and Schoolcraft. They typically show the same marks, but in these cases Theyanoguin is wearing Indian attire and has a head that is shaved except for a small scalp lock.[43] A still later derivative from one of these, by Calvin Ashley, hangs in the Margaret Reaney Memorial Library in St. Johnsville, New York.

The problem with the trip and inferences made about the images of Theyanoguin is that the only evidence we have comes from the memoirs of Julia Grant, who visited the Mohawks as a girl and published her recollections many years later. Research by Timothy Shannon strongly suggests that Grant met not Theyanoguin but his son dressed up in his father’s suit, and that the trip to England was just a good story to explain the suit and the portraits. Theyanoguin and William Johnson were heroes in England after the French and Indian War, and the portraits of Theyanoguin might have been drawn without a living model, based on one or more contemporary descriptions of him. No contemporary sources that have been found so far in either England or America mention a trip to England in 1740, and it is reasonable to expect that such a trip would have been both popular and widely reported at the time. For now it is safest to conclude that it never happened.[44]

Growing Conflict with the French

The War of the Austrian Succession spread to America in 1744, where it was known as King George’s War. The League of the Iroquois remained neutral in the war, but many Mohawks wanted to side with the British. Around the middle of January 1745, some Mohawks coming home from Schenectady in the middle of the night spread the alarm that whites were coming to kill them all, and many Mohawks fled into the woods. Barclay convinced the people in the lower castle that the rumor was false, but the upper castle Mohawks were not convinced. They threatened the settlers around them and sent runners to alert the other Iroquois nations. Theyanoguin later accused French agents of causing the commotion, but without much evidence.[45] Flexner speculates that Theyanoguin probably concocted the incident as a means to force the British to face up to the growth of French influence among the Mohawks.[46] It seems just as likely to me that Theyanoguin simply knew that crying wolf was a good way to extract more goods and services from the English.

Conrad Weiser, by now a well-known frontier diplomat and rival of William Johnson, visited Theyanoguin, Abraham, and Arughiadekaa, the sachems of the upper village at Canajoharie, in July 1745. New York’s governor George Clinton called a conference in Albany in October of the same year after hearing a rumor that the Six Nations had struck a deal with the French. Theyanoguin was a major participant, but the conference went badly, and the Iroquois sachems all went home disgusted.[47] These incidents show that Theyanoguin was a major player in the complex political machinations that characterized this period of history in the region.

Enter William Johnson

In 1746 Governor Clinton appointed William Johnson Colonel of the Six Nations, later Commissary of New York Indian Affairs, and the Indian Commissioners at Albany resigned. Johnson was by this time allied with Theyanoguin, and his expense account for 1746–47 contains several entries itemizing the resulting costs.[48]

Theyanoguin went to Montreal with a delegation of Mohawks in the fall of 1746. They accepted gifts of good will from the French governor, but on their way home they attacked some French carpenters at Isle La Motte, near the north end of Lake Champlain. This made Theyanoguin a marked man amongst the French, who sent out a party to kidnap him in the spring of 1747. They were unable to find Theyanoguin because he was with a large war party, raiding up and down the St. Lawrence. The French subsequently found and broke up the Iroquois party, but Theyanoguin and several others returned safely to Mohawk country.[49]

Theyanoguin lived in the upper Mohawk community, more remote from Albany and probably more traditional than the lower village. There was no Anglican mission in this community until 1769, when Joseph Brant donated land for a church. By that time, Theyanoguin had been dead for fourteen years, and the center of the community had shifted about 2.5 km (1.5 mi.) west from Dekanohage to the location now known as Indian Castle, still on the south side of the river. However, the sachem Taragiorus did participate in welcoming William Andrews on behalf of Canajoharie way back in 1712, and, as mentioned above, there was some preaching and an English-run school there by 1742.[50] Moreover, Moravian missionary David Zeisberger visited Theyanoguin on February 3, 1745, noting that the “Indianer König” was baptized and that his name was “Hendrick.”[51]

The upper community probably had more traditional League sachems than the lower village, even though Theyanoguin was not one of them. All three clans were found in both the upper and lower Mohawk communities at this time, but the clan segments holding traditional League titles appear to have been concentrated at the upper village. The Johnson Papers contain two 1760 rosters of leading Mohawk men from the two communities who served as delegates on a trip to Montreal.[52] Between them one can determine that there were forty-six representatives from the lower village and thirty from the upper village. Although there were fewer from the upper village overall, four of them had names that probably identify them as League sachems 1, 4, 6, and 7 in the League roster.[53] At least four Mohawk League sachems (one of the nine was never filled) were not present, and the positions might even have been vacant at the time. Those absent appear to have included Tejonihokarawa’s successor as the League sachem with the name Sharenhowaneh (League sachem 4, Mohawk Wolf Clan). In any case, the evidence suggests that traditional leadership was stronger at the upper village than the lower one in 1760, and that difference could easily have been a traditional one.

Thus, while some of the Mohawks of the upper village were at least nominally Christianized, the roots of Anglicanism seem not to have been as deep there, and Theyanoguin’s village appears to have had more traditional leadership than the lower one.

Sometime around 1746 Theyanoguin moved his residence from Canajoharie downstream to a new location on the north bank, closer to Johnson’s home but away from either of the Mohawk villages.[54] The two visited each other frequently, for Theyanoguin was Johnson’s principal link to the Mohawk leadership in the years before the emergence of Joseph Brant (born 1743). They were friends, but they were both also politicians who enjoyed intercultural games for fun and profit. There is a now-famous story that Johnson appeared one day in a new scarlet uniform. A while later Theyanoguin supposedly told Johnson that he had dreamed that Johnson had given him the uniform. Johnson knew the Iroquois well enough to know that dreams were regarded as deep-seated desires that had to be satisfied. Johnson had little choice but to hand it over as a gift. But with it the shrewd Johnson reported a dream of his own. He had dreamed that Theyanoguin had given him five hundred acres of good Mohawk land, and Theyanoguin for his part hadno choice but to comply. Theyanoguin reportedly added “I will never dreamwith you again.”[55] The story is probably apocryphal, for it was and has been told many times about other men as well. There is a variant of it that attributes the same roles to Conrad Weiser and Shickellamy.[56] The legend nevertheless characterizes the relationship of Theyanoguin and Johnson.

Over the next few years there were many meetings between Johnson and Theyanoguin, often along with other leading Mohawk men. Johnson’s goal was to keep the Mohawks and the other Iroquois working in the English interest. Theyanoguin’s goal was to keep English gifts coming to the Mohawks, which he did by frequently complaining about English ingratitude and suggesting that some Iroquois nations might be tempted to side with the French. Some of these meetings were quite strained, and on one occasion Theyanoguin refused to shake Johnson’s hand. Yet at other times relations were amicable, and, with peace between the French and the English, the Mohawks began selling land to the English rather than crying wolf as a means to acquire goods and cash.[57]

Theyanoguin and Johnson were eventually close enough to arrange some effective political theater. Johnson resigned his position as Indian agent in 1751 on grounds that failure of the British government to reimburse him adequately was causing him to eat into his personal fortune in order to keep the Mohawks loyal. Governor Clinton called a meeting in July at which Theyanoguin spoke for the Indians, likening Johnson to a fallen sachem and invoking Iroquois condolence ritual. Theyanoguin also feigned anger that Catholic Mohawks from Canada were being welcomed in Albany. Johnson then arrived dramatically to explain the reasons for his resignation. Clinton did his best to mollify Theyanoguin and persuade him to get Johnson to change his mind.[58] Conrad Weiser, who was present and knew that the Catholic Mohawks often visited the Mohawk villages at Fort Hunter and Canajoharie, saw this for the political ploy that it was.[59] Clinton was manipulated. Theyanoguin and Johnson both got what they came to Albany to get, new stature and more resources.

Also in 1751 Theyanoguin was involved in sending Mohawk children to attend school in the mission at Stockbridge, Massachusetts.[60] This is further evidence of his involvement in both community and religious affairs.

Colonial Politics

Theyanoguin was present at the 1754 conference in Albany in which Benjamin Franklin proposed the now-famous Albany Plan of Union. Much of the conference was given over to mollifying the Iroquois. Land sharks were pestering the Mohawks and Clinton’s arrogance was not helpful, but Theyanoguin had already shown that the governor could be manipulated, and Clinton eventually went back to England in disgrace. The conference occasioned what Schoolcraft referred to as “Hendrick’s greatest speech” on June 19.[61]

Weiser stepped in to play his role in this newest piece of political theater by advising both sides, smoothing ruffled feathers, and rebutting Theyanoguin’s attacks on Virginia and Pennsylvania. The incident again reveals the ways in which the Iroquois could still play the British and French off each other. It also reveals a fundamental premise of Iroquois diplomacy. No treaty settled anything once and for all, for they regarded war as a natural condition and peace as a precarious state of affairs that required regular maintenance. The constant nurturing and renewal of friendship in a climate of uncertainty also kept resources flowing to the Iroquois.

Theyanoguin was not as successful when Pennsylvania moved to buy land west of the Allegheny Mountains. He objected on behalf of the League of the Iroquois, but the commissioners argued that it was up to the individual Oneida and Cayuga nations, who held the land by right of conquest from the Susquehannocks. Weiser shrewdly gave Theyanoguin both the prestige and the humiliation of taking this to the League sachems, who grudgingly agreed.[62]

As the conference broke up, John Lydius (another land agent) got Theyanoguin and fifteen other sachems drunk at his house and tricked some of them (not including Theyanoguin) into signing the now-infamous Wyoming Deed.[63] It was also later regarded as one of the key events that precipitated the Wyoming Massacre of 1778.[64]

There were long-distance negotiations and conferences over the next several months as Theyanoguin and other Indian leaders worked to blunt the ambitions of colonists attempting to acquire land. New Yorker Philip Livingston was again trying to acquire land by various fraudulent means. Speculators from Massachusetts and Connecticut, both colonies that were geographically blocked from westward expansion, were attempting to leap over New York to the same ends. Theyanoguin went to Philadelphia in December in order to deal with these problems, and he did not return home until May 1755.[65] He was lionized in Pennsylvania, and he went home with new assurances in his pocket.

Battle of Lake George

The French appeared to be ready to attack Albany by August 1755. Theyanoguin led over two hundred Mohawks up the Hudson to Fort Edward to assist the British force led by William Johnson. The French had many Caughnawaga Mohawks with them, descendants of Catholic Mohawks that had left New York in the previous century, and Theyanoguin thus faced the unpleasant possibility of fighting kin. Theyanoguin discussed this with Johnson at Lake George on the morning of September 4, 1755. They both wanted to avoid direct engagement between the New York and Canadian Mohawks, so a meeting in no man’s land was arranged. This had consequences for the battle that followed.[66]

Johnson used Indian scouts at Lake George and Theyanoguin served as translator. His English by this time was apparently good enough for that purpose. Theyanoguin also provided Johnson with good military advice, which Johnson did not take.[67] It was at this point that Theyanoguin told Johnson that “If they [his men] are to fight they are too few; if they are to be killed they are too many.” As for Johnson’s idea of sending the men in three parties, Theyanoguin is supposed to have taken three sticks from the ground and said “Put these together and you cannot break them; take them one by one, and you will do it easily.”[68] Both stories are probably apocryphal, for similar ones can be found in earlier European history. Like the larger myth of Iroquois influence on the U.S. Constitution, which can be traced to events surrounding the 1754 Albany Plan of Union, such stories often arose from the fertile intercultural ground of colonial America.[69] Yet the fact that they have attached to Theyanoguin is another measure of his role in colonial history.

While they intended to take the French by surprise, the British and Mohawks marched into a French trap south of Lake George. One of the French Mohawks was later reported to have deliberately fired his musket early in order to warn the British Mohawks of the trap.[70] Theyanoguin led the New York Mohawks on one of Johnson’s horses, which was shot out from under him when the trap was sprung. Theyanoguin was bayoneted before he could get up from the ground. The British fell back. Johnson was wounded, and there were many losses, but the British rallied and defeated the French after retreating to stronger positions nearer the lake.[71]

“His son [Sahonwadie] on being told that his father was killed, gave the usual groan, and suddenly putting his hand on his left breast, swore that his father was still alive in that place, and stood there in his son. It was with the utmost difficulty Gen. Johnson prevented the fury of their resentment taking place on the body of the [captured] French General, Dieskau, whom they would have sacrificed without ceremony, but for the interference of Gen. Johnson.”[72]

Both Theyanoguin and Taragiorus were killed in the battle of September 8, 1755. The Mohawks had thus lost both of their war chiefs as well as thirty other men. League sachems from Oneida and Tuscarora came to Canajoharie in February to condole the deaths of both Theyanoguin and Taragiorus. A new sachem was raised up to replace Taragiorus at the condolence, but the Mohawks held off replacing Theyanoguin. Mourning was protracted in his case, and as late as 1758, Stockbridge Indians gave Johnson a French scalp to “replace” Theyanoguin.[73]

A portrait of Theyanoguin once hung in the New York State capital. It was unfortunately destroyed in the 1911 fire that also consumed many priceless objects in the collection of the New York State Museum.[74] William Fenton published a drawing of Theyanoguin from around 1754, depicting him as a skinny old man without tattoos.[75] I cannot explain why the scar and tattoos are missing on this image. Another etching of Theyanoguin as an old man was made by T. Jeffreys in 1756 and it is now in the New-York Historical Society collection. This etching shows the partial sunburst tattoo around his left ear, which is also visible on most of the earlier portraits described above.

Why the Difference Matters

Both men were called Hendrick Peters by the English, but Tejonihokarawa and Theyanoguin were very different Mohawk leaders. They were for one thing from different generations, their lifespans being 1660-circa 1735 and 1692–1755 respectively. Tejonihokarawa lived in the lower Mohawk village at Fort Hunter for most of his life. This village was closer to Albany and was largely if not entirely Christianized by the early eighteenth century. Tejonihokarawa converted in 1690, and an Anglican mission was established there by 1711. He became a lay preacher and a League sachem, but he appears to have not acquired much English.

This clarifies some of what divided the upper and lower Mohawk villages in the eighteenth century. The lower village was home to Christianized Mohawks who had an English fort and an Anglican mission in their midst. The upper village was more traditional and lacked a church until a few years before the American Revolution. Although Tejonihokarawa was a League sachem and lived in the lower village, the upper village probably had more of the nine League sachemships held by the Mohawks, at least at mid-century. When the Revolutionary War broke out, the two communities fled the valley, but in different directions. The lower community went first to Montreal and ended up mainly on the Tyendinaga Reserve north of Lake Ontario, while the upper community followed Joseph Brant westward to Niagara, ultimately settling on the Six Nations Reserve north of Lake Erie.

Tejonihokarawa was a warrior early in life, but in the eighteenth century he became primarily a diplomat. Sivertsen argues that he was probably the first Mohawk sachem whose career was advanced by association with the Anglican church. It was probably that association that got him the 1710 invitation to travel to England, as well as later opportunities.

Tejonihokarawa was elevated to a position as Wolf Clan League sachem, holding the title of Sharenhowaneh. Theyanoguin was a sachem too, but a local Mohawk Bear Clan sachem, not a League sachem. He was always more politician than diplomat. Although he was a nominal Christian, there are no records indicating much involvement in religious affairs. In contrast to Tejonihokarawa, Theyanoguin spoke good English when he chose to, serving as translator at least in his later years. Moreover, Theyanoguin never gave up his role as warrior, dying in battle at the age of sixty-three.

They were very different men, who lived at different times in different communities, belonged to different clans, and played different roles in the complex colonial history of the eighteenth century. That they should have been confused because English sources chose to provide them with identical aliases is evidence of just one of the technical difficulties faced by anthropologists and historians who study this period.

It is not easy to admit error in previous publications, but it is better for us to do it ourselves than to oblige a later generation of scholars to correct conclusions that, while they may be carefully argued and firmly held, are utterly wrong. I am mindful that through their publications other historians and other archaeologists have invested in interpretations of the past that I have found to be demonstrably wrong, and that they might resent having such errors pointed out.[76] But getting it right is more important than a foolish consistency, and as it happens I am among those who have previously published erroneous conclusions. This is not the first time I have published this kind of correction for the record, and it is probably not the last. That one’s reputation can survive the discloser of mistakes is one of the benefits of age.

1.� I am grateful to the many colleagues who have helped me to understand the Iroquois and their rich legacy. Their names appear here in the references cited and on the rolls of the annual Conference on Iroquois Research, starting with William Fenton. We are all indebted to Barbara Sivertsen for correcting a long-standing mistake. Special thanks go to Corinna Dally-Starna and William Starna, whose formidable scholarly skills, helpful criticism, and unflagging friendship are rarely equaled and never surpassed. I am grateful to George Hamell for sharing several of his unpublished findings. Timothy Shannon also shared some unpublished information and provided vital criticisms that have made this article much better than it would otherwise be. Of course, I remain responsible for any lingering errors. Finally, I thank my wife, Janet Snow, whose love and support make all things possible.

2.� William N. Fenton, The Great Law of the Longhouse: A Political History of the Iroquois Confederacy (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998).

3.� Dean R. Snow, The Iroquois (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1994).

4.� See Robert S. Grumet, ed., Northeastern Indian Lives, 1632–1816 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996) and my contribution: Dean R. Snow, “Theyanoguin,” 208–26.

5.� See figs. 3–1 and 11–1 in Barbara J. Sivertsen, Turtles, Wolves, and Bears: A Mohawk Family History (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1996).

6.� It has been over a decade since I sprang this correction on my colleagues assembled at the Rensselaerville Conference Center. I regret that some scholars might have since then unwittingly perpetuated the conflation of the two Hendricks in their own publications. My efforts to publish a correction for the record were unfortunately delayed by circumstances not entirely in my control.

7.� Fenton introduces the error on p. 15 of The Great Law of the Longhouse, following Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 26, and many other earlier writers. The same error occurs in Eric Hinderaker’s “The ‘Four Indian Kings’ and the Imaginative Construction of the First British Empire,” The William and Mary Quarterly 53 (1996): 487–526.

8.� See the discussion of this and three other 1710 portraits by Bruce Robertson in John G. Garratt The Four Indian Kings—Les Quatre Rois Indiens (Ottawa: Public Archives of Canada, 1985), 139–49. In each case the totem of the subject is shown on the ground just to the rear of the standing subject of the painting.

9.� M. W. Hamilton, in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 3 (Toronto and Quebec: University of Toronto Press and Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 1974), 622–24.

10.� O’Callaghan, E. B., and Berthold Fernow, eds., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York (Albany, N.Y.: Weed and Parsons, 1853–87), 4:281.

11.� O’Callaghan and Fernow, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 6:622.

12.� Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 11, 26, 190–94; O’Callaghan and Fernow, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 4:908–11.

13.� Hamilton, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 3:622–24.

14.� See for example Fenton, The Great Law of the Longhouse: A Political History of the Iroquois Confederacy, 369–77; my own contribution in Northeastern Indian Lives, 210–12; Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 26–31; and M. Bolus, “Four Kings Came to Dinner with Their Honours,” The Beaver (1973): 4–11.

15.� These were compiled by Sivertsen, Turtles, Wolves, and Bears.

16.� Bolus, “Four Kings,” 4–11.

17.� Fenton, The Great Law of the Longhouse, 375.

18.� Richard P. Bond, Queen Anne’s American Kings (Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1952); Garratt, The Four Indian Kings—Les Quatre Rois Indiens, 139–49.

19.� Elisabeth Tooker, “The League of the Iroquois: Its History, Politics, and Ritual,” in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 15, Northeast (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1978), 418–41.

20.� See Lewis Henry Morgan, League of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee or Iroquois (New York: Sage, 1851), or any of several reprints.

21.� Fenton, The Great Law of the Longhouse, 369.

22.� Paul A. W. Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 1696–1760: Friend of Colonist and Mohawk (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1945).

23.� O’Callaghan and Fernow, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 3:900–02.

24.� Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 17.

25.� Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 34; Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 326.

26.� Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 22.

27.� Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 35.

28.� O’Callaghan and Fernow, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 5:358.

29.� Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 51.

30.� O’Callaghan and Fernow, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 5:569.

31.� Alexander Hamilton, Gentleman’s Progress: The Itinerarium of Dr. Alexander Hamilton, 1744 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1948), 112.

32.� James P. Baxter, J.P., ed., The Documentary History of the State of Maine, vol. 23 (Portland, Me.: LeFavor-Tower, 1869–1916), 23:119; Daniel K. Richter, Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 375.

33.� Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire: The Covenant Chain Confederation of Indian Tribes with English Colonies from its Beginning to the Lancaster Treaty of 1744 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984), 8–9.

34.� Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 52–54.

35.� Sivertsen, Turtles, Wolves, and Bears, fig. 11–1.

36.� Reuben G. Thwaites, ed., The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610–1791 (Cleveland, Ohio: Burrows Brothers, 1896–1901), 1:405; 8:19, 24; Isabel T. Kelsay, Joseph Brant, 1743–1807: Man of Two Worlds (Syracuse, N,Y,: Syracuse University Press, 1984), 40.

37.� Thomas S. Abler, “Seneca Moieties and Hereditary Chieftainships: the Early-Nineteenth-Century Political Organization of an Iroquois Nation,” Ethnohistory 51 (2004): 459–88.

38.� Dean R. Snow, Mohawk Valley Archaeology: The Sites, Matson Museum of Anthropology Occasional Papers in Anthropology, no. 23 (University Park, Pa.: Matson Museum of Anthropology, 1995), 471, 485–86.

39.� For example, Hamilton, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 3:622–24.

40.� For example, see Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 26; W. L. Stone, in Constitution and By-Laws of the New York State Historical Association, with Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting 1(1901): 28–39.

41.� Nathaniel S. Benton, A History of Herkimer County, including the Upper Mohawk Valley, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time (Albany, N.Y.: J. Munsell, 1856); Jeptha Simms, History of Schoharie County and Border Wars (Albany, N.Y.: Munsell and Tanner, 1845).

42.� James T. Flexner, Lord of the Mohawks: A Biography of Sir William Johnson (Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown, 1979), 40.

43.� Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 26; Henry R. Schoolcraft, Notes on the Iroquois: Or, Contributions to the Statistics, Aboriginal History, Antiquities, and General Ethnology of Western New York (Albany, N.Y.: Erastus H. Pease, 1847).

44.� I am grateful to Timothy Shannon for pointing this out to me. Many writers have taken Grant at face value in previous publications, including myself in Northeastern Indian Lives and Shannon in “Dressing for Success on the Mohawk Frontier: Hendrick, William Johnson, and the Indian Fashion,” William and Mary Quarterly 53(1996): 13–42.

45.� Lydekker, The Faithful Mohawks, 58; Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 219.

46.� James T. Flexner, Lord of the Mohawks, 48–49.

47.� Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 226–31.

48.� William Johnson, The Papers of Sir William Johnson, ed. J. Sullivan, A. C. Flick, A. W. Lauber, and M. W. Hamilton (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1921–1963), 9:15–31.

49.� James T. Flexner, Lord of the Mohawks, 66–68.

50.� O’Callaghan and Fernow, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 3:900–02.

51.� David Zeisberger, in Records of the Moravian Mission among the Indians of North America (1745), microfilm reel 31, box 227, folder 1, item 1 (New Haven, Conn.: Research Publications).

52.� Johnson, The Papers of Sir William Johnson, 8:173–75; 10:180–81.

53.� Tooker, Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 15, Northeast, 418–41.

54.� Schoolcraft, Notes on the Iroquois, 416.

55.� Benton, A History of Herkimer County, 23–24; William Hubbard, The History of the Indian Wars in New England from the First Settlement to the Termination of the War with King Philip, in 1677, ed. S. G. Drake (Roxbury, Mass.: W. Eliot Woodward, 1865), 41–42.

56.� Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 151.

57.� O’Callaghan and Fernow, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 6:548–49, 808–15. James T. Flexner, Lord of the Mohawks, 104–05. Johnson, The Papers of Sir William Johnson, 1:50, 330–31; 9:62–66, 153; 13:15.

58.� Johnson, The Papers of Sir William Johnson, 1:340.

59.� Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 326.

60.� Patrick Frazier. The Mohicans of Stockbridge, 98–103 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992).

61.� Schoolcraft, Notes on the Iroquois, 416; Timothy Shannon, Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000); O’Callaghan and Fernow, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 7:869–70.

62.� Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 358–59.

63.� Johnson, The Papers of Sir William Johnson, 1:405; 3:715; 9:142–45; Georgiana C. Nammack, Fraud, Politics, and the Dispossession of the Indians: The Iroquois Land Frontier in the Colonial Period (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969), 43.

64.� Wallace, Conrad Weiser, 361–63.

65.� Johnson, The Papers of Sir William Johnson, 1:427–41, 489; 9:142–61.

66.� Johnson, The Papers of Sir William Johnson, 1:883; 2:383; Daniel Claus, Claus’s Narrative of his Relations with Sir William Johnson and Experiences in the Lake George Fight (New York: Society of Colonial Wars in the State of New York, 1904).

67.� Johnson, The Papers of Sir William Johnson, 2:16, 380–82.

68.� Stone, Constitution and By-Laws of the New York State Historical Association, 31.

69.� Elisabeth Tooker, review of Exemplar of Liberty: Native America and the Evolution of Democracy” by Donald G. Grinde, Jr., and Bruce E. Johansen, Northeast Anthropology 46 (1993): 103–07.

70.� Stone, Constitution and By-Laws of the New York State Historical Association, 32.

71.� O’Callaghan, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 6:1008; Stone, Constitution and By-Laws of the New York State Historical Association, 32.

72.� This is from Schoolcraft, Notes on the Iroquois, 420–21. It might be another example of nineteenth-century invention.

73.� Johnson, The Papers of Sir William Johnson, 9:349–50, 391: 13:113.

74.� George Hamell has explored this famous fire extensively and I am grateful to him for this personal communication.

75.� Fenton, The Great Law of the Longhouse, 472.

76.� Perhaps the most notable of these was my slaying of the cherished “in situ” hypothesis of Northern Iroquoian origins in 1995. See “Migration in Prehistory: The Northern Iroquoian Case,” American Antiquity 60 (1995): 59–79, and “More on Migration in Prehistory: Accommodating New Evidence in the Northern Iroquoian Case,” American Antiquity 61 (1996): 791–96. See also my chapter entitled “Iroquois Prehistory” in Extending the Rafters: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Iroquoian Studies, ed. Michael K. Foster, Jack Campisi, and Marianne Mithus (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984), for a presentation of the scholarly consensus at that time, which turned out to be fundamentally wrong.


By: Dean R. Snow



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