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Ioway Cultural Institute : History :
General History

The First Ioway Indians at Montreal

Excerpt from; Macalester College Contributions;
Department of History, Literature and Political Science.
Second Series -- Number Five. pp.109-112; (old but no date)
The First Ioway Indians at Montreal
by Edward D. Neill, D. D., St. Paul Minnesota.

The Ayoes, (fn.1), Ayo8ois, or Ioway tribe was long known to the Canadian fur traders, but none of them, until A.D. 1757, visited Montreal.

Nicholas Perrot, in the autumn of 1685, ascended the Mississippi river, and passed the winter at "Montagne qui tremps dans l'eau," near the site of the modern village Trempeleau, in Wisconsin, and here he was visited by Ioway Indians who at that time hunted in the valley of the river, a western tributary of the Mississippi, that still bears their name, and roamed over the prairies toward the Missouri. (p.110)

When Pierre La Sueur, in 1700, reached the mouth of the Mahkahto, or Blue Earth, river, a tributary of the Minnesota, he was told that the river belonged to the Sioux of the West, the Ayavois and Otoctatas (Ottoes), who lived a little farther off. D'Iberville, in 1702, mentions "that the Ayooues and the Octoctatas, their neighbors, are about three hundred families. They occupy the land between the Mississippi and the Missouri about one hundred leagues from the Illinois."

The following letter of the governor general of Canada, Pierre Rigaud, (fn.2), the Marquis de Vaudreuil, now first printed, alludes to the occasion of the first visit of an Ioway delegation to Canada:

"Montreal, July 20, 1757

"My Lord: Before my arrival in the colony, the Ayo8ois killled two Frenchmen on the Missouri. With all possible haste I issued order to the commandants of posts, where this tribe might happen to visit, so that the first officer to whom in might come would compel it to bring the murderers to me. The Commandant de la Baye (fn.3) had an opportunity to see the Ayo8ois, and spoke to them, in my name, with so much vigor, that ten Indians of this tribe came to Montreal, to deliver me the murderers.

"With great humility, they offered them, in the name of the tribe, and expressed a willingness to break their heads (a leur casser) if it were my desire; but they earnestly begged for pardon, assuring me, that they would avenge the deaths of the two Frenchmen, by attacks on the English. (p.111)

"All our tribes of the Upper Country, (fn.4), and our domiciliated (domiciliers) in the City, to the number of 1700 or 1800, united with the Ayo8ois and begged me, in most touching language, to grant their pardon. I thought I ought not to refuse them as all the tribes were about departing, to help in my expedition against Fort George, and because the circumstances demanded that I give some proof of good will; meanwhile I made them sue strongly for the favor, and yielded only after many and repeated requests.

"This favor will increase our hold on these savages much more than if I had executed the two murderers, because all the tribes who interested themselves in their behalf, at the same time, bound themselves to punish them, if hereafter they steeped their hands in French blood.

"I am with very deep respect, My Lord,

"Your very humble and obedient servant,


A few days after this agreement, an army, under Marquis Montcalm, was on the march to Fort George, then called by the English Fort William Henry, at the lower end of Lake St. Sacrement, now Lake George. In the return of the army after it reached the head of Lake George, 1,806 Indians were present, 986 of whom were from the upper country. In the order of march for July 30th, the following officers were attached to the Indians, M. de St. Luc, (fn.4), commandant, and Messrs. Marin, (fn.5), Niverville, (fn.6), and Langlade.(fn.7) Among the Indians from the upper country were the Sauteurs (Ojibways) of Chagouamigon, Lake Superior, Puans of La Baye, and in the words of a report "Aoais from the Western Sea, (fn.8), who never before appeared in the country."

"On the eighth of August the French army had surrounded Fort George, and commenced a bombardment, and early the next morning the artillery began again to fire, but, about seven o'clock, a white flag was hoisted by the English, and soon 2,200 troops, under articals of capitulation, marched out with the honors of war. After this success the Ioway and other Indians from the region of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior returned to their homes.


(fn.1) Other spellings are Aaiaoua, Ayoois, Ayavois, Ayooues, Aye8ias.

(fn.2) Pierre Rigaud, Marquis de Vaudreuil, was the third son of Philip, the Marquis, who was from 1705 to 1725 governor of Canada. He was born in 1698, at Quebec, and in 1743 was appointed governor of Louisiana. In 1752 he was governor of Canada. After the cession of Canada to the English he went to France, and in 1764 died.

(fn.3) The department of trade west of Lake Superior was called the "West Sea," and that west of Lake Michigan "The Bay." Sieur de Rigaude, a brother of Governor Vaudreuil, was the lessee of "LaBaye." See Macalester Contributions, First Series, p.220.

(fn.4) Bio. on St. Luc La Corne not encluded here.

(fn.5) Marin, Jr., succeeded his father, in command of the post in Minnesota, opposite Maiden's Rock, Lake Pepin, and in 1755 was in charge of the department LaBaye. A dispatch to the War Department of France, dated Quebec, thirty-first July, 1757, contains the following; "A detachment of 150 men, mostly Indians, sent by the Marquis Montcalm on a scout between Fort George and Lydius (Edward), under the command of Lieutenant Marin, has accomplished the most daring expedition. He arrived on the evening of the twenty-third near Fort Lydius. He first met a patrol of ten men, who were killed; afterward came up with a strong guard of fifty men, who were in like manner destroyed. A corps of the enemy over 4,000 men ranged itself in line of battle, rallied out from its intrenchments, and advanced toward the edge of the woods where Marin lay in ambush, who fired more than an hour, killed a number of the enemy * * * and lost but one Canadian, who died of exhaustion." He returned to camp on the twenty-sixth with thirty-two scalps, and only one prisoner.

(fn.6) Bio. not encluded here.

(fn.7) Bio. not encluded here.

(fn.8) The name of the department.



I found another very small mention of the Ioway toward the begining of this same French expedition to Fort George or Fort Henry;

"Soon Canadians and Indians were moving by detachments up Lake Champlain. Fleets of bateaus and canoes followed each other day by day along the capricious lake, in calm or storm, sunshine or rain, till towards the end of July the whole force was gathered at Ticonderoga, the base of the intended movement. Bourlamaque had been there since May with the battalions of Bearn and Royal Roussillon, finishing the fort, sending out war parties and trying to discover the force and designs of the English at Fort William Henry."

"Of Indian allies there were nearly two thousand. One of their tribes, the Iowas, spoke a language which no interpreter understood, and they bivouacked where they saw fit, for no man could control them."

Excerpt from "The Battle for North America," edited by John Tebble from the works of Francis Parkman, 1948, p.596.

There is a lengthy description of the struggle with rough terrain as well as detailed account of the taking of the Fort by the French and Indians in this Chapter 'Fort William Henry,' but no more specific mention of the Ioway.

Another on the same;

From "The Ioways," by William J. Petersen, editor of "The Palimpsest" issued May 1960; The Ioways were great travelers, the sixteen village sites at which they have been located would require a circle of approximately five hundred miles if drawn from the mouth of the Iowa River. In addition, the Ioways visited Montcalm in Montreal in 1757 where they "enchanted" the great French Governor and his ladies with their wild dances.

Martha Royce Blaine, "The Ioway Indians," p.38-39 covers the subject pretty well.

Contributed by Susan K. Suttle White

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