A History of the Rice Lake Indians by Mary Jane Muskratte Simpson

The Story of Paudash

This historical paper was read before the Ontario Historical Society of Windsor, June 1904, by Lt. Col. H. C. Rogers, President of the Peterborough Historical Society at that time.

"Paudash, son of Paudash, son of Cheneebeesh, son of Gemoaghhenassee; to the Ontario Historical Society: -


I, Robert Paudash, with my son, Johnson Paudash, am desirous of placing on record for the first time the solemn tradition of the Mississaugas respecting their present place of settlement in Ontario and the migration which led them thither. No word of what I am about to say has come from reading, or in any other way than from the mouth of Paudash, my father, who died aged 75 in the year 1893, the last hereditary chief of the tribe of Mississaugas situate at Rice Lake; and from the mouth of Cheneebeesh my grandfather, who died in 1869, at the age of 104, the last Sachem, or Head chief of all the Mississaugas, who had learned according to the Indian custom what Gemoaghenassee, his father, had heard from his father, and so on.

I am glad for the sake of the Mississaugas, who were always loyal to the great king, to hear of his revival of interest in the Mississaugas; who do not appear in history or in the records of this country as much as they deserve from the importance of their deeds in war, and their efforts to preserve peace and goodwill towards the great king.

In the first place, as you would know, the Algonquin, who include the Mississaugas, inhabited the great northern portion of this continent, excepting the small part which the Iroquois, their deadly enemies, inhabited on the south shore of Lake Ontario; while far to the south dwelt the Muskogees.

The Mississaugas were so named because they settled on a river on the north shore of Lake Huron about seventy miles from Sault St. Marie, the word "Mississauga" meaning a river; but they were Shawnees, part of the great Ojibway tribe, of which the word "Chippeway" is a corruption. In what is now the Ohio Valley the Shawnees dwelt in peace and power until such time as their sachems became disturbed and divided by party strife. One party thereupon went north through the country of the Michigan's and crossed into Canada, at Boweeting now known as Sault St. Marie, settling down on the north shore of Lake Huron.

Not many years after the arrival of the Mississaugas, the Iroquois, represented by their chief tribe the Mohawks, came north across Ontario and exterminated the Hurons, possessing themselves of their hunting grounds. Coming into contact with the Mississaugas the Mohawks massacred small parties of them and endeavoured to drive them off. It being a matter of life and death to the Mississaugas, they held a great council of war and decided to attack the Mohawks and, if possible, drive them away. A party of Mohawks were entrenched at an island in lower Georgian Bay, afterward known as Pequahkoondehaminis, or the "island of skulls". The Mississaugas surrounded them, and made great slaughter, the island taking its name from this circumstance. The Mohawks were compelled to retreat eventually, but being a fierce and warlike tribe they resisted stubbornly. The Mississaugas then advanced up what is now the Severn River to Shunyung, or Lake Simcoe, stopping at Machinchning, which means "fish fence" at the Narrows between lakes Simcoe and Couchiching in order to get a supply of food. Part of this fence remains to this day. (1904) There they received reinforcements, dividing into two parties, and made preparations for a campaign. The main body proceeded along the portage, now called "Portage Road" to Balsam Lake; the other party went south to Toronto.

After various skirmishes the Mohawks continued their retreat down the valley of the Otonabee, or Trent, to where they were settled in numerous villages along the river Otonabee and on Rice Lake. They made their first real stand at Nogojiwanong, which was the original name of the present town of Peterborough, meaning "place at the end of the rapids". A sharp skirmish took place here at what is now known as Cemetery Point. The Mohawks were worsted, and retired farther down the river; making a determined stand, however, at the south of the river, while the Mississaugas encamped at Onigon, now known as Campbelltown. The word "onigon" meaning "the pulling up of stakes" because the Mississaugas coming too closely on the entrenched Mohawks pulled up their stakes and retreated up the river.

After great preparation, an attack was made by the Mississaugas, both by land and water, and after a battle in which no less than one thousand warriors were slain, the Mohawks were driven down Rice Lake to what is now known as Rochis Point. Great quantities of bone and flint arrowheads are found at the site of this battle even to this day. At Rochis Point there was a Mohawk village in front of the former site of this is a mound in the shape of a serpent, having four smaller mounds about its head and body in the form of turtles. These mounds are a pictorial representation of the Mississaugas in memory of the occurrence, and of the Mohawks. It has been supposed by some to mean more than this, but my father has so stated it.

The Mohawks fought well, but the Mississaugas were just as good. An attack having been made on this village the Mohawks were compelled once more to retreat. The Mohawks then fled to Quegeeg, or Cameron's Point, at the foot of Rice Lake, where great numbers of weapons and bones have since been found; and were again fiercely attacked by the Mississaugas. These compelled them to beat further retreat down the river to Onigaming, the famous Carrying Place where the Murray Canal now is, being the portage across from Lake Ontario to the Bay of Quinte; and from there into their own country. The Mississaugas rested at Onigaming and waited for the detachment from Toronto to join them. Before pursuing the main body of the Mohawks further after the attack at Cameron's Point, a party of Mississaugas went upcountry to a lake called Chuncall, in Madoc north of Trenton, where a party of Mohawks dwelt; and wiped them out. The lake being small, the fish fed on human flesh and became very savage, so much so that the Indians came to hold them in dread.

It being known that the Iroquois would never rest until they could return and attack the Mississaugas, perhaps at a disadvantage, the latter decided to advance against the Mohawks and the Iroquois generally beyond the Great Lake. They came upon them at their fort on the Mohawk River, and laid siege to it. After a long time the Mohawks, who resisted with great bravery, sent out men to see if peace could not be made; it being a pity that two brave enemies should fight until both were on the point of extermination. It was evident, however, that there could be no certainty of peace for the future, since the Iroquois, as well as the Mississauga children, would surely take up and continue the quarrel. It was decided by treaty therefore that the children of the Mohawk and Mississauga warriors should intermarry, and in this way peace would be assured for the future. The Mississaugas then returned, and seeing that the land conquered from the Mohawks by them was full of game and an excellent hunting ground, they came down from Lake Huron and settled permanently in the valley of the Otonabee, or Trent, and along the St. Lawrence as far east as Brockville. Thus they extended from Lake Huron to Brockville in the east; and in the west, where the Credit Indians live, a branch of the same race, from Toronto to Lake Erie.

The British Government subsequently recognized the claim of the Mississaugas to this country, and the eastern bands were gathered together at Nanabojou, or Hiawatha, on Rice Lake; at Chemong, near Peterborough; and at Scugog, near Port Perry. "Hiawatha" is not Mississauga, Pamadusgodayong being the name for that lake, meaning "Lake of the Plains" because of the fact that when the Mississaugas first came down to the mouth of the river the southern shore of Rice Lake opposite appeared to be flat, since it had been cleared of forest, and was the corn land of the Mohawks. Chemong is a corruption of Oskigimong and refers to the bow-like shape of the lake. Scugog means "shallow waters".

After the War of the American Revolution the Mohawks, who had been allies of the British, came over to Canada and asked the Mississaugas to allow them to settle at Grand River and the Bay of Quinte. The British Government bought both Reservations for the Mohawks from their allies the Mississaugas, and settled them there as they desired.

In closing my remarks I would like to call your attention to the Indians at Moose Point on Georgian Bay. Last winter my son and I were at Parry Sound where we met some of the Indians dwelling at Moose Point who have War Medals, but no land or annuity. These Indians are the descendants of those who came with Tecumseh and afterward did not dare go back. I am sure that if their case was brought before the Government they would get either land or annuity-like ourselves.

I solemnly declare this to be the tradition of the Mississaugas as given me by word of mouth by my father, Paudash, and by my grandfather, Cheneebeesh.

(signed) Chief, Robert Paudash,
Chief of the Mississaugas at Pamadusgodayong
(also signed) Johnson Paudash

Declared before me at Peterborough
this 28th day of May, 1904.

(signed) Hampden Burnham, A Commissioner etc.

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