Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
September 2004

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Joseph Onasakenrat



[This text was originally published in 1907 by the Bureau of American Ethnology as part of its Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. It was later reproduced, in 1913, by the Geographic Board of Canada. The work done by the American Bureau was monumental, well informed and incorporated the most advanced scholarship available at the time. In many respects, the information is still useful today, although prudence should be exercised and the reader should consult some of the contemporary texts on the history and the anthropology of the North American Indians suggested in the bibliographic introduction to this section. The articles were not completely devoid of the paternalism and the prejudices prevalent at the time. While some of the terminology used would not pass the test of our "politically correct" era, most terms have been left unchanged by the editor. If a change in the original text has been effected it will be found between brackets [.] The original work contained long bibliographies that have not been reproduced for this web edition. For the full citation, see the end of the text.]


Onasakenrat ('White Feather') Joseph. A Mohawk chief, noted for his translations of religious works into his native language. He was born on his father's farm, near Oka, Quebec , Sept. 4, 1845; at 14 years of age he was sent to Montreal College to be educated for the priesthood, remaining there about 4 years. He was afterward converted to Protestantism and became an evangelical preacher. On June 15, 1877, the Catholic church of Oka was burned, and Chief Joseph was tried for the offence, but was not convicted. He died suddenly, Feb. 8, 1881, at Caughnawaga. Among his translations into the Mohawk dialect are the Gospels (1880) and a volume of hymns. At the time of his death he was engaged in translating the remainder of the Bible, having reached in the work the Epistles to the Hebrews.


Return to the Index page of Indians of Canada and Quebec

Source: James WHITE, ed., Handbook of Indians of Canada, Published as an Appendix to the Tenth Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, Ottawa, 1913, 632p., p. 361.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College