Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
September 2004

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





[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.]



Pieskaret. The Algonkin name, often written Piskater, of­ a noted Algonkin (Adirondack) chief, who lived on the N. bank of the river St. Lawrence, below Montreal, in the first half of the 17 th century. According to Schoolcraft ( W. Scenes and Remin ., 87,1853) the dialectic form in his own tribe was Bisconace ('Little Blaze'). Although he became noted by reason of his daring, comparatively few incidents of his life have been recorded. Charlevoix (New France, II, 181, 1866) says he was "one of the bravest men ever seen in Canada, and almost incredible stories are told of his prowess." His most noted exploit occurred during an excursion into the Iroquois country with but four followers, well armed with guns, when they encountered on Richelieu r., in five boats, a band of 50 Iroquois, most of whom they killed or captured. On another occasion Pieskaret ventured alone within the Iroquois domain, and coming to one of their villages, by secreting himself during the day, succeeded in killing and scalping the members of a household each night for three successive nights. He was ultimately brought under the influence of Catholic missionaries and in 1641 was baptized under the name Simon, after which he was commonly known among the whites as Simon Pieskaret. After his acceptance of Christianity so much confidence was placed in his prudence and ability that he was commissioned to maintain peace between the French and the Indians, as well as between the Hurons and Algonkin; he was authorized to punish delinquents, "and especially those who committed any fault against religion. It is wonderful how he discharged his office." (Jes. Rel. 1647, XXXI 287, 1898.) He was present and made a speech at the conference between the French governor and the Iroquois and other tribes at Three Rivers , Quebec , in 1645. Two years later, while a large body of Iroquois were going on a pretended visit to the governor some of their scouts met Pieskaret near Nicolet, r., and treacherously killed him while off his guard.


[Consult the entry under Simon Pieskaret at the Canadian Biographical Dictionary.]


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. 387.



© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College