Aaniin odoodemaayan?

I can’t answer that question. Sometimes it feels like the answer was stolen from me. But I keep trying to look for it.

The original name of the St-Maurice river was “Métabéroutin”, given by Algonquin, which means “discharge of the wind”; the Atikameks of Haute-Mauricie still call  “Tapiskwan Sipi”, the “river of the threaded needle”. The Abenaki call it “Madôbaladenitekw” or the “river that ends”.

One river. Multiple names. Indigenous Place Names.

So many of my ancestors just “appeared” out of nowhere. Spelling irregularites in Church Registries, Missing Entries, Blank Spaces. Dead Ends.

State and Church; Church and State. Working closely together since the Jesuits were replaced by Sulpicians as curators of Kebec / New France / Lower Canada / Canada-East / Québec records. The Société Notre-Dame de Montréal, founded by De la Dauversière, aimed to convert and civilize Indigenous Peoples.

Séminaire Saint-Sulpice, Tiohtià:ke.

How would they CIVILIZE my Ancestors?

Translate their names, it seems. *Frenchify*, if you will?

Reading “Relations des Jésuites” (1632 to 1673) from the first year the annual diary was published, one can tell that Lallemont, LeJeune, Bréboeuf et al tried to record a person’s name in the closest written form of how Indigenous Peoples called themselves. Common protagonists of the different authors are recognizeable, even if the spelling differed.

An example, Noël Negabamat, Tekouerimat, Tek8erimat was a constant guide to the early Jesuits. Earlier referred as Noël Negabamat, Père LeJeune made sure to explain his change of name to reflect his ascendance to the role of Captain to his community. Ironically, Captain of the Hunt is the term also utilized by Otipemsiwak Métis out in the Prairies. 

Studio_20160401_190129.pngThe Western Abenakis of Vermont: War Migration, and the Survival of an Indian People by Colin G. Calloway UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA PRESS | March 1, 1994 |

As we can see in later correspondence, Capitaine Noël Negabamat Tekouerimat could converse in both French and English – having spent time with the English in the land of the Abenaki:


Correspondence between Noël Negabamat Tekouerimat, Capitaine Chrétien, à Père LeJeune en France, Relations des Jésuites, 1654.

What about the *other* Noël? Noël Langlois?

Recorded as a Pilote (Captain) of the Saint-Lawrence river and fisherman.  Whose identity is hotly debated, but whose genealogy is well documented. Whose descendants live on the Atikamekw land of Nitaskinan. Lanaudière, as the Settlers call it.

Another Ancestor of mine and of many Voyageurs, Hivernants and Otipemsiwak Métis.

It is perhaps coincidental that these 2 Noël lived side by side in Sillery: one Indigenous man and one Settler. One a Captain, a Chief and fisherman – the other a Pilote and fisherman.

But then we look at other Indigenous names that were Frenchified by the Sulpician missionaries:





ANÉN:TAKS and L’HÉRISSON means porcupine in Kanien’kéha and French

And she was also recorded in Latin as SILVESTRI:  “De la Forêt” or “of the Forest”.


The missionaries at Sillery used the term to refer to either baptisms in the forest and as reference to Indigenous Peoples who had been baptised:



And the name of her father on her marriage record was Nicolas ARENDAKE:


Could Nicolas ARENDAKE also be known as SILVESTRI?


There are probably more Indigenous men with Frenchified historical records since the creation of the Sulpician Order. While they may not be solely responsible for our enfranchisement, their assimilation techniques set the tone.

Source: Solving the Indian Problem www.omfrc.org › specialedition8

As I look for clues to help me answer which odoodem my ancestors belonged to, my sadness about the past and my uncomfort and anger grows at any present-day assimilation tactics.

With gratitude to Rebekah Ingram, linguist and PhD candidate. Her enlightened approach to reclaiming Indigenous Place Names and her allyship with Indigenous Peoples inspired me to look for these clues. 

With gratitude to Thohahente for the gift of Sacred oien’kwa – in a Red pouch.

Niawen’kó:wa. Tiatén:ro







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