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  • Writer's pictureArt Duval

Council Rock: Part Three, Wendat Beliefs




Council Rock is in the territory of the Wendat people, and where it would be easy if it was in the area of the People of the Stone, it is I believe in the territory of the People of the Bear. IT would also be easy if it was mentioned anywhere, but alas...

Now, our history only shows a loose relationship between the Algonquin people known as the Mississauga being at the rock at the time of agreeing to sell the Peninsula that Penetanguishene is on.


It is known that they continued on several customs and honored sacred places vacated by the Wendat. This made council rock slightly less important to them than perhaps the Wendat would have placed it and therefore allowed the carving of names upon its surface, or maybe not, in truth I don't know.

What I do know is the validity of council rock being recognized and visited seasonally first by the Wendat, then by the Algonquin people. This visit was done in May, as written on the rock and in oral tradition the reason is given. This was considered a garden, where much food was grown.

So a trip to council rock in May, you will come across many edibles including morels, a mushroom still held in high esteem. I have very little doubt that a sort of rendezvous was called and chiefs and villagers from all corners of Wendat confederacy came to council rock to celebrate the coming of spring.

The Wendat had many uses for stones. Some they worked into tools, but others they believed had a spirit, and that they could help in many different task or to get safe travel.

we see the following Each of the groups that comprised the Huron League, the “little nations,” °° retained its name, a knowledge of its history, some minor special interests, and its war chief and council chief (JR 16: 229). The name of the country and the chief were the same; for example, if one spoke of Anenkhiondic [Auoindaon (S 91)], the principal chief of the whole country (JR 10: 289), the Bear Nation was being referred to, and peace treaties were made in his name (JR 10: 231). He lived at Ossosané (JR 13: 165-169). Hndahiacone [Zntauaqgue (S 91)] was first chief of the village of Teanaostahé and of the nation of Atignenongach (JR 13: 125) and Atironta, chief of the Arendahronons (S 91). In the past, only worthy men were chiefs (enondecha), the term also used for country, nation, or district, as though a good chief and the country were synonymous. At the time of the Jesuits, they were no longer so named, but rather atiwarontas, atiwanens, ondakhienhai, “big stones, the elders, the stay-at-homes” (JR 10: 231-233).

This was recorded by the Jesuits in their time in Huronia, with the Wendat. Rocks were important to the culture of the Wendat, so a place like council rock would have been recognized as a significant place.

One of the keys however and is often misconstrued is that the rock that they are bestowing the honor of leaving tobacco to it's spirit is a rock that is natural. It is unaltered by man, it is not carved, or chipped at. Artifacts do not have to be man made.

To further advance the understanding of the relationship of the people to rocks is that one entire group of people, took on the name Arendahronon or people of the rock.

Stones were also used in some civil ceremonies. When a murder occurred, many presents were expected of the murderer and his family. The fourth of which concerned a stone being used as a sort of supernatural band aid to repair the wound the murdered person left in the land.

On giving the third present, the chief said condayee onsahondechari, ‘This is to restore the country.’ For the fourth, he said condayee onsahondwaronti, etotonhwentsiai, ‘This is to put a stone upon the opening and the division of the ground that was made by this murder.’ The fifth was made to smooth the roads and to clear away the brushwood; the chief said condayee onsa hannonkiai, in order that one might go henceforth in perfect security over the paths and from village to village.

In other circumstances a stone could be used to mark someone negatively.

If nothing was given to them, they went outside the door and got a stone which they put beside the man or woman who gave nothing, and then went away singing; this was a sign of insult, reproach, and ill-will

In other context the chief or elder was called big stone,

Each of the groups that comprised the Huron League, the “little nations,” °° retained its name, a knowledge of its history, some minor special interests, and its war chief and council chief (JR 16: 229). The name of the country and the chief were the same; for example, if one spoke of Anenkhiondic [Auoindaon (S 91)], the principal chief of the whole country (JR 10: 289), the Bear Nation was being referred to, and peace treaties were made in his name (JR 10: 231). He lived at Ossosané (JR 13: 165-169). Hndahiacone [Zntauaqgue (S 91)] was first chief of the village of Teanaostahé and of the nation of Atignenongach (JR 13: 125) and Atironta, chief of the Arendahronons (S 91). In the past, only worthy men were chiefs (enondecha), the term also used for country, nation, or district, as though a good chief and the country were synonymous. At the time of the Jesuits, they were no longer so named, but rather atiwarontas, atiwanens, ondakhienhai, “big stones, the elders, the stay-at-homes” (JR 10: 231-233).

So the relationship the Wendat had to stones and rocks is consistent with them having a stone as a gathering place such as council rock. Governor Simcoe knew of this from his time in New York where the native people also used rocks such as these to gather seasonally.


Art Duval

Pipesmoke of the Past




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