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5) Tiohtiake Mohawk Placenames

Sustainability Rooted in Heritage

Tsi Tetsionitiotiakon (Montreal island): Sustainability Rooted in Heritage  Douglas Jack

Objective:  Popular knowledge of the Montreal Archipelago 'Tiohtiake' (Kanien'kehaka = 'Place where the nations and their rivers unite & divide) is often bounded within the institutional worldview of European settlement.  This section compiled in 1999 - 2000 through traditional knowledge of elders at the Onkwawen:na Language Center in Kahnawake (coordinator Tekahonwen:sere / Melvin Diabo) and Kanatase from Kanehsatake presents just a glimpse of the tens of thousands of original names and for the tens of thousands of years of First Nation history.  Much of this focus today is stimulated by the importance of First Nation heritage for sustainable development in our time.  Augmenting this discussion is a presentation of historical descriptive Mohawk, Wendat & Algonquin placenames, which help us understand the original natural and human managed strengths in Tiohtiake.  Placenames open the door to understanding an indigenous history for our Tiohtiake bio-region as well as Tewakhwishenhelon / Turtle Island / North America.  Reality, while billions of dollars are spent by colonial regimes, upon the insecurities of colonial history, only thousands have been spent mostly by First Nations to guard their heritage in the midst of constant & continuing colonial abuses.  There are probably 3000 Mohawk, Abenaki, Algonquin cultural & ecologically descriptive placenames still within the cultural memory of living elders which still can be collected across the Tiohtiake region, if resources can be allocated.  ****Note well.  The following place names are compiled by a combination of Mohawk speakers and redacted often by non-Mohawk speakers so they must be further ascertained before wide public use.

There is an ancient history of 'indigenous' (Latin = 'self-generating') existence in Tiohtiake and the Americas which needs to be considered in discussion of sustainable development.  Much of this heritage through colonial invasion, war, bacterial genocide & institutional suppression of indigenous peopels has been omitted from mainstream accounts.

This essay looks generally at the relation between the European conquest of the Americas and our attitudes towards each other and the environment for the western end of Tsi Tetsionitiotiakon (Montreal island). Understanding North American (Turtle Island) primordial human heritage is essential for sustainability in our own time. The average reader who has studied Canadian or American history in school may have constructed a mental framework relegating 'Onkwehonwe' (Kanien'kehaka for original people) heritage to primitive or impractical status or not be aware of most of these concepts or history. However, First Nation tradition is a living memory for environmental sustainability. We are all originally indigenous peoples, but during the past few thousand years, groups of middle-east and western Eurasians adopted linear approaches to agriculture, industry and other facets of environmental and human ecology. These linear approaches are far less productive, even in the short-run, and are supported by a culture of dominance and violence. Unlike Western culture, which believes it is saving time by ignoring tradition and simplifying its analysis to include only linear short-term consequences,

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First Nations have lived on Tsi Tetsionitiakon for thousands of years

First Nations of the West Island likely included Haudenosaunee, Kanien'kehaka, Wendat  & Algonquin nations

First Nations villages probably established the pattern of European settlements.

Indigenous tradition considers its actions in a comprehensive circle of cause and effect over many generations under diverse disciplines. While it is difficult to access suppressed indigenous history, we know this tradition is filled with appreciation for diversity and non- violence.

First Nations have lived on Tsi Tetsionitiakon , the Island of Montreal, from time immemorial. Tiohtiake, the name Kanien'kehaka speakers give to the greater region of Montreal including the west, north and south shores and all the islands means, "place where the people split". As an allegory it also means "Place where the nations and their rivers unite and divide" referring to Tiohtiake's continental role as a multi-cultural confluence for much of Eastern North America's peoples and as a river archipelago. Tsi Tetsionitiotiakon is a Kanien'kehaka term for the island of Montreal.

First Nations living in and using the West Island were likely of the Haudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse, Iroquois League) including Kanien'kehaka (People of the Flint or Mohawk) and the Wendat (Huron) nations. Algonquin, Abenaki, Mic Mac, Malecite, Attikamek & other nations have lived in, traded with, intermarried and shared resource harvest in the region. There has been an ebb and flow of cultures through Tiohtiake over tens of thousands of years. Kanesatake Kanien'kehaka consider themselves to have come originally from Tsi Tetsionitiotiakon (Montreal Island)

Evidence locating the first villages of Tsi Tetsionitiotiakon is still not being compiled 450 years later. Even Hochelaga's location, a community of over 3000 in Cartier's estimate isn't known. Anthropologist Bruce Trigger1 considers materials from the 'Dawson Site' one block southwest of McGill as a location too small and evidence from all locations as too limited for Hochelaga. From Cartier's brief superficial visit we know that there were multiple communities in fairly close proximity to most locations upon which he landed. Villages were likely located according to patterns of trade and socio-ecological productivity. This question is not only important not only for recognizing human community & heritage but also for understanding capacities for ecological productivity today. The isolated camps of men and women who characterized early European 'outposts' had poor knowledge of farming, gathering, food preservation and other community- viability attributes. They relied on and lived next to First Nation settlements. First Nations settlements established the pattern for subsequent European settlement. One native source Kawennisake relates the traditional knowledge that "wherever an old church steeple can be found is likely the site of a native village”.

1 Personal communication; June 2001; Montreal, Canada

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Agroforestry provided a basis for the social structure and economy of Tsi Tetsionitiotiakon First Nations

Ecological Richness of Tsi Tetsionitiotiakon

One of the striking things about this heritage of particular value to current discussions of sustainable development was its ability to combine human settlement with ecological richness and diversity. Historical drawings show the area of LaSalle and Lachine with 'Three Sisters': Corn, Beans and Squash agriculture2. Proteins and starches were harvested from Butternut, hazelnut, other nut and seed trees as well as from field crops. The efficient agro-forestry (Butternut, Hazelnut, Cherry, Peach etc.), wild plant harvest (herbs, algae, berries, mushrooms, edible bark, tree seeds, water plants), wild animals (deer, bear, fish, etc.) and field cropping (Three sisters Corn, squash and beans and much more) techniques of Kanien'kehaka and Wendat farming would easily have supported a large population. Archeological research from the Mississippi valley shows that vegetable foods formed the bulk of diet and meats were consumed only on a bi-monthly basis. Many nations along the Mississippi were of the same Iroquoian language heritage. The Agro-forestry and 'Three Sisters' agriculture of First Nations provides vegetable foods for a nutritionally balanced diet. Corn and beans together are one of many food combinations that yield complete proteins. Our image of the North American native as primarily a meat eater may reflect their forced refugee status post contact.

The Kanien'kehaka were traditionally forest cultivators. Huge butternut, hazelnut, acorn, cherry, peach and sumac trees provided enormous quantity and quality of micronutrients, plant protein and starch. Forests also maintain stable stream and river water levels for canoe transport. Trees dig deep into the earth for nutrients and water. Not understanding this productivity, When the Europeans came, not understanding this productivity, they cut nut orchards that which had taken generations to develop in order to plant their field crops.

Forests were also used by these peoples are as sources of medications. Repeated accounts point out First Nation ability to diagnose and prescribe appropriate remedies for ill-nesses. We know that for both pellagra and scurvy, the best of European science took hundreds of years to find cause and solutions. In Jacques Cartier's 1535 journals of Quebec and Montreal he describes how he and his men were cured of scurvy by First Nations people he had kidnapped. According to this account, “he asked Domagaia how he had done to heale himselfe: he answered, that he had taken the juice and sappe of the leaves of a certain Tree, and therewith had healed himselfe: For it is a singular remedy against that disease." (Blanchard, 110). 

Forest products were also used for medications

2 Historical Drawings such as these can be viewed by the public at the Molson Brewery Gallery, Montreal

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The St.Lawrence river was an important Salmon run

The St. Lawrence river was a major run for Atlantic salmon, other fish and eel species before the logging, mono-culture farm silting, pollution & damming of the St. Lawrence and its tributaries. Elders from the fifties before the backfilling of Pointe Claire's marsh shoreline (Parc Bourgeau) remember Pike fish at four and five feet long in this marsh. Lac St. Louis was linked into the island's rivers, streams and lake aqua-culture of plants, trees and fish by canoe. This added to the ecological richness of the area and greatly augmented the ability of First Nations to settle the region.

Trade and Transportation

This regional ecological richness was supplemented by trade across the continent. Tiohtiake peoples traded actively with nations within a 1000-kilometer radius stretching north south from Hudson's Bay to Pennsylvania and east-west throughout the Great Lakes to the Maritimes. Tiohtiake people walked and canoed, communicated, shared life and traded a substantial number of goods within this active trading region. The canoe is capable of carrying loads in the tonnes depending upon size. Its people also traveled to and communicated with nations throughout Turtle Island including Central (including the Caribean) and South America. This hemisphere was in continuous contact and communication. These patterns of continental civil relations and exchange grew from time immemorial extending over tens of thousands of years

Before the Lachine Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway, First Nations cultivated a system of rivers and lakes throughout North America and Tiohtiake. These waterways allowed for the cultivation, exchange and enjoyment of huge quantities of goods both locally and internationally. The waterways themselves were productive and allowed access to farming of watercrops, algae, bird, fish and shore mammal nesting and enrichment. Canoes used on these waterways allowed for human populations to pass heavily laden without impact. Essentially, this provided for a zero- impact transportation system (see figure 10.1).
The port of Montreal lies downstream on the St. Lawrence River from the Lachine Rapids. Historically, there was a river called St. Pierre which flowed into the St. Laurent near rue Rheaume in Verdun facing the middle of Ile des Soeurs one kilometer north into Lac aux Loutres. This lake drained the Montreal 'southwest'

Tiohtiake peoples traded with nations within a 1000km radius.  Youth would travel continentally.

Rivers allowed for a system of zero-impact transportation in a relationship of comfort, ease of moving, abundance & beauty.

Montreal Island was crossed by a network of 10 lakes, 2000 creeks and 45 canoe passable rivers serving 50 or so communities.

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(LaSalle and Verdun) along the Cote St. Paul and Notre Dame de Grace escarpments flowing from the west four kilometers. Again Riviere St. Pierre flowed from the west one kilometer (and possibly linked by one kilometer of low water filled marshland close to Lac St. Louis as a continuous waterway for canoes) until climbing from its sources north draining the region of Notre Dame de Grace, Montreal West and Cote St. Luc.

Up until the early quarter of the 20th century, the lake extended westward from the port along the path of the Lachine Canal and then just north of the canal in the lowlands (along highway 20 and in the Turcot Train yards). The St. Pierre led upstream westward to a one by four kilometer shallow partially reed-filled Otter lake (Lac aux Loutre valley between Notre Dame de Grace and LaSalle). This ancient waterway for canoes around the height of the Lachine Rapids made Montreal a passageway for the communication and trade of many nations of the eastern continent well before European encroachment. The Lachine Canal follows this ancient route.

 Forty-five (canoe-passable) Rivers & Ten Lakes on Tsi Tetsionitiotiakon (Montreal island) we sustained because of the 3-dimensional Polyculture Orchards of Mohawk, Wendat & Algonquin communities on the island holding water, soil & life.  Thousands of feeder creeks fed these rivers & lakes. Wildlife abounded in the 3-D habitat close to human settlement.  The Oak (acorn) Butternut, Hickory nut, Cherry, Peach and hundreds of other food & material trees absorb about 92 - 98% of solar rays converting this through photosynthesis into abundant production.  Once attracted by the incredible 3-D bounty, colonists cut down the trees for ship & war-related woods as well as planting 2-D 'agriculture' (Latin 'ager' = 'field').  The warm moisture laden ocean winds ceased to be attracted by the orchard 'cold-spot', condensation ceased upon the vast leaf canopies (60% of ocean to continent water transfer), rivers dried in the fall and flooded in the spring and in scarcity hungry colonists ceased to harvest from the land.

Figure10. 1: Historical Rivers of Montreal Island

When trees were massively cut for European warfare export, the water holding & percolation capacities of landscapes & regions were eliminated, fluvial transportation routes were destroyed locally, water-mills shut down within years & continental trading patterns suffered. 

Many constructions such as the Montreal aqueduct follow ancient river channels or roadways on top of culverted drainage sewers. L’ance a l'Orme is a rare surviving example of an ancient stream still flowing into Riviere des Prairies from Kirkland to Pierrefonds and entering Lac des deux Montagnes in Senneville. Of some forty-five small rivers and ten or so lakes on the island many would have been passable by canoe and formed a fabric for agriculture, communication and trade.

The interdependent continental trading patterns of nations

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throughout the Americas are not well understood. Peoples were left impoverished when key transportation routes and production areas were removed such as during the conquest of Montreal. The impacts were continental. Natives from as far as Hudson Bay, Lake Superior, the Maritimes and Washington DC were unable to trade their specialty products and services when the Montreal link was destroyed.

Convivial social-economic patterns were simultaneously destroyed first across the Atlantic seaboard and then inland. The nations of the Midwest felt this impact right from the beginning (1500's) in their loss of trade & communications with coastal peoples. The economic and ecological efficiency of bioregional specialization, sustainable resource development and exchange by human societies on a continental basis had been broken.

Based on the abundance of ecological resources and on trade with other nations, it is possible that Montreal Island was home to a significantly large population of First Nations people before European contact.

North America (Turtle Island), Central and South America were considered to have approximately 112,000.000 people before contact (Dobyn, 1966). In comparison today's hemispheric population has grown by a factor of seven to ~800,000,000 people. By these estimates it is possible that pre-conquest populations approached one seventh of today's Tiohtiake population. Presently 3,500,000 people live in Tiohtiake (the greater Montreal region including the archipelago, north and south shores). At one seventh of this figure, one could thus estimate approximately 500,000 Kanien'kehaka, Wendat, Algonquin and other people living throughout Tiohtiake with possibly another 500,000 living in the rest of Quebec pre-contact. Dobyn's estimate of USA and Canadian pre-contact population is 18,000,000 or one twentieth of today's population at 360,000,000 (Dobyn, 1966). From this proportion one might estimate 175,000 people in Tiohtiake and 87,500 on Montreal island. It is remarkable that immigrant populations to Tiohtiake have never stopped to understand an 'ageless heritage' in over 350 years

Social Structures

Historic patterns of First Nation settlement on Montreal Island provide important ecological information about the possibilities for sustainable development and can suggest some concepts for more sustainable social systems as well.

Throughout North America the greatest populations of people

Population estimates

“We are the Earth Speaking”

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evolved a practice of living together in extended family units or longhouses which typically housed from fifty to one hundred people. Archaeologic and cultural records show deliberate social strategies for a high degree of inclusiveness (welcoming) not only for extended family members but as well for strangers. The nature of this inclusiveness is revealed in the First Nation statement, "We are the earth speaking". In this sense the diversity of human vision was welcomed as revealing different and complementary perspectives each essential for productive relationship with each other and through each other with the earth.

The Kanien'kehaka (people of the flint) are part of the Haudenosaunee (people of the Longhouse) within the Confederate League of Five Nations (plus Cayuga, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga and later the Tuscarora to become Six Nations). The League is governed by their Great Law of Peace (Parker, ) as a democratic League of Nations extending through and influencing all of Northeastern America with equal participation by both men and women in economic and political decision-making.

Nations such as the Wendat, an Iroquois speaking peoples and other neighbours were in association but apart from the League. There were many confederacies typically of five (Iroquois) and seven nations groupings across the North American continent, which is understood as a comprehensive continental system of governance. Algonquin peoples traditionally lived in northern parts of the Tiohtiake region in league aligned with Algonquin communities throughout the Northeast America. Other nations such as the Mic Mac traded with and used physical resources of the region. For many years archeological evidence has pointed to shared resource management with different communities and their societies harvesting, trading or specializing in fishery, forest culture, field cropping, product manufacture (boats, houses, clothing, flint, hunting, transport-trade) (Waugh, 1916).

One can understand First Nation communities as resource- development corporations. Within each community each specialty was organised into Societies or "Caucuses" (Haudenosaunee term meaning"Groupingoflike-interests"). Thevisionofeach individual was sacrosanct but she or he was also given the collective structures to pursue these visions with others. Each society managed or owned the re-sources and products of their craft. Decision-making was made collectively upon a progressive owner-ship of the individual within the society. The young apprentices had less say than the elder master but were collectively invited to unite their voices and in this sense were honoured.

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Labour was used as a common denominator of currency

References point to the recording of labour according to time input as a common denominator as a record of currency and capital ownership. People were thus given the collective recognition and means to invest in their labour specialty and their community. Inclusive & diverse economic recognition is in contrast to European imperial practice based on monetary exchange. Money based accounting only represents goods and services transfer. As such a range of traditional women's work , community adhoc social work, family labours, non-institutional care of elders, young, handicapped and gifted, collective barter, the value of nature's capital and more is not accounted for. We are institutionalized societies, which have trouble recognizing human strengths, needs, & the wealth of experience.

War and Genocide

The substantial and vibrant populations of First Nations people on the Island of Montreal, and across North America were decimated by a combination of was and disease upon European contact. Europeans spread bacteriological epidemics of Smallpox and other Eurasian-African 'mega-continent' strains of illness, which engendered an estimated 95% loss of life both intentionally and accidentally. In the Montreal and Quebec region, foreign bacteria from first contacts by the French (Cartier 1534-36), English (John Cabot 1497), Dutch (Henry Hudson 1609), Portuguese (fishing 1450 on) and others devastated Quebec, Tiohtiake and other populations. Bacterial transmission from Spanish southern invasion (Columbus, Cortes 1492) as well brought sickness to the region within months and years of contagion.

Each of the European sites of transgression typically included infected men who infected First Nation individuals intentionally or unintentionally. This infectious spread then followed through First Nation routes of government, trade and social interaction across the continent, often within months, years, decades and centuries ahead of direct white contact. Major epidemics with ten to seventy percent death rates swept the continent, repeatedly on a yearly, biyearly and five year cycle. When whites did make contact, they found greatly reduced devastated First Nation communities, ghost towns and great numbers of sick people. First Nations regrouped in communities large enough to effectively and efficiently function according to their specialization

Research on the epidemics infecting the Seneca peoples of the Haudenosaunee shows repeated waves of disease and invasion

Disease and war decimated First Nations communities

Over a 400-year period beginning in 1492, the aboriginal population of the American continents (hemisphere) shrank from 112 million to approximately 5.6 million. The population of Mexico, which numbered 29.1 million in 1519, stood at no more than 1 million in 1605. As for North America alone, of its 18 million Amerindian inhabitants at the time of European contact, by 1900

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only 250,000 to 300,000 descendents remained. (Dobyns, 1966, pp.414)

from the early 1500s to the late 1600s (Dobyns, 1983). Considering that the Kanien'kehaka and Wendat peoples of the Tiohtiake region were intimately linked by government, trade, interaction and northeastern politics with the Seneca, this study is highly indicative of probable epidemic episodes in Tiohtiake

As the vast majority of whites or their national allegiance did not respect First Nation sovereignty and or life, they made war on the sick and devastated survivors. First Nation elders, who were the record keepers of American oral and graphic-written history, were the first to die along with generations of youth. The loss of elders was compounded by an economic destabilization of societies and warfare against the survivors by subsequent invaders such as Samuel de Champlain, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, and LaSalle.

On the Island of Montreal, this cultural obliteration included hunting and driving of native families from the island-1642 – 1701. Many of the survivors of this fled off island as refuges to Kahnesatake and the South Shore.

By 1650 before the establishment of the so-called 1701 'Great Peace', natives were driven from the island of Montreal by soldiers. Description (Carte historique de l'ile de Montreal 1884) of this genocide includes the use of dogs to hunt down native men, women and children from their villages. The dogs included Massifs, specially bred giant 70-Kilogram dogs used only in European warfare and conquest. First nations were accustomed to co-operative relations with dogs for goods transportation, hunting, protection and company. First Nation families and scant archives carry many pieces of this story. Local oral history provides some voices from this widespread devastation.

A European policy of controlling islands in the St. Lawrence Valley as strategic outposts for invasion, land greed and trade control began with Ile d'Orleans by Quebec City all the way to Montreal. Religious orders, as governing bodies in the first couple of hundred years in concert with French armies, administrators such as de Maisonneuve and the 'Company of one hundred associates' organised 'white' civil government around the exclusion of First Nations from lands, resources and life. Lands (such as Oka) entrusted for the wellbeing of First Nations were in cases administered and sold out from beneath First Nation communities.

European or Euro-American archaeology and anthropology as reported to date tends to fall into the same European partiality. Research allowance is rarely given to First Nation national oral and written records. The last 400 years of European development on the Island of Montreal, as well as across North America, has

P 182-4 Oka "According to Charlie, years ago the priests in the church 'kitty-corner' from us had given the Indians blankets infected with Yellow Typhoid germs, which deed killed off many of them. They were buried in various places about the area. Recently, when the foundations were being excavated for this new store, a considerable number of Indian bones were uncovered. The builder was advised to box the bones and to return them to the Indians, but he wasn't interested and disposed of the bones 'back in the country'." (as told to Parker by W.G. Spittal; Parker, 1916, 182).

Thousands of years of history has been lost

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Even knowledge of the location of the famous village of Hochelaga has been lost  .  .  .

Jean-André Cuot 1895, Lexique de la langue iroquoise translates Hochelaga as 'At the beaver-dam'.  This may refer to the 7.5 x 1/2 kilometre long Lac-à-la-'loutre' (Otter or 'beaver' lake) on the '45 Rivers & 10 Lakes' map in the Turcot Valley lies along the 10 kilometre south-facing hill side (Falaise St-Jacques) stretching from Ville-St-Pierre to Atwater (hence the 'water' name) Market.  First Nation communities across Turtle-Island prioritized south-facing hill-sides for the winter solar gains in habitation & food production. There are over 70 foot deep soils in this valley. Bypassing the Lachine Rapides, the canoe transportation route from the present port of Montreal along old Rivière St-Pierre joining with another river to Lac-St-Louis west is a continental landmark joining the lower St-Lawrence to the Ottawa & all the way to Lake Ontario with no comparable rapids.

.  .  . proceeded without attention to ancestral knowledge, regardless of native protests to respect gravesites and other places of cultural importance. The widespread biological and cultural devastation of First Nations communities left an enormous hole in terms of the information passed down within communities themselves, and even less was available outside communities. There has been a profound lack of co-operation with First Nations communities in terms of rediscovering and appreciating this history. For example, due to a lack of archaeological investigation even the site of the famous village of Hochelga is unknown. As can be seen in figure 2, this village could be located anywhere within an enormous area. Millennia of human ecological oral and written records are lost and there is very little currently being done to address this loss.

Even to this day this violence and massive destruction has not been recognized, honoured or reconciled. Indeed it is denied, subverted and hidden. The violence follows a historic pattern of cultural and environmental destruction in Western 'Old World' tradition which needs to be addressed for sustainable development to evolve.

Figure 10.2: Potential Locations of Hochelaga Village


The citizens and the government of Australia began a process of seeking reconciliation with Australian aboriginal peoples some twenty years ago. By supporting First Nation peoples in recording their heritage, Australians have learned immense detail about the ecological productivity and limits of the land. People of the

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European and First Nations traditions of place names show radically different ways of approaching our communities

Americas need to engage in this respect for original people and heritage in order to understand sustainability. Part of this process involves recognizing the cultural history of our communities, and the “baggage” that is associated with it. In order to be able to include and encourage an indigenous worldview we need to understand the cultural barriers that exist preventing this.

For example, there is a substantial difference in nomenclature between European imperial cultures and the Haudenosaunee. The European tendency has been to name streets and towns, lakes, mountains and other landmarks according to military, political, religious or economic heroes or European history. Often people or events of great power, often oppressive power, are thus celebrated. Consider for example, the names of Montreal (mountain of the King) Beaconsfield, Dorval, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Baie d'Urfe, Senneville, Kirkland, Cartier, Dollard-des- Ormeaux, LaSalle, Dorval or Lac St. Louis. English and French place names are still contentious between the French, English and other immigrants for a lack of cultural recognition. Many of the individuals named in the above towns and streets could be considered murderers of women and children and cultural bullies. Imagine living in or next to communities who celebrate war criminals in nomenclature.

First Nation names tend to be descriptive of ecology and human relations (eg. Kahnawake, "On the rapids", Kanesatake, "place of crusty snows"). Names such as Pointe Claire, Pierrefonds, Terra Cota, Des Sources, Pinebeach and others may represent First Nation toponomy. These names can be translated from one language to another with descriptive meaning intact. These names tell us useful information about the place where we live. As these first names are put back into the public mind, we hope that individuals with family, oral, records and archival knowledge of other placenames, events and heritage material will send these in to this mapping project (CBED) for a greater compilation.

1. Fort des Sauvages (Many longhouses after Montreal island expulsion of 1667 on way to Kanehsatake), 2. Senneville Historic site, 3. Village Indian,

4. Dawson site, 5. Oshiakeha, 6. Kahnawake 1716, Kanatakwenke 1696,

7. Kahnawakon 1690, 8. Kahnawake 1676, Kenta:ke 1667 first off-island settlement following apartheid expulsion, Anawarane (Turtle)

9. Kanehsatake, 10. Mission aux sauvages 1636, 11. Camp des Iroquois (1689 after apartheid massacre & expulsion of Iroquois from Montreal Island),

12. Village Indian (reported by Cartier)

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1. Akoseraka, 2. Tsi Tatinakenseonni, 3. Anaharithake, 4. Tsi Kwatiterontakwa, 
5. Rotiniaton, 6. Tetiohnekonties, 7. Tsi Ioishatenhkhwa, 8. Tsi Ratinehstaienthotha
9. Tsi Ratinehstaienthotha, 10. Tsi Ratinenhstaienthotha, 11. Tkawenote'ko:wa
12. Onon:ken, 13. Tsiskawtiak, 14. tiaweron:ko, 15. Tsiskawiak,
16. Tsi Routoratstha, 17. Tetiononto:ken, 18. Anowarane, 19. Tsi Karistonni (steel-works), 20. Tiohriowa'tahere, 21. Tkanientarahere, 22. Onon:ken, 
23. Skakahraksen, 24. Skakahraksen, 25. Skakahraksen, 26. Tiaweron:ko,
27. Tkanawaieniko:wa  (many of these names compiled by Kanatase of Kanehsatake in 1999)

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1. Great trees in Morgan Arboretum, 2 & 3. Des Sources river (shows once strong polyculture-orchard area water management), 4. Kahionha, 5. Lac-aux-Loutres (7.5 kilometre Otter or Beaver-Lake), 6. Riviere St-Pierre aqueduct to Ile-des-Soeurs (a number of straight canals appear on the maps of pre-colonial First Nation Tsi Tetsionitiotiakon from the Port of Montreal to here), 7. Village Indien 1541 noted by Jacques Cartier, 8. Four foot long pike caught in 1960s shows remaining bio-capacity of river.

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First Nation Placenames
1. Skanawati, 2. Tiotenactokte, 3. Anaouy, 4. Pointe-Claire ('Clear-point', descriptive names such as this point to First Nation origins), 5. Pierrefonds ('Rock-bottom' descriptive names predate the ego-insecurity of ancestral toponymy (study of place-names) based on individual names, 6. Kaniatarowanennah, 7. Tsi Iotewehnokwa:te
8. Oserase, 9. Sahreon, 10. Oshare:on, 11. Kahnawake 1716, 12. Kenta:ke 1667, 13. Onehtonkon, 14. Twawe:note, 15. Kanetske:rakon, 16. Ah:ennenhshon,
17. Oka, 18. Ionawate, 19. Skanientarat, 20. Tsi Tetsionitiokiakon (Montreal island), 21. Tkontaraton, 22. Tsiiowerton, 23. Tionon'kwateken, 24. Kanehsatake village, 
25. Kana:takon, 26. Tsi Tkaiatonseroni

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There are about 105 descriptive place-names shown here with huge value for understanding the 'baseline' of ecological productive capacity for populations living here today.  Mohawk, Abenaki & Algonquin speakers would be able to multiply this to a few thousand if given the opportunity and resources to work with.

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Additional place names outside of the immediate region

While these maps represent the beginning of a collection of local First Nations place names, there are many other names that could have been included in this collection but which fall outside of the immediate area. A partial list of some of these places has been included in figure 10.3.

Kanien'kehaka Names

Translations and Current Names

Akwesasne Atoronto Etsenha Ionontarastha Kanata
Kanatso Kania:tara Kanonno Katarohkwen Kaweno:ke Kentsiake Konnikaniatarah Moira
Ohniakara Ohswekenhakake Orhonwakon Ostientake Otiioke Raseronni Ratirontaks Skehetati Taiontaneken Tekanatoken Tianontarikon


Where the partridge drums. St-Regis
A log boat in the water (Toronto)
Gets water from the river (Plattsburg, New York, USA)
Calvary Mountains in Oka (means a place to march up to a mountain)
Village or town
A pail of money that went down in the river (Ottawa)
River or lake
Hickory in the water (New York, USA)
Because of the clay/stone/cement fort walls (Kingston, Ontario)
At the island (Cornwall island)
Where the fish spawn (Massens, New York, USA
Small body of water
Place that use cedar pines for making fences (near Akwesasne)
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Six Nations Reserve (Brandfort, Ontario)
In the ditch - valley (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Area of bamboo stalks
Name for the French (because of their tools)
People (Adirondaks) who chew the spruce gum bark
The other side of the pines (Albany, New York, USA)
Two twigs together
Where the fresh and salt waters meet (Quebec city)
The act of handshaking (Observation of white practice & believed related to Wendat Hochelaga)

Figure 10.3 Additional Selected Place Names

Current First Nations Presence

It is also important to recognize that there is still a large First Nations community living on and around the Island of Montreal. In the centuries following the original expulsion from Tetsionitiohtiakon the island of Montreal, people of first nation origin have made a deliberate attempt to return and integrate with European economy and society. Men from Kahnawake became steelworkers during the last 150 years beginning with the Victoria bridge and working for industries in Lachine such as Dominion Engineering. Many are settled in Lachine and LaSalle. LaSalle is marked on some historical maps as Kahnawake because the communities spanned both sides of being "On the rapids".

Today some 25000 people of First Nation heritage live on the

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Strategies for reconciliation

island of Montreal (Tsi Tetsionitiohtiakon) and another 25000 people of First Nation heritage live in the outlying Greater Montreal region (Tiohtiake) for a total of approximately 50000 people. People of First Nation heritage represent a wide diversity of interests, work at a full range of professions, practice a full range of lifestyles, represent the full range of income brackets and identify or don't identify with First Nation heritage. A majority carry an awareness of the sense and truth of this heritage.

Some of important examples of the First Nation presence in the Montreal region include the following;

  • First Nations living on the West Island today include Inuit, Cree, Kanien'kehaka, Algonquin and others from across the America's. The West Island as part of the Montreal exogenous economic engine draws people from across eastern North America. We are all used to this economic system.

  • In Lachine-LaSalle, some Kanien'kehaka descendents resettled on the island to work in the steel industries.

  • Les Cooperatives du Nouveau Quebec in Baie d'Urfe, a marketing warehouse for Cree - Inuit arts and goods from the north draws specialists to live and work in the south.

  • The Northern Quebec Health Unit on St. Jacques in Notre Dame de Grace brings First Nations to use specialized hospital services in the Greater Montreal region.

  • Montreal's universities, government services and specialized industries draw First Nations from eastern Canada and across the Americas. Several Universities have First Nation centers.

  • There is one commercial fisher in Kahnawake taking fish from Lac St. Louis. Studies show that the fish is suitable for consumption.

  • More people of all backgrounds are trying to live ecologically reducing their consumption, buying durable natural goods and services, recycling, caring for family and community needs, investing in local ecological-economic productivity, learning about, encouraging and harvesting wild foods, planning for seven generations, designing with the elements, designing with nature. The longer we are here, the more we hear the voice of this place.

    Reconciliation as a process for coming to terms with our Turtle Island (American) home is really one of personal and social relations. We need to recognize the continued history of First Nations people on this land and work towards greater inclusiveness. Some strategies towards reconciliation would include federal, provincial and metropolitan programs informing civil government, construction companies and historical societies of the importance of heritage knowledge to informed decision-

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making in our time. Construction projects should be required to carry insurance allowing them to delay or halt construction in the case of finds of archaeological material relating to First Nation or European settlement pre or post conquest. Archaeologists and members of First Nation communities could then be invited to make site and material analysis as well as planning for preservation

Similarly, there are monuments to massacres of Europeans in Lachine, across the island and the region. Actually the truth of this is a story of massacre of natives; a story which goes unmarked. There are numerous monuments to the builders and settlers of New France without a mention for the presence and millennial years of tradition established by Onkwehon:we (“real people” in Kanien'kehaka) of Turtle Island.

One civil tradition of the Haudenosaunee League was for parties of travellers and visitors to send a runner to a village first asking whether it is acceptable to visit. Specific waiting stations were established such as at Kahnehta:ke 'at the wood's edge' of Kanesatake. This civil respect maintained the sovereignty of villages and public health control. Upon arrival Europeans did not wait for permission to enter communities or territories and the result has been continued destruction. In order to find peace with each other and with our environment, we need to understand the pattern of exogenous (>Latin for "generating from without") resource exploitation in which we are involved worldwide. Our challenge is to become "indigenous" (>Latin for "generating from within") to our time and place. We need to become the specialists for this place, its people, physical, plant and animal resources. As individuals welcoming each other, we become a collective resource for the earth.

We need to resist the habit of re-inventing ourselves out of the situations, which we have gotten ourselves into repeatedly over millennia by the same invention. Turning to heritage as a model for understanding and transformation allows us to see a larger picture that is constructed cyclically instead of linearly.

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Sustainability Rooted in Heritage

References Written References

Dantonel , M. Universite de Provence (2001) TIOHTIAKE: Cartographie des noms des lieux et des villages des Premieres Nations; Researched under the direction of Douglas Jack project coordinator.

Dobyns, H. (1966) "Estimating Aboriginal American Populations. An Appraisal of Techniques with a New Hemispheric Estimate" Current Anthropology 5, no. 4

Dobyns, H. (1983) Their Numbers Become Thinned, Native American Population Dynamics in Eastern North America, University of Tennessee; Knoxville Press

Indigenous Social Structures and Practices for Sustainability: Links with Bioregionalism, 1999, Gavin Farley Douglas Jack Project Coordinator

La Presse (Samedi 13 Juin 199) ; “Carte Topographique de l'ile de Montreal de 1542 a 1642” , montrant les lacs, les rivieres, les marais et les grands ruisseaux du temps, dressee et dessinee par Aristide Beaugrand Champagne, architecte

Parker, A.C. (1919)The Constitution of the Five Nations or the Iroquois Book of the Great Law; Albany : University of the State of New York

Waugh, F.W. (1916) Iroquois Foods and Food Preparation; Ottawa : Government Printing Bureau

Oral References

a) Kanatase, Raymond Gabriel, Kanesatake Kanien'kahaka Placenames mapping project. Kanatase has decades of experience in wildlife management and understanding for Kanien'kehaka heritage

b) Tekahonwen:sere and elders of the Kahnawake Onkwawen:na Language Center helped develop a GIS Mapping of Tiohtiake Kanien'kehaka Placenames.

c) Kawennisake, Kahnawake, Kanien'kehaka Ratitionhkwa Cultural Center described how white settlement was often built around First Nation supply lines for food and other needs, hence a pattern of churches indicating sites of original First Nation settlement.

d) Piel Petjo Maltest (Rejuvenation of the spirit, Eternity, Eyes of the sun at the bottom of the sea), Oapanagi, Mi'k Maq Elder, Montreal, Unitiatives Center on Pie Neuf boulevard, Montreal, instructs interested individuals in Mi'k Maq language and First Nation traditions. Piel's research and national heritage with M'ik Maq written language characters shows that there are more Mi'k maq characters than Egyptian hieroglyphics.

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Piel is a source on the role of the continental shelf communities during the Ice Age. This knowledge has been covered with the invasion & its epidemics. Mi'k maq peoples were in frequent contact and have a heritage which includes the Tiohtiake region. Unitiatives contributed to r) Indigenous Social Structures and Practices for Sustainability above.

e) Bruce Trigger recorded in an e-mail that he did not consider the 'Dawson site' remains as large enough to relate to the size of Cartier's report of Hochelaga. (June 2001)

f) Ryan Young, film director, provides the Algonquin name of Tiotenactokte for Ste. Anne de Bellevue with mention of John Cree of Kanesatake.

g) Jim Banks, ecological designer and President of the Sustainable Development Association provided material on "Places to intervene in a system".

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