The Wyandot were born of two Wendat peoples encountered by the French in the first half of the seventeenth century—the otherwise named Petun and Huron—and their history is fragmented by their dispersal between Quebec, Michigan, Kansas, and Oklahoma. This book weaves these fragmented histories together, with a focus on the mid-eighteenth century.
Author John Steckley claims that the key to consolidating the stories of the scattered Wyandot lies in their clan structure. Beginning with the half century of their initial diaspora, as interpreted through the political strategies of five clan leaders, and continuing through the eighteenth century and their shared residency with Jesuit missionaries—notably, the distinct relationships different clans established with them—Steckley reveals the resilience of the Wyandot clan structure. He draws upon rich but previously ignored sources—including baptismal, marriage, and mortuary records, and a detailed house-to-house census compiled in 1747, featuring a list of male and female elders—to illustrate the social structure of the people, including a study of both male and female leadership patterns. A recording of the 1747 census as well as translated copies of letters sent between the Wyandot and the French is included in an appendix.
“John Steckley’s detailed research on the Wyandot/Wendat clan system is the culmination of a lifetime pursuit to unearth and untangle the complicated history of North America’s Indigenous peoples. This book is a goldmine for all those interested in exploring the organic and evolutionary nature of First Nation communities and will contribute greatly to our understanding of Indigenous strategies of resistance and survival against colonial regimes.”