OCTOBER 7, 1816

MOHAWK ONWANONSYSHON (GEORGE JOHNSON) BORN– HEREDITARY CHIEF

Born at Bow Park, near Brantford, Ontario, son of Chief John “Smoke” Johnson, his Mohawk name meant “Lord of the Great House.”  In 1838, Anglican missionary, Rev. Adam Elliot, had trouble with the Mohawk language.  George, educated at the Mohawk Institute, assisted him.  Living with the family, he met Elliot’s sister-in-law, Emily.  In the 1850s, they married despite opposition from both families.  Elliot refused to officiate.  In 1862, the Six Nations Superintendant made George government interpreter.  However, since George had been elected Teyonhehkon, one of the great chiefs of the Iroquois Confederacy, it was a conflict of interest for him, a government employee, to sit on the council. In the end, George remained a chief, but lost his vote on council resolutions.  His family, government, and Anglican ties still made him influential.  In 1860, as timber ranger, Johnson nearly died trying to suppress illicit timber sales & trafficking in liquor.  George died February 19, 1884, at Chiefswood, Ontario.

Source:  Douglas Leighton, “JOHNSON, GEORGE HENRY MARTIN (Onwanonsyshon),” Dictionary of Canadian Biography.  Retrieved 7/21/2020, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio.php?id_nbr=5609
Photo:  Horatio Hale (1817-1896), 9/14/1871.  Public Domain.  Source: Smithsonian Institution, Call no. NAA PHOTO LOT 86-58.

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