AUGUST 26, 1886


Born either December 2 or 14, 1792, at the Johnson settlement in Upper Canada (Ontario) and from a large & influential family, his Mohawk name meant “He has made the mist (smoke) disappear for them.” With Joseph Brant, he attended the Mohawk Church, near Brantford, and fought alongside the British in the War of 1812 in battles at Queenston Heights, Stoney Creek, and Lundy’s Lane. For his services he was awarded a pension. Johnson’s personality, oratorical gifts, and fluency in English & Mohawk, made him indispensable to the British superintendents of the Six Nations and led to him becoming a chief on advice of the British government. A speaker of the Grand River Council for over 40 years, his oratorical style earned him the title “The Mohawk Warbler.” In later years, he became the “grand old man” of the Six Nations. By the early 1880s, Johnson was reputedly the only man left who knew the meaning of the entire Iroquois Book of Rites. He died at the Grand River Reserve.

  “Johnson, John,” Douglas Leighton, Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved 2/20/2022, Biography – JOHNSON, JOHN – Volume XI (1881-1890) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography (
Photo:  Author unknown, July 1882.  Extract of a 1882 studio portrait of the (then) last surviving Six Nations warriors who fought with the British in the War of 1812. Depicted is Sakawaraton a.k.a. John Smoke Johnson (born circa 1792). Public Domain.  Source: Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number C-085127 and under the MIKAN ID number 3630023.  

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