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The Chonnonton or Neutrals, also known as the Attawandaron, were an Iroquoian nation of North American native people who lived near the shores of Lake Ontariomarker and Lake Eriemarker.

Territory

During the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries the territory of the Attawandaron was mostly within the limits of present day southern Ontariomarker. There was a single population cluster to the east, across the Niagara Rivermarker near modern-day Buffalo, New Yorkmarker. The western boundary of their territory was the valley of the Grand Rivermarker, with population concentrations existing on the Niagara Peninsulamarker and in the vicinity of the present-day communities of Hamiltonmarker and Miltonmarker, Ontariomarker. Documentary sources indicate that the population of the historic Neutrals ranged from twelve thousand to forty thousand individuals, with the lower number indicating the devastating effect of newly arriving European diseases and periods of famine during the first part of the seventeenth century.

F. Douglas Reville's The History of the County of Brant (1920) stated that the hunting grounds of the Attawandaron ranged from Genesee Fallsmarker and Sarniamarker, and south of a line drawn from Torontomarker to Goderichmarker.

St. Jean de Br├ębeuf and Chaumonot visited eighteen villages of the Neutrals in 1640-1641, and gave each a Christian name. The only ones mentioned in their writings were Kandoucho, or All Saints, the nearest to the Hurons; Onguioaahra, on the Niagara River; Teotongniaton or St. William, in the centre of their country; and Khioetoa, or St. Michael.

Their territory is described, by F. Douglas Reville, as having been heavily forested, and full of "wild fruit trees of vast variety", with nut trees, berry bushes, and wild grape vines. "Elk, caribou, and black bear; deer, wolves, foxes, martens and wild cats filled the woods."

Name

The Neutrals' name for themselves was Chonnonton, or "people of the deer", or more precisely, 'the people who tend or manage deer'. They were called Attawandaron by the Hurons, meaning "people whose speech is awry or a little different".

The Frenchmarker called the people "Neutral" (French: la Nation neutre) because they tried to remain neutral between the warring Huron and Iroquois peoples. A plausible reason for their neutrality during the Huron-Iroquois war was the presence of flint grounds within their territory near the eastern end of Lake Eriemarker. Because the Attawandaron possessed this important resource, used for spearheads and arrowheads, they could maintain their neutrality. Once neighbouring nations began to receive firearms from the European powers, however, the possession of the flint grounds lost its advantage.

The chief of the Neutrals in their last years was named Tsouharissen ("Child of the Sun") who led several raids against the Mascouten who lived in territory in present-day Michigan and Ohio. Tsouharissen died around 1646.[89028]

Fate

Around 1650, during a period now loosely referred to as the Beaver Wars, the Iroquois declared war on the Attawandaron; by 1653, the people were practically annihilated, and their villages were wiped out, including Kandoucho. The last mention of the Neutrals in French records is in 1671. [89029]

Archeology

The Southwold Earthworksmarker near St. Thomas, Ontariomarker contains the remains of a Neutral village and is a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Museum of Ontario Archeology in London, Ontariomarker is located adjacent to the site of another 500-year-old Neutral village. This village, designated as the "Lawson Prehistoric Iroquoian Village", has been under study since the early 1900s. Much of the village, including its palisades and long houses, has been reconstructed. A large collection of Neutral artifacts recovered there is displayed in the museum.

An Ontario Historical Plaque commemorates the role of the Lawson Prehistoric Indian Village Site in Ontario's heritage.

References



See also



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