Chainbreaker, painted by John Phillips, 1845
|Born||Between 1737 and 1760|
Allegany Reservation, New York.
|Native name||'Tah-won-ne-ahs , Thaonawyuthe|
|Known for||Fought with the British at Battle of Oriskany, during the American Revolutionary War; fought with the Americans in the War of 1812|
|Resting place||Hillside Haven Cemetery, Cattaraugus County, New York|
|Relatives||Uncles, Cornplanter and Handsome Lake|
Tah-won-ne-ahs or Thaonawyuthe (born between 1737 and 1760, died 1859), known in English as either Governor Blacksnake or Chainbreaker, was a Seneca war chief, who, along with other Iroquois leaders (most notably Joseph Brant), fought on the side of the British during the American Revolutionary War from 1777 to 1783, most notably at the Battle of Oriskany.
He was born near Seneca Lake in western New York in the Cayuga village of Kendaia (Apple Town) and was raised in Conawagus. His birth date has been given variously from circa 1760 to as early as 1737 (as is claimed on his gravestone, which was erected 1930, though it also erroneously claims him to have been on the side of the Continental Army during the Revolution). The 1737 birthdate would have made him 121 or 122 years old at the time of death; such an early date seems implausible as no man has been verified to have lived that long. What is known is that Chainbreaker lived an exceptionally long life. He must have been at or near adulthood by the time he became a war chief.
After his work on behalf of the British in the Revolutionary War, he became reconciled to the outcome of the war. He fought on the American side in the War of 1812 at the Battle of Fort George. He carried messages for the British on a trail that passed through today's Napoli, New York. Governor Blacksnake "helped save the Oil Spring Reserve, laying the basis of the recently-settled land claim (June, 2005) over Cuba Lake."
In later life, his political influence waned, as younger men of the Seneca assumed control.
Cornplanter and Handsome Lake were his maternal uncles. Blacksnake was a member of the Wolf Clan, as were they, whose traditional function for males was to serve as war chiefs. In the matrilineal system of kinship of the Iroquois, a child's maternal uncles were very influential, as the child gained social status from his mother's clan.
- "Historic Seneca Leaders". Seneca Nation of Indians. 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Napoli, Cattaraugus County, NY : Development". Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Iroquois Indian Elders in Historical Perspective: Three Portraits: A lecture by Laurence M. Hauptman, at the Iroquois Indian Museum". New York Council for the Humanities. 2012-10-05. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Blacksnake. Tah-won-ne-ahs. Wolf Clan. (c1749-1859)". RMSC - Louis Henry Morgan Website - Johnson Family Tree. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Blacksnake, Governor, and Benjamin Williams (2005). Chainbreaker : the Revolutionary War memoirs of Governor Blacksnake as told to Benjamin Williams (Bison Books ed. ed.). Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 080326450X. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Blacksnake, Jeanne Winston Adler (2002). Chainbreaker's War: A Seneca Chief Remembers the American Revolution (1st ed. ed.). Hensonville, N.Y.: Black Dome Press. ISBN 1883789338. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Tenh-Wen-Nyos, Governor Blacksnake at Find-a-Grave
- Governor Blacksnake Manuscript Page
- Poem: Governor Blacksnake Speaks
- "PA State Archives - Manuscript Group 220 - Scope and Content Note - Merle H. Deardorff Collection". Retrieved 2012-10-02., contains information on Governor Blacksnake and the Senecas of the Cornplanter Grant
- "Claim application for John Bone, who served for two years as a member of the Native American Allegany Volunteers under Governor Blacksnake". New York State Museum. Retrieved 2012-10-02.