John Smoke Johnson

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John Smoke Johnson
Six Nations survivors of War of 1812.jpg
Johnson (right) with John Tutela and Young Warner (l.), two other Six Nations veterans who fought with British in War of 1812. Photo: July 1882
Tribe Mohawk
Born December 2 or 14, 1792
Died August 26, 1886
Native name Sakayengwaraton
Nickname(s) Smoke Johnson
Spouse(s) Helen Martin (1798 – March 27, 1866)
Children Mary, Aaron, Joseph, William, Margret, Susannah and George Henry Martin (Onwanonsyshon), granddaughter Emily Pauline Johnson
Parents Tekahionwake (Jacob Johnson)

John Smoke Johnson (December 2 or 14, 1792 – August 26, 1886) or Sakayengwaraton (also known as Smoke Johnson), was a Mohawk chief and leader in Canada. Johnson fought for the British Crown in the War of 1812 and was elected by his tribal council as a "Pine Tree Chief", a non-hereditary position. He was influential in the Mohawk and British communities of Ontario, Canada.

Early life and education[edit]

Smoke Johnson, a "full-blooded"[1] Mohawk of the Bear clan of his mother, was born in 1792 in Ontario at the Six Nations Indian Reserve, the son of Jacob ''Tekahionwake'' Johnson (1758–1843) and . He was reared in traditional Mohawk culture, but likely learned English as well.

His father Tekahionwake was born in Mohawk territory in the colony of New York, in what became the United States. Tekahionwake was baptized and took the name Jacob Johnson, adopting his surname from that of Sir William Johnson, the influential British Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who acted as his godfather.[1] Jacob passed the Johnson surname down in his family. With the United States victory in the American Revolutionary War, the Mohawk and other Iroquois allies of the British were forced to cede their large territories in New York. They moved to Canada, where the British Crown granted them land in compensation at the Six Nations and other reserves in what became Ontario.

Marriage and family[edit]

Smoke Johnson married Helen Martin (1798 – March 27, 1866). She was the daughter of Catherine Rolleston, a Dutch woman who had been captured as a girl and adopted as a Mohawk into the Wolf clan, and Ohyeatea, also known as George Martin. The Johnsons had seven children: Mary, Aaron, Joseph, William, Margret, Susannah and George Henry Martin (Onwanonsyshon).

Career[edit]

Johnson became a Mohawk chief and leader in Canada. He fought for the British Crown in the War of 1812 and was elected by his tribal council as a "Pine Tree Chief", a non-hereditary position. He was influential in the Mohawk and British communities of Ontario, Canada.

Legacy[edit]

His son George Henry Martin Johnson also advanced to be a Mohawk chief, based on his mother's Wolf clan and family influence in the matrilineal society. Fluent in English and the Mohawk language, he became an interpreter for the Canadian government and a leader on the Six Nations reserve. As an informal diplomat and negotiator, he helped facilitate relations between the British and Native communities.

George Johnson married Emily Howells, a native of England whose family had immigrated to the United States in 1832. They had four children, including Emily Pauline Johnson, who became a respected Native American poet.[2]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Leighton, Dictionary of Canadian Biography
  2. ^ "Chiefswood family". 

External links and further reading[edit]