Jean-Baptiste de Lorimier – Kanienʼkehá꞉ka Interpreter ❖
Jean-Baptiste de Lorimier came from an important Canadian family with a long tradition of military service. He was born in Caughnawaga (now Kahnawake, Quebec). His father worked for the British colonial government. He helped Jean-Baptiste to get a job there as an interpreter of Indigenous languages when he was older. His mother was Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk) from Kahnawà:ke.
Later in life, Jean-Baptiste also worked as an interpreter at Kanehsatà:ke, near Oka, Quebec. He was eventually promoted to captain and sent to Saint-Régis (Ahkwesáhsne, Quebec). But war had broken out with the Americans, so two weeks later he was ordered to the Niagara frontier where he fought alongside of Indigenous warriors from Lower Canada.
Lorimier and about 300 Haudenosaunee warriors from Kanehsatà:ke and Ahkwesáhsne, joined a group of about 100 other Mohawk Warriors from the local Six Nations Grand River area. This force was one of the main reasons the Americans were defeated near Beaver Dams (Thorold).
Lorimier stayed in the Niagara area for the next two months because the Americans, who were located in the captured Fort George (Niagara-on-the-Lake), continued to fight with British and French. On the 17th of August, he was seriously wounded, and he spent the rest of 1813 as a prisoner of war. His mistreatment as a prison was so bad that it became the subject of arguments between the British and the Americans. Lorimier’s wounds from his imprisonment affected his health for the rest of his life.
In 1814, Lorimier spent many months in the canoe guards, which protected groups of ships travelling to British posts on the Great Lakes. The fact that he knew a lot of Indigenous languages and dialects made him valuable. At the end of the war, he returned to his duties at Saint-Régis, where he dealt with land disputes on the reserves between the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka and white settlers.
Text by Douglas Leighton. Adapted heavily by LEARN for Elementary students.
Visit online source: LORIMIER, JEAN-BAPTISTE DE – Volume VII (1836-1850) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography