Louis Karakontie “Callihoo” also known as the “Sun Traveller” or the Iroquois from out East (Kahnawake) was born October 17, 1782 (same day of his baptism). He left his parents, Marie Ann Tekonwakwehni and Thomas Anatoha Kanakonme to come out West with his younger brother Ignace Karakontie and his cousin Ignace Wanyandie during the heightening of the Fur Trade. Following Louis’ departure, several other Iroquois emigrated to the West from Kahnawake seeking employment with the Northwest Company.
Louis was a strong, adventurous canoe man for McTavish, Frobisher & company, agents for the North West Company from November 23, 1800 until 1815. His contract number was 4582. He paddled a craft referred to as the ‘north’ canoe which was light-weight and made with thin sheets of birch bark sewn with strips of spruce roots and sealed with spruce gum. The canoes were 25 feet in length and four to five feet wide.
From 1804 to 1814 Louis was employed by the Northwest Company and travelled far and wide throughout various Western posts. He was familiar with all modes of transport such as by boat, horseback and dog team as he travelled frequently between Lesser Slave Lake and Jasper House. Louis spoke his native tongue of Mohawk as well as French. He later picked up Cree from local dealings with Cree people. He was trusted by many and earned his way up to a title of steersman in 1805 working out of Fort Augustus (30 km NE of Edmonton). According to the Northwest Company records, an Iroquois named Louis was with David Thompson during the early summer of 1810 on the West side of the Rockies. Some historians conclude that it was Louis Callihoo (Karakontie) who guided and hunted for David Thompson on his expedition to the Columbia River.
In between Louis’s several work postings, he managed to conceive 17 children from 3 different wives. His marriage to Marie Katis La Sekanaise, (her mother being from the Sekanni tribe and her father a Factor), was the only marriage recorded to whom Father Lacombe performed a service on October 16, 1853 in Jasper. Louis and Marie Katis La Sekanaise had 8 children together including Louis Dit Dekara, Thomas, Therese, Marie Ann, Suzanne, Marie, Ignace, and Michel.
Their daughter Therese was married to Francois Breland in 1818. She also had a love affair with a most mesmerizing Scotsman, Colin Fraser (1805-1867). Through their passionate union, a beautiful daughter named Madeline was born in 1847. Later, Madeline would give birth to Adam Joachim through her marriage with Alexis Joachim.
Louis’ also had children with both Patenaude sisters, Josephte and Marie, resulting in 9 more children.
From 1814 onwards, Louis was recognized as a “freeman” meaning he no longer was on contract with an employer and financially supported himself. Louis was an expert hunter, trapper and fisher. He took up the odd jobs of building, freighting, trading and hauling goods. Even with his independent status, he was able to feed his large family and support his 3 wives.
On November 30, 1854, Louis sadly passed on. His legacy lives on through the several descendants and grandchildren he left behind. Some of these descendants include the families of the Joachims, Wanyandis, Karakontis, Gauchers, Grays and Callihoos. The majority of these families today live in Grande Cache, Alberta.
It was no wonder Father de Smet named Louis the “Sun Traveller”, for it was his remarkable strength, and bravery that propelled him to rise from the East and settle in the West.
(Please note, there have been several spelling variations of the name “Karakontie” such as Karakonty, Carakontie, Callihoo, Karihoo, karakontis, Kwarkwante etc. In the past, recordings of the name were based phonetically).