Catherine Sutton

Catherine Sutton

Born: 1824

Birth-place: Credit River Flats (Modern Day: Port Credit, ON)

Birth-name: Catherine Sonego

Married: William Sutton

Children: 7

Died: September the 26th, 1865

Death-place: Sarawak Township, Canada West

The Early Years

Nahnebahwequay (meaning upright woman) was an Ojibwa Native American influenced by her uncle to join the Methodist Episcopal Church. When they agreed, Nahnebahwequay and her family moved to the Credit River to begin a Methodist Settlement there. They took their requests to the government, who granted them 20 houses. They invited other Ojibwa-Methodists to join them to create the settlement. Together, they all built a chapel with a school and were ready to settle. Catherine enrolled in the school until 1837, so she can escort her uncle Peter Jones' wife to England. By the time 1839 came Catherine had married an English man named William Sutton, so she dropped the Sonego from her name and replaced it with Sutton. They settled together at the Credit River and had seven children, who Catherine home-schooled with what she had learned at the school in the chapel.

The Upright Woman

After deciding to move out of their home in the Credit, The Suttons migrated to the Owen Sound area where they had plenty of land for cultivation. They lived there for a few years. Later on, William wanted to temporarily stay at Michigan in order to spread the Methodist religion. When they returned, the Suttons found out that their new home in Owen Sound had been put up for sale while they were gone. This happened only because the Indian Department refused to recognize the treaty created for the land. Richard Theodore Pennefather said that "The chiefs having no power to dispose to private parties of land belonging to the tribe, could not give a title, and [The Sutton's] written grant is therefore valueless," When the Suttons decided to try to buy their land back, the Indian Department refused. Hence, the family petitioned to the Canadian Legislature to either have their land back or gaining the money they spent on it. After not hearing back, Catherine Sutton took her issue to Queen Victoria Herself.

The Stand Up and it's Aftermath

Ms Stutton traveled to New York, where Quakers gave her the necessities to travel to England so she can speak to the queen. Having a friend in a British government and knowing the Alsops, she found an easy way to the queen. On the 19th of June, 1860 she was presented to Queen Victoria. The queen even noted in her private journal that: "She speaks English quite well, and is come on behalf of her Tribe to petition against some grievance as regards their land." Soon after, The Suttons were given the opportunity to buy their land back. However, no land was granted beck to other Native Americans who were dealing with the same issue. After going through that, Mrs Sutton kept on working with developing Aboriginal rights in North America. She had a 'might is right' campaign. She spent her final two years and a half suffering and eventually died in 1865. While she died early, her husband still carried on her legacy for devoting the rest of his life to fight for Indian rights and the Methodist Church.

Catherine Sutton's meet with the Queen

Tuesday, June 19th 1860 at 12pm

England, United Kingdom


"Slaughterhouse" by Phil Hoffman