Chief OS-KE-NON-TON was born in the year 1888 in Chaghnawaga, Quebec, Canada. He was the son and grandson of the great Chief’s of the same name from the Mohawk Tribe of the Bear Clan.
OS-KE-NON-TON’s childhood and boyhood days were spent on the reservation among his people. He became an expert with the canoe and learned the habits of the wild creatures in the forest. He acquired a subtle art in catching the inhabitants of the pools, lakes and rivers. He learned the signs of the weather and could read the mystery of the forest and he dreamed the dreams of his ancestors.
His aid was sought by the white man, the hunter and the pleasure seekers. He soon became known as a skillful guide and his services were in demand. Then came the desire for knowledge, and following the desire he went to the schools in Toronto, Canada.
After his schooling he went back to his people and one day he had been leisurely paddling the wide river and had drawn his canoe to shore and made his camp. He sat watching the evening light play over the water and fade over the hills. As he sat there in the stillness, his mind lapsed back to the early days to the traditions of his people, and his voice sounded out “The Appeal To The Great Spirit.” A party of men heard this, and the singer was sought after because of the beauty of his voice.
OS-KE-NON-TON then went to New York City where he developed a technique of song and refinement of tone. Before long Chief OS-KE-NON-TON was recording on the Columbia label, hosting a weekly radio program and appeared on the cover of many magazines.
He was soon known as the Native American version of Enrico Caruso. His family still displays a photo which reads “To my friend OS-KE-NON-TON, Enrico Caruso 1915”. OS-KE-NON-TON crossed the Atlantic thirty-five times and appeared throughout Europe in concerts and performed for the Crowned Heads. In 1927 he sang to an Audience of 45,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl, California.
During the 1930’s and 40’s and until his transition in 1955 OS-KE-NON-TON appeared on the Lily Dale platform and held Healing Sessions at the Assembly Hall and held Healing Circles in his Wigwam. Chief OS-KE-NON-TON was one of the most colorful and respected individuals Lily Dale has been able to claim as a resident.