After Johnson fought for the British Crown in the War of 1812, he was honored 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. Smoke 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. With the United States victory in the American Revolutionary War, the Mohawk and other Iroquois allies of the British had been forced to cede their large territories in New 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. Johnson became a leader in Canada.
He fought for the British Crown in the War of 1812 and was honored by his tribal council when chosen as a "Pine Tree Chief", a non-hereditary position.
He was influential in the Mohawk and British communities of Ontario, Canada. Fluent in English and Mohawk, he became a leader on the Six Nations reserve and an interpreter for the Canadian government. As an informal diplomat and negotiator, he helped facilitate relations between the Native and British 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 (1861-1913), who became a respected Native American poet.