The Beginning of the Winnebago

by Stella Stacy

transcribed and translated from an audio tape by Sheila Sigley

Stella (Blowsnake) Stacey

Hocąk - English Interlinear Text

In the beginning, the Hócą́gᵋra came to life in a place called Red Banks. And so, in that place, the Hócą́gᵋra, as they were called, well, the various other human tribes here and there, were scattered, wherever. Having come to life in that place, like that they came. And those Hócą́gᵋra appeared right there, at the place called Red Banks. Thus it was that there was an old man, as it is told, a very old man named Little Bald Eagle Head. Little Bald Eagle Head as he was called, it is said (?), used to tell the story of how the Hócą́gᵋra came to life. And so this, well, what I’m saying, is what I used to hear Ną́ǧí saying, about an old man. In the beginning I ought to have listened very well, thus, to that story, I was fifteen years old, anyplace around there, I’d be there, he said. In the beginning, whatever stories were being told, I think I should have listened. However, once in a great while I used to listen, he said. Ną́ǧí said this, I’m saying. Ną́ǧí, “Neat,” “Mr. Neat” they used to call him. And also, Ną́ǧí said, “They also called me, ‘He Who Is Hallooing’,” he said. “And the English name was ‘Ma Green’, they called me, they call it,” Ną́ǧí said, that’s the story they told.

The end.1


A Cedar Glade at Red Banks
Reproduced with permission from the Department of Natural Resources

"Red Banks"Mógašùc is on the shore of Green Bay (Te Rok) in Wisconsin. The bay is conceptualized as being a lake within a lake, and so named Te Rok meaning, "Within Lake." This body of water lies within Lake Michigan, called Te Šišik, "Bad Lake." Mógašùc is the site where the animal progenitors of the clans gathered in the Creation Council to form the Hocąk Nation.

"Little Bald Eagle Head" — Stella's pronunciation of this name sounds more like Xorapąįga. Shigley observes, "I'd usually expect this to become Xorapąnįkka (since the -ga proper name ending often turns to -ka after a preceding k), but Stella pronounces it very softly (with most of the -kg of the nįkga/nįka disappearing.) Maybe this, being some kind of ceremonial and very old name, maintained an older sound."

"Ną́ǧí" — a birth order name for the fourth son. 

"I was fifteen years old" — this was the year 1899, given that she was born in 1884.2

"Neat"Pı̨́kík’ųna, an odd, and apparently unique name. It is probably a nickname. Fortunately, the oddity of the name allows us to identify its owner. Since he is later said to have been called "Ma Green" we would expect that his white surname would be "Green," which is in fact a prominent family among the Hócą́gᵋra. There is indeed a Green bearing the name Pı̨́kík’ųga, "Neat". This is George Green, whose brothers were Mark J. Green, and Luke Green. They were the sons of Clear Horn Green, whose father was the famous warrior Black Otter.3 Pı̨́kík’ųga's wife was Lightning Strikes the Lodge. However, as seen below, Stella had confused him with his younger brother Mark.

"He Who Is Hallooing"Wánįhèga is a name given to a Thunderbird. The "halloo" referenced is to the thunderclap, sometimes conceptualized as the voice of the Thunderbird. However, Ną́ǧí's descent from Black Otter clearly places him in the Waterspirit Clan. Mark Ną́ǧíga Wánįhèga Green is the grandson of Black Otter, who maintained that he was an incarnated Thunderbird. This may be the origin of Thunderbird names in the Green family.

"Ma Green" — this is an attempt to pronounce "Mark Green," the consonants /rk/ being difficult to pronounce in Hocąk. Stella had confused him with his older brother George Green, who was born in 1845,4 so he would have been 54 in 1899 when Stella was 15. In those days an age of 54 would count as an "old man," especially to a 15 year old. Mark, who was younger, was born in 1862, which would have made him 37 in 1899. As Mark and George may have looked alike, being brothers, some confusion may have arisen in the memory of the elderly Stella in 1957. However, it was Mark ("Ma") who went by the names Ną́ǧíga and Wánįhèga.5

Comparative Material. ...

Links: The Creation Council.

Stories: about the origins of the Hocąk nation: The Hocąk Arrival Myth, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, The Hocąk Migration Myth, The Creation Council, Great Walker's Warpath, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I, First Contact; mentioning the Big Knives (white Americans): The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, Brawl in Omro, The Scalping Knife of Wakąšucka, Little Priest's Game, How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, A Prophecy, The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter, The First Fox and Sauk War, The Cosmic Ages of the Hocągara, Turtle and the Merchant, The Hocągara Migrate South, Neenah, Run for Your Life, The Glory of the Morning, First Contact, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, Migistéga’s Magic, Yellow Thunder and the Lore of Lost Canyon, Mighty Thunder; set at Red Banks (Mógašúc): The Creation Council, Annihilation of the Hocągara II, The Great Lodge, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (vv. 1, 2, 3, 5), Bear Clan Origin Myth (vv. 2a, 3, 8, 11, 12), The Winnebago Fort, Blue Bear, Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, The Hocąk Arrival Myth, The Creation of Man (v. 10), Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Pigeon Clan Origins (fr. 1), Eagle Clan Origin Myth, Elk Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Deer Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Buffalo Clan Origin Myth, Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief, Šųgepaga, Gatschet's Hocank hit’e ("St. Peet", "Hocąk Origins"), The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (v. 1), The Seven Maidens, First Contact, Big Thunder Teaches Cap’ósgaga the Warpath.

Themes: ...


1 Stella Stacy, "The Beginning of the Winnebago." Fraenkel, Gerd. Winnebago texts, [1959-07-12]. (Mss.Rec.29); audio: 7250; APSdigrec_0951; Recording Number: 02; Program Number: 12. Text given in Winnebago only, with an English introduction by the collector. Copy made by Gerd Fraenkel of an original tape held at the Archives of Languages of the World, Indiana University. This program is the original tape's program 526.10.

2 Wikitree, Stella Mountain Wolf Woman (Blowsnake) Stacy (1884 - 1960) Profile, Blowsnake-5. Nancy O. Lurie (ed.), Mountain Wolf Woman, Sister of Crashing Thunder: The Autobiography of a Winnebago Indian (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1961) p. 1.

3 Wikitree, George Pįkik’ųga Green (1845) Profile, Green-36886. Wikitree, Clear Horn Green (abt. 1820) Profile, Green-36885. Wikitree, Tōšą́nąksépka Black Otter (abt. 1779 - aft. 1832) Profile, Black_Otter-1.

4 1900 United States Federal Census; Census Place: Brockway, Jackson, Wisconsin; Page: 9; Enumeration District: 0058; FHL microfilm: 1241792. United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

5 Frank Weinhold, "Black Otter's Narrative: Wisconsin Native Recollections Relating to Pre-History of the Lewis-Clark Expedition," 1-27, in The Encyclopedia of Hočąk (Winnebago) Mythology, p. 3. 1912 Indian Census; Roll: M595_570; Line: 14; Agency: Tomah Indian School.] Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M595, 692 rolls); Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Wikitree, Mark J. Green (1862 - abt. 1920), Green-36864.