The Indian Tribes of the United States:
Their History, Antiquities, Customs, Religion, Arts, Language, Traditions, Oral Legends, and Myths

by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft


(1:20) The policy of removal has at all times resulted disastrously to the Indians. Its effect has been to perpetuate barbarism, and it has also been a fruitful source of corruption. The removal of the Santee Sioux and the Winnebagoes from Minnesota in 1863, as narrated by ex-Indian Commissioner Manypenny, is a sickening recital, but it is only one of many similar instances of cruel wrong. ...

(1:40) Inquiries made of the Choctaws prove that they can compute, by doubling their denominators, or by new inflections, to 1,000,000,000; the Dakotas, to the same; the Cherokees, to 300,000,000; the Chippewas, to 1,000,000,000; the Winnebagoes, the same; the Wyandots, to 3,000,000; the Hitchites, to but 1000; the Pillagers, to 100,000; the Camanches, to but 30, etc.; and even the wild and predatory Yumas have the decimal system. ...

(1:84) When the tribes west of the Mississippi are asked the direction they came from, they point south. They came up over the fertile, level plains and hilly uplands east of the forbidding and impassable peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Such is the account of the Quappas, Cadrons [Osage ?], Kansas, and the generality of the great prairie or Dakota group west of the Mississippi, and of the Iowas, Sioux, and Winnebagoes. ...

(1:186) Nothing but the taking of life is considered by the Winnebagoes as just cause of war. When an Indian has had a relative killed by Indians of another tribe, and wishes to raise a war-party to avenge him, in case the enemy is not in the immediate neighborhood, and instant action for self-defence is not required, he, in the first place, fasts until he has a favorable dream; if, perchance, he has had a bad dream, he gets up and eats, and commences his fast again, and continues until his dream is favorable to his purpose; he then makes a feast, invites his friends, relates his dream, and asks them to go with him on a war-path. The war-chief is usually invited to take command of the party....

(1:188) The Winnebago warriors say that chastity is by their tribe uniformly respected in war. They say that the Great Spirit has told them not to abuse the women. ...

(1:203) Winnebago Indians of both sexes consider the Mackinac blanket an essential article of dress at all times. White blankets are preferred in the winter, and colored ones in the summer. Red is a favorite color with the young, and green with the aged. Three-point blankets are worn by men, and two-and-a-half-point by women. The calico shirts, cloth leggings, and buckskin moccasins worn by both sexes are similar. In addition to the above articles the women wear a broadcloth petticoat or mantelet, suspended from the hips and extending below the knee. No part of the garments worn by this tribe is made of materials the growth of their own country, except that their leggings and moccasins are sometimes made of deer-skins dressed by themselves. The Winnebago chiefs wear nothing peculiar to designate their office, except it be medals received from the President of the United States. These Indians attach great value to ornaments. Wampum, ear-bobs, rings, bracelets, and bells are the most common ornaments worn by them. Head-dresses ornamented with eagles' feathers are worn by the warriors on public occasions. Some of the young men and women of the tribe paint their blankets with a variety of colors and figures. This is usually done with vermilion and other paints purchased of their traders. Vegetable dyes are used but little by them. They do not tattoo their bodies. A large majority of the young and middle-aged of both sexes paint their faces when they dress for a dance, and on all public occasions. Vermilion, Prussian blue, and chrome yellow are generally used for this purpose. The men frequently besmear their bodies with white clay when they join a public dance.

Dyes are made from flowers mostly, and from roots and barks of trees. They dye red, purple, blue, black, green, yellow. The red dye is made from the top of the sumach and a small root found in the ground, by boiling. Yellow is from flowers, by boiling. Black is from maple-bark, butternut, and black mud taken from the bottom of rivers. Vermilion is still sold them in considerable quantities; red clay, blue, and yellow are also used by the men to paint their faces and bodies. Oxide of iron, making a paint somewhat resembling Spanish brown, is largely used by all the Sioux. Sometimes, though not very often, they puncture the skin for ornament, as well as their arms and breast, their forehead and lips. The men make many imprints on their blankets with paint as marks of bravery, etc. ...

(1:244) The Assiniboins, a Sioux tribe with an Algonkin name, were the most northerly tribal element of this ethnographic horde. One of their tribes, the Isanti, were found at the head of Lake Superior in Hennepin's day; another, the Winnebagoes ("Puans" of the Canadians), also a Dakota tribe with an Algonkin cognomen, were seated at Green Bay at La Salle's first visit, and have but recently retraced their steps, under the removal movement, to the west of the Mississippi. ...


(1:373) The name of Puants, as the cognomen for an Indian tribe, first appears in the French missionary authors in 1669. The people on whom they bestowed it lived on Green Bay, of Wisconsin, and the bay itself was named after the tribe. By the Algonkins they were called Wee-ni-bee-gog, a term which has long been anglicized under the form of Winnebagoes. The original is founded on two Algonkin words, namely, weenud, turbid or foul, and nibeeg, the plural form for water. The words Winnipeg and Winnepeag, names for Northern lakes, mean simply turbid water. It is found that both the lakes thus named have a stratum of whitish muddy clay at their bottoms, which is disturbed by high winds, giving the water a whitish hue and imparting to it more or less turbidity. The termination o, in the word Winnebago, stands in the place of the accusative, and renders the term personal.

The tribe calls itself Hochungara, which is said to mean Trout nation, and sometimes Horoji, or Fish-eaters. They appear to have formerly exercised considerable influence among the surrounding tribes. Their language shows them to belong to the (1:374) great Dakota stock of the West, and they were found in the van of that group of families or tribes, being the only one of its number that had crossed the Mississippi below Minnesota in its progress eastward.

The Winnebagoes are men of good stature and dignified bearing, and have the characteristic straight black hair, black, glistening eyes, and red skins of the Indian race. They maintained the position of a tribe of independent feelings and national pride during all the earlier periods of our acquaintance with them.

The claim of the Hochungaras to the possession of considerable mental capacity is sustained by the cranial admeasurements made some years ago at the Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia. In these examinations their crania were shown to have an average internal capacity of eighty-nine cubic inches, and a facial angle of seventy-nine degrees.

How long they had maintained their position at Green Bay before the arrival of the French we know not. But they had receded from it towards the West before the visit of Carver, in 1766, who found them on Fox River. Father Allouez says that it was a tradition in his days that they had been almost destroyed, about 1640, by the Illinois. They have kept on good terms, within the period of history, with the Sacs and Foxes, the once noted and erratic Mascotins, the Menomonies, Ottawas, Chippewas, and Pottawatomies,—a fact which denotes a wise and considerate policy on the part of their chiefs. Their own traditions, and accounts gathered from some of the tribes on the Missouri River, would indicate that from this tribe sprang the lowas, Missouris, Otoes, and Omahaws. These Indians call the Winnebagoes elder brothers.

How long they had maintained their position at Green Bay before the arrival of the French we know not. But they had receded from it towards the West before the visit of Carver, in 1766, who found them on Fox River. Father Allouez says that it was a tradition in his days that they had been almost destroyed, about 1640, by the Illinois. They have kept on good terms, within the period of history, with the Sacs and Foxes, the once noted and erratic Mascotins, the Menomonies, Ottawas, Chippewas, and Pottawatomies, — a fact which denotes a wise and considerate policy on the part of their chiefs. Their own traditions, and accounts gathered from some of the tribes on the Missouri River, would indicate that from this tribe sprang the lowas, Missouris, Otoes, and Omahaws. These Indians call the Winnebagoes elder brothers.

The earliest Winnebago traditions relate to their residence at Bed Banks, on the east shore of Green Bay, where they traded with the French. They have a tradition that they once built a fort, an event which appears to have made a general impression on the tribe, and which may without improbability be connected with the archaeological remains of an ancient work at Aztalan, Wisconsin, on Rock River.

The Wisconsin, Rock, and Wolf Rivers, flowing from a central height east, west, and south, gave them the advantage of descending on their enemies at will. The French found them in league with the Menomonies, and these two tribes gave shelter to the flying Sacs and Foxes when they were finally expelled from Lower Michigan. This flight was not completed at the commencement of Pontiac's war, — so late as the year 1760. With the French, notwithstanding the reception of these two fugitive tribes, they maintained friendly relations, and traded uninterruptedly. With the Chippewas, Ottawas, Pottawatomies, Kickapoos, Mascotins, and other tribes of the Algonkin group of families who surrounded their possessions north, east, and southeast, they also kept on general terms of friendship, — a point that required great address, as the Sacs and Foxes seemed to have cut loose from their ancient natural Algonkin affinities, and were perpetually making inroads on those tribes, particularly on the Chippewas of Lake Superior, whom they united with the Sioux in opposing. Tradition represents the Sacs and Foxes as having engaged in battles against the Chippewas at Lac Vieux Desert, Lac du Flambeau, and the Falls (1:375) of St. Croix and Francis Eiver, on the Upper Mississippi. They were defeated, along with the Sioux, by the Chippewas under Waub-ojeeg, in a great battle at the Falls of St. Croix. For the Winnebagoes to preserve their relations with the French under these circumstances required skill and diplomacy; but in this they had the support of the great body of the Sioux, their relatives, who dwelt immediately west of them on the Mississippi.

On the fall of the French power in Canada, in 1760, the Winnebagoes were cautious about entering into intimate relations with Great Britain. But the French had left an element of great influence with the Western Indians, in the métif population, or the half-breeds, of mixed French and Indian blood. This power was conciliated by the English agents and officers, who thus mollified the Indian resentments, and finally gained the confidence of the aboriginal tribes.

The Winnebagoes were firm in their new fealty. They opened their country to English traders; and when the Americans rose, in 1776, to assert their independence, the Winnebagoes sided with the crown. In all local questions of jurisdiction, such as were discussed at Prairie du Chien, Green Bay, and Michilimackinac, they were arrayed, without a single exception, on the side of the British authorities.

When the question of fealty assumed a new vitality, in the war of 1812, the same preferences prevailed. They sided with the crown and flag of the red cross against the Americans. They helped to defeat Colonel Croghan at Michilimackinac, Colonel Dudley at the rapids of the Miami, and General Winchester at the river Kaisin. They were brought into the field of action by Colonel Robert Dixon and Mr. Crawford, two prominent traders of leading influence, who then resided at Prairie du Chien and St. Peter's. They hovered, with the other hostile lake tribes, around the beleaguered garrison of Detroit, and helped to render the surrounding forests vocal with the war-whoop. And they returned, in 1815, like the other tribes, to their positions in the northwestern forests of Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, Iowa, and Illinois, rather chapfallen, to reflect that they had not in reality been fighting for their own independence, but merely to assist one white power to sustain itself against another. This was acknowledged at a public conference at Drummond Island, in 1816, by the noted chief Waubashaw.

In 1811 they had listened to the false Shawnee prophet of the Wabash, Elkswattawa, and his more celebrated brother Tecumseh, who told them, along with the whole mass of the Western Indians, that the time had arrived for checking the Americans in their progress, and for regaining, under the British standard, their lost dominion in the West. They accordingly contributed auxiliaries in the war that ensued. They, like the other Indians, reduced, their population thereby, lost every promised object, were wholly deserted or unrecognized in the treaty of Ghent, and returned to their homes gloomy and sour-minded. They showed some insolence in the years immediately following towards certain travellers in the Fox and Wisconsin Valleys. Hoo-choop, a stern chief at the outlet of Winnebago Lake, assumed to be the keeper of the Fox River Valley, and levied tribute, in some cases, for the privilege of ascent. (1:376) In the autumn of 1821, a young Winnebago, called Ke-taw-kah, killed Dr. Madison, of the United States army, under circumstances of great cruelty, and without the slightest provocation. The murderer was promptly arrested, tried, and executed. The act was disavowed by the nation, and led to no interruption of peaceful relations.

For some years after the war of 1812, in which the political hopes of all the tribes were wrecked, they were looked upon with distrust by travellers. But with the exception of the murder of Dr. Madison, and that of a man named Ulric, at Green Bay, they gave way to few passionate outbreaks, and preserved peaceful relations with the United States. All the lake tribes had been misled by the war of 1812, supposing that its result, through their adherence to the mother country, would be to restore to them their hunting-grounds west of the Alleghenies, or at least to set bounds to the encroachments of the Americans; and when the contrary result was made known to them, most of the tribes retired from the field of conflict to their native woods, as angry as a bear that has been robbed of her cubs.

The Winnebagoes were not, therefore, peculiar in their moodiness after this war. The history of their dealings with the American government is brief and definite. The first indication that they could not permanently remain in Wisconsin was perhaps given by the expedition to explore the country, in 1820. They gazed at that expedition silently, as if not understanding it. In 1822 they were visited by Rev. Jedediah Morse, who says, "They have five villages on the lake, and fourteen on Rock River. The country has abundance of springs, small lakes, ponds, and rivers; a rich soil, producing corn and all sorts of grain. The lakes abound with fine-flavored firm fish. The Indians are industrious, frugal, and temperate. They cultivate corn, potatoes, pumpkins, squashes, and beans, and are remarkably provident. They number five hundred and eighty souls."1 Their first treaty with the United States was signed June 3, 1816, about five months after the treaty of Ghent, in which they pledged themselves to peace, confirmed all prior grants to the British, French, and Spanish governments, and agreed to restore prisoners. On the 19th of August, 1825, and the 11th of August, 1827, they adjusted, at Prairie du Chien and Butte des Morts, with the other tribes and with the United States, their territorial boundaries, and also agreed upon treaties of peace and friendship. The lingering unfriendly feeling produced by the war of 1812 broke out at Prairie du Chien, on the Mississippi, in the summer of 1827, when they fired on a barge descending that stream, and committed other outrages. This led to the prompt movement of troops from St. Louis, who checked the outbreak; and Hoo-choop, their principal chief in East Wisconsin, with thirteen other principal men, signed the treaty of the 11th of August, 1827.

In the year 1828 the discovery of valuable lead-mines in their territory, north of Rock River, led the inhabitants of the frontiers of Illinois to pass over and commence mining operations in that quarter. This produced alarms and collisions on both sides, which were settled by the treaty of Green Bay, of August 12, 1827, by (1:377) which a temporary line of boundary was established, and twenty thousand dollars allowed the Indians for depredations made upon their territory.

On the 1st of August, 1829, they ceded a tract south of the Wisconsin River, including the mineral district, for the consideration of five hundred and forty thousand dollars, payable in coin, in thirty annual equal installments. In addition, large appropriations were made for agricultural purposes, the introduction of smiths and agents, and the payment of claims.

In 1831-32 they unwisely connected themselves in a clandestine participation of some of the bands with the schemes of Black Hawk. The war with the Sacs and Foxes was waged exclusively on the Winnebago territory; at its close they ceded all their remaining land in Wisconsin lying south of the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers, and accepted in exchange for it a tract west of the Mississippi, in Iowa, called the Neutral Ground. The sum of two hundred and seventy thousand dollars, payable in coin, in twenty-seven annual payments of ten thousand dollars each, was granted to equalize the exchange of territory. By this treaty stipulations were made for the introduction of schools, the removal of shops and agencies, and their advance in agriculture and civilization. The treaty, which was concluded at Rock Island on the 15th of September, 1833, was of great benefit to the tribe, who prospered and increased in population under its execution.

One of the worst acts resulting from their connection with the Sac war, and one which stains their character by its atrocity, was the assassination of Mr. Pierre Pacquette, the interpreter at the agency, on the Wisconsin Portage. He was a man of Winnebago lineage, and was reputed to be one of the best friends and counsellors of the nation. More than one-fourth of the tribe was carried off by smallpox in 1836.

By a treaty concluded on the 1st of November, 1837, they agreed to remove to the Neutral Ground, the United States agreeing to transfer there the privileges for their civilization, and to establish manual-labor schools for their instruction.

On the 23d of October, 1839, Governor Lucas, of Iowa, reported that an exploring party of them had arrived in that Territory in the spring of that year, to the alarm of Keokuk, the head Fox chief, who complained of the movement and requested that they might be sent south of the Missouri. The Winnebagoes themselves disliked the removal, and could not be induced to go south. The commissioner, in his report of November 28, 1840, remarks that after some of the contiguous bands had passed over the Mississippi, the rest manifested so much aversion to quitting their old homes in Wisconsin that the task of inducing them to migrate was committed to General Atkinson, who eventually extended the time to the spring of 1841. Great efforts were required to overcome their reluctance. In September, 1840, the aged chief Karamanee, as well as Weenoshaik and other chiefs, made speeches to the agent strenuously opposing it. At length the government determined to remove the agency, schools, and shops to Turkey River, and directed the next annuities to be paid there. The nation still clung, as with a death-grasp, to the hills and valleys of Wisconsin; but these steps were effective.

(1:378) Mr. Lowry, their agent, remarked in 1842 that the depopulation from indulgence, drink, and disease, which had attended the removal, had been very great and demoralizing. He says that the number of children to each female in the tribe did not exceed the average of one, and that wretchedness and bloodshed were of so frequent occurrence as to have ceased to excite attention. Thirty-nine persons had perished in this way in a short time, and sometimes two or three were stabbed to death in a night.

Under this arrangement subsequent removals were made to the stipulated grounds in Iowa, till the whole tribe had migrated. During a period of ten or twelve years, while they occupied the Neutral Ground, they appear to have augmented in their numbers and means and improved in habits. There was a visible change in habits of cleanliness, and their opinions respecting the subject of labor underwent a marked change, so that the females were no longer expected or allowed alone to work in their fields.

On the l0th of October, 1846, in a treaty concluded with authorized delegates, the tribe ceded the "Neutral Ground," in Iowa, and agreed to accept an adequate tract of country north of the river St. Peter's, on the Upper Mississippi. By this treaty one hundred and ninety thousand dollars was to be paid them in various forms, of which sum the interest of eighty-five thousand dollars, at five per cent., was directed to be paid to them in annuities during a period of thirty years.

In conformity with this treaty, the tribe was removed to a tract on the Upper Mississippi, between the Watab and Crow-Wing Rivers; which tract was purchased from the Chippewas by the treaty of the 2d of August, 1847. The seat of the agency was established at Long Prairie River, where buildings and shops were put up for them, and extensive fields fenced in and ploughed by the farmers appointed to teach them agriculture. Some difficulties were encountered in inducing the entire tribe to concentrate on this position, and in overcoming the erratic habits of the tribe. Although in no way implicated in the Sioux outbreak in Minnesota in 1862, government was compelled by the popular outcry from that State to remove them. They were taken to the Crow Creek Agency, Dakota, whence, after great hardships and suffering, and to avoid starvation, they fled to the Omaha Reservation, in Eastern Nebraska, where, after six removes, they now are.

The earliest notice we have of the Winnebago population is one found at Paris, in a manuscript list of Indian tribes prepared by M. Chaurignerie in 1736. He puts the Puants or Winnebagoes at eighty warriors and seven hundred souls.

It is to be remembered in relation to these small numbers that Allouez had reported them to have been almost destroyed by the Illinois at a prior period. In the estimates published by Colonel Bouquet, in the narrative of his march west of the Alleghenies, in 1764, they are put down at seven hundred warriors, — an evident mistake. Pike, the first American author on the subject, estimates the entire Winnebago population in 1806 at two thousand. Their present population is fourteen hundred and twenty-nine. They have the reputation of being the most treacherous and cowardly of the Western tribes. ...

(1:380) The lowas are probably but a remnant of a once numerous and considerable nation, which has dwindled down to the present few, and these have lost much of their pure native character. ... The earliest location to which their traditions assign them is at the junction of Rock River with the Mississippi. This was probably in or very near Winnebago territory, and the correctness of their narrative is confirmed by the traditions of several of the Missouri tribes. ...


(2:174) The Menomonies occupied the northern shores of Green Bay, and even as early as 1636 the Mascoutins had been driven to the country lying south of the banks of Fox River. The only acknowledged trans-Mississippian Indian tribe residing on Green Bay was that of the Winnebagoes, which, although of Dakota origin, had an Algonkin name and lived in amity with the Algonkins. ...

(2:203) The Winnebagoes of Green Bay, representing the bold prairie tribes of the Dakota stock west of the Mississippi, at all periods were the friends of the French. ...

(2:238) [In 1761] the Winnebagoes, called by the French Puans, are rated at 360 men, or an aggregate of 1750 individuals, which is not excessive. ...

(2:309) Early in the spring of 1806, Lieutenant Pike descended the Mississippi River, arriving at his point of departure on the 30th of April. His estimates of the Indian population of the Upper Mississippi give a total of eleven thousand one hundred and seventy-seven souls, including Chippewas, Sacs, Foxes, lowas, Winnebagoes, Menomonies, and the various scattered bands of Dakotas, called Yanktons, Sissetons, and Tetons. ...

(2:319) The Chippewas and Ottawas, with delegations of the Menomonies, Winnebagoes, and Sioux, had, on the 17th of July [1812] preceding, enabled Captain Roberts, with a trifling force, to surprise and capture Michilimackinac. ...

(2:334) Also, in the attempt to retake the fort at Michilimackinac, in the month of August of the same year [1814], the Chippewa, Ottawa, Menomonie, Winnebago, Sac, and Sioux Indians occasioned the defeat of the army under the orders of Colonel Croghan. ...

(2:339) The Sacs and Foxes occupied the Mississippi Valley between Prairie du Chien and Rock Island, at the entrance to (2:340) the river Des Moines. The Winnebagoes were in possession of the Wisconsin and Rock River Valleys. The Menomonies were scattered along the Fox River to Buttes des Morts and Winnebago Lake, thence quite to Green Bay, and, with interchanges of location with the Winnebagoes, to Milwaukee on Lake Michigan. ...

(2:365) A series of conventions held with the Indian chiefs of the Western and North-western tribes marked the early part of Mr. Adams's administration, the first and most important of which assembled at Prairie du Chien, on the Upper Mississippi, during the summer of 1825, under the auspices of General William Clarke, then General Superintendent at St. Louis, and of Governor Lewis Cass, of Michigan, ex-officio Superintendent of the Northern Department. This convention was attended by the Mendawacanton and Yankton Dakotas, or Sioux, of the St. Peter's and the Plains, the Chippewas and Pillagers, from the sources of the Mississippi, and the Sacs, Foxes, lowas, Winnebagoes, Menomonies, Chippewas, Ottawas, and Pottawatomies, of the lakes and the Illinois River. Maps drawn on birch bark, giving the outlines of their hunting-grounds, were exhibited by the several tribes, and, after a (2:366) full discussion with each of their respective agents, a treaty of peace and limitation was signed by them on the 29th of August, 1825. ...

While the treaty of Butte des Morts was under consideration, the Winnebagoes committed some hostile acts at Prairie du Chien, on the Mississippi. They there fired into a boat, plundered several individuals, and endeavored practically to enforce an obsolete idea that they had a right to interdict merchandise from passing the portage of the Wisconsin without receiving some acknowledgment therefor in the nature of toll. General Cass, who, as one of the commissioners, was then in the vicinity, immediately embarked in his light canoe, manned by skilful Canadians, crossed the portage, and, entering the Mississippi River, journeyed night and day until he reached St. Louis, whence he returned with a body of troops, whose sudden appearance prevented any further trouble from this source. ...

(2:379) The campaign lasted seventy-nine days. The captives were taken to Rock Island. They informed General Scott that the Winnebagoes, our professed allies, had been operating on both sides; and in the treaty which followed their treachery was punished, and the lands upon which they had lived from time immemorial, and to which they were strongly attached, were taken from them. ...

(2:403) By the terms of the treaty negotiated by General Scott, September 15, 1832, immediately succeeding the close of the Sac war, the Winnebagoes ceded their lands lying east of the Mississippi, in the State of Wisconsin, and accepted a location west of that river, on a tract designated in the treaty as "the Neutral Ground;" a fine district of country, abounding in game, and possessing a very fertile soil, situated between the territory of the Sioux and that of the Sacs and Foxes. As Wisconsin filled up with a white population, and the position of the Winnebagoes as a hunter tribe became more and more inconvenient, they were urged by the local authorities to remove to the Neutral Ground, which they hesitated to do from a dread of being embroiled in the fierce and sanguinary wars constantly raging between the Sacs and Foxes and the Sioux. Strenuous exertions were made by the government to quell these hostilities, and the removal of the Winnebagoes was finally effected during the year 1837. ...

(2:404) [In 1838] the Winnebago Indians, of Wisconsin, evinced great tardiness and unwillingness to leave the country. The isolated tribes in the settlements became entangled with associations which it is difficult for a people of so little decision of character to abandon. This tribe, by a treaty made at Washington on the 28th of October, renewed the engagements entered into and endorsed by the treaty concluded at Rock Island in 1832, after the close of the Sac war, and agreed to remove to the Neutral Ground in eight months. As this limitation expired in the winter, they solicited permission, and were allowed, to remain in Wisconsin until spring. ...

(2:410) The same attempt to remove a tribe from one State to another was made with the Winnebagoes. Having been implicated in the Sauk war, they agreed in 1832, at Rock Island, where the American army was then encamped, to leave the east banks of the Mississippi, abandoning their favorite Rock River, Wisconsin, and Fox River Valleys, and remove to a position west of the Mississippi denominated the Neutral Ground. For them, however, it was not "neutral ground." It was, in fact, the war-ground of the Sacs and Foxes and Sioux, and they had, under the influence of the presence of a military force, agreed to a proposition which they had neither the ability nor the will to perform. Though ethnologically of the Sioux stock, their affinity was not to be relied on; they possessed a nationality of their own, and could not, after ages of separation, take shelter under the Sioux flag. The plan of the neutral ground was a benevolent theory, which it was hoped and believed would work well, but it eventually proved to be an utter fallacy. It had, however, strong advocates, being favored by many persons who did not wish to see the Winnebagoes removed, with their large means and annuities, beyond the reach of a peripatetic peddler's footsteps, or to lose sight of the distribution of their annual per capita dollars.

In 1837 the Winnebagoes renewed by treaty their engagement to remove to the Neutral Ground, in Iowa, within eight months after the ratification of that instrument. The treaty was not ratified until June, 1838, which would limit the period for their removal to February, 1839. They still lingered in the valleys of their ancient home, until the matter of their removal was placed in the hands of General (2:411) Atkinson. When they discovered that the government was in earnest, the mass of them removed across the Mississippi without causing much difficulty, but, though still urged to proceed to the Neutral Ground, they encamped on the western margin of the river, where they were allowed to remain until the following year. Meantime, they were afflicted by considerable sickness, and surrounded by whiskey-shops, together with every temptation that Indians possessing heavy annuities are sure to encounter. Their agent established his buildings and shops on the Neutral Ground, where the tribe was eventually induced to settle by the announcement that there only would they be paid their annuities. It will be seen in the sequel that in a few years it became necessary to remove the Winnebagoes from the limits of Iowa. ...


1 Rev. Jedidiah Morse, A Report to the Secretary of War of the United States, on Indian Affairs: Comprising a Narrative of a Tour Performed in the Summer of 1820, under a Commission from the President of the United States, for the Purpose of Ascertaining, for the Use of the Government, the Actual State of the Indian Tribes in Our Country (New Haven: S. Converse, 1822) 48.

Commentary. "south" — Schoolcraft is inclined to be a bit too literal here. It is generally agreed that all the Siouan tribes of the west ultimately came from the southeast, not the foothills of the Rockies.

"abuse the women" — even in their stories, women are regularly killed. However, there is always the option of capturing one to take as a wife.

"Mackinac blanket" — a heavy wool blanket supplied by the United States government for distribution to American Indians. So called because it was originally disbursed from Fort Mackinac [Mackinaw]. The basic design was usually plaid, but as we see here, they could also be found in solid colors.

"red is a favorite color with the young, and green with the aged" — tradition dictated that the young dress in šuč (red) and the old dress in čo (blue/green), so it was not a mere matter of preference.

"points" — the Hudson Bay Company, which still exists today, gives this explanation of the point system:

Hudson’s Bay Company had woollen blankets available for trade from its inception in 1670. By 1780 the Company formally adopted the point blanket as a staple of trade. HBC still sells point blankets today. Short lines were often woven or sewn into a corner of the blanket’s central field. These lines, or “points,” identify the size, and thus the value, of the blanket. In 1780, for example, a two-point blanket (with each point representing about a yard of finished cloth) was valued at 2½ beaver pelts at Fort Albany. Pointed blankets are made of 100% wool and have always been manufactured in a range of colours and basic patterns. To the First Nations the blanket represented a large piece of ready-to-use fabric, which was easier to procure than traditional blankets made of animal hide or plant fibres. The wool of the HBC point blanket was weather-hardy and offered good insulation from harsh weather conditions. The white HBC point blankets were effective camouflage for hunting during the winter months. The multi-coloured HBC blankets (striped in green, red, yellow and indigo) appealed to the First Nations sense of colour and pattern. A point blanket could be worn/used as is or: shaped into a robe, a capote – long, hooded wrap coat – or a vest; cut up to make breeches or leggings; formed into boot tops, liners, or even socks; used as a door for a cabin, a roof for a lean-to, a sail for a canoe, or as bedding on a dog sled. The woollen blanket became an essential item of clothing for the First Nations. It was worn in all kinds of ways as a means of expressing their individuality, sometimes off the shoulder, wrapped about the waist or draped over the head.1

"Spanish brown" — "Earth of dark reddish-brown color (due to the presence of iron oxide), used as a pigment" (Webster).


The hexadecimal color code #3f3121 is a dark shade of brown. In the RGB color model #3f3121 is comprised of 24.71% red, 19.22% green, and 12.94% blue. In the HSL color space #3f3121 has a hue of 32°, 31.25% saturation and 18.82% lightness.

"they once built a fort" — it is not clear where this fort was. Perhaps it was at Red Banks, but layers of history tend to get conflated, so it may well be possible that it is to Aztalan they refer. Shown below is one of the mounds in Aztalan with a reconstructed palisade. See Carver's remarks on Hočąk palisades. Featherstonhaugh also mentions Aztalan. Recently, the thesis that the ancestors of the Hočągara had built this Mississippian outpost has been revived.2 See the extensive remarks on this subject at "The Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave. An American Star Map."

"métif" — this should be Métis, and looks as if it resulted from a misreading of métiſ. However, Mrs. Kinzie in Wau Bun uses the form metiff. The emergence of the Métis was largely the product of the fur trade.

The Great Lakes Métis, like their Canadian siblings, typically derived their mixed ancestry from the union between a French-Canadian fur trade employee or bourgeois and an American Indian or métis woman. Hence important kinship alliances were formed that not only aided in the perpetuation of the fur trade, but also allowed for a more fluid and dynamic cultural exchange, bonding people to each other through common lifestyles and familial ties, rather than a strict adherence to racial affiliation. The tribal history of the Ho Chunk, according to Radin and Smith,3 includes an origin story of just such a marriage. Around 1729 Hopoe-kaw, alias "Glory of the Morning" (the only known female Ho Chunk chief), married by Indian custom Sabrevois de Carrie, a military officer and fur trader.4

In the 1820's and 1830's, the fur trade as a way of life essentially collapsed with the flood of white settlers.5

"Shawnee prophet"


"Hoo-choop" — meaning, "Four Legs." See "Four Legs." See also Caleb Atwater's account and the commentary to Juliette Kinzie's Wau Bun.

"Ke-taw-kah killed Dr. Madison" — this Indian may not have been Hočąk. A newspaper account of the murder of Dr. William S. Madison, says that the perpetrator was Ojibwe:

Dr. MADISON, a surgeon in the army of the United States, and stationed at Green Bay, having leave of absence to visit his family in Kentucky, was, shortly after starting on his journey, murdered by a Chippeway Indian, who has been detected and delivered up by his tribe. The murderer confesses the fact, but can assign no reason for it – on the contrary, he says that the whites have always been his friends.6

Lyman C. Draper adds,

The name of the Indian murderer was KE-TAU-KAH. A Menomonee Indian named KE-WA-BIS-KIM had, near the close of 1820, killed a Frenchman near Green Bay, of the name of CHARLES. ULRICH. Both were tried at Detroit in October, 1821, and convicted; and were both executed there on the 27th of December following.7

"Rev. Jedediah Morse" (1761-1826) — his development of textbooks in geography for school children in the United States earned him the title, "father of American geography." In 1820, he was sent to scout out the Northwest frontier to determine the disposition and strength of the Indians of that area. He was eclipsed in fame by his son, Samuel Morse, who was the author of his father's portrait above, and the inventor of the telegraph.

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Notes to the Commentary

1 Hudson Bay Company Heritage > HBC Point Blanket.
2 Nancy Oestreich Lurie and Patrick J. Jung, The Nicolet Corrigenda. New France Revisited. (Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland Press, 2009) 109-112.
3 Radin, The Winnebago Tribe, 19-21. Smith, Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe, 156.
4 Linda M. Waggoner (ed.), "Neither White Men Nor Indians": Affidavits from the Winnebago Mixed-blood Claim Commissions, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, 1838-1839 (Roseville, Minnesota: Park Genealogical Books, 2002) 4 nt 1.
5 Waggoner, Neither White Men nor Indians, 1.
6 Niles’ Register of June 23, 1821.
7 Col. Ebenezer Childs, "Recollections of Wisconsin Since 1820," Report and Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, for the Years 1857 and 1858, 4 (1859): 153-195 [164 note].


Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, The Indian Tribes of the United States: Their History, Antiquities, Customs, Religion, Arts, Language, Traditions, Oral Legends, and Myths. Ed. by Francis S. Drake. 2 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Co., 1884).