The Sioux Warparty and the Waterspirit of Green Lake

Version 1

told by an unknown Hocąk informant

This story was apparently told to Charles E. Brown and later quoted in a pamphlet by his wife, Dorothy Moulding Brown.

"A long time ago — Oh, more than a thousand years ago — a warparty of Sioux Indians came up the Wisconsin River from Iowa in canoes. They carried their canoes overland from Puckaway Lake to Green Lake and camped overnight at the Sugar Loaf. There were many Sioux in this warparty, and they decided to attack the village of their enemies, the Winnebago on the opposite shore. In this village the men were away on a hunt. Only the old men, boys, and the women were at home. The Sioux hoped to obtain many scalps, prisoners, and much plunder by attacking the Winnebago town.

In the morning, in full war paint, they embarked in their canoes; singing their war songs, they paddled towards the south shore. When near the middle of the lake, their canoes commenced to go round and round, and then they went down.

The Waterspirits, who had a den in the bottom of this lake, were good friends of the Winnebago, who had made tobacco and other offerings to them. They did not wish to see them slaughtered. They caused the great whirlpool which overturned and sucked down the Sioux canoes filled with bloodthirsty warriors.

After that the Winnebago people found dead Indians and smashed canoes and stone axes, flint arrows, and copper knives all along the shores of the lake. I tell you, Mister, Green Lake is a bad lake."1

Version 2

Once the Šąhą pursued the Hocągara over the hill to the west of the lake. They were able to get hold of some of the canoes and chased after the Hocągara right across the waters of Green Lake. This offended the inviolability of the Waterspirit who dwelt there. Soon the waters became turbulent, and the Waterspirit arose from the depths to cause whirlpools and raised such mountains of water as to rival tidal waves. Every single Šąhą perished in the raging waters.2

Commentary. "Puckaway Lake" — a small lake through which the Fox River runs. It lies to the east of Montello. The Hocąk name, Te Pąkwa, is probably a phonetic rendering of a Fox name.

"Green Lake" — the present English name for the lake is a direct translation of the Hocąk name, Te Co.

"Sugar Loaf" — the Hocąk name for this landmark is Inibosarajara, "Standing Stone."

"flint arrows" — it was strongly maintained by the Hocągara that they never manufactured flint arrowheads but only used those that they found. For war and the hunting of most animals, they used arrows that were merely sharpened to a point. For big game they used an arrow tipped with a snapping turtle claw.

Links: Waterspirits, The Waterspirit of Green Lake.

Stories: in which Waterspirits occur as characters: Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Traveler and the Thunderbird War, The Green Waterspirit of Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Child, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Bluehorn's Nephews, Holy One and His Brother, The Seer, The Nannyberry Picker, The Creation of the World (vv. 1, 4), Šųgepaga, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Boulders of Devil's Lake, Devil's Lake — How it Got its Name, Old Man and Wears White Feather, The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds, Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth, Waterspirits Keep the Corn Fields Wet, The Waterspirit Guardian of the Intaglio Mound, The Diving Contest, The Lost Blanket, Redhorn's Sons, The Phantom Woman, Įcorúšika and His Brothers, Great Walker's Warpath, White Thunder's Warpath, The Descent of the Drum, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, Snowshoe Strings, The Thunderbird, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (v. 2), The Two Children, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, Earthmaker Sends Rušewe to the Twins, Paint Medicine Origin Myth, Waruǧábᵉra, Ocean Duck, The Twin Sisters, Trickster Concludes His Mission, The King Bird, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, Great Walker's Medicine (v. 2), Heną́ga and Star Girl, Peace of Mind Regained, The Story of the Medicine Rite, How the Thunders Met the Nights, The Spiritual Descent of John Rave's Grandmother, The Boy who was Captured by the Bad Thunderbirds, The Shaggy Man, The Woman who Married a Snake (?), Hare Secures the Creation Lodge, Ghost Dance Origin Myth I, The Sacred Lake, Lost Lake; mentioning the Sioux (Šąhą): Origin of the Name "Milwaukee," Little Priest's Game, Berdache Origin Myth, Great Walker's Warpath, Potato Magic, The Masaxe War, White Flower, The Man who Fought against Forty, First Contact (vv. 2-3), The Omahas who turned into Snakes, The Love Blessing, Run for Your Life, The Scalping Knife of Wakąšucka, Introduction; set at Green Lake (Te Co): The Waterspirit of Sugar Loaf Mounds; set on the Wisconsin River (Nįkúse Xųnųnį́gᵋra): Turtle and the Merchant, Bluehorn's Nephews, The Chief of the Heroka, The Lame Friend, The King Bird, Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, The Scalping Knife of Wakąšucka, The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter, Gatschet's Hocank hit’e.

These stories are very similar to Origin of the Name "Milwaukee."

Themes: in a conflict between the Hocągara and the Sioux, a Waterspirit helps rub out the entire Sioux warparty while they are crossing its lake: Great Walker's Warpath; a Waterspirit sucks under men in canoes: The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River; a Waterspirit kills a human: The Shaggy Man, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, Waruǧabᵉra, The Two Children, The Waterspirit of Lake Koshkonong, The Waterspirit of Rock River, The Seer, The Twin Sisters, The Green Waterspirit of the Wisconsin Dells, The Lost Blanket.


1 Dorothy Moulding Brown, Wisconsin Indian Place-Name Legends, Wisconsin Folklore Booklets (Madison: 1947) 8-18.

2 Reverend Elmer C. Hamley, Monapacataca (Green Lake: 1933) 4-5.