Visitors


Some years ago a white man came to the Rev. Jacob Stucki at his missionary home and asked him if he knew where an old Indian by the name of Green Grass lived. Mr. Stucki told him that he did, and offered to take him to the old man's home. This is the story that the white man told the missionary on the way:


(32) When I was a boy my father and mother and six of us children lived near Red Mound. We were very, very poor. It was almost impossible for father to support us out here in the hills, so he went to Chicago to make a living for us. He left the family behind and used to send money every month from Chicago.

The following winter was a severe one. The snow was very deep, and travel was practically impossible. It was fifteen miles to town, and there was no way of getting mail. We never heard from my father again. Our condition grew more serious from day to day. Mother made the little supply of food go as far as possible; but at last we had nothing left to eat and were starving. There was no one to help us. (33) Mother put us to bed to keep us warm. All the food there was in the house was a part of a loaf of bread. With this she started to prepare a last meal for us.

While she was working in the kitchen she heard a noise outside, and after a while two Indians came in with guns. Mother was very much frightened because she thought they had come to kill us. When they asked for something to eat, she showed them the bread and said that it was all she had for herself and her children. They asked to see the children. She brought them into the room where we children were in bed and told them that we were starving. The Indians then left.

Some hours afterwards they came back. Mother was more frightened than ever, but she could not refuse to let them in. When they came in she found that they had brought with them a quarter of venison, some dried squash, dried beans, dried corn and Indian potatoes. They put the food on the floor and told mother to prepare something to eat. She made a meal for them and set it out on the table and told them to eat. The one Indian who could speak a little English said, "Me no eat. You and papoose eat." He repeated this several times before she finally understood what he meant. This was the first meal we had had for a long time. The two Indians sat silently and watched us eat, and then they left. All that winter the Indians supplied mother and us with everything we needed.

(34) Now I always stop here whenever I can to look up Green Grass, who was one of the two Indians who saved my mother and us from starving.1


Commentary

Jakob Stucki Mission Chapel John Stacy, Third from the Left

"Mr. Stucki" — Jakob Stucki (1857-1930), a Swiss immigrant, played in important role in the recent history of the Hočągara, when in 1885, he became the head of the Winnebago Indian Mission of the German Reformed Church near Black River Falls, Wisconsin (founded, 1878). Many Hočągara were educated in the school there, and the one established later in Neillsville, Wisconsin. In collaboration with John Stacy, a Hočąk, Stucki translated much of the Bible into the Hočąk language (1903). For a detailed account of Rev. Stucki's tenure, see Theodore Bollinger, The Wisconsin Winnebago Indians and the Mission of the Reformed Church, 21 seq.

"Red Mound" — located at 43.466967, -91.144231 in Wheatland Township.

"papoose" — this is not a Hočąk word, although it had been current in English for quite some time, and was often part of the "English" vocabulary of Indians of any tribe. It was ultimately derived from the Algonquian language Narragansett, where in 1643 papoòs was said to mean, "childe."2

Another word may be added to the list, viz., pāpūs (papoose) = child. This word is used by the speakers of Chinook in eastern British Columbia. The Algonkin origin of the word has been disputed by some, but there is every reason to believe that it is connected with the root seen in the Massachusetts papeississu (Eliot) ="he is very small;" peisses (Eliot), "child;" pe-u (Eliot), "it is small." From this root there seems little doubt that the word papoos or papoose found in Roger Williams,3 and in Wood ("New Engl. Prospect"),4 has been derived, as Dr. Trumbull points out.

It might be remarked that the words kinni-kinnik, lepishemo, mitas, totoosh, wapato, and papoose were all heard by the writer in western British Columbia in the summer of the present year [1891], so they are still in use as part of the jargon. The word siskiyou was not heard and is probably obsolescent.5

The word did not pass into the speech of Green Grass through the usual Algonquian source, Ojibwe, since the word for child in their language is abinōjīnh. The word in Hočąk is nįkją́gᵋnįk.


Stories: See "Visit From a Hungry Man" for a similar history in which a visit from the Hočągara causes alarm when in fact they prove more virtuous than white people.


Notes

1 Arthur Vale Casselman (1874-1957), The Winnebago Finds a Friend (Philadelphia: Heidelberg Press, ca. 1932) 32-34.

2 Roger Williams, A KEY into the LANGUAGE OF AMERICA: OR, An help to the Language of the Natives in that part of AMERICA, called NEW-ENGLAND. Together, with briefe Obʃervations of the Cuſtomes, Manners and Worſhips, &c. of the aforesaid Natives, in Peace and Warre, in Life and Death. On all which are added Spirituall Obʃervations, Generall and Particular by the Authour, of chiefe and ſpeciall uſe (upon all occaſions,) to all the Engliʃh Inhabiting thoſe parts; yet pleaſant and profitable to the view of all men (London: Printed by Gregory Dexter, 1643) 28.

3 Roger Williams, A Key into the Language of America, 28.

4 William Wood, NEVV ENGLANDS PROSPECT. A true, lively, and experimentall deſcription of that part of America, commonly called NEVV ENGLAND; diſcovering the ſtate of that Countrie, both as it ſtands to our new-come Engliʃh Planters; and to the old Native inhabitants. Laying downe that which may both enrich the knowledge of the mind-travelling Reader, or benefit the future Voyager (London: Tho. Cotes, for John Bellamie, 1634 [1865 reprint edition]) post 111, s.v. pappouʃe.

5 A. F. Chamberlain, "Words of Algonkian Origin," Science, 18 (Nov. 6, 1891): 260b-261b [261a-b].