The Fox-Hocąk War [nt]

Version I

by Jasper Blowsnake

Jasper Blowsnake

Hocąk-English Interlinear Text

The Marin Letter

This is a letter written by Capt. Marin to his superior, Gov. Beauharnois, while the former was in the territory of the Menominee on May 11, 1730. It attempts to give a purely factual account (from a French point of view) of the events related in the Hocąk story below.

(192) When the Hocągara lived in the beginning, they lived as a successful people. They all fasted and were remembered by the spirits. The Hocągara alone were great, and for this reason they were called "Hocąk" ("Big Voice People"). A man was with them whom they used to fear to see. Once the Fox said (193), there among the much feared Hocągara, when they were about to end them [the Fox], "Brothers, I have come to you for aid," he said. The Hocągara lived across the lake from their lodges, and the Hocągara and the Fox, the one were to be friends with the other, it is said. The pipes that they held, the chiefs exchanged with one another. A very sacred bond they made when the chiefs exchanged the pipes that they held. Thus it used to be. They made friends with one another, many Hocągara married Fox women, and the Fox also intermingled in marriage with Hocąk women.


Once there was a very great warrior among the Hocągara, to whom the Fox did this: they molested his planted crops. The wife of Cap’ósgaga (White Breast) said, "Why not take them to task?" Cap’ósgaga went to them, and taking them to task, he said, "Boys, all the watermelons are yours. When they are ripe, if you choose, you can eat them," he said to them. They said, "Ho." (194) After the second night, in the morning, Cap’ósgaga's wife woke up very early and inspected the crops. "These guys have done it again, they have damaged them. Wažǫnokóna! Cap’ósgaga's largest and best crops have been damaged. Indeed, you should have forbidden them." Cap’ósgaga went over and forbade them. The third night again very early the old woman inspected the crops. And this time they had damaged almost everything. "They destroyed the nicest of Cap’ósgaga's crops. I told you to forbid it. Why did you not forbid it? They utterly destroyed the best crops, they did." Cap’ósgaga got up and said, "I will go and forbid them." He went over and said to the Fox there where they were staying, "I told you how to let a crop alone. Instead, you have utterly destroyed it. Yes, if tonight you indeed dare to do it again, (you will find that) I am a man who thinks of something that I do as a rule (e.g., to take revenge). Just dare to do it again," he said. One of the wicked Fox among the Fox who were doing this said, "Kara! He acts as though he were the only real man in all creation."

(195) The next morning Cap’ósgaga himself got up very early to inspect the crops, and indeed they were destroyed. All of what remained was utterly destroyed, even the vines were also torn up. Feeling aggrieved, Cap’ósgaga said, "Have my attendants get my Warbundle Bearer." Having gotten him, he arrived and said, "What are we to do?" Cap’ósgaga said, "Put on the food." Then they put on the kettles there. When it was cooked, they went as feast messengers and very many arrived coming to feast. And when the feasters had finished, he said, "I am going on the warpath. Whenever I reach the end of the dish, right away I jump up and start after them to do it to them. And our Grandfathers, the War Controllers, obtained them for me. I shall have the pleasure of doing it to ten men. I am going after ten chiefs." Near the door he indicated what would be the stopping place. He put the warbundle across the entrance and jumped over it. And to do it to them he carried the warbundle himself.

He had come to the boat with his friends, the Warbundle Bearers alone, the leader in front. They had hardly pushed the boat off when someone said, "Jijijjíji." Then they saw it, a long boat full of chiefs dressed in their best finery and with their faces painted blue, (196) medals hanging around their necks. There they came towards him and they allowed them to pass on and when they were along side it, then they shot them. They tipped the boat over. Soon after a very strong wind arose and so virtually everyone in the [Hocąk] village gave chase. The Fox in their villages said, "K'arésgexjį! I believe that our chiefs have been killed. This is a time of war. Cap’ósgaga has been made angry. When he becomes truly angry, he generally does what he threatens. I also believe that the chiefs must have been killed." And the bad Fox said, "Perhaps they ate those ones [the chiefs] whom we donated to them." [The Hocągara said,] "The old men of the Fox will not be coming back there." They had assembled and had discussed the chiefs not having come back after they went to make peace, saying that they were not alive.

Cap’ósgaga returned to the Hocąk village, then started for the smaller Fox village. The second [village], where the Fox were situated, the one, the smaller village, in which they were, where the lake is at its narrowest, there was the smaller village. This one he was going towards, he said. (197) Again he carefully planned the warpath. As many as there were in the village that were good at killing, all of them prepared themselves. They approached the smaller village. At dawn they had started for the smaller village and there, during the night, they had crossed over. As soon as it was daylight, everyone crossed over and surrounded the village. Once it was broad daylight, they gave the war whoop from four directions. And they rushed upon the smaller village and it was pounded into the earth so that not one thing remained. And they burned down the lodges. Then they went home. When they got back, they were very happy indeed. They danced the Victory Dance, and at night they began to dance the Hok'ixére. They made much fun for themselves. How the Hocąk village had fun as in this way they took them [the scalps] up.


They thought that they had rubbed out the smaller village, but where they had crossed over there was one who had not been killed. She, who was at the time of her first menses trying to secure a blessing, was sitting on top of a small cliff. This is the one who had not been killed. A large Fox village was situated across the lake from the Hocąk village. There the young woman having her first menses whom they had not killed, there she returned. When she returned to the Fox village, she told them, "I believe the Hocągara have done this, they have completely destroyed us. (198) Some of them I partially recognized. Go and see if they were Hocąk; the lodges will be found burned to the ground as that is the Hocąk war custom." The older Fox said, when the scouts returned, they said, "They were Hocąk — the lodges had been burned to the ground. It is true that the chiefs who had gone to make peace have been killed." The Fox were then suddenly overtaken with remembrance. And, "There are very many Hocągara and we will not be able to fight them well." Indeed, for this reason the Fox were afraid. The Fox hated them, but he could not kill the Hocąk. Every single Fox in the village went into mourning.

Ten good Hocąk young men, the tattoos of whom they used to speak, such as these had been away before the troubles had begun. When they came to the one who was the leader, they said, "Let's circulate through the large village there and court women," they said. "Only if you go past the small village will you live," said the leader. "We will go to the larger village even if our Grandfathers kill all of us," they said. "Let's go by way of the small village anyhow." They told the warleader, "Thus, we will circulate through this large village," they said. The warleader did not give them anything; anyhow, he too would circulate through the large village. That they would die, he knew well; but on to the large Fox village, to the very edge of the village. Having reached it, they said, "Let's paint ourselves." There they painted themselves. (199) Just a little after they had finished painting themselves, an old man deep in mourning appeared and said to them, "Now then, are you just returning from your travels? Stay with us. And visit us — the men of war are having the feast of the mourning ceremony. I will tell them that they should come after you."

After he arrived back home, a young man came — "You are invited. Come right away." The warleader said, "Warbundle Bearers, you have seen all the mourning, so once more let me tell you something. In this feast in which we will take part, do not lend the knife with which you express your wrath. Keep your knives in readiness," he told them. "All right," they said.

Then they entered the lodge. The lodge was packed. There they made room for them and there they sat down. (200) And the host arranged where he should go and spoke and there selected a dish where the leader was to place himself. And again he put there another to eat, the second dish from that place he laid, and so on. He placed the dishes so that as they sat there were seven Fox with these Hocągara, making eight only. Then the host spoke, "Once a song has been started, I will rise to blow upon the flute, having started one that they obtained for me. And he jumped up to begin and he started to whistle and as soon as he began a song, they seized the Hocągara. They had a hard time so it took a long time to seize the warleader chief, on the other hand the others had lent away all their knives, and consequently were easily seized. The warleader chief killed many, but his knife broke, and so he was seized.

And they bound him and prepared the torture. They set up ten posts. The warleader chief said, "Thus I told you these things, but you doubted me. Here we are going to die." And the youths came after them and those who placed them [at the stakes] began torturing them. There they applied fire brands to burn them. Then they did what caused the most suffering, in that way they applied them [the fire brands]. And the warleader chief said, "Boys, now we are courting women," he said. And there they were burned to death. They caused them to be consumed by burning, consequently they were destroyed utterly.

(201) The Fox offered tobacco to every one of the other different tribes, giving each a beautifully decorated pipe. They wanted to bring the Hocągara to an end. They all liked it because they hated them [the Hocągara]. They did everything very carefully, but even then they could not overcome them, as the Hocągara were always victorious. They [the Hocągara] kept on falling back as they [the enemy] tried continuously to overcome them. They crossed over to an island, taking with them the women, the men, and the children. They were driven to an island. As they resided there they lived in lodges and ate their crops. They watched as all summer long they were besieged. They [the Fox] thought to end them. "They said that thus they are going to do to you, we heard. So far, however, only the fleetest have come. Soon the slow ones will be peeling off basswood bark with which to bind the people; they are peeling bark. If some little bit of them is left over, then we will take them home bound." Cap’ósgaga became angry. "The one who said that will die," he said. He suddenly shot him. (202) He suddenly fell down. The one who said that was sitting on top of a tree, it is said.

And at one time they [the Fox] said, "Turn over to us as many Menominee watohóci as there are there. We are longing for Menominee soup. If you give these to us, we will let up on you." There were two great Menominee warriors living among the Hocągara as watohóci — it was they for whom they were asking. These Menominee talked to one another, and the one who spoke first said, "My father once said to me that it was a hard thing to be a watohóci in another tribe. He also said to me that whenever anyone is in difficulty, and if the strong would live, they turn against someone else. Consequently, thus it is, so let it be that they shall call upon me." "Friend, I too feel that way. In this way also did my own father speak. I thought you might be in dread of it," they said. They turned them over, but they [the Fox] did not let up on them.

And in time the Menominee came to their aid, but they [the Fox] said, "Wait a little while, let us speak to you first," they said. The Menominee listened to him and they [the Fox] told them, "The Hocągara are not in any way to be pitied. They turned over to us two Menominee who had stayed with the Hocągara as watohóci. And so at that time there was Menominee soup to drink. This is the reason that I am saying it. Do what you wish, if you will do anything about it, now that I have told you." The Menominee came — some even coming to shoot it out — to stand up for the Hocągara, but now that these watohóci had been given up despite the fact they were standing up for them, they went back to their own home.

(203) Cap’ósgaga had been offered tobacco. "Ho," he said, "I will try it." And during the night he went out and jumped into the water. Across there he saw the enemy well, so he turned himself into a goose. After he had come into the water, a lone goose squawked. Those opposite shouted, "Is Cap’ósgaga over there?" they said. "Yes," it was answered. And he reached there, remaining for a period of time. In the shallow area he sat and bathed. When some passed by there, they said to him, "Are you cooling yourself off with water?" they said to him. "Hąhą'ą," he told them. And he got himself ready and went to the French to tell them the story. When he got there he told it: "Father, in a village of the various tribes, as many as there are, absolutely everyone has gathered against us to try to end us," he told them. "My child, when you awaken on the morrow I will come, so go home." When he returned, Cap’ósgaga returned at night, the other tribes there and still others he went around. He went across the island. When he had returned to the Hocągara, he said to them, "Tomorrow our father will come."

(204) They all thought to wait for the one that they had as a father to land. And the French steamboat ("fire-boat") came into sight in the water. The other tribes there called and beckoned to the boat. The Hocągara saw them go towards the boat there. As the other tribes went thereto, towards the boat, the Hocągara became frightened. They thought that they might give a fight thereto [on behalf of the other tribes]. The other tribes spoke to the French: "Father, as you know only too well, the Hocągara are bad people. Just as it is with a little dog, as the very big dog would like to jump on the little dog and kill him, so in this way the Hocągara used to do to us. In the future let them subsist as nothing but ashes, and so let us do it to them." The Frenchman agreed with them and said, "You have spoken the truth. We will help you out. In the way you are doing things, only ashes will remain of these things, but we will let you go on [if you have a mind to]. This is what will happen if you do this. We know that when the Hocągara do not have a little something to eat, they become very resourceful instead. This is their nature, so we will take him home with us and fatten him up. But you must do what I tell you. Now wherever the different places are that you have come from, go back there now. If you do not do it, for as long as you last, I will never sell you any ammunition. If you do not let up on the Hocągara, they are the ones who are going to get ammunition, and I will lend them all my young men," he told them. "Ho," they said.

(205) Then they scattered, and the women and children were taken within the boat. The people who could walk fast, walked. Having taken them back, he came very near the lodge (fort), took them inside, and gave them food. When they were strong enough, he made them run away, and he gave them exceedingly good guns and he gave them as much food as they could carry to their boats. Coffee, sugar, bread, and all kinds of foods he gave them, and he said, "My children, you must flee from death. Never try again to use a spear to fish-hunt. You might let a fish escape and later on if it dies and if they hook the fish dead and inspect it, they will think, 'That which has had a hole made in it had broken loose dead, so they [the Hocągara] have passed by here,' they will say. If a fire is made, we are going to immediately cover the fire up. Never try again [to discard] the embers less you leave one behind in the water." Then they went away in boats. They went to the lake. When they stood at the narrow place at the body of water, when they arrived there as they stood at the left branch, they went ahead. And consequently, that is all.

(206) The tribes were with the French, there they came before his own face, as it was about the time fixed, and they said, "How have you been getting along?" they had said to him. He said, "My children, you know what sort the Hocągara are, don't you? We watched them very carefully, but where they got away to I do not know. That night, in the morning, they were not there. I think that they must have gone down stream, [although] I have not rowed up stream to hunt for them." But the tribes looked for them in every direction, hunting for them in truth because they wished them to be ended. He had expressly forbidden them, but once somebody having done something to a fish that was there, they found that it had been speared. "They have come past here." When again they had come to the fork of the stream there, they did not know where they had gone, but there they noticed embers in the water. "They have gone by here." There at the end of the stream it was not good for going about in boats. As many as there were who were half Fox left them [the boats] there. When they saw the oval lodges, "There they are," they said. The Fox carefully observed them. They watched them. They inquired about them [and found out that] they had passed by. The trail was visible. They chased after them. Finally, an autumnal cold snap having overtaken them, they gave up then and there. They all turned back.1

Hocąk-English Interlinear Text

The Fox-Hocąk War

Version II (Incomplete)

by John Baptiste

John Baptiste   Winnebago II, #7: 273

The present account replaces the Fox by their closest friends, the Sauk. Unfortunately, the story breaks off after just one page of text, but is preceded by this complete table of contents:

"Flight of Sauk & Fox to a peninsula — their escape —settlement with Winnebagoes — their strife with Winnebagoes (Cap’ósgaga = the hero) — Cap’ósgaga on the war-path with his 10 people visiting around — their return — Cap’ósgaga's dream going through the large village — the Sauk's mourning for their slain tribesmen — the Sauk mourner coming upon the 10 Winnebagoes — their invitation to the feast — Cap’ósgaga's warning — seizure and torture of the 10 Winnebagoes — Sauks league with other bands to wipe out the Winnebagoes — repulse them 4 times — defeated at the fifth attack — escape to an island — their plight — attitude of the Crows — trick of the allies — death of two Crows — arrival of Crows — their truce with the allies — their withdrawal — escape of a Winnebago to a French Fort — their request for aid — Frenchman's attitude — Winnebagoes at French camp — their departure — incidents — allies following the trail — meeting with Winnebago half-breeds — they tell of the Frenchman's trick — on the trail of the Winnebagoes — its abandonment till spring — attack on Cap’ósgaga — return of the assailant — meeting of Allies & Winnebagoes."

"Once on a time the Sauks were attacked by their enemies and so hard pressed that only a few bands, after undergoing many hardships, escaped across a thin stretch of land to a peninsula of the great lake (te xeté), Green Bay. Here pursuit stopped for awhile but the approach of winter and the freezing of the water made their position again extremely dangerous. Finally they divided themselves into three bands and succeeded in making their escape. One of their bands was destroyed, but the other two succeeded in making their way to the villages of the Winnebagoes where they were hospitably received, the pipe of peace smoked and eternal friendship pledged. They (the Sauks) were settled in two villages, a larger one and a smaller one in direct communication with the settlements of the Winnebagoes. The smaller Sauk village bordered on the melon plantations of a great Winnebago warrior, Cap’ósgaga. ..."2

Version III (Fragmentary)

from the McKern collection

Original manuscript page: | 111 |

This version confuses Cap’ósgaga with his mentor Great Walker (Mąnį́xete[’ų́]ga), and identifies the enemy as the Illinois.

(111) The man's name was Mąnį́xete’ų́ga. This is one of the men who had a dream like this [of seeing a Waterspirit face to face]. This was the last man to see this spirit. Many others before him had this dream. He was the man who obtained the help of the French when the Illinois and their allies were determined to wipe out the Winnebago. This man could change into an otter and swim under water because he had had the Waterspirit dream. Thus, he swam to the French fort and warned them of the danger to the Winnebago.3

Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Léry (1682 - 1756), Carte du Pays des Sauvages Renards. Depuis la Baye du Lac Michigan jusques a leur dernier Village
fait a quebec ce 10 novembre 1730
The two Fox villages mentioned in the story are on the Fox River (Rivière des Renards) in the northwest quadrant. The village des Puants at the northeast corner of the Lac des Puants (Lake Winnebago) is the Hocąk village on Doty Island.

Commentary Version I. "The Fox-Hocąk War" Radin says in his introduction: "The following account refers unquestionably to the Fox and Winnebago war of 1730."4

"Jasper Blowsnake" — although Jasper Blowsnake is the author of this work, just before the word žejąna ("the end"), the name Decorah is written in Latin cursive, suggesting perhaps that one of the Decorah family was the source of this story.

"Big Voice People" — this is the meaning of the name recognized by the Hocąk Nation today. It implies that "big voice" is a metaphor for high standing and influence, as in the English, "they have a big voice in public affairs." Ho is a homonym also meaning "fish." "Big Fish People" could have the same metaphorical meaning. For more on this issue, see the Introduction.

"they used to fear to see" — i.e., that the Fox used to fear to see. The "them" to which this clause refers are the Hocągara.

"across the lake" — this is Lake Winnebago, which is named after the Hocągara, whom the Algonquian speakers call "Winnebago." The Hocągara call it Te Xete, "Great Lake."

"then they put on the kettles there" — Radin says, "that is, begin the war bundle or winter feast which is always given before a war party starts."5

"whenever I reach the end of the dish" (S'ahújaip'àregi wasgéra) — Radin translates this sentence as, "At the end of the path, I see my enemy." Yet there can be no doubt that wasgéra means "dish, pan." What is being referred to here is the Fast Eating Contest (Waruc-sak), a ritual performed before the warparty departs on the warpath. It symbolically represents the "swallowing up" of the enemy. So when Cap’ósgaga is done "swallowing up" the enemy in the dish, he habitually jumps up and begins to do it literally.

"jumped over it" — Radin says, "It was always customary for the leader to do this."6

"full of chiefs" — Radin explains, "The boat contained the Fox chiefs who had come to make reparation for the damage inflicted upon Cap’ósgaga's crops."7

"they ate those ones" — Cannibalism seems to have been occasionally practiced as an act of further spite. The same is said to have happened to visiting Ottawas: "The Outaouaks, notwithstanding, sent to them envoys, whom they [the Hocągara] had the cruelty to eat." (See 1) The Hocągara were also said to have eaten the Illinois who were under their hospitality. (See 1) The idea behind this form of cannibalism was to established the enemy as being no higher in status than game animals. The Mundurucú of Brazil used to attack their neighbors as if they were prey.

... non-Mundurucú were considered by them as pariwat, game to be preyed upon in incessant raids. ... The most important status among them was that of a taker of a trophy head, and he was given the title of Dajeboiši, "mother of the peccary," in allusion to their view of the other tribes as being game animals.8

"the tattoos of whom they used to speak" — this seems to be a reference to their good looks. Radin translates this as, "proud of their tattoos ..."

"our Grandfathers" — a reference to the spirits (waxop'ini).

"come after you" — the stem waji/waci, "to come after," has the same ambiguity as its English translation and can often mean "to avenge."

"some little bit of them is left over (hotáraninįk)" — the morpheme hotá means, "some; to be left over (usually of food)."9 The implication seems to be that what the Fox do not eat of their captive at the site, they will take home just like left-overs from a meal.

"watohóci" — this is a kinship term meaning, "a husband of a daughter; husband of a daughter of a brother or sister; husband of a daughter of a paternal brother; husband of a daughter of a maternal or paternal sister; husband of a granddaughter." In other words, the Fox were demanding every Menominee male in-law, that is, any Menominee who married into the tribe.

"the French" — in this story, the French are called Waxopínixjįnigera, "the little quasi-spirits." The particle -xjį- often serves as an emphatic, but paradoxically it can means something of the opposite ("quasi-," "semi-"). Elsewhere, the French are called "White Spirits" (Waxopínisga), since during the first encounter with them, the Hocągara took Nicollet and his entourage to be spirit beings. The term "White Spirits" came to denote just about any white person. For more on the French, see Glossary of Non-Indian Nations.

"the French steamboat" — since this story is set in ca. 1730, this is an anachronism. The Hocąk word for steamboat is pecwác, "fire-boat." We must assume that the French ship came down the Fox River from Green Bay.

Internal Isomorphisms. Events in this story repeat themselves in a kind of theme and variation as can be seen in the table below:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Good advice is given Cap’ósgaga warns the Fox not to do it again The fasting maiden alerts the Fox to the fact that the small village may have been burned by the Hocągara. She tells them to send scouts The warleader warned his men not to visit the Fox. He also told them not to lend out their knives A man warns the Hocągara that their enemies are in close pursuit The Fox demand the surrender of all Menominee men living among them Cap’ósgaga changes into a goose in order not to be detected The French insist that they tribes go back home The French chief warns the Hocągara not to leave signs behind by which they might be detected
The advice is ignored (vs. taken) The Fox ignore him and damage his crops again They follow her advice They ignore his advice and go to the village. They lend out their knives The Hocągara turn them over to the Fox However, a lone goose in the water lets out a squawk They obey, but the Fox intend to come back The Fox find a dead speared fish and floating embers in the waters and know the Hocągara have passed by
Courting alliances The Fox appeal to the Hocągara for aid A maiden was seeking blessings from the spirits The Hocąk men come to court Fox women The Fox send out emissaries with pipes to enlist allied tribes These Menominee were married to Hocąk women A Menominee relief column appears The people appeal to Cap’ósgaga to try something; he appeals to the French for aid The French agree to aid the Fox and their allies; They threaten to aid the Hocągara instead The French give the Hocągara both guns and food The French help the Hocągara by lying to the Fox
Making peace (tobacco offering) vs. Making war The chiefs of the Fox and Hocągara exchanged pipes with one another and became friends The chiefs of the Fox came to make peace The Fox come to make war In order to secure peace, The Menominee have come to fight They offer him tobacco
Isolation with respect to the enemy vs. Friends They are together in the lake on a single boat The small Fox village at the narrow part of the lake was surrounded She was sitting atop a cliff The plates are laid out so that a Fox is sitting next to every Hocąk The Hocągara are surrounded by enemies and trapped on an island The man is isolated in the top branches of a tree the two Menominee are surrendered to the Fox Cap’ósgaga went out into the water The enemy tribes went out towards the boat
Killing The Fox damaged Cap’ósgaga's crops; later they completely destroy them Cap’ósgaga killed the chiefs of the Fox The Hocągara rub out the entire village She alone survived the massacre The men are killed Cap’ósgaga shoots him dead The Menominee are killed The Fox tell the Menominee of the fate of their countrymen He turns into a goose
Numbers: one, two, ten There were ten of them There were two villages She was alone There were ten of them The Hocągara are alone He was alone There were two of them He was alone The boat is alone in the water, but the tribes converge on it Those who were half Fox went on alone
Destruction (of life) by burning All the lodges are burned to the ground The Fox scouts found that the small village had been burned to the ground They are burned to death He tells them that the slower Fox are peeling off basswood bark to bind those whom they will burn to death They are boiled They ask him if he is cooling off in the water, to which he replies in the affirmative It is a steamboat ("fire boat"); The French warn the Fox that if they carry on as they have, they will reduce everything to ashes
Cannibalism, feasting vs. Fasting The Hocągara were the most virtuous people because they fasted Cap’ósgaga holds a warbundle feast (in which the enemy are symbolically swallowed). The Fox accuse them of eating their chiefs She was fasting The Fox were hold the feast of mourning and invited the men. They sat down and ate with the Fox He had intimated that the Fox were going to eat their victims The Fox make soup of the Menominee They tell them that they had enjoyed Menominee soup The French promise to "fatten up" the Hocągara
Emotions with respect to the enemy Cap’ósgaga was angry Cap’ósgaga has a warbundle feast The Hocągara held a victory celebration She was crying to the spirits The Fox were in mourning The two Menominee accept their fate The Menominee were angry The Fox are not angry with him The enemy tribes express their anger over the Hocągara to the French commander; the Hocągara are alarmed
Hatred of the Hocągara The Fox became close to the Hocągara The Fox hated the Hocągara All these tribes hated the Hocągara The Fox persuade the Menominee that the Hocągara deserve no pity They agree that the Hocągara are a bad people The tribes hated the Hocągara
The desire to bring the Hocągara to an end This was after the war to bring the Fox to an end They wanted to kill Hocąks They wanted to bring them to an end They intended to bring the Hocągara to an end He tells the French that the enemy tribes are trying to bring them to an end The Fox want to bring the Hocągara to an end
The Hocągara cannot be rubbed out by their enemies But they could not kill them They had never been victorious over them A cold snap intercedes before the Fox can close
Flight vs. Returning home They leave willingly The Menominee leave without helping the Hocągara He exfiltrates to the French, then later returns at night The various tribes scattered The Hocągara were taken up in the boat The Fox return home

This intensive pattern of repetition of themes or as we might call them, "mini-episodes," tends strongly to suggest that the events that make up the historical core of the war between the Fox and Hocągara in the present instance has been extensively mythologized.

Commentary to Version II. "table of contents" — centered above this table of contents is written, "Story told by John Baptiste." Squeezed into the right margin and separated by an irregular line from the main body of text is the following: "River to the right Big Wolf & to the left little wolf then overland N. W. when they come to low (?) river (Wisconsin river) cross it until second large river (Black river) & then go downstream till another big river (Mississippi) where he'll meet them."

"a peninsula" — beneath these words is written, "(te xéte = big lake, green bay)." However, Te Xete is neither Green Bay (Te Re) nor Lake Michigan (Te Šišiga), but Lake Winnebago.

"Crows" — a translation of the Hocąk term (Kaǧi) for the Menominee people.

Comparative Material. "torture" — compare this reported case of torture used by the Hocągara and their Omaha allies against two Oglalas whom they captured. As related by Belden, the two Sioux warriors were lured into a cabin.

As soon as they had crossed the threshold the door was closed behind them, and two burly Omahas placed their backs against it. I was entirely dark in the ranche, and Springer proceeded to strike a light. When the blaze of the dry grass flared up it revealed every thing in the room, and there stood the two Sioux, surrounded by Omahas, and a dozen revolvers leveled at their heads. Never shall I forget the yell of rage and terror they set up, when they found they were entrapped. The Sioux warrior outside, who was holding the ponies, heard it, and plunging his heels into the sides of his pony, made off as fast as he could. Notwithstanding my men fired a dozen shots at him, he got off safely, and carried away with him all three of the ponies. The two Sioux in the ranche were bound hand and foot, and laid in one corner of the room; then my Indians returned to the telegraph pole to finish their dance. Feeling tired, I lay down and feel asleep.

The Capture of the Two Oglala Warriors

Near morning I was awakened by most unearthly yells, and looking out, saw my Indians leaping dancing and yelling around the telegraph pole, where they now had a large fire burning. Presently Springer came in and said the Indians wanted the prisoners. I told him they could not have them, and that in the morning I would send them to Col. Brown, at [Fort] McPherson, as was my duty. Springer, who was a non-commissioned officer, communicated this message to the Indians, when the yelling and howling redoubled. In a short time Springer came in again, and said he could do nothing with the Indians and that they were determined to have the prisoners, at the same time advising me to give them up. I again refused, when the Indians rushed into the ranche, and, seizing the prisoners, dragged them out. Seeing they were frenzied, I made no resistance, but followed them closely, keeping concealed, however. They took the Sioux to an island on the Platte, below the ranche, and there, tying them to a tree gathered a pile of wood and set it on fire. Then they thrust faggots against the naked bodies of the prisoners, stuck their knives into their legs, arms, and finally into their bowels. They next cut off their ears and noses, and then their hands, after which they scalped and dis-embowled them. The Sioux uttered not a complaint, but endured all their sufferings with that stoicism for which the Indian is so justly celebrated, and which belongs to no other race in the world. Sick at heart, I crept back to the ranche and went to bed, leaving the Indians engaged in a furious scalp dance, and whirling the bloody scalps of the Sioux over their heads, with long poles to which they had them fastened. Next morning, when I awoke, I found the Indians wrapped in their blankets, and lying asleep all around me. The excitement of the night had passed off, and brought its corresponding depression. They were very docile and stupid, and it was with some difficulty I could arouse them for the duties of the day. I asked several of them what had become of the Sioux prisoners, but could get no other answer than, "Guess him must have got away." I was sorely tempted to report the affair to the commanding officer at Fort McPherson, and have the Indians punished, but believing it would do more good in the end to be silent, I said nothing about it. After all, the Omahas and Winnebagoes had treated the Sioux just as the Sioux would have treated them, had they been captured, and so, it being a matter altogether among savages, I let it rest where it belonged.10

The cutting off of the hands may well have been a symbolic act, since the hands represent the offending appendages by which the Sioux warriors had brought grief to the Hocągara and Omaha in times past. When torches are pressed against the flesh of the victims, this is called "making them play with fire."

Links: Introduction, Lake Winnebago.

Stories: mentioning the Fox (Mesquaki): The First Fox and Sauk War, The Masaxe War, The Mesquaki Magician, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I (v. 2), Annihilation of the Hocągara II, The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter, Little Priest's Game, Gatschet's Hocank hit’e (Extracts ...), Introduction; mentioning the Menominee: Origin of the Name "Winnebago" (Menominee), The Hocąk Arrival Myth, Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 2b) (Origins of the Menominee), First Contact, The Magical Powers of Lincoln's Grandfather, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I (v. 2), Annihilation of the Hocągara II, Two Roads to Spiritland, A Menominee Visit, The Two Children, A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Gatschet's Hocank hit’e (Extracts ...), Introduction; mentioning the French: Introduction, First Contact, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I (v. 2), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, How Jarrot Got His Name, Gatschet's Hocank hit’e, The Cosmic Ages of the Hocągara, Turtle and the Merchant; about famous Hocąk warriors and warleaders: How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, Little Priest's Game, The Masaxe War (Hogimasąga), Wazųka, Great Walker's Warpath (Great Walker), Great Walker's Medicine (Great Walker, Smoke Walker, Dog Head, Small Snake), Šųgepaga (Dog Head), The Warbundle Maker (Dog Head), Black Otter’s Sacrifice to a Thunder, Black Otter's Warpath (Dog Head, Black Otter), The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara (Smoke Walker, Dog Head, Small Snake), Big Thunder Teaches Cap’ósgaga the Warpath (Big Thunder, Cap’ósgaga), The Osage Massacre (Big Thunder, Cap’ósgaga), The Origin of Big Canoe's Name, White Thunder's Warpath, Four Legs, The Man who Fought against Forty (Mącosepka), Yellow Thunder and the Lore of Lost Canyon, The Hills of La Crosse (Yellow Thunder), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Fighting Retreat, Mitchell Red Cloud, jr. Wins the Medal of Honor (Mitchell Red Cloud, jr.), The War of Indian Tribes against White Soldiers (Šųgépaga, Black Otter), How Jarrot Got His Name, Jerrot's Temperance Pledge — A Poem, Jarrot's Aborted Raid, Jarrot and His Friends Saved from Starvation, They Owe a Bullet (Pawnee Shooter); mentioning Cap’ósgaga: Big Thunder Teaches Cap’ósgaga the Warpath, The Osage Massacre, The Origin of Big Canoe's Name; about the (post-Columbian) history of the Hōcągara: The Cosmic Ages of the Hocągara, The Hocągara Migrate South, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I, Annihilation of the Hocągara II, First Contact, Origin of the Decorah Family, The Glory of the Morning, The First Fox and Sauk War, The Masaxe War, The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension, The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, Black Otter's Warpath, Great Walker's Medicine, Great Walker's Warpath, The Chief Who Shot His Own Daughter, How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, Little Priest's Game, The Spanish Fight, The War of Indian Tribes against White Soldiers, The Man who Fought against Forty, The Origin of Big Canoe's Name, Jarrot's Aborted Raid, They Owe a Bullet, Origin of the Name "Milwaukee," A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga, Origin of the Hocąk Name for "Chicago"; about scalping: The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle, Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp, The Scalping Knife of Wakąšucka, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Moiety Origin Myth, Turtle's Warparty, White Fisher, Black Otter's Warpath, The Dog that became a Panther, Wazųka, Great Walker's Warpath, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion; mentioning feasts: Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (Chief Feast), The Creation Council (Eagle Feast), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (Eagle Feast), Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth (Waterspirit Feast), A Waterspirit Blesses Mąnį́xete’ų́ga (Mąką́wohą, Waną́cĕrehí), Bear Clan Origin Myth (Bear Feast), The Woman Who Fought the Bear (Bear Feast), Grandfather's Two Families (Bear Feast), Wolf Clan Origin Myth (Wolf Feast), Buffalo Clan Origin Myth (Buffalo Feast), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo Feast), Buffalo Dance Origin Myth (Buffalo Feast), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (Buffalo Feast), The Blessing of Šokeboka (Feast to the Buffalo Tail), Snake Clan Origins (Snake Feast), Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief (Snake Feast), Rattlesnake Ledge (Snake Feast), The Thunderbird (for the granting of a war weapon), Turtle's Warparty (War Weapons Feast, Warpath Feast), Porcupine and His Brothers (War Weapons Feast), Earthmaker Blesses Wagíšega (Wešgíšega) (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), Big Thunder Teaches Cap’ósgaga the Warpath (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), White Thunder's Warpath (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), Šųgepaga (Winter Feast = Warbundle Feast), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (Warbundle Feast, Warpath Feast), Black Otter's Warpath (Warpath Feast), Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth (Warpath Feast), Kunu's Warpath (Warpath Feast), Trickster's Warpath (Warpath Feast), The Masaxe War (Warpath Feast), Redhorn's Sons (Warpath Feast, Fast-Breaking Feast), The Girl who Refused a Blessing from the Wood Spirits (Fast-Breaking Feast), The Chief of the Heroka (Sick Offering Feast), The Dipper (Sick Offering Feast, Warclub Feast), The Four Slumbers Origin Myth (Four Slumbers Feast), The Journey to Spiritland (Four Slumbers Feast), The First Snakes (Snake Feast), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse (unspecified), Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts (unnamed); mentioning flutes: The Love Blessing, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, Disease Giver Blesses Jobenągiwįxka, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store, The Warbundle of the Eight Generations, Partridge's Older Brother, Buffalo Dance Origin Myth, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, Redhorn's Sons; mentioning basswood: The Children of the Sun, Redhorn's Father, Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 3), The Big Stone, Hare Burns His Buttocks, The King Bird, Hare Kills Wildcat, Turtle's Warparty, The Birth of the Twins, The Messengers of Hare, Ghost Dance Origin Myth II, Trickster Eats the Laxative Bulb, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store; set at Lake Winnebago (Te Xete): Lake Winnebago Origin Myth, The First Fox and Sauk War, White Thunder's Warpath, Traveler and the Thunderbird War (v. 2), The Great Fish, The Wild Rose, The Two Boys, Great Walker's Warpath, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, Holy Song, First Contact (v. 2), Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth, The Two Children (?); set at Green Bay, "Within Lake" (Te Rok): Waterspirit Clan Origin Myth, Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (vv. 1, 2, 3), Story of the Thunder Names, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, Deer Clan Origin Myth (v. 1), Bear Clan Origin Myth (v. 4), The Seven Maidens, Ioway & Missouria Origins, Blessing of the Yellow Snake Chief, Great Walker's Warpath, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I (v. 2), The Creation Council, First Contact, Gatschet's Hocank hit’e; set at Doty Island (Winnebago Rapids): The Glory of the Morning, The Spanish Fight, Lakes of the Wazija Origin Myth.

The same story, with very many changes in detail, is told in The Masaxe War.

Themes: a war escalates when villagers massacre the foreign chiefs sent to them as emissaries to smoke for peace: The Masaxe War, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I (v. 2); descriptions of human warfare: Black Otter's Warpath, Annihilation of the Hocągara II, The Warbundle Maker, The First Fox and Sauk War, Great Walker's Medicine, The Annihilation of the Hocągara I, How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, Little Priest's Game, Wazųka, The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits, The Shawnee Prophet and His Ascension, The Four Slumbers Origin Myth, Big Thunder Teaches Cap’ósgaga the Warpath, Great Walker's Warpath, White Fisher, The Lame Friend, White Thunder's Warpath, The Osage Massacre, A Man's Revenge, The Boy who was Blessed by a Mountain Lion, They Owe a Bullet, The Spanish Fight, Origin of the Name "Milwaukee," The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2), Tobacco Man and Married Man; anthropophagy and cannibalism: A Giant Visits His Daughter, Turtle and the Giant, The Witch Men's Desert, The Were-Grizzly, Grandfather's Two Families, The Roaster, Redhorn's Father, Hawk Clan Origin Myth, The Lost Blanket, Young Man Gambles Often, White Wolf, The Shaggy Man, The Twins Get into Hot Water, Partridge's Older Brother, The First Fox and Sauk War, The Hocągara Contest the Giants, Morning Star and His Friend, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Seven Maidens, Šųgepaga, The Reincarnated Grizzly Bear, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, The Blessing of a Bear Clansman, Shakes the Earth, The Stone Heart, Thunder Cloud is Blessed; a seer makes true predictions down to unusual details: The Shawnee Prophet — What He Told the Hocągara, Witches, The Shell Anklets Origin Myth, How Little Priest went out as a Soldier, A Prophecy, The Shawnee Prophet Predicts a Solar Eclipse, Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts, The Claw Shooter, Waruką́ną, Mijistéga’s Powwow Magic and How He Won the Trader's Store; a knowledgeable person tells someone not to go to a certain place because of the danger, but that person goes there anyway: The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Twins Get into Hot Water, The Two Boys, The Two Brothers, The Lost Blanket, Bladder and His Brothers, The Thunderbird, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle; making the enemy "play with fire": Redhorn's Sons, The Adventures of Redhorn's Sons, The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, Bird Clan Origin Myth; people turn into birds: Waruǧábᵉra (owl, Thunderbird), Worúxega (eagle), The Thunderbird (black hawk, hummingbird), The Dipper (black hawk, hummingbird), Keramaniš’aka's Blessing (black hawk, owl), Heną́ga and Star Girl (black hawk), The Hocąk Arrival Myth (ravens), The Annihilation of the Hocągara I (turkey), The Quail Hunter (partridge), The Markings on the Moon (auk, curlew), The Fleetfooted Man (water fowl?), The Boy Who Became a Robin (robin).


1 Jasper Blowsnake and Paul Radin, "A Semi-Historical Account of the War of the Winnebago and the Foxes," Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1914) 62:192-207. Told by Jasper Blowsnake in June, 1908. A version in English only has been published in Paul Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990 [1923]) 11-17.

2 John Baptiste, Untitled, in Paul Radin, Winnebago Notebooks, Freeman #3887 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society) Winnebago II, #7: 273-274.

3 W. C. McKern, Winnebago Notebook (Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum, 1927) 111.

4 Radin goes on to say, "An excellent and detailed historical account of the same events is given in the Wisconsin Historical Collections" (17: 88-100). See Blowsnake and Radin, Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 192.

5 Blowsnake and Radin, Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 195 nt. 8.

6 Blowsnake and Radin, Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 196 nt. 9.

7 Blowsnake and Radin, Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 196 nt. 10.

8 Robert J. Murphy, "Intergroup Hostility and Social Cohesion," American Anthropologist, 59 (1957): 1018-1035 [1024]. Weston La Barre, Muelos: A Stone Age Superstition about Sexuality (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984) 55.

9 Kenneth L. Miner, Winnebago Field Lexicon (Kansas City: University of Kansas, June, 1984) s.v. hotá, #1526.

10 George Pfauts Belden, Belden, the White Chief; or, Twelve Years among the Wild Indians of the Plains. From the Diaries and Manuscripts of George P. Belden. Edited by Gen. James S. Brisbin (Cincinnati: E. W. Starr, 1875) 332-336.