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Removal of the Winnebagoes from Iowa

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October 13, 1846, the Winnebagoes ceded “all claim to land,” and especially their rights on the Neutral Ground, and were given a tract of land selected by the chiefs at Long Prairie, Minn. The Indians were not satisfied with the location, and most of them remained scattered throughout the country.

Mr. Henry M. Rice secured the contract to remove these to Minnesota, and employed Moses Paquette, Antoine Grignon,and others to assist him. Antoine Grignon, who is now eighty-four years old and a resident of Wisconsin, says, “I went to school four years with Moses Paquette; he was a Winnebago mixed blood. I have no Indian name, but am part Sioux and Winnebago. I helped locate camps for H. M. Rice, along theriver, and we gathered the Indians together in La Crosse, took them by steamboat to St. Paul, then overland by wagon to Long Prairie, Minn. I remained at Long Prairie until 1854. They disliked very much to leave Iowa. They were removed in wagons, being guarded by dragoons from Fort Atkinson.”

The names of the twenty-four Indian signers of the Treaty of Washington, negotiated with the Winnebago Indians October 13, 1846, are as follows:

  1. Hoong-ho-no-kaw
  2. Is-jaw-go-bo-kaw
  3. Co-no-ha-ta-kaw
  4. Naw-hoo-skaw-kaw
  5. Shoong-skaw-kaw
  6. Kooz-a-ray-kaw
  7. Waw-ma-noo-ka-kaw
  8. Ha-naw-hoong-per-kaw
  9. Waw-roo-jaw-hee-kaw
  10. Baptist-Lasalica
  11. Waw-kon-chaw-per-kaw
  12. Kaw-how-ah-kaw
  13. Hakh-ee-nee-kaw
  14. Waw-kon-chaw-ho-no-kaw
  15. Maw-pee-ko-shay-naw-zhee-kaw
  16. Wo-gie-qua-kaw
  17. Waw-kon-chaw-she-spick-kaw
  18. Chas-chun-kaw
  19. Naw-hey-tree-kaw
  20. Ah-hoo-zheb-kaw
  21. Maw-nee-ho-no-nic
  22. Maw-ho-kee-wee-kaw
  23. Sho-go-nee-kaw
  24. Watch-ha-ta-kaw, (by Henry M. Rice, his delegate.)

Mr. Lamere has translated most of the above, names; the translations are as follows:

  • Hoong-ho-no-kaw, or Little Chief (also called Little Priest); he was a member of the Wolf clan.
  • Co-no-ha-ta-kaw;–“Co-no” is the name of all the first born male children of the Winnebagoes (the word “co-no” does not mean first-born, but is the name of the first born); “ha-ta” ‘means “big.” As there were usually two or three families in a lodge and more than one “co-no,” they usually called the older one “co-no-ha-ta-kaw,” meaning, “older, or big-first-born.”
  • Maw-hoo-straw-kaw, or White Sturgeon; this is a Fish clan name.
  • Shoong-straw-kaw, or White Dog; a member of the Wolf clan.
  • Kooz-a-ray-kaw, or the Created; a member of the Bear clan.
  • Waw-ma-noo-ka-kaw, or the Stealer (Thief); this is a self taken name, a right the warriors had, especially, when they had accomplished anything of importance in battle. This particular name signifies that he overcomes his enemies so easily that it is like stealing them.
  • Ha-naw-hoong-per-kaw ; “Ha-naw” is the name of the second born male child in a family; “hoong-per” signifies “good chief,” thus the meaning would be “the second born good chief;” his English name was “White-horse” and he was a member of the Wolf clan.
  • Wo-gie-qua-kaw, or “Strikes them as he comes.” This is a Buffalo clan name, and is taken from the actions of a bull buffalo running a herd, when he seems to lead or drive them by butting, or striking them about.
  • Wau-kon-chaw-she-spick-kaw, or Bad Thunder (a Thunder clan name).
  • Chas-chun-kaw, or the Wave (a Fish clan name.)
  • Naw-hey-kee-kaw, or “He who makes trees dead;” a Thunder clan name taken from the action of the lightning when it strikes trees, so that they dry up and die.
  • Ah-hoo-zheb-kaw, or Short Wing (Young Winneshiek).
  • Waw-roo-jaw-pee-kaw, or “Thunders on them” (Thunder clan name).
  • Waw-kon-chaw-per-kaw, or the Good Thunder (Thunder clan name.)
  • Waw-kon-chaw-ho-no-kaw, or the Little Thunder (Thunder clan name).
  • Maw-pee-koo-shay-naw-zhee-kaw, or Little Decorah (One who Stands and Reaches the Skies).
  • Maw-nee-ho-no-nic, or Little Walker (Eagle clan name)
  • Maw-ho-kee-wee-kaw, or “He who goes along in the sky;” the word “kaw” on the end of every name means “he” or “the.”
  • Sho-go-nee-kaw, or Little Hill.
  • Watch-ha-ta-kaw (undoubtedly One-eyed Decorah).

About 1300 were removed to Minnesota at this time, leaving, it was estimated, about 400 still remaining in Iowa and Wisconsin. Others were removed in 1850.

“A place of notoriety that existed in the early history of Winneshiek county was a spot called ‘Grab-all.’ This place was a high bench of timber land, half way between the Iowa trail and Postville. It was given this name because the Government stationed a sergeant’s guard there to ‘grab all’ the Indians passing that way, for removal.”1

It is easily understood why the Winnebagoes, when later removed to other places, returned in little bands, quite frequently to visit the scenes they loved so well; they persisted in this until civilization shut them out forever. The Winnebagoes had many favorite camping sites along the rivers of the county. Mr. Lamere says that the Winnebago Indian name for Iowa river, with reference to the Upper Iowa, is “Wax-hoche-ni-la,” meaning Iowa river, also called “Wax-hoche-ni-sha-nuk-la.” The Winnebago Indian name for the Turkey river is “Zee-zee-ke-ni-la,” meaning Turkey River, also called “Zee-zee-ke-ni-sha-nuk-la.” James Smith, a Winnebago, states,2 “a river south of Lansing, Ia., is called Yellow Hair river3 by the Indians; the Winnebago name for this river is `Na-jew-zee-ni-sha-nuk-la’.”

Footnotes

  1. Alexander’s “History of Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties.” 

  2. A statement made to Mr. Oliver Lamere. 

  3. Evidently the Yellow river, which has its source in Winneshiek County. 

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