The Winnebago are a branch of the great Dakota family, calling themselves O-tchun-gu-rah, and by the Sioux, Hotanke, or the Big-voiced People; by the Chippeway, Winnebagonk whence their common English name a word meaning men from the fetid waters. The French knew them as La Puans (the Stinkers), supposed to have been given them in consequence of the great quantity of decaying and putrid fish in their camps when first visited by white men. With some others they formed the van of the eastward migration of the Dakotas, penetrating apparently some distance, but were forced back to Green Bay. This was some time previous to 1670, as the map of the French Jesuit missionaries, dated 1671, styles Green Bay the “Bayo des Puans,” and the map accompanying Marquette’s journal, dated 1681, notes a village of the “Puans” as near the north end of Winnebago Lake, on the west side.*
They were then numerous and powerful, holding in check the neighboring Algonkin tribes, but soon after an alliance of tribes attacked and very nearly exterminated them. Became firm friends of the French until the Revolution, when they joined the English; made peace with the colonists afterward, but sided with the English again in 1812.
In 1820 they numbered about 4,500, and were living in five villages on Winnebago Lake and fourteen on Rock River. By a treaty in 1832 they ceded all their lands south of the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers, for a reservation on the Mississippi, above the Upper Iowa, but here they became unsettled, wasteful, and scattered. In 1846 they surrendered this reservation for an other above the Saint Peter’s. This proved unfit, and they became badly demoralized, losing many of their number by disease, but were kept on it by force. In 1853 they were re moved to Crow River, and in 1856 to Blue Earth, Minnesota, where they were just getting a start in civilized pursuits when the Sioux war broke out, and the people of Minnesota demanded their removal. Thus again they were put on the march, and this time landed at Grow Creek, on the Missouri, near Fort Randall, a place so utterly unfit, that the troops could not retain them on it. Out of 2,000 when taken there, only 1,200 reached the Omaha reserve, to which place they had fled for protection. They were then assigned a new reservation on the Omaha lands, and placed under the care of the Friends, and since then have prospered. At the time of their removal, in 1863, from Minnesota, many of the tribe who had taken up farms remained, receiving their share of the tribal funds. There were also last year 860 in Wisconsin, of whom 204 have lately joined those in Nebraska, swelling their numbers to 1,667. Nearly all of these now dress in civilized attire, and many of them have taken farms, their lands being divided into 40-acre allotments for the purpose, upon which they are building neat and comfortable cottages. There is an industrial and three day schools on the reserve, which are attended by one-sixth of their whole number. Their chiefs are now elected annually by the tribe, who in turn appoints a force of twelve policemen from the Indians to preserve order.
* Alexander Ramsey.
1080. Jno. M. St. Cyr.
A delegate representing the Wisconsin Winnebago. Has been to Washington three times. His mother was a relative of Little Priest, one of the most prominent chiefs of the tribe, and his father a French man.
808. Bad Thunder.
812. Wah-Kunk-Scha-Kaw, and daughter.
Wife of “Martin Van Buren,” a former prominent chief of the tribe.
814. Ka-Ra-Cho-We Kaw. A Blue Cloud Passing By.
809, 813. Wlnnebago Children.