Kingsley says: “We-no-shee-kah and his band after being moved about from one reservation to another were finally removed from Blue Earth, Minnesota, to Usher’s Landing, or Fort Thompson, S. D. Here a part of the band starved to death and others died of exposure. He took the remnant of his band and started down the Missouri river in canoes, in hopes of going to St. Louis, and hence up the Mississippi to his native haunts in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota; but the old chief got as far down as St. Joseph, Mo., and there winter overtook him and his...Read More
Collection: Indian History of Winneshiek County Iowa
The Winnebago tribe is the fourth group of the great Siouan, or Dakota, family. The Wninebagoes were styled by the Sioux, Hotanke, or the “big-voiced people;” by the Chippewas, Winipig, or “filthy water;” by the Sauks and Foxes, Winipyagohagi, or “people of the filthy water.” Allouez spells the name Ovenibigouts. The French frequently called them Puans, or Puants, names often roughly translated Stinkards. The Iowas called them Ochungaraw. They called themselves Ochungurah, or Hotcangara. Dr. J. O. Dorsey, the distinguished authority on the Siouan tribes, states that the Siouan root, “changa,” or “hanga,” signifies “first, foremost, original or ancestral.” Thus the Winnebagoes called themselves Hotcangara, “the people speaking the original language,” or “people of the parent speech.” Traditional and linguistic evidence shows that the Iowa Indians sprang from the Winnebago stem, which appears to have been the mother stock of some other of the southwestern Siouan tribes. The term “Sioux” is a French corruption of Nadowe-is-iw, the name given them by the Chippewa Indians of the Algonquin family. It signifies “snake,” whence is derived the further meaning “enemy.” The name Dakota, or Lakota, by which the principal tribes of the Siouan stock call themselves, means “confederated,” “allied.” Regarding the remote migrations that must have taken place in such a widespread stock as the Siouan, different theories are held. An eastern origin is now pretty well established for this stock;...Read More
In the preparation of this article it has been the compiler’s aim to make the work as complete and correct as possible. Diligent search has been made for information, and considerable pains have been taken to give the people of Winneshiek county, a reliable account of the Indians who once inhabited this section of the country. The writer has discovered that a number of erroneous statements in regard to these Indians have unfortunately found their way into print. In such instances every effort has been made to procure accurate information. In gathering the data here assembled the writer has...Read More
Winneshiek, who seems to be a somewhat shadowy character, was a notable chief of the Winnebagoes. It appears that there was a family, like the Decorah family, that took that name. The name Winneshiek is evidently not a Winnebago name, but an Algonquian (that is, Fox) name, and is properly Winnishiga and signifies “a dirty person who is lying down.” He was commonly known by his Fox name. In his own language he was called “Wa-kon-ja-goo-gah,” meaning “Coming Thunder;” he was also called “We-lou-shi-ga,” meaning “ties them up,” or “has them tied up.” It is also said that his name in his own language was “Maun-wau-kon-kaw;” 1Wisconsin Historical Collections. regarding the last two names Little Winneshiek says, “I understand that this name [We-lou-shi-ga] is a Sioux word for Wa-kon-ja-goo-gah, or Coming Thunder. The name, Maun-wau-kon-kaw, is unknown to us.” The following treaty signatures show the name to be variously written: August 25, 1828, Green Bay, Michigan Territory, “Wee-no-shee-kaw ;” February 27, 1855, Washington, D. C., “Wau-kon-chaw-koo-haw, the Coming Thunder, or Win-no-shik,” (the first Indian to sign the treaty.) From A. R. Fulton, in “Red Men of Iowa,” we learn that, “He was promoted to the rank of a chief when quite young, and always maintained popularity among his people. Both physically and intellectually he was a remarkably fine specimen of his race. As a man he was modest, kind,...Read More
Historical evidence reveals the fact that at one time the northern part of Winneshiek county formed a small part of the vast hunting grounds of the Sioux Indians, and that the southern portion was given over to the Sauk and Foxe. In a council held at Prairie du Chien, August 19, 1825, a boundary line was established between the Sioux, on the north, and the Sauk and Foxe, on the south. The principal object of this treaty was to make peace between these contending tribes as to the limits of their respective hunting grounds in Iowa. This boundary line began at the month of the Upper Iowa river and followed the stream, which traverses Winneshiek county, to its source. In order to decrease still further the encounters between the Sauks and Foxes, on the one hand, and the Sioux, on the other, the United States secured, at a council held at Prairie du Chien July 15, 183o, a strip of territory twenty miles wide on each side of the boundary line already established and extending from the Mississippi to the east fork of the Des Moines. This strip, forty miles in width, was termed the “Neutral Ground.” The tribes on either side were to hunt and fish on it unmolested, a privilege they ceased to enjoy when this territory was ceded to the Winnebagoes. In this way the tract...Read More
By the treaty of September 15, 1832, it was stipulated that the government should annually, beginning in September, 1833, and continuing for twenty-seven years, give the Winnebagoes $10,000 in specie, and establish a school among them, at or near Prairie du Chien, with a farm and garden, and provide other facilities, not to exceed in cost $3,000 a year, for the education of their children, and continue the same for twenty-seven successive years. Six agriculturists, twelve yoke of oxen and as many plows, and other farming tools were to be supplied by the government. The buildings were erected in 1833, on the Yellow river, Allamakee county, Iowa, and President Jackson appointed Rev. David Lowry, a Presbyterian minister, to assume charge. The mission school was removed in 1840, from the Yellow river to a point on the Turkey river, in Winneshiek county, about four miles southeast of the fort buildings. The erection of the mission was superintended by Rev. Lowry. There were about twenty buildings at the mission. One was a large school house, another a small church, while the rest were dwellings. Early Catholic pioneers, who settled near the Turkey river (1849), purchased these buildings. The small church was used as a chapel, hence the name Old Mission. In 1853 it was destroyed by fire. There was also a mission one mile east of the fort, on the Turkey...Read More
In each tribe there existed, on the basis of kinship a division, into clans and gentes. The names given to these divisions were usually those of the animals, birds, reptiles, or inanimate objects from which their members claimed descent, or which were regarded as guardian deities common to them all; these were known as their totems. The term “clan” implies descent in the female, and “gens” in the male line. Clans and gentes were generally organized into phratries; and phratries, into tribes. A phratry was an organization for ceremonial and other festivals. The Winnebago social organization was based on two phratries, known as the Upper, or Air, and the Lower, or Earth, divisions. The Upper division contained four clans: Thunderbird, War People, Eagle, Pigeon (extinct); while the lower division contained eight clans: Bear, Wolf, Water-spirit, Deer, Elk, Buffalo, Fish, Snake. The Thunder-bird, and Bear, clans were regarded as the leading clans of their respective phratries. Both had definite functions. The lodge of the former was the peace lodge, over which the chief of the tribe presided, while the lodge of the Bear clan was the war, or disciplinary, lodge. Each clan had a number of individual customs, relating to birth, the naming-feast, death, and the funeral-wake. An Upper individual must marry a Lower individual, and vice versa. When Carver, an early traveler, first came in contact with the Winnebagoes,...Read More
The fundamental religious concept of the Indian is the belief in the existence of magic power in animate and inanimate objects. This gave rise to their idea that there are men who possess supernatural power. This magic power is called Man’una (Earth-maker) 1Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 30, part 2, pg. 960. by the Winnebagoes, and corresponds to the Gitchi Manito of the Central Algonquian tribes, and Wakanda 2Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 30, part 2, pg. 897. of the Siouan tribes. As a verb, “wakanda” signifies “to reckon as holy or sacred, to worship;” the noun is “wakan” and means “a spirit, something consecrated.” “Wakan,” as an adjective, is defined as “spiritual, sacred, consecrated, wonderful, incomprehensible, mysterious.” “Wakan” and various other forms of that word are of common occurrence in the Winnebago language. The Winnebago mythology consists of large cycles relating to the five personages, Trickster, Bladder, Turtle, He-who-wears-heads-as-earrings, and the Hare. Other deities known to them are Disease-giver, Sun, Moon, Morning Star, the Spirits of the Night, One-horn, the Earth, and the Water. The Indian had no understanding of a single, all-powerful deity, the “Great Spirit,” till the Europeans, often unconsciously, informed him of their own belief. He believed in a multitude of spirits that were the source of good or bad fortune, and whom he feared to offend. 3Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 30, part 2,...Read More
When the first home seekers came to Winneshiek county the remains of several Winnebago Indian villages were still in existence. Numerous Indian trails were in evidence in nearly all parts of the county, many of which led to the site of the present city of Decorah. In “Reminiscences of Springfield Township 1Sec. II, pg. 11, Atlas of Winneshiek County, 1905. ” Hon. A. Jacobson states : “The Indians who had inhabited this portion of the country where we settled were removed by government troops two years previous to our arrival. They had evidently intended to return at some future time as they had made large cellar-like holes in the ground in which were deposited all kinds of goods ed with the bark of trees. Such things as corn, feathers, axes, and kettles were in good preservation when exhumed by the new settlers. “Quite large parties of Indians traversed the country, but they had their homes in the territory of Minnesota and did not molest us in the least. There were no settlements northwest of us the first year, hence being on the frontier we often felt un-easy, having heard that some traders sold them whiskey. “Indian trails, well marked, crossed the country in various directions, and with little deviation continued to be the roads of early settlers, until the fencing in of the fields pushed the roads into the...Read More
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: Hoong-ho-no-kaw Is-jaw-go-bo-kaw Co-no-ha-ta-kaw Naw-hoo-skaw-kaw Shoong-skaw-kaw Kooz-a-ray-kaw Waw-ma-noo-ka-kaw Ha-naw-hoong-per-kaw Waw-roo-jaw-hee-kaw Baptist-Lasalica Waw-kon-chaw-per-kaw Kaw-how-ah-kaw Hakh-ee-nee-kaw Waw-kon-chaw-ho-no-kaw Maw-pee-ko-shay-naw-zhee-kaw Wo-gie-qua-kaw Waw-kon-chaw-she-spick-kaw Chas-chun-kaw Naw-hey-tree-kaw Ah-hoo-zheb-kaw Maw-nee-ho-no-nic Maw-ho-kee-wee-kaw Sho-go-nee-kaw Watch-ha-ta-kaw, (by Henry M. Rice, his delegate.) Mr. Lamere has translated...Read More
The main barracks consisted of the commissioned officer;’ quarters, built of stone, the non-commissioned officers’ quarters. built of logs hewn flat, one soldiers’ quarters (including hospital rooms), built of stone, and another soldiers’ quarters (including church and school rooms), built of flat hewn logs. The soldiers’ quarters were 250 feet long. These four main buildings enclosed a parade- and drill-ground (with a flag-staff at one end), and in turn were enclosed by a stockade twelve feet high and made out of logs hewn flat and set on end in a narrow trench. The top of the stockade consisted of spikes driven into the sharpened ends of the logs. Port holes were cut at about every four feet. In two corners of the stockade were located cannon-houses; and in the other two corners, the Quartermasters, store house (adjoined by the Sutler’s store) and the magazine, or powder-house. The guard-house was near the Sutler’s store, and a sentinel’s beat was constructed near the powder-house. The platform of the sentinel’s beat was about three feet below the top of one side of the stockade and extended nearly its whole length. At one end, by the magazine house, was constructed a small shelter for the protection of the sentinel during inclement weather. The outer walls of the (quartermaster’s store extended somewhat outside the stockade. Alexander states 1In his history of the county. :...Read More
The Winnebagoes are distinctly a timber people, and always confined themselves to the larger streams. In early days their wearing apparel consisted commonly of a breechclout, moccasins, leggings, and robes of dressed skins. The advent among them of the whites enabled them to add blankets, cloths, and ornaments to their scanty wardrobes. Jonathan Emerson Fletcher, the Indian agent at the Turkey river, furnished Mr. Henry R. Schoolcraft, LL. D., at one time Indian agent for Wisconsin Territory and author of “Historical and Statistical Information Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States,” a description of the costume of the Winnebagoes, from which the following is condensed 1Wisconsin Archeologist, Vol. 6, No. 3, pg. 121. : “White blankets are preferred in winter, and colored in the summer. Red is a favorite color among the young, and green with the aged. Calico shirts, cloth leggings, and buckskin moccasins are worn by both sexes. In addition to the above articles, the women wear a broadcloth petticoat, or mantelet, suspended from the hips and extending below the knee. “Wampum, ear-bobs, rings, bracelets, and bells are the most common ornaments worn by them. Head-dresses ornamented with eagle’s feathers are worn by the warriors on public occasions. The chiefs wear nothing peculiar to designate their office, except it be medals received from the President of the United States. “Some...Read More
When the remains were first exhumed in 1859, the skull had black hair; this assertion is corroborated in a statement made by R. F. Gibson, January 27, 1913, to the writer of this article. Mr. Gibson was one of a committee of three appointed to take charge of the remains. Waukon Decorah was at this time living in Minnesota with his people; this fact has been established beyond question. It is stated in Alexander’s history that even prominent participants in the first exhumation of the alleged remains of Decorah were confused with doubts, by rumors, current at the time, to the effect that Decorah was still living. He died at the Blue Earth agency, southern Minnesota, in 1868, and was buried there. Mr. Lamere says, “He was about ninety-three years old when he died, and it is said that his hair was as white as it could be.” This is practically conclusive proof that the death of Waukon Decorah did not occur here, and that his remains are not buried in the Court House Square. Little Decorah was the oldest son of Old Gray-headed Decorah. His Winnebago name is given as “Maw-hee-coo-shaynaw-zhe-kaw,” which Mr. Kingsley interprets as “The pillar that reaches the clouds.” The following treaties were signed by Little Decorah: November 1, 1837, Washington, D. C., as “Ma-hee-koo-shay-nuz-he-kah, (Young Decori) ;” October 13,1846, Washington, as “Maw-hee-ko-shay-naw-zhee-kaw;” February 27,...Read More
In 1840 the Winnebago Indians were removed to their new home on the Neutral Ground. In order to protect them from the incursions of their neighbors, among whom were the Sauk and Fox tribes, as well as from intrusions of the whites, and in turn to prevent them from trespassing beyond the limits of the reservation, soldiers were stationed among them. A detachment of the 5th Infantry (Company F) under command of Captain Isaac Lynde left Fort Crawford, with a complement of eighty-two officers and enlisted men, and went into camp, May 31, 1840, in the neighborhood of Spring...Read More
Hopokoekau, or “Glory of the Morning,” also known as the Queen of the Winnebagoes, was the mother of a celebrated line of chiefs, all of whom, well known to border history, bore in some form the name Decorah. Her Indian name is also given as Wa-ho-po-e-kau. She was the daughter of one of the principal Winnebago chiefs. There is no record of the date of her birth or death. She became the wife of Sabrevoir De Carrie, who probably came to Wisconsin with the French army, in which he was an officer, in 1728. He resigned his commission in 1729, and became a fur-trader among the Winnebagoes, subsequently marrying “Glory of the Morning.” He was adopted into her clan and highly honored. After seven or eight years, during which time two sons and a daughter were born to him, he left her, taking with him the daughter. The (,queen refused to go with her husband, and remained in her home with her two sons. “The result is to-day that one-half or two-thirds of the Winnebago tribe have more or less of the Decorah blood in their veins.” 1Statement by Geo. W. Kingsley. Through the intervening generations there has been no other mixture of Caucasian blood, so that the Decorahs of to-day are probably as nearly full-bloods as any Indians in any part of the country. De Carrie returned to...Read More
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