When first known to Europeans the Winnebago occupied the region west of Green Bay, west of Lake Michigan, where, according to the Jesuit missionaries, they had resided for many generations. There they were living in the year 1634 when visited by Nicollet, and just 35 years later, during the winter of 1669-70, a mission on the shore of the same bay was conducted by Père Allouez, which proved a gathering place for various tribes, including the Winnebago, Sauk and Foxes, Menominee, and Potawatomi. These, with the exception of the Winnebago, were Algonquian tribes.
As already mentioned, the Oto, Iowa, and Missouri appear to have been closely connected with the Winnebago, all speaking dialects understood by one another. And it is also evident that when the Oto, Iowa, and Missouri began their movement westward to the Mississippi and beyond the Winnebago remained behind. However, about the beginning of the last century they reached the banks of the Mississippi, and by successive moves during the next 50 years some arrived in western Minnesota, soon to be removed to lands beyond the Missouri, adjoining the Omaha, in the northeastern part of Nebraska.
While living in the vicinity of Green Bay their villages were groups of mat and bark covered lodges, typical of the tribes of the wooded country which abounded in lakes and streams. And it is quite evident that during their migration westward, when they made long stops before finally reaching the banks of the Missouri, they continued to erect and occupy structures similar to those which had stood in their old villages generations before.
Typical examples of Winnebago dwellings are shown in plates 36 and 37. The arbor over the entrance is an interesting feature, seldom appearing in the Algonquian villages, although often shown in front of Siouan lodges.
In a forthcoming publication Radin has given a list of the various forms of structures erected by the Winnebago, some of which existed until very recent years.1
Radin, Paul, The Winnebago Tribe. In Thirty-seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology. Washington. ↩