Wisconsin extract from
John Reed Swanton's

The Indian Tribes of North America

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(Wisconsin) Extract from

The Indian Tribes of North America

by John R. Swanton

Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145—1953

[726 pages—Smithsonian Institution]

(pp. 250-259)


Chippewa. This tribe pushed its way west in the latter part of the seventeenth century as far as the territory lying within the present State of Wisconsin, and the trading post established by the French at La Pointe became an important Chippewa base. Early in the eighteenth century they are said to have driven the Foxes out of northern Wisconsin, and they have continued to occupy that part of the State until the present time, having two reservations there. (See Minnesota.)

Dakota. In very early times the Dakota occupied a little of the northwestern margin of Wisconsin. (See South Dakota.)

Foxes. A name thought to have been derived from that of the Fox clan and to have been applied to the tribe through a misunderstanding. Also called:

Beshde'ke, Dakota name.
eshkwa kihugi, own name signifying "red earth people," from the kind of earth from which they are supposed to have been created.
O-dug-am-eeg, Chippewa name, meaning "those who live on the opposite side."
Skaxshurunu, Wyandot name, meaning "fox people."
Skuaksagi, Shawnee name.
To-che-wah-coo, probably the Arikara name.
akushg, Potawatomi name, meaning "foxes."

Connections.—The Foxes belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family and in one group with the Sauk and Kickapoo.

Location.—In the vicinity of Lake Winnebago or along Fox River. (See also Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.)

History.—Since the closely related Sauk Indians came to Wisconsin from Saginaw Bay, Mich., it is probable that the Foxes once lived in that region as well, but it is uncertain. There is also a tradition that they were in northern Wisconsin and were driven south by the Chippewa. The French missionaries heard of them as early as 1640, and in 1670 found them in the location above given, where they remained for a long period. They were constantly at war with the Chippewa, and though they received aid from the Dakota, obtained little advantage in these contests. It was on account of assistance rendered the Chippewa by the French that the Foxes came to assume a hostile attitude toward the latter and finally went to war with them. In 1712 they planned an attack on the French fort at Detroit which nearly succeeded. Between 1729 and 1733 occurred a bitter war with the French in which the Foxes, though assisted by some Sauk, lost heavily. Before 1746 they were in the habit of exacting a toll from all white traders passing up Fox River, and for this reason they were attacked by a band of French, defeated, and driven down Wisconsin River, settling on the north bank of that stream about 20 miles from its mouth. In 1780, in alliance with the Dakota, they attacked the Chippewa at St. Croix Falls and were defeated. Shortly before this they had assisted the Sauk in driving the Illinois tribes from the northwestern part of the Rock River country, and they occupied these territories, but early in the nineteenth century they drew away from the Sauk and settled in Iowa. In 1842 the Foxes and the Sauk, who had taken refuge with them after the Black Hawk War, sold their lands in Iowa and were given in exchange a tract across the Missouri in Kansas. About 1857-59 the Foxes became angered at the Sauk for entering into an agreement for the disposition of the lands of the two tribes during the absence of the former, and they returned to Iowa where a few of their people had always remained. There they bought land near Tama City on Iowa River, which they increased by purchase until they had more than 3,000 acres. They have remained on this reservation down to the present day.

Population.—Mooney (1928) estimated that in 1650 there must have been about 3,000 Foxes, but this figure seems to be somewhat too high. In 1728 Guignes stated that they had 200 warriors, probably an underestimate, but most of the figures before 1850 fall between 1,500 and 2,500. Michelson (1919) says that the most reliable early estimate is that of Lewis and Clark in 1805, which gives 1,200. Since that date they have usually been enumerated with the Sauk. In 1885 the Indians at Tama, most of whom were Foxes, numbered 380. In 1909 the United States Indian Office gives 362 (nearly all Foxes) in Iowa, besides the bands in Oklahoma and Kansas, most of whom were Sauk. The United States Census of 1910 gives only 257 in Iowa, but the Indian Office Report of 1923 raises this again to 354. In 1930 there were 887 Sauk and Fox, and it is assumed that the 344 returned from Iowa were nearly all Fox. In 1937, 441 were returned from Iowa. (See Sauk.)

Connection in which they have become noted.—Historically this tribe is remarkable (1) as having been almost the only Algonquian tribe of consequence to undertake a serious war with the French, and (2) from its connection with the Sauk at the time of the uprising of the latter under Black Hawk. It has given its name to Fox River, Wis., and to a second Fox River, also called Pishtaka, which rises in Wisconsin and flows through Illinois, into the Illinois River. Some small places have also been named from it.

Housatonic, see Stockbridges.

Illinois. At one time Illinois Indians probably occupied some of the southern and southwestern sections of Wisconsin. (See Illinois.)

Iowa. A rather pronounced tradition points to the Winnebago as the mother tribe of the Iowa, Oto, and Missouri, and the latter are supposed to have stopped at certain places within the State of Wisconsin during their migration to the southwest. (See Iowa.)

Iroquois. The Iroquois anciently played an important part in the aboriginal history of the Indian tribes of Wisconsin, usually as enemies. In very late times the Oneida were given a reservation here where their descendants still live. (See New York.)

Kickapoo. From Kiwegapawa, "he stands about," "he moves about, standing now here, now there." Also called:

A'-uyax, Tonkawa name, meaning "deer eaters."
Higabu, Omaha and Ponca name.
u', Osage name.
Shake-kah-quah, Wichita name.
Shgapo, Shikapu, Apache name.
Sik'-a-pu, Comanche name.
Tkapu, Huron name.
ntara'ye-ru'nu, a second Huron name, meaning "tribe living around the lakes."

Connections.—The Kickapoo belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock, and in a special group with the Foxes and Sauk.

Subdivisions and Villages.The villages were: Etnataek (shared with the Foxes), rather a fortification than a village, near the Kickapoo village on Sangamon River, Ill., and Kickapougowi, on the Wabash River in Crawford County, Ill., about opposite the mouth of Turman Creek.

Location.—For territory occupied in Wisconsin, see History. (See also Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Oklahoma.)

History.—As suggested in the case of the Foxes, the Kickapoo may once have lived near the Sauk in the lower peninsula of Michigan but such a residence cannot be proven. If the name Outitchakouk used by the Jesuit missionary Druillettes refers to this tribe, as seems probable, knowledge of them was brought to Europeans in 1658. At any rate they were visited by Allouez about 1667-70 and were then near the portage between Fox and Wisconsin Rivers, perhaps about Alloa, Columbia County, Wis. Early in the eighteenth century a part of them settled somewhere near Milwaukee River, and after the destruction of the Illinois about 1765, they moved still farther south and lived about Peoria. One portion then pushed down to the Sangamon, while another worked east to the Wabash, and made their headquarters on Vermilion River. The former became known as the Prairie band and the latter as the Vermilion band. They took part against the colonists in the War of 1812 and the Black Hawk War, but in 1837 a hundred of them were engaged to assist the United States Government against the Seminole. In 1809 and 1819 they ceded their lands in Illinois and soon removed to Missouri and thence to Kansas. About 1852 a large party of Kickapoo, along with some Potawatomi, went to Texas and thence to Mexico, where they became known as "Mexican Kickapoo." In 1863 another dissatisfied band joined them, and though in 1873 part were induced to return to Indian Territory, and others afterward followed, nearly half the tribe remained and were granted a reservation in the Santa Rosa Mountains of eastern Chihuahua. The remainder are divided between Oklahoma and Kansas.

Population.—Mooney (1928) estimates that in 1650 there were 2,000 Kickapoo. In 1759 they were estimated at 3,000; in 1817, at 2,000; and in 1825, at 2,200. In 1875 those in the United States were officially estimated at 706 and there were supposed to be about 100 more in Mexico. In 1885 those in the United States were estimated at 500 and those in Mexico at 200. In 1905, 247 were reported in Oklahoma and 185 in Kansas, a total of 432, and almost as many more were thought to be in Mexico. The census of 1910 returned 348 in the United States, of whom 211 were in Kansas and 135 in Oklahoma. In 1923 the United States Indian Office gave 277 in Kansas and 200 in Oklahoma, total 477. In 1930 there were 523, half in Kansas and half in Oklahoma. In 1937, 332 were returned from Kansas and 260 from Oklahoma.

Connection in which they have become noted.—The Kickapoo have given their name to a river in Wisconsin, creeks in Illinois and Texas, and some small places in these States and Kansas.

Mahican, see Stockbridges.

Mascouten. A name applied at times to the Prairie band of the Potawatomi, but more often to the Peoria band of Illinois who, in early days, lived with or near the Kickapoo.

Menominee. Meaning "Wild Rice Men," because they lived largely upon the wild rice of the lakes in and near their country. Hence the French "Nation de la Folle Avoine," and English "Wild Rice Men." Also called:

Addle-Heads, a misinterpretation of Folles Avoines.
Omanomini, Chippewa name.
White Indians, as given by Long (in Keating, 1824).

Connections.—The Menominee belonged to the Algonquian linguistic family and to the same section as the Cree and Foxes.

Location.—On and near the Menominee River, Wis. (See also Michigan.)

Subdivisions.(As given by Skinner, 1921)

Kaka'pa'kato' Wini'niwk, "Barricade Falls people," at Keshena Falls of Wolf River.
Kak'nikone Tusi'niniwg, "Portage people," at Portage, Wis.
Kipisa'`kia Wini'niwk, "River Mouth people," at Prairie du Chien.
Mani'towk Tusi'niniwg, "Manitou Place people," at Manitowoc, Wis.
Mtc Sua'mko Tusi'niniu, "Great Sand Bar people," on the "sand dunes at what is now called Big Suamico, on Green Bay.
Minika'ni Wini'niwk, "Village people," at the mouth of Menominee River.
Misi'nimk Kimiko Wini'niwuk, "Michilimackinac People," near the old fort at Mackinac, Mich.
Muhw'o Se'peo Wini'niwuk, "Wolf River people," on the upper reaches of Wolf River.
Nm'o Wikito' Tusi'ni
u, "Sturgeon Bay people," at Sturgeon Bay.
Nom'kokon Se'peo Tusi'niniwg, "Beaver River people," near Winneconne, Fond du Lac, and Oshkosh.
Oka'to Wini'niwuk, "Pike Place people," at the mouth of the Oconto River.
P's'tiko Wini'niwuk, "Peshtigo River people," at the mouth of Peshtigo River.
Powahe'kune Tusi'niniwg, "Rice-gathering-place people," on Lake Poygan.
Sua'makosa Tusi'nini
u, "Little Sand Dune people," on the sandhills of Little Suamico.
Wi'skos Se'peo Wini'niwuk, "Wisconsin River people"- the name Wisconsin being derived from wi'skos or wi'sko
ns, "muskrat"- on the Mississippi near Wisconsin River.
There were other settlements of Menominee at Milwaukee and at Fort Howard in the present city of Green Bay.

About the time of the arrival of the Whites the old bands were broken up or renamed after their chiefs, and the following bands of this kind are recorded by Hoffman:

eshok, or Ke'so.
Le Motte.
esh'tiko, evidently one of the old local groups.
Shu'nu' ni'
u or Shu'nien.

History.—Tradition says that the Menominee were driven into the region later identified with them, from the neighborhood of Michilimackinac, but when they were first known to white men they were already there, and they remained there until 1854, though their villages sometimes extended to Fox River and their later claims reached to the mouth of Milwaukee River on Lake Michigan and on the west side of Green Bay to the headwaters of Menominee and Fox Rivers. Westward they claimed the height of land between Green Bay and Lake Superior. In 1854 they ceded all their lands except a reserve on Wolf River, where they have continued to the present day.

Population.—Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 3,000 Menominee in 1650. The most conservative estimates made during the nineteenth century range from 1,600 to 1,900. In the first decade of the twentieth century their numbers were placed at 1,600, of whom 1,370 were under the Green Bay School superintendency, Wisconsin. The census of 1910 returned 1,422; 1,350 in Wisconsin and the rest scattered over 8 States. The United States Indian Office Report for 1923 gave 1,838. The census of 1930 returned 1,969, and the United States Indian Office Report of 1937, 2,221.

Connection in which they have become noted.—The name Menominee has become applied to a county in Michigan and a city of some size in the same State, also to a small place in Illinois. In the form Menomonee, it is given to a considerable river of Wisconsin which flows into Green Bay, and to various other places in Wisconsin. A city in the same State, capital of Dunn County, bears the name Menomonie. Menomonee Falls are in Waukesha County, Wis. There is a place called Menominee in Menominee County, Mich.

Miami. This tribe, or at least portions of it, lived in southern Wisconsin when it was first known to French explorers and missionaries but later it moved south entirely out of the State. (See Indiana.)

Missouri. (See Iowa.)

Munsee. Some Munsee moved into Wisconsin with the Stockbridges (q. v.).

Noguet. This tribe may have been related to the Menominee or the Chippewa. At times it probably overlapped the northeastern border of Wisconsin. (See Michigan.)

Oneida, see Iroquois.

Oto. (See Iowa.)

Ottawa. Some Ottawa lived in Wisconsin temporarily after they had been driven from their old homes by the Iroquois. They settled first on the islands at the mouth of Green Bay, and a part of them lived later upon Black River and at Chequamegon Bay before returning to their old country. (See Michigan.)

Potawatomi. When first encountered by the French the Potawatomi were on the islands at the mouth of Green Bay. Later they pushed down the coast of Lake Michigan to Milwaukee River and thence to Chicago after which they drew further south into Illinois, Indiana, and southern Michigan. (See Michigan.)

Sauk. From Osa'kiwug, meaning "people of the outlet," or "people of the yellow earth." Also called:

Hoti'nestakon', Onondaga name.
Satoeronnon, Huron name.
Quatokeronon, Huron name.
Za'-ke, Santee and Yankton Dakota name.

Connection.—The Sauk belonged to the Algonquian linguistic stock and the same subdivision as that embracing the Foxes and Kickapoo.

Location.—On the upper part of Green Bay and lower course of Fox River. (See also Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma.)

History.—The earliest known home of the Sauk was about Saginaw Bay, Mich., which still bears their name. Shortly before the appearance of the Whites they were expelled from this country by the Ottawa and the Neutral Nation, and settled in the region above indicated where they remained for a considerable period. In 1766 Carver (1796) found their chief villages on Wisconsin River. After the destruction of the Illinois they extended their territories over the Rock River district of northwestern Illinois. In 1804 a band of Sauk wintering near St. Louis were induced to enter into a treaty ceding to the United States Government the Sauk territories in Illinois and Wisconsin, but this transaction created so much indignation among the rest of the tribe when it became known that the band who made the treaty never returned to the rest and they have received independent recognition as the Missouri River Sauk. As the rest of the Sauk refused to move, other negotiations were entered into which were broken off in 1832 by the Indian outbreak known as the Black Hawk War. As a result of this struggle, the Sauk abandoned their country east of the Mississippi and sought refuge with the Foxes, already established in Iowa. In 1842 the Sauk, with the Foxes, ceded their lands in Iowa also in exchange for a tract in Kansas. About 1857-59, in the absence of the Foxes, the Sauk agreed to take up land in severalty and cede the remainder of this Kansas territory, and the Foxes, when they learned of this, returned to Iowa. In 1867 the Sauk ceded their lands in Kansas and removed to the Indian territory, and in 1889 they took up land in severalty and sold their surplus territories to the government.

Population.—Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 3,500 Sauk in 1650. The principal early estimates of the Sauk are: in 1736. 750 persons; in 1759, 1,000; in 1766, 2,000; in 1783, 2,250; in 1810, 2,850; in 1825, 4,800; in 1834, 2,500. Michelson (1919) states, however, that the best was that of Lewis and Clark, which would make them about 2,000 in 1875. In 1885 there were 457 in Indian Territory, including a few Foxes, and 87 in southeastern Nebraska. The Indian Office Report for 1909 gives 536 (chief Sauk) in Oklahoma, and 87 (chiefly Sauk) in Kansas. The census of 1910 gives 347 in Oklahoma nnd 69 in Kansas, Sauk and Fox not being discriminated. It also records a number of individuals of both tribes scattered over nine other States. In 1923 the United States Report on Indian Affairs gave 673 in Oklahoma, and 93 in Kansas; total 766. The census of 1930 returned 887 Sauk and Fox, rather more than two-thirds being Sauk. In 1937 the United States Indian Office reported 126 "Sac and Fox" in Kansas and 861 in Oklahoma, principally Sauk.

Connection in which they have become noted.—Whatever prominence the Sauk have attained they owed almost entirely to the war which, under Black Hawk, they sustained against the Whites. Their name is perpetuated in Sauk River, Minn.; Sauk County, Wis.; and places in these two States. In the form Sac, it has been applied to a county and its capital in Iowa, a river in Missouri, and a small place in Tennessee. There is a post village called Sauk in Skagit County, Wash.; a Sauk City in Sauk County, Wis.; a Saukville in Ozaukee County in the same State; Sauk Rapids in Benton County, Minn.; and in the same State but in Stearns County, Sauk Centre which has a reputation all its own.

Stockbridges. This name was given to a body of Indians most of whom belonged to the Housatonic and other tribes of the Mahican group, who in 1833 were placed upon n reserve in the neighborhood of Green Bay, along with the Oneida Indians and some Munsee. In 1856 all but a few who desired to become citizens removed to a reservation west of Shawano, Shawano County, Wis., where they still live. (See New York.)

Tionontati. Remnants of this tribe were in Wisconsin as part of the Wyandot (q. v.).

Winnebago. Signifying in the Fox and the Sauk languages "people of the filthy water," for which reason they were sometimes known to the French as Puants and to the English as Stinkards. Also called:

Aweatsiwaenhronon, a form of the Huron name (see below).
Banabeouiks, a shortened form of Winnebago.
Bay Indians, so called by Lapham, Blossom, and Dousman (1870).
Hati'hshi'r'n, Huron name, meaning "afraid of sticking in the mire."
Hotanka, Dakota name.
Hotcangara, own name, signifying "(people of the) big or real speech," but, through a confusion of words, often misinterpreted "fish eaters."
Nipegon, so called by Long (in James (1823)).

Connections.—The Winnebago belong to the Siouan linguistic family, and to a subdivision comprising also the group called by J. O. Dorsey (1897) Chiwere, which includes also the Iowa, Oto, and Missouri.

Location.—The most ancient known habitat of this tribe was on the south side of Green Bay extending inland as far as Lake Winnebago. (See also Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.)

Villages.Those that are known by name are:

Prairie la Crosse, in southeastern Wisconsin.
Sarrochau, on the site of Taycheeday, Fond du Lac County, Wis.
Spotted Arm's Village, near Exeter, Green County, Wis.
Village du Puant, on Wildcat Creek about a mile above its junction with the Wabash, above Lafayette, in Tippecanoe County, Ind.
Wuckan, on Lake Poygan, Winnebago County, Wis.
Yellow Thunder, at Yellow Banks, Green Lake County, Wis.

History.—The Winnebago were occupants of the territory above mentioned from the earliest times of which we have any record. During the eighteenth century they spread up Fox River and still later extended their villages to Wisconsin and Rock Rivers. It is reported that they were nearly destroyed by the Illinois some time before 1671 but, if so, they soon recovered entirely from this shock. They managed to remain on better terms with the surrounding tribes than most of their neighbors. By treaties made in 1825 and 1832 they ceded all of their lands south of Wisconsin and Fox Rivers to the United States Government in return for a reservation on the west side of the Mississippi above upper Iowa River. In 1836 they suffered severely from the smallpox. In 1837 they relinquished the title to their old country east of the Mississippi, and in 1840 they removed to the Neutral Ground in the territory of Iowa. Many, however, remained in their old lands. In 1848 the rest surrendered their reservation for one in Minnesota north of Minnesota River, and in 1848 removed to Long Prairie Reservation, bounded by Crow Wing, Watab, Mississippi, and Long Prairie Reservations, Minn. In 1853 they removed to Crow River and in 1856 to Blue Earth, Minn., where they remained until the Dakota outbreak of 1862, when the Whites in the section demanded their removal. In consequence they were taken to Crow Creek Reservation, S. Dak., but suffered so much from sickness, and in other ways, that they escaped to the Omaha for protection. There a new reservation was assigned to them on the Omaha lands, where they have since been allotted land in severalty. Some however, remained in Minnesota when the tribe was removed from that State and a larger number did not leave Wisconsin.

Population.—Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 3,800 individuals belonging to the Winnebago tribe in 1650. The following figures have been given from time to time: In 1806, 1,760; in 1820, 5,800; in 1837 and 1843, 4,500; in 1867, 1,750 in Nebraska and 700 in Wisconsin. In 1876 there were 1,463 on the Nebraska Reservation and 860 in Wisconsin, but 204 of the latter removed to Nebraska in 1877. In 1886 there were 1,222 in Nebraska and 930 in Wisconsin. In 1910 the United States Indian Office gave 1,063 in Nebraska and 1,270 in Wisconsin, but the United States Census of the same date gave a total Winnebago population of 1,820, of whom 1,007 were in Nebraska, 735 in Wisconsin, and the remainder scattered among 10 other States. In 1923 the Report of the United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs gave 1,096 in Nebraska. In 1930 the figure was 1,446, of whom 937 were in Wisconsin and 423 in Nebraska. In 1937 the United States Indian Office reported 1,456 in Wisconsin, and 1,212 in Nebraska. total, 2,668.

Connection in which they have become noted.—The Winnebago tribe is noted for the unique position it occupied, as a Siouan tribe surrounded by Algonquian peoples, probably having been left behind in the general Siouan movement west, and its reputation as one of the mother tribes of the Siouan stock. Its name is perpetuated in that of Winnebago Lake, Wis.; the names of counties in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin; and places in Winnebago County, Ill.; Faribault County, Minn.; Winnebago County, Wis.; and Thurston County, Nebr.

Wyandot. After being driven out of Ontario by the Iroquois, part of the Wyandot, along with some Ottawa, went to Michilimackinac and from there to Green Bay, after which they lived successively at several different points within the boundaries of the present State of Wisconsin until they finally removed to Detroit. (See Ohio.)