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Native American Communities in Wisconsin, 1600–1960

A Study of Tradition and Change

Robert E. Bieder

Publication Year: 1995

The first comprehensive history of Native American tribes in Wisconsin, this thorough and thoroughly readable account follows Wisconsin’s Indian communities—Ojibwa, Potawatomie, Menominee, Winnebago, Oneida, Stockbridge-Munsee, and Ottawa—from the 1600s through 1960.  Written for students and general readers, it covers in detail the ways that native communities have striven to shape and maintain their traditions in the face of enormous external pressures.
    The author, Robert E. Bieder, begins by describing the Wisconsin region in the 1600s—both the natural environment, with its profound significance for Native American peoples, and the territories of the many tribal cultures throughout the region—and then surveys experiences with French, British, and, finally, American contact. Using native legends and historical and ethnological sources, Bieder describes how the Wisconsin communities adapted first to the influx of Indian groups fleeing the expanding Iroquois Confederacy in eastern America and then to the arrival of fur traders, lumber men, and farmers. Economic shifts and general social forces, he shows, brought about massive adjustments in diet, settlement patterns, politics, and religion, leading to a redefinition of native tradition.
    Historical photographs and maps illustrate the text, and an extensive bibliography has many suggestions for further reading.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-2

Two grants, a travel grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a short-term grant from The Newberry Library, made possible the first of several short trips to Wisconsin and Chicago for research. The writing, however, proved more difficult. Although a draft of the book was written in Indiana, ...

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Introduction: Songs from the Powwow

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pp. 3-11

In the early 1970s, when I attended the powwows at the YMCA in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Indian world was exploding. At the powwow, listening to the singers who were seated in a circle and hunched over their drums with left hands cupping their ears, one could hear the explosion in the throbbing of the drums. ...

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1. The Land That Winter Made

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pp. 12-19

A long time ago, according to Winnebago legend, Earthmaker sent Trickster to earth to make it habitable for humans. Trickster's many adventures and scrapes in carrying out his assignment made amusing and instructive tales for the Winnebago. Trickster possessed power that allowed him to talk to animals, to plants, rocks, and wind, and to the creatures of the spirit world. ...

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2. How They Lived in the Old Time

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pp. 20-46

There are problems in learning about Wisconsin Indians in what they refer to as the Old Time, that time before Europeans arrived on the scene. To be sure, there are artifacts and bones, but what do they tell about the people who are known as the Menominee, the Winnebago, the Ojibwa? ...

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3. The Years of the French

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pp. 47-77

The world as the Winnebago and Menominee knew it, indeed as the Huron and Central Algonquian knew it, collapsed between 1634 and 1760. During those years, the impacts of multiple Iroquoian attacks and the French presence combined to reshape the Indian world of the western Great Lakes. ...

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4. The Years of the British

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pp. 78-123

When the news of the French defeat in Montreal in 1760 filtered back to the Wisconsin forests, a certain foreboding and uneasiness gripped the Indian communities. Perhaps only among the Potawatomi did grief over the French military defeat exist. Other groups, amazed and disheartened with French military tactics, demonstrated little commiseration for the French situation. ...

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5. The Arrival of the Long Knives

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pp. 124-150

The years of increasing American control over the Wisconsin area coincided with a struggle over competing views of the wilderness. The French and the English did not diminish the Indians' landholdings; their interest generally was in furs, not in land. The old interpretation that posited the military, businessmen, ...

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6. The Shrinking Land

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pp. 151-194

In 1847, the Missionary Herald reminded its readers that "the designs of Providence in respect to the Indian tribes generally are dark and mysterious. There are influences at work, of great and increasing power, which threaten their destruction." The editors drew upon a litany of complaints ...

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7. Wandering Like Shadows on a Disappearing Land

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pp. 195-211

According to historian Robert F. Berkhofer, "The 1920s marked a fundamental shift in the scientific and scholarly understanding of the Indian through acceptance of the concept of culture and the ideal of cultural pluralism."1 Quite true, but this shift in academic viewpoint took a long time to reach and affect the destinies of Wisconsin Indians. World Wars I and II equaled the 1920s' ...

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8. Epilogue: Reading the Past

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pp. 212-218

The closer we exist to a given point in time, the larger its events loom in significance; they tumble forth in a jumble of proceedings, images, and sounds, presenting a kaleidoscopic array of impressions on the mind. Current events are easy to note and describe, but the reasons for them are more difficult to assess compared with events of the past because we have too much data, ...


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pp. 219-252


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pp. 253-276


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pp. 277-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780299145231
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299145248

Publication Year: 1995