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The Murder of Joe White

Ojibwe Leadership and Colonialism in Wisconsin

Erik M. Redix

Publication Year: 2014

In 1894 Wisconsin game wardens Horace Martin and Josiah Hicks were dispatched to arrest Joe White, an Ojibwe ogimaa (chief), for hunting deer out of season and off-reservation. Martin and Hicks found White and made an effort to arrest him. When White showed reluctance to go with the wardens, they started beating him; he attempted to flee, and the wardens shot him in the back, fatally wounding him. Both Martin and Hicks were charged with manslaughter in local county court, and they were tried by an all-white jury. A gripping historical study, The Murder of Joe White contextualizes this event within decades of struggle of White’s community at Rice Lake to resist removal to the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, created in 1854 at the Treaty of La Pointe. While many studies portray American colonialism as defined by federal policy, The Murder of Joe White seeks a much broader understanding of colonialism, including the complex role of state and local governments as well as corporations. All of these facets of American colonialism shaped the events that led to the death of Joe White and the struggle of the Ojibwe to resist removal to the reservation.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Title page, Series page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xii

This book is the direct result of the generous support of many individuals who have shared their expertise with me over the years. This project has its roots from when I first picked up William Warren’s History of the Ojibway People as a teenager. A love of Ojibwe history was a part...

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pp. xiii-xxvi

On December 13, 1894 Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe ogimaa (or chief) Giishkitawag was shot to death by game warden Josiah Hicks on the orders of his superior, Horace Martin. The game wardens were serving Giishkitawag with an arrest warrant for hunting deer out of season...

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Pronunciation Guide

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pp. xxvii-xxviii

In this study, I have standardized all Ojibwe personal and place names in the Fiero orthography or double vowel system that is most commonly utilized by Ojibwe speakers in the United States. Consonants in the double vowel system sound roughly like their English equivalents...

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1. The Rise of Nena’aangabi and American Expansion in the Western Great Lakes, 1825– 1837

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pp. 1-30

At the 1855 annuity payment at Madeline Island, thousands of Lake Superior Ojibwe from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan gathered. Also present was Richard Morse, a Detroit physician. Dozens of Ojibwe leaders were there, yet the one that most captivated Morse was...

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2. Nena’aangabi and the Language of Treaties, 1837– 1855

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pp. 31-64

At the 1855 annuity payment, Nena’aangabi told American officials about his understanding of the treaty that had transpired the year before where Lake Superior Ojibwe bands ceded iron- ore- rich lands in northeast Minnesota and retained reservations. In his colorful oratory...

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3. Waabizheshi’s Vision of an Intercultural Community at Rice Lake, 1855– 1877

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pp. 65-100

In 1855, Waabizheshi assumed leadership of the Rice Lake community from his father Nena’aangabi following the influential leader’s death on the battlefield. Waabizheshi inherited a thriving community, as well as an important political legacy, from his father, whom Richard Morse...

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4. Aazhaweyaa and Ojibwe Women in Transition

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pp. 101-124

In 1915, Thomas Bracklin wrote a letter to Commissioner of Indian Affairs Cato Sells requesting an allotment on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation for himself and his children. Bracklin, then around fifty years old, cited the rich legacy of his family, telling the commissioner, “I believe...

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5. Giishkitawag Confronts Removal, 1879–1894

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pp. 125-148

In 1877, Giishkitawag, at age thirty- eight, became ogimaa of the Ojibwe at Rice Lake following his brother Waabizheshi’s death. The seventeen years of Giishkitawag’s leadership were difficult ones. Federal, state, and local governments all challenged Ojibwe sovereignty. The Barron...

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6. The Murder of Joe White and the Culmination of Removal

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pp. 149-178

“I knew the face well. Blood was running out of his ears. A crack in his skull. His right shoulder all mashed up. Next I saw a bullet mark,” commented Joe Baker, providing an eyewitness testimony during the arraignment of two Wisconsin game wardens who murdered Giishkitawag...

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7. Maggie Quaderer, Steve Grover, and the Creation of Community at Whitefish, 1894–1920

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pp. 179-204

In 1900, most of Giishkitawag’s community lived at Whitefish on the reservation. While there was still a significant number of holdouts living off the reservation at Bakerville on Long Lake, the majority of the community, including all of Nena’aangabi’s surviving children and...

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pp. 205-210

Charles White appears to not have talked much about his father’s murder, based on what little we know about the murder from his descendants.1 For Charles White, the murder of Joe White was not just an attack on Ojibwe sovereignty but also robbed a boy of his father. The...


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pp. 211-268

Select Bibliography

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pp. 269-278


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pp. 279-282

E-ISBN-13: 9781609174323
E-ISBN-10: 1609174321
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611861457
Print-ISBN-10: 1611861454

Page Count: 294
Illustrations: 3
Publication Year: 2014