Native American Communities in Wisconsin, 1600-1960: A Study by Robert E. Bieder

By Robert E. Bieder

A historical past of local American tribes in Wisconsin, this account follows Wisconsin's Indian groups from the 1600s via 1960. It covers the ways in which local groups have striven to form and retain their traditions within the face of large exterior pressures.

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In either case, the lodges of the various clans were always grouped the same way; certain clans were always opposite others across the line or, in the case of concentric circles, always in one particular circle. Given the similarities between the Winnebago and the Santee, it might be expected that they had similar kinds of government. In both cases chiefs were selected from particular clans, and the office was generally passed down from father to son. 45 Both groups had governing councils, drawn from clan leaders, and village police, who enforced the rules of the chief and council.

This is one of the issues this book seeks to explore. It will consider how Indian communities were affected by their environments and how in creating and reshaping their social worlds they also reshaped their environments, both natural and manmade. But the more important question for exploration is how changes produced by either nature or humans affected Indian communities. 19 Copyrighted Material 2 How They Lived in the Old Time 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.

Humans survived only if the spirits helped them. Me'napus, the Great Hare and culture hero of the Menominee, left instructions for religious observances that the Menominee must always follow. When the various deities, "the powers," took pity on the Menominee, they instructed Me'napus to give to the Menominee certain songs, rituals, and prayers that would ensure their success or power over the environment. Fast-induced visions and dreams could grant even more power to the Menominee. This power was incremental and could be increased through additional visions and also through the purchase or inheritance of songs, rituals, or sacred objects from another person.

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