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Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War

June 11: Genl. Atkinson Reaches Out to the Ho-Chunk

Editor's Note:

In this politically sensitive message, U.S. Army Gen. Henry Atkinson sought to secure his alliance with the Ho-Chunk bands. He refers to the Council at Porter's Grove between the Ho-Chunk, Col. Henry Dodge, and Indian Agent Henry Gratiot, where White Crow promised support against Black Hawk (see this previous entry for White Crow's speech).

The leaders of the Ho-Chunk whom he addressed were described in 1888 and 1895 by historians Lyman Copeland Draper and Reuben G. Thwaites::

"Kaukishkaka, White Crow, a Winnebago chief who had but one eye and something of a reputation as an orator. His village, which comprised about 1,200 persons housed in tepees covered with red-cedar bark, appears to have been situated about where is now the little village of Pheasant Branch at the west end of Lake Mendota, Dane County."

"Man-ah-kee-tshump-kaw, or Spotted Arm, was a prominent war chief of the Winnebagoes He was also known as Broken Arm from the fact that he had been severely wounded in the arm at the biege of Fort Meigs in 1813, where he distinguished himself. ... His village is noted on Chandler's map of the lead region, 1829, as apparently about a mile north of McNutt's diggings near the present village of Exeter, Green County. He is said to have died four or five years after the Black Hawk War.

"Waw-kaun-ween-kaw, or Whirling Thunder, was a signer of the Treaty of Rock Island in September 1832. He belonged to the Winnebago band on Rock River near Lake Koshkonong and subsequently died on Turkey River, Iowa

"Mo-rah-tshay-kaw, or Little Priest, was also of the Rock River band near Lake Koshkonong and was a signer of the treaties of Green Bay in 1828 and of Rock Island in 1832, He lived to a very great age and died at the Winnebago village of White Creek, Adams County, Wis., about 1882. In some bout or brawl one side of his nose had been sliced off."

Henry Atkinson to the Winnebago Indians

[June 11, 1832]
Talk to the Winebagoes

To Whirling Thunder & the Crow,
The other Chiefs and Braves of the Winnebago Nation

Brothers,
Your talk [of June 3-4 at Porter's Grove] has been brought to me by our friend General Dodge. It gives me great pleasure to hear that your hearts are good, and that you hold your white Brothers fast by the hand. Continue to Keep the chain bright between us. Let no thorns grow up in the path and both you and us will be happy.

Do not listen to the Sacs; they are bad men and shall be punished before I leave the country. I am coming with a great Army; you must take up the Hatchet and join us. The Sioux, Menomonies and Pottowattomies are our friends, they will go with us against the Sacs. Our friend Genl. Dodge and Mr Gratiot will tell you When to raise the hatchet—be still untill you receive my words through them. You may promise the Sacs a piece of land to deceive them, in the way you proposed in your talk with Genl. Dodge. Keep the Sacs deceived about every thing till we are ready to strike them.



[Source: Whitney, Ellen M., ed. The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832. (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1970), p.572]

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