Term: Puan, Puans, Puants
early French variations of a name applied to the Ho-Chunk by their adversaries. The French "puan" literally means stinking or bad-smelling, and was applied to Green Bay ("Baye des Puants"), according to Fr. Jacques Marquette in 1673, "on account of the quantity of mire and mud which is seen there, whence noisome vapors constantly arise."
In 1718, Marquette's derivation was supported in the Relation of Sieur de Lamothe Cadillac:
"The Puans derive this name from their river, which is very muddy. It is so full of fish of all kinds that it is difficult to understand how it can hold so many. Consequently during the heat of summer on account of either the quality of the water or the too great quantity of fish, the water is entirely covered with them and as it immediately becomes foul and putrid, it is hardly possible to approach the bank on account of the stench and the water is consequently very disgusting. It is for this reason that the nation is called that of the puans, for both in their persons and their habits they are the cleanest among the savages; and their women are the least dirty and are exceedingly careful to keep their cabins very clean and tidy, not a very common quality among other savage women." [Wisconsin Historical Collections 16: 360]
The French used it for an Algonkin word they transliterated phonetically as "Ouinipegou" which has survived in the names Winnebago and Winnipeg. Versions of "Puan" were applied to both the bay and the Ho-Chunk, whose ancestral home was on the shores of it, until the 19th century; its Algonkin equivalent, "Winnebago," has survived until modern times. View more information elsewhere at wisconsinhistory.org.
View pictures relating to Ho-Chunk Indians at Wisconsin Historical Images.
[Source: Wisconsin Historical Collections, vol. XVI, XXI]