Odd Wisconsin Archive
American Icons through Indian Eyes, 1830
When the Oneida and other Indian nations were dispossessed of their homelands in the Northeast, government officials attempted to settle them on the Wisconsin frontier. They began negotiating for Menominee and Ho-Chunk lands in 1821, but revisions, protests, and subsequent negotiations went on for more than a decade.
During one of those disputes, the Menominee chief Grizzly Bear met with President Andrew Jackson and was given a tour of the new U.S. Capitol. Looking at the sculptures that adorned the building, he drew different conclusions than its architects intended. The following account is based on an article in the Baltimore Republican.
The Menominee leaders were visiting the Capitol with a guide who explained the nature and design of the scuptures in the rotunda. "The chief Grizzly Bear turned to the eastern door-way, over which there is a representation of the landing of the Pilgrims, and said, 'There Ingin give white man corn;' and to the north, representing Penn's treaty, 'There Ingin give him land;' and to the west, where Pocahontas is seen saving the life of Captain John Smith, 'There Ingin give him life;' and lastly to the south, where the hardy pioneer Daniel Boone is seen plunging his knife into the breast of one red man while his foot rests on the dead body of another, 'There white man kill Ingin."
Grizzly Bear, or Kaush-kau-no-naive, was an influential leader of his people. According to Augustin Grignon, he fought with the British and Tecumseh against the Americans in the War of 1812, but he fought with the U.S. against Black Hawk and the Sauks in 1832. In Dec. 1830 he journeyed to Washington with Menominee and Oneida leaders in an effort to reach an agreement about the disputed lands; that visit is described here. He died about 1834.
:: Posted in Curiosities on December 4, 2006