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Odd Wisconsin Archive

The Strange Ways of White Folks

In 1828, the Ho-Chunk Chief Dandy was passing through Galena with some companions. White settlers had only recently started moving into the lead region of southwestern Wisconsin, and the Indians were interested in the strange newcomers and their customs. This was before the widespread occupation of Indian lands that would produce the Black Hawk War four years later.

"While strolling about the town one day," recalled an Army officer who witnessed the scene, "they came upon a Methodist church where a revival service was in progress. They approached the windows and were amazed at the sight within, the house crowded with people, some clapping their hands, others jumping about and shouting at the top of their voices in a jargon imprehensible to the red visitors."

Some of Dandy's companions thought that the preacher was performing a ritual ceremony to drive out bad spirits that had possessed the congregation. Another speculated that it was a white war-dance, and a third simply concluded that they had all gone crazy.

But Chief Dandy, "who had been watching intently for some time, exclaimed with an important air, 'I have it! I have it!' Then pointing his finger to his head, he added, 'Whiskey too much! Whisky too much!' and the party walked off in disgust, convinced that the disciples of Wesley were enjoying a grand spree."

More stories about Chief Dandy are in this 1920 article and this Ho-Chunk blog, which also includes his photograph.

:: Posted in on May 8, 2013
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