An 1823 interview with a Sauk warrior

Narrative of an expedition to the source of St. Peter's River... 1823

In June of 1823, William H. Keating (1799-1840), a young professor of mineralogy at the University of Pennsylvania, crossed the prairies from Chicago to Prairie du Chien as part of a military expedition. In chapter five of the first volume of his report (linked below), he provides great detail about the topography, geology, and economic potential of the region just as it was being thrown open to white miners.

More importantly, as his party traced the southern border of modern Wisconsin, it was guided by "Wennebea Namoeta, a Sauk Indian of the tribe of Pa-co-ha-mo-a." Keating struck up a candid friendship with Wennebea, a young man about his own age, and along the trail and at Prairie du Chien plied him with questions. The result is a long interview (pages 218-231) in which Wennebea communicates a wealth of information about Sauk history, culture, religion, and values. Nine years later a Sauk chief, Black Hawk, would engage U.S. troops and local militia in a bloody tragedy across much of this same ground; Wennebea's 1823 interview gives a close-up view of who the Sauk were and what they believed as white settlers began pouring across their lands.

Related Topics: Explorers, Traders, and Settlers
The War of 1812
The Black Hawk War
Treaty Councils, from Prairie du Chien to Madeline Island
Lead Mining in Southwestern Wisconsin
Creator: Keating, William H. (1799-1840)
Pub Data: Philadelphia, H. C. Carey & I. Lea, 1824
Citation: Keating, William H. Narrative of an expedition to the source of St. Peter's River, Lake Winnepeck, Lake of the Woods, &c. &c. performed in the year 1823... (Philadelphia, H. C. Carey & I. Lea, 1824); Online facsimile at:
it(lhbum1607adiv15)); Visited on: 5/24/2019