The Silver Man: The Life and Times of Indian Agent John Kinzie

By Peter Shrake

Paperback: $14.95

ISBN: 978-0-87020-740-2

176 pages, 28 b&w photos 6 x 9 E-book edition available.


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Witness the dramatic changes that swept the Wisconsin frontier in the early to mid-1800s, through the life of Indian Agent John Harris Kinzie, "The Silver Man." From the War of 1812 and the monopoly of the American Fur Company to the Black Hawk War and the focused removal of thousands of Ho-Chunk people from their native lands, John Kinzie's life story gives us a front-row seat to a pivotal time in the history of the American Midwest.

As an Indian agent at Fort Winnebago -- in what is now Portage, Wisconsin -- Kinzie served the Ho-Chunk people during a time of turbulent change, as the tribe faced increasing attacks on its cultural existence and sovereignty and struggled to come to terms with American advancement into the upper Midwest. This swashbuckling biography of a pioneering and respected Indian agent traverses both the early settlement endeavors and the turbulent changes and tragedies of his time. In so doing, "The Silver Man" offers a broader view of the world in which Kinzie lived and worked -- a world that, in no small part, formed the foundation of the world in which we live today.

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Peter Shrake is a lifelong resident of Wisconsin. He earned his master's degree from the University of Wisconsin--Eau Claire, focusing on Jacksonian Indian policy in Wisconsin. He also earned a master's degree of library and information studies from the University of Wisconsin. Shrake served as the executive director of the Sauk County Historical Society for eight years. For three years he worked as a reference archivist at Circus World Museum. He lives in Baraboo with his wife, Kim, and two sons.