Early 20th century community life at
McCord and Skunk Hill:
An ethnohistorical perspective on
traditionality, authenticity, and affluence
Larry Nesper, University of Wisconsin
following is the preliminary statement of a work in progress. At the moment it is an effort in the
direction of exploring the significance of McCord and Skunk Hill, two interacting late nineteenth/early
twentieth century off-reservation multi-tribal communities in northern
Wisconsin for how we think about American Indian social, economic, political
and cultural development in the face of normative processes of tribalization
and the attendant reservation-centric imagining of Indian life in the state.
The communities were 90 mile apart. I am
also interested in documenting the relationship between traditionality and
relative affluence, as it appeared for a short period of time in the early
twentieth century in Wisconsin as a commentary on the early twenty-first
century critique cultural that authenticity may be compromised by material
affluence. This paper is an attempt to
offer ethnohistorical evidence for the reverse: that the particular ritual
system plays a role in motivating a deeper engagement with external economic
forces. Most distinctively, these
villages were less at the immediate mercy of aggressive assimilative federal
Indian policy than were the villages on the reservations, the most power
constitutive force shaping Indian life at the time (Goldberg-Ambrose
1994). Indeed, their very existence
appears to have been a creative and resistant response to federal policy. They seem to have been more affluent than
their reservation confreres by virtue of their ability to practice a de facto
political and economic self-determination.
For example, the village of McCord had more sugar boiling arches than
any other Indian-associated site in the entire state of Wisconsin (Thomas
2004). Before the market crash of 1929, they were using commercially produced
sugar maple tapping equipment, clear evidence of Indian-controlled, near
industrial level maple sugar production for exchange. Several individuals held
land in fee having purchased it from the logging companies that were interested
in the land only for its timber.
Similarly, Indian people at Skunk Hill, held land in fee simple and
produced country foods for the market.
Both communities also sponsored cultural events and encouraged
tourism. The Big Drum or Drum or Dream
Dance is remembered as an important aspect of life in these villages.
What, then, is the relationship between their
economic and social articulation with the dominant society and their internal
symbolic practice? Were these
communities simultaneously both more religiously vibrant and more affluent by
virtue of their multi-ethnicity and their distance from the sources of and
deleterious effects of federal power?
And what is the relationship between these communities and the
reservation communities in their hinterlands?
study is inspired by the work of two Wisconsin state archaeologists, John Broihahn
and Robert Birmingham. Broihahn has been
documenting the surface archaeology of McCord and brought my attention to these
“refugee settlements” when he gave a guest lecture in an Indians of the Western
Great Lakes class in 2005. I have since
come upon the work of his predecessor in the position, Robert Birmingham who
wrote the National Register of Historic Places nomination for Skunk Hill as
well as several essays about these communities.
Birmingham regards these communities as “ceremonial communities” that
emerged due to oppressive conditions on the reservations and at a time when
federal Indian policy was aggressively coercing assimilation. Here I attempt to extend this insight and
show how the communities positioned themselves between the reservation
communities and the non-Indian communities in a network of relationships
enacting an indigenous modernity characterized by a simultaneous commitment to
a new form of traditional religion and a deeper economic engagement with the
dominant society that was feasible on the reservations.
Birmingham and Broihahn recognize that the Drum Dance, or Big Drum, or Dream
Dance was significant in these communities, as they point out the centrality of
the dance circles and dance houses in the settlements. They imply that these structures are
testimony to the traditionality of the community, and I would agree. However, I seek to show that it was via this
religious movement that a transformation in the mode of social reproduction in
these communities was accomplished. The
movement shaped and was reflective of a deeper political and economic
engagement with the dominant society.
in Oneida County and Skunk Hill in Wood County Wisconsin were the centers of
several late nineteenth/early twentieth century multi-tribal off-reservation
Indian communities with Prairie Potawatomi cores. Potawatomi had been important
people in the region for a long
time. Clifton (1998: 26) writes that the
Potawatomi in the early 17th century, living in “their protohistoric estate on
the western shore of Lake Michigan, lived in summer villages” of about 200
persons “…in open lands—small prairies, near forest edge, adjacent to a
substantial streams, where there were loose sandy or sandy-loam soils to be easily
worked, in an area picked for good hunting and fishing.” By 1700, they occupied
all three strategic connections between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi at
Rock Island on the tip of the Door Peninsula, at Chicago, and the St. Joseph/
Kankakee River portage and sought to dominate the other tribes vis-à-vis French
calling themselves the elder sons of Onontio (ibid: 46, 63). By the end of the eighteenth century they had
expanded at the expense of the Illinois tribes and were trading with the
Spanish at St Louis, and were living in more than 100 villages (Clifton 1978:
726). With the ascent of American power
in the Great Lakes after the War of 1812, came flight north for groups that
would become the Forest Potawatomi already in Wisconsin and removal for many of
the southern Potawatomi, the forebears of the residents of Skunk Hill and
the proceedings at the Treaty of Chicago in 1833, Leopold Pokagan, a local
Potawatomi leader, rehearsed a local distinction in responding to American
treaty commissioners, referring to “Wood Indians” and “Prairie Indians,” that
is, two different kinds of Potawatomi. The former responded to American
colonization by attempting to engage it, employing a strategy of “adaptive
resistance,” having helped establish the Michigan Road between Chicago and
Detroit, for example, in order to facilitate commerce (Secunda
2006:57-59). After a period of some
success in the 1820s and 30s, they would be forcibly removed to Kansas. Most of the ancestors of the people living at
Skunk Hill and McCord, however, were Kansas Prairie Potawatomi, “a post-removal amalgam” made up of the
removal era Tippecanoe River Valley villages of Mesquawbuck, Monoquet,
Neswaukay and Keewaunay, “many of them
unabashed militants, who favored removal to the adaptive resistance undertaken
by the bands along the Michigan Road”(ibid: 80). Indeed, Alponse Gerend (1932: p) notest that
Che-Chaw-Kose, mentkioned in the Treaty of 1832 signed at Tippecanoe, lived for
a time at Skunk Hill and was buried there Did their experience with reservation
life in Kansas cause them to re-evaluate their earlier strategy of nativistic
resistance and realize a version of this “adaptive resistance” in Wisconsin
upon their return to the edge of their original tribal estate?
Sketches of McCord and Skunk Hill
Lawson (1920) and Charles Brown (1928) both place the Skunk Hill Potawatomis on
the Prairie side of the opposition.
McCord is a settlement that grew out of Skunk Hill, the center of a
community that may date back to 1866 (Jones 1923:16). Originally from the area around Chicago, part of the community and their forebears had
made the trip to Kansas taking the removal option, only to be allotted–which
they resisted. The effects of this
policy may have provided the motivation for the return migration. In 1899, the
agent wrote that most of the reservation had been allotted and the allotments
had been leased out. He wrote that the
leasing was responsible for “the total
demoralization of a considerable portion of the Indians in the agency” (ARCIA
1899: 205). A year later he would refer
to the practice as “a mistaken policy” causing Indians to acquire the “habits
of indolence and dissipation” (ARCIA 1900:254).
Earlier he had written that the Prairie band was largely uncooperative
with the efforts to civilize them, taking up the drum dance, “which seems to
have driven all practical ideas from the minds of men,…its practice intensifies
and increases his disregard for his fellow men.” R.M. Cook, superintendent of
the Pottawatomie school, agreed with the agent’s appraisal: “The dance practiced by the tribe
discourages education” (ARCIA 1897:161).
It was for this reason, perhaps, that Clifton (1998:382) characterized
the drum dance as a ”full-scale, organized protest movement.”
According the Winnebago /Potawatomi headman
White Pigeon (Wahb-me-me) most of the 70 members of the community had been at
Skunk Hill since about 1906, had bought tracts of land and were farming, though
few could speak English. The settlement
covered approximately 20 acres (Gerend quoting Fish). They had money coming in from those leased
allotments in Kansas. Having not had a proper chief for more than half a
century, they were led by “Mr. Shon, and
John Nu-wee (Lawson 1920:106-107). Both attended the Fourth Annual
meeting of the Society of American Indians held in Madison in 1914. “Mr. Shon,” whom White Pigeon indicated was
dead since about 1915 may have been Mr. John Young, aka Nsowakwet, listed as 69
years old on the 1909 Potawatomi Tribal Roll. Young was responsible for
bringing the Drum Dance to the Kansas Potawatomi and assisted them in fighting
allotment (Clifton 1998: 393). A contemporary German-American settler
remembered John Young as literate in English “and could even speak a few word
of German” (Gerend 1932:1). He is said to have used a pipe that could hold a
full quarter pound of tobacco (ibid). He
would leave Skunk Hill in 1899, move to Perkinstown for a time, then on to
McCord where he would die and be buried.
to Gerend, (archives) John Nuwee was also ultimately from the Chicago area. He
is 60 years old on the 1910 census. He had an allotment in Kansas and owned the
land he lived and was buried on at Skunk Hill between 1914 and 1927. John Nuwi “was considered rich by other
Indians,” according to Gerend, and the guardian, or custodian, of the five
large sacred drums which were always used during the Indian ceremonies.” Approximately 140 contiguous acres of the
settlement at Skunk Hill was owned held in fee simple by six Potawatomi Indian
people, all of whom appear on the Kansas Potawatomi Allottee Roll and most of
whom made their purchases on the 16th of June 1914 from C.E. and Bertha King.
SKUNK HILL LAND OWNERSHIP MAP HERE
The timing of the purchases may have been
related to a government effort to get them to move north and join the Forest
County Potawatomi. The Marshfield Herald
of November 1, 1913 reports that “two government agents broached the subject of
removal of this tribe to parts of the state, where farms will be provided for
them.” And though “(t)here are but few
of them left, something less than forty families…the Indians are loath to leave
the rendevous (sic) on the bluff.”
Ahnomoquah held the largest piece of land, about 25 acres and bought it
from the Arpin Lumber Company four years later
(See Map X). According to Gerend, the community was abandoned when John
Nuwi died in 1926.
community at Skunk Hill immediately before the land was purchased by some of
its residents appears as 21 households and just under 80 people on the 1910
census. Of the 47 men and 31 women,
three men and three women were Ojibwe .
Twenty-six of the Potawatomis were born in Kansas. The others were all
born in Wisconsin, some of whom had lived in Wood County for a long periods of
time at other settlements. There was one
Kickapoo man and one Winnebago woman. Eight of the children were from the two
Ojibwe/Potawatomi marriages. Eight Potawatomi people reported that they could
speak English as did the Winnebago man and an Ojibwe man. Fourteen of the
Potawatomi had been allotted by this date. There were nine unmarried men over
the age of 22 in the community, another measure of the difficulty of things in
Kansas and their hopes for Wisconsin.
for them to rather suddenly appear at Skunk Hill is not entirely
surprising. The Grand Rapids Tribune of
September 12, 1906:
settlers out in the town of Arpin were somewhat surprised some time ago when
several Indians appeared in that vicinity and claimed that a large portion of
the town of Arpin was the property of Indians and that it was their intention
to take possession of the same. It is
said that altogether there were some hundred and fifty Indians came there and
laid claim to eleven square mines of territory in the neighborhood of what is
known as Skunk Hill. They also stated
that about seven hundred more were coming and that they intended to take
possession of the whole tract, as it had been set aside years ago as an Indian
reservation and that the white man had appropriated it unlawfully.
farmers would consult attorneys who, in turn, contacted the General Land
Office, which assured them that there was no reservation and that their letter
would be forwarded to the Department of the Interior.
they are alleged to have claimed it as their ancestral property may be related
to its unusual geology. Powers Bluff is “a broad based dome-like ridge with its
longest axis extending in a southeast-northwest direction….(I)ts highest point
is probably between 300 and 400 feet above the surrounding land of the
immediate vicinity…(The)..formation appears to be a very fine-grained pinkish
quartzite (Weldman 1907:82-83). It can be seen for miles. I would hazard to suggest that it has been
known by Indian people as both a good place to pray, higher places being
particularly attractive for such purposes.
Indeed, Gerend writes, “Standing out prominently at the rocky crest of
Skunk Hill is a jut of rock about which, I was informed, a legend has been
woven by the Indians. It was known as
the ‘Spirit’s Chair’” (Gerend 1932).
the season, the returning immigrants hosted a ceremony that attracted “Indians
from all over the state,” apparently
announcing their intentions regarding permanent presence to both the local
“settlers” as well as the indigenous communities. The article went on to say that “(o)ne of the
numbers who spoke English well, said that the reason they gathered at this out
of the way place was that many years ago the Indians owned a tract of land 30 square
miles in that vicinity.” Within a few
years, over a hundred Winnebago people moved into the county settling on
Hemlock Creek in Seneca Township where some bought land (Jones 1923:24).
Sheboygan Press article of May 17, 1932, drawing upon the writing of Alphonse
Gerend, employs a curious phrasing that speaks to how Indian people used the
land. “During the festive days, when the
religious dance was in progress, Skunk Hill still resembled a typical Indian village,”
suggesting it was only when ceremonies were underway that Skunk Hill “resembled
a typical Indian village.” He notes that
it is in May and July that people gather, some from considerable distances.
(Elaborate religious practices)
Indian people regarded the region as a commons and harvested local resources
for both subsistence and for the market.
They used “grasses and reeds for the baskets and mats…, wild fowl…wild
rice and fish and cargoes of beaver, fox, mink and rat…squash and corn, deer
(Jones 1923: 19). They harvested ginseng, slippery elm, blue berries, and maple
sugar for exchange as well.
is no mention of Indian people gathering ginseng in Lee’s (1998) MA thesis on
the development of the ginseng industry in Marathon County that might shed
light on their engagement with the emerging industry in the region. However, Alphonse Gerend (1932) notes that a
certain Mr. Brinkman bought almost $3000 worth of ginseng root from the Indians
for which he paid $2.00 per pound.” This is clearly large-scale production and
represents a phase of the industry’s development that antedates the emergence
of ginseng farms. It also represents Indian people’s resistance to domination
at the point of production as they clearly controlled the terms upon which they
labored autonomously organizing themselves for the activity.
Much the same can be said of slippery elm, “a
Native American plant that made its way into medical circles as a result of
Pioneer / Native American contact, and
referred to in Anishinaabemowin as ozhaashigob aniib (GLIFWC 1993: 410). Of
slippery elm gathering we read Gerend (1932) on the Indians at the nearby
Indian Farms near Rozellville:
they could be seen taking slippery elm bark to the traders. This bark was carried in bundles which were
hung over the backs of the ponies. The
bark, which was gathered in large quantities, sometimes was taken as far as
Colby, Medford and Dancy, a distance of many miles, and there were no trails to
notes that they also gathered evergreens, deer hair, and venison and sold them
worked in the cranberry marshes as
pickers since the period after the Civil War. Dave Engel (2002:22) writes of
Dodge P. Blackston, editor of The Berlin
Courant, who in turn writes of the cranberry craze in 1870-71: “
Indians Blackstone says, have picked many berries. The government sale of the marshland will be
a great loss to them. ‘The wigwams of
the Indians are scattered through the timber about the marshes. The trails of their ponies are numerous,
running hither and thither to the different cranberry patches. They carry their berries to market on their
ponies, tying a two-bushel bag to each side of the saddle.’” Quoting New Yorker Amanda Wales Engel (ibid,
28) goes on: “Indians come in great numbers at the opening of the blueberry
season and remain until after the cranberry season during which they are hired
as pickers. To her dismay, they camp
without asking permission, grounds owned
by herself and her husband and pitch tents wherever and whenever they
choose. By 1875, “it is impossible to
find a marsh without an owner whose title is recorded” (ibid:35).
local enclosure movement is underway with the predictable effects.
issue of The Berlin Courant in 1874 has journalists describes crowds of
immigrant and Native American pickers flocking to the Sacket and Carey marshes
(37) . In September, there are
“thousands of Pickers” Arpin marsh expects to yield 1200 bushels…a lively crowd
of Indians and other pickers congregating at Bearss Marsh…to pass the
time. EP Arpin watches the nearby Indian
tents and marvels at the children coming out barefooted, wearing calico dresses
the Nov 6, 1876 issue of The Berlin
Courant a certain FAJ visits Wood County marshes: “To those who think the game of life is a
game the noble Red man does not understand, let me refer life in Wood Co.,
during the cranberry harvest. Yet they
are good pickers, and if watched carefully are indispensable to the cranberry
grower and will be for many years to come.”
The next year, 1877, Bearss Marsh
becomes an international village of 2000 with the harvest with about 200
Winnebago, Menominee and Potawatomi. It
was an industry dependent upon the railroad to deliver labor and ship their
to Jones, (1923:24, emphasis added) after a pow-wow in the first part of
the entire Indian population of Wood County resorts to the Wood County
cranberry marshes, where they are employed during the cranberry-raking season.
At some of the several large cranberry marshes in this county only Indians are
employed raking cranberries. During the
raking season, which lasts about two weeks, the Indians live in tents and
wigwams at the marshes. After the day’s
work is completed, the hours are spent at games, dances or other
amusements. In the fall many go hunting,
and in the winter they often hunt or trap, either at home, or else visit
distant hunting grounds.”
local Indian population was joined by other Indians from further afield. In an
article entitled “Winnebago Indians Quite Numerous,” from the Grand Rapids
Daily Reporter, September 12, 1908 we read:
the cranberry growers have commenced picking their berries this week a large
number of Winnebago Indians have passed through this city on foot with every
kind of vehicle imaginable. They come
from every reservation in the State and bring their entire families along and
make this season of the year a camping time in which they enjoy the pleasure
and profit both at the same time. Our
readers have probably noticed a large number in our city at different intervals
this past week.
But by 1903, growers were paying rakers
$1.50/day plus board and 40 cents a bushel for hand pickers, a good picker
picking three bushes a day (Engel 108, 110) and the wage was attracting
immigrants who were displacing Indians from this work. In 1903, there were 1500
pickers in the county, about 100 of whom were Indians. Earlier nearly the
entire crop was picked by Indians (Engel 118).
Raibmon (2005: 105) writes that the hops pickers on the Northwest Coast were
“importing elements of potlatches to the fields” at the same time as these
Great Lakes Indians were importing elements of their traditional symbolic
practices into the cranberry marshes.
“Gambling, horse racing, canoe racing and trading were all typically
present at potlatch gatherings and hop fields alike,” she adds. These gatherings for work and play
“perpetuated links between extended families” (ibid:109. Much the same is going in Wisconsin at
approximately the same time.
County was important in the development of Wisconsin’s cranberry industry as
most of the 100,000 acres that make it up were unsuitable for agriculture until
the land was drained. By the early
1920s, the county produced half of the entire state’s cranberry crop, picked in
a two-three week season starting about September 1 and requiring about one
person for every two acres under cultivation, the growers providing sleeping,
cooking and dining facilities (Jones 1923:106).
The industry required a great deal of labor for a short period of time
and so attracted Indian people as migrant laborers.
Raibmon (2005:98) writes of aboriginal labor in the hops harvests in the
Pacific Northwest. It was “part of a
larger indigenous network of economy, politics and society that ensured
Aboriginal survival” into which they “wove their own agendas.” Clearly, the
very same pattern of adaptation and articulation is present here.
in southwestern Oneida County began to form in the 1890s on lands that had been
cutover by the lumber industry, and lasted until well into the 1940s as a
community of about ten families. More
typical of a Woodland Indian settlement than Skunk Hill, McCord’s organizing
geographical feature was the Little Somo
River representing considerable continuity with earlier settlement patterns.
Sasso and Wilder (1998: 192-3,) write that early nineteenth century Potawatomi
settlements in southeastern Wisconsin “exhibit a marked preference for
well-drained locations adjacent to or with one mile of significant water
resources…(and)…a notable preference for locations with ready access to a
variety of vegetational zones.” John Broihahn writes that “Wisconsin Historical
Society Archaeologists have documented domestic, work and communal structures
at 35 locations at McCord.” These include earthen berm building bases,
collapsed log residences, an collapsed octagonal dance house, dance circles, cemeteries and
ten maple sugaring arches, (Broihahn 2007: 4) “the greatest concentration of
archaeological remains of boiling arches at an American Indian community in
Wisconsin” (Thomas 2004: 104).
the assistance of Joe Jackson, who was born at McCord and lived there until he
was 13 years old in 1942, we have been able to partially reconstruct the social
organization of the community at the time of his childhood. Mr. Jackson descends from Lac du Flambeau
Ojibwe people on his father’s side and Kansas Potawatomi people on his
mother’s. Three of the nine marriages we
have been able to document show this pattern, while four are both
Ojibwe-Ojibwe, and two Potawatomi-Potawatomi.
No male Potawatomis had Ojibwe wives. Approximately 45 people made up
the settlement living in 16 separate households in 1942, though there is reason
to think that the settlement had been much bigger earlier in the century. We have identified more than 500 individuals
with a connection to McCord or one of the outlying settlements over the course
of the first three decades of the twentieth century by examining tribal rolls,
census data, local newspapers.
Indian settlement of approximately 40 families lived in log cabins on Indian
Village Road and attended schools in Tripoli.
They were expert hunters and fishermen and worked in the woods and
served as guides. By 1938 they had left
the area for the cities or the reservations.
Many of these Indians were gifted artists and craftsmen (Bruso et al
By 1907, John Young and John De Bon, both
leaders of the community, and both Kansas Potawatomi, had purchased 120 acres
with nine of the households on their land including the dance house.
only had the settlement lost population by the early 1940s, it appears that it
was considerably poorer. Mr. Jackson
recalls how tough life was, for example, as it was tough for many people
between the market crash and the early years of World War II.
Indian people hunted deer on the cutover
lands and fished the Little Somo River.
They also did some gardening.
Mr. Jackson remembers that a cousin (Bernard Daubon) worked at the CCC camp in Tomahawk. Families picked blueberries to sell and women
did craft work. When the Wisconsin Land
and Economic Inventory undertook to map the entire state, it would be two
McCord residents, Joe Jackson’s father Ben and brother-in-law, James Amour, who
would map seven of the sections in Towships 36N, R4E and R5E, measures of both
their familiarity with the landscape and their entrepreneurial spirit. By the time the Jacksons left McCord for
Milwaukee, at least two of the village’s residents owned automobiles.
years before, Indians at McCord were also actively involved in marketing
distinctively Indian commodities in several registers. The Tomahawk Leader of August 20, 1931
carried a page one article entitled “Indian Wedding Here Sunday,” then
went on to describe the anticipated ceremony between a local Potawatomi
resident of McCord and a member of the Lac du Flambeau Band, it reported the
availability for sale of beadwork, baskets
and canoes. Perhaps as significantly, page five held a paid advertisement.
C. Barnes, identified as the announcer and interpreter, was Russel Barnes, son
of a prominent land-owning Potawatomi Indian woman from Skunk Hill. Chief Anwash was likely FrankAnwash, Lac du
Flambeau Ojibwe married to Obweg, Kansas Potawatomi woman.
must have also marketed their maple sugar but this would have come during the
winter and moved through channels that were less public. A single bucket that still site in the woods
on the site of McCord contains 230 industrially manufactured metal taps for
harvesting sugar. One hundred and forty
pails explicitly and apparently exclusively used for catching the sap, as well
as 50-60 cans of different sizes used for the same purpose, have been found at
five different locations within the site. We take these numbers to be
significant and conclude from it that maple sugar production was an important
dimension of McCord’s economy. Matthew Thomas (2004:104) concludes, “At this
point in time, this (McCord) is the greatest concentration of archaeological
remains of boiling arches at an American Indian community in Wisconsin.” There is some evidence of the economic
significance of these arches.
2, 1901 Prentice News Calumet notes that the postmaster at McCord reports that
“Indians shipped to Tomahawk consigned to DC Jones, 550 lbs of maple sugar of
superior quality.” And ten years later, in the July 28, 1911 issue: “The
Indians are busy picking and selling blueberries throughout this vicinity.” As there were more than 8800 people living in
Oneida County at this time, the
inclination to McCord as “isolated,” in “seclusion” distracts us from the
conclusion that McCord was located where it was partially because of the proximity
of non-Indian people who were its market for country foods.
same can be said of Skunk Hill. Though
there is no direct evidence for such levels of sugar production, however,
Gerend (1932) writes that at Indian
Farm, fifteenmiles north of Skunk Hill, “they often had a sugar dance at which
from 400 to 500 Indians would gather for a week’s pow wow.” There were many opportunities for selling the
product of their labor in the cranberry marshes as well as the other country
foods and craft items in a county that had 25,000 residents in 1900. They also
received money for their leased allotments.
In August of 1907, Indian Agent Williams, of the Nemaha Indian
Reservation in Kansas, came to Pittsville (near Skunk Hill) to disburse about $15,000 in allotments of
$348.59 for each of the 43 people
paid. Two days later the paper reported
that there were “(q)uite a few Potowatomie Indians…in the city today spending
some of the good money they received from Uncle Sam…”
I referred to these communities as linked, that is, that movement between
Kansas, Skunk Hill and McCord was common,
as well as movement between the Wisconsin reservations references being
made to Indians visiting in the local newspaper. Notices such as the following are typical:
band of Skunk Hill Indians dressed in their best attire, gaudy to say the
least, passed through here Tuesday for McCord where they will celebrate the
Albert Dies at Skunk Hill
loads of Skunk Hill Indians traveling by team, passed through here Monday on
their way to McCord, where they will take part in the annual tribal dance.
Describing the magnitude of the dances
at Skunk Hill, Gernend (1932) writes that “Some come by rail and alightas t
Arpin,…a few come by automobile and some come with teams all the way from McCord
teams at Skunk Hill played games against towns nearby and occasionally
non-Indian residents of the nearby towns had picnics at Skunk Hill where they
spent time “climbing the rocks and visiting with the Indians.” Lac du Flambeau also played baseball with a
team in Tomahawk.
ECONOMY AND RELIGION
from at least Durkheim and OjibWeber to the Comaroffs have made strong cases
for the argument that religious frameworks condition the sensibility of
economic practices and macrohistorical conditions, in turn, shape those
frameworks. All of the tribes whose
members made up the communities at McCord and Skunk Hill– Ojibwe, Potawatomi,
Menominee and Ho-Chunk– had some version of the Medicine Dance, a pan-tribal
ritual complex that likely emerged in the late 17th century refugee village of
Chequamegon (Hickerson 1970:51-63)
involving the transmission of esoteric knowledge to initiates for
payments usually in the form of non-Indian trade goods and the magical killing
and revival of adepts. This
“powerful, semiprofessional ritual elite
organized as a hierarchical, loosely bureaucratized, semisecret
sodality…conducted rituals dealing with problems of illness that had reached
epidemic proportions; they concerned themselves with problems of social control
within the tribe, managing deviant warriors and chastising overly ambitious I
; and they served to bind together the scattered clan-villages into a
larger solidary unit, the tribal society (Clifton 1998:264).
Ojibwes referred to it as the Midewiwin and
it is the religion of expansionist societies on the ascent though the
historical context was complicated.
Unprecedented sickness and death, population movement, and access to
material wealth as well as the presence of powerful spiritual competition in
the form of Christian missionaries provided a motivation for part-time
spiritual specialists who had formerly competed with each for followings to
cooperate. The midewiwin facilitated and entailed the development of both
religious stratification and political alliances by transforming goods procured
in the fur trade which were given as gifts and payments in the context of the ceremony into
indigenous spiritual and social power and prestige, some of which was deployed in
warfare. All of these societies
experienced periods of efflorescence in the 18th century characterized by
increased affluence and political significance.
Drum or Dream Dance, by contrast, is compensatory and inward looking. And the Drum Dance was important at both
Skunk Hill and at McCord. “It is a
development of the reservation period,” writes Rohrl (1972: 219). This is to
say that it is the religious practice of societies losing their relatively
autonomous power of self-determination and reproduction, their own ‘laws of
motion,’ as they become articulated with the dominant society as dependent
peripheries (Jorgensen 1978). Frances Densmore (1913:142) offers a useful
The Mide chiefly has regard for the
individual; its aim is to secure health and long life for him, and its
instructions concern his own character.
Its percepts regarding the relation of man to his neighbor (so far as
observed) are connected with the cure of illness and general rectitude of his
conduct. The “religion of the drum”
inculcates a developed and broadened sense of responsibility and concerns peace
between peoples who have been at enmity.”
a few paragraphs about the Midewiwin among the Potawatomi, Smith (1933: 31)
writes of the Drum Dance: “The second is the Dream dance which has been so
thoroughly described by Dr. S. A. Barrett and is well understood as a sacred
ceremonial dance which is not performed in secret. In fact, the whites are often invited to be
present.” This is significant by
contrast to the Midewiwin, which was so concerned about secrecy. In their presence, the few whites able to
understand Ojibwe would hear Indian people assure themselves that this
religions was “as sacred as the religion of the whiteman” and in “everyway
equal” to it, (Barrett 305) and “regardless of race, creed, or station” such
observers are received in a “kindly
(1957: 13) contrasts the Midewiwin and the Big Drum, seeing the former as
esoteric and expensive and the latter as exoteric and relatively
inexpensive. His wife, who was with him
in the field in the late 1940s, wrote of the power of the drum to constitute a
collectivity: “The effect of the group drummers beating and singing together
gives me a sense of the group solidarity which is wholly absent from
the-[another] rite,” no doubt, referring to the Midewiwin (ibid:15). Slotkin notes that the Big Drum differs from
Peyotism, another competing and current
revitalization movement that is on the ascent in being less “individualistic
and contemplative.” (ibid:14). The Big
Drum is centripetal: leveling cultural and social distinctions between tribal
communities as it foregrounds their commonalities in opposition to the
non-Indians whose presence has become so consequential for Indian people. The geopolitical context of the emergence of
this new symbolic practice is the post-Civil War period wherein Indians were
both militarily defeated and no longer seen as assimilable to the American body
politic as culturally distinctive groups. The Indian prophet of this movement
made peace between the Sioux and the Chippewa, rivals since the late 17th
century, and communicated to them that they had more in common than they had
had been killing each other and people lived in fear, normatively. It was a widely shared and rather robust way
of life. Slotkin quotes an account of
the new religion’s origin:
that Spirit stopped that. “My children, Indians stop doing this! This is not
good! Stop doing it! If one of you is somewhere where you see another, you
should think of him [or her] as being the same as your own brother, brother or
sister—when you meet with different tribes, somewhere…
go anywhere. I return. I go to see Chippewa, Potawatomi, Winnebago;
no one ever captured me: I always return again here to the Menomini settlement…
there was the Drum, he (presumably the Indian) did not sleep well; he was
always afraid of something; he constantly thought that someone would kill him.
(ibid 14 my emphasis).
the monotheistic “Spirit,” the racial term “Indians” and the message of
brotherhood between those previously convinced of fundamental difference.
The message that indigenous cultural and
political differences were no longer relevant to non-Indians was realized as an
indigenous religious movement that transmitted and reproduced a particular form
of social relations. The movement
concords with the racial polarization and essentialization that the end of
Reconstruction and the beginning of Jim Crow represented. The Drum Dance was a regional manifestation
of then-century and half-long social and cultural process well documented by
Greg Dowd (1992) for east of the Mississippi. But it had a very particular
character and was particularly appropriate mode of adaptation.
Mide presumes a society that is intact as it focused on enhancing the power of
individuals; the Drum Dance appears a cure for a society that is not. It emerges in the late nineteenth century, a
difficult time for all of the tribes.
“The next half century of their history, thereby, is a record of a loss
of political and economic autonomy,…” Clifton (1998:347) of the Potawatomi in the second half of the
nineteenth century. “The history of the
Ojibwa people for the last half of the nineteenth century is bleak, cultural
and economically,” writes Thomas Vennum (1982:25). Felix Keesing ( 1987:148-193) writes of
similar conditions among the Menominee and Lurie (1978: 702-705) for the
Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) Like the other
tribes in the region, their relationships to the sources of power that had made
their autonomous lives fulfilling were now fully mediated by the now more
centralized post-Civil War American law and economy with bands settled on the
treaty-created reservations, exploitation of game by Indian people off of those
reservations interdicted by newly emerged states, and federal policy seeking to
erase their distinctive cultures and societies via policies of assimilation.
longer able to reproduce internal relations with all of the generative power
accrued from the practice of warfare,
former enemies exchange the knowledge and practice of peace in the form
of the Drum Dance. With both warfare and the Drum Dance, however, generative
and reproductive power inhered in the human body. In the case of the former it was actual body
parts. In the latter, power was
transferred in the “person” of the drum that was transferred from one group to
the next. The dance was given to a
Wana’nikwa, a young Dakota woman, in a
dream wherein she was instructed to have a drum and drumsticks of a particular
kind made, appoint officers and enact a liturgy of songs, dancing and feasting
(Barrett, Skinner, etc). Summarizing his
informant, Skinner (1924: 224, emphasis added)
rule of the drum was visiting and not
war. People had to love one another; if
they did not, the Thunderers would bring their lives to an end. Dancing and the giving of presents were to
transition was legitimized in the traditional manner of originary dream
visitation. The integrity of Great Lakes
Indian communities, would now be reproduced via reciprocal relations of gift
exchange, the embrace of the Christian ethic of universal love, and a
reimagining of the relations between humans and deities that included a greater
emphasis upon monotheism. In his
description of ceremonies at Lac Courte Oreilles, Barrett (1911:322) writes
“blankets, quilts, clothing, tobacco, foods etcetera” were presented to visitors, typically for
their chief to redistribute. Doing ethnographic work among the Menominee in the
middle of the twentieth century, Slotkin (1957: 31) writes that older members of the dance regard
the Great Spirit as “relatively remote,” by contrast to the younger members who
“concentrate on the Great Spirit and know little about the lesser spirits; this
is a result of white Christian influence.”
Of the ethical transformation, Slotkin
(1957: 39) writes that the injunction to treat others like family
members is traditional but, “the distinctive contribution made by the Pow wow
[Dream Dance] is believed by its members to be that it extended this behavior
from fellow tribesmen to people of other Indian tribes as well.” One of his informants told him that “The Pow
Wow people should be good and kind and love one another, being one person”
(ibid: 43). Skinner (APAMNH 173) also
writes that “It (the Dream dance) is a rival of the medicine lodge, and ,
although there are no rules to that effect, many Indians do not care to belong
of the ways in which the community expressed this love was by using the drum as
a focus and means of organizing insurance rather like the friendly societies in
Jamaica and elsewhere. Densmore (1932: 154) writes: “An important
property of the drum is the fund of money, contributed to it during a ceremony
or gathering. This is the in the nature
of an insurance fund, for use in case of illness or misfortune.” At the
ceremony Barrett observed at Whitefish in 1911, a young man’s dream was retold
wherein he was instructed to marry a local widow and look after her children.
With all parties present, a transfer of blankets, quilts, clothing, tobacco and
other objects” (317) was made from the family of the widow and her former
husband, to the young man, then redistributed amongst all those gathered. At
the same ceremony, the needs of a disabled man were met via a dance and
collection the proceeds of which were given to a local (Indian) merchant who
would, in turn, attend to the man and his family. (318-19).
Threatened with the increasingly hegemonic
force of a Protestant capitalism, atomizing Indian communities received and
transmitted a model of communitarianism that placed soon-to-be commoditized
traditional beliefs, ethics and practices
in a theological and ethical frame familiar and acceptable to the
dominant society. In an electronic conversation with Ernie St. Germaine,
himself in possession of dozens of Big Drum songs, he wrote the following in
response to a reading of this draft:
effect, Shinabe put on that tchii dewe’igan was more or less a pow wow, just a celebration. He did so to fool
chimokiman, in order to be able to practice his spiritual beliefs.”
In her account of the transfer of a drum from
Lac du Flambeau to the Menominee, Frances Densmore identifies 29 persons in the
drum party then lists them according to their roles, note, in relationship to
the drum, understood and regarded as a person:
chief of the settlement; the owner of the drum; the speaker; the aid
(oc´kabe´wîs); the manager of the dancing hall or circle; five men who take
care of the drum; the man who takes care of the drum pipe (used by the
drummers): the man who takes care of the warrior’s pipe (used by the dancers);
the chief drummer and singer; four leading drummers and singers (one being
seated at each “leg” of the drum); four leading women singers (seated behind
the leading drummers); four assistant women singers (seated between the leading
women singers); four leading dancers (said to be ‘one for each ‘leg’ of the
Landes wrote about the Prairie Potawatomi Big Drum in 1936 when she spent some
time among them in Mayetta Kansas:
ritual focused attention preeminently on the drum, regarding it as a
materialized, personified mystery. Cult
hierarchy was organized in its terms and symbolism flowered around it. Every eye was fixed on the drum, whether
individuals sang, danced, ate, addressed the crowd, or idled. To do otherwise carried the worst
disrespect. In the drum house, people
tiptoed. When discussing the drum,
people employed the active mode and personal turns of speech. Visionaries dreamt of it” (Landes, 1970:
about the movement in the early twentieth century, Thomas Vennum (1982: 80)
concludes that the drum societies “reflect fairly accurately the social
structure of the community,” including women being “subservient to the offices
held by males” (ibid: 82) that “the
congregational aspects of the drum dances should be stressed” (ibid: 81). He (1982:74) concludes that “what is clear is
that the number of (drum) societies within a given community and the number of
tribes practicing the Drum dance increased and a pattern of giving away drums
in any direction emerged.” That is to
say, that long-standing ethnic differences between Indian people were now
subordinate to the racial difference between Indians and whites, and the
communities would take as their organizational core the model of the drum
Barrett (1910: 267) observed Big Drum ceremonies at Whitefish near the Lac
Courte Oreilles reservation during the summer of 1910, at exactly the time that
the McCord was coalescing. He write of
drum transfers from one community to the next as involving a “friendship dance” wherein the receivers of the new drum give
the donors “very substantial presents” of “ponies and other chattels which if
they were to be brought in the open market, would cost a good many dollars.”
Landes worked among Potawatomi people in Kansas during the Depression, shortly
after McCord and Skunk Hill had likely reached their apogees of significance as
off-reservation inter-community ceremonial sites in the region. She reports
that Potawatomi in Kansas in the 1930s named, married and buried by Drum, that
is, the Big drum was the master symbol that facilitated these rites of passage
(1970: 250-58). With the George Amour
memoir of life at McCord so clear about the importance of the Big Drum in this
community, there is little reason to doubt that Landes description of such
doings in Mayetta would not hold for McCord and Skunk Hill.
Big Drums that would come to play such an important role in shaping life in
Kansas originated with a drum transfer from McCord with John Young (Nsowakwet)
playing an instrumental role (Clifton 1998: 393). John Young’s family was originally from the
Chicago area and had lived at Skunk Hill earlier in his life. In about 1899 he
moved to Perkinstown then to McCord (Gerend manuscript, 105).
Kwakwaka’wakw at the same time half a continent away, leading individuals at
Skunk Hill and McCord, especially but also at the other Drum Dance centers in
the upper reaches of the Wisconsin River valley, “were utilizing capitalistic
practices to support a ritual economy outside of European (in this case, American)
control” (Masco 65). They did this by using the commons to produce country
foods at near industrial levels, McCord having the highest density of sugar
boiling arches in the entire state of Wisconsin, commoditizing cultural
performances and by producing crafts for touristic consumption.
villages represent a phase in Wisconsin and Indian history wherein native
people attempted to fashion an indigenously organized collective modern life
fully articulated with the dominant society.
They sought and partially succeeded in negotiating the terms of that
relationship unencumbered by federal agents who were seeking to implement an
individualized solution to the problem of social and cultural difference. The Big Drum, or Dream Dance was the central
institution in this articulation. It was a modular, evangelical, indigenous
monotheistic movement that entailed its adherents in a complicated network of
reciprocities within and between communities.
These communities both cooperated and competed for the prestige of
hosting ceremonies with leaders such as John Nuwee and John Young at their
centers.. As such, the movement required and rewarded lucrative relationships
of exchange with the non-indian communities.
For a period of time, lasts two to three decades, multi-tribal Indian
communities away from the reservations, but also mediating between them,
effervesced both religiously and materially.
Annual Report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs
Barrett, Samuel. 1911. The Dream dance of the Chippewa and
Menominee Indians of Northern Wisconsin.
Bulletin of the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee. Volume 1, Article IV.
Brown, Charles. 1928. Papers in the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Bruso, Lelah, ed. Oneida County Centennial
History Edition, 1887-1987.
Clifton, James. 1969.
“Sociocultural Dynamics of the Prairie Potawatomi Drum Cult,” Journal of the Plains Anthropologist, Volume
14, number 44, part 1: 85-93.
_____________1998. The Prairie Potawatomi: Continuity and Change
in Potawatomi Indian Culture, 1665-1965.
Densmore, Frances, 1910. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American
Ethnology Volume 45. Chippewa Music.
Densmore, Frances 1932. Menominee Music. Smithsonian Institution
bureau of Ethnology Bulletin 102.
Washington Government Printing Office.
Dowd, Gregory 1992. A Spirited Resistance: The North American
Indian Struggle for Unity, 1745-1815. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins
Engel, Dave. 2004. Cranmoor: The Cranberry Eldorado. Rudolf, Wisconsin: River City
Gerend, Alphonse 1932 “Traditions and
Customs of the Once Powerful Tribes that Roamed Over the State of Wisconsin,”
The Sheboygan Press, May 28, 1932.
____________. Native American
Photographic Albums, ca. 1920, Wisconsin Historical Society Archives.
Goldberg-Ambrose, Carole. 1994. Of Native Americans and Tribal Members: The
Impact of Law on Indian Group Life, Law and Society Review 28 (5): 1123-48
Hickerson, Harold 1970 The Chippewa and Their Neighbors: A Study in
Jones, George. 1923
History of Wood County
Jorgensen, J. C. 1978. A century of
political economic effects on American Indian so- ciety, 1880-1980. J. Ethnic
Stud. 6: 1- 82.
Kohl, Johann Georg 18xx. (CHECK Chippewa Indians of Lake
Superior. Minnesota Historical Society
Lawson, Publius V. 1920. The Potawatomi, The Wisconsin Archaeologist
19 (2): 41-116.
Lee, Sharon Wai-Seung 1998. Evolution of
the “shang” (American ginseng) industry in Marathon County, Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin-Madison. MA thesis.
Murphy, Lucy Eldersveld 2000.
Gathering of Rivers: Indians, Métis, and Mining in the Western Great
Raibom, Paige. 2005.
Authentic Indians: Episodes of the Encounter from the Late-Nineteenth-Century Northwest
Coast. Durham and London: Duke University Press
Vivian Rohrl, “Some Observations on the
Drum Society of the Chippewa Indians,” Ethnohistory Vol. 19, No. 3 (Summer,
1972), pp. 219-225
Sasso, Robert F. and Michelle
Wilder. 1998. “A Preliminary Assessment of Nineteenth
Century Potawatomi Agriculture and Land Use Practices in Southeastern
Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Archaeologist 79(1):185-207.
Secunda, W. Ben. 2006 “
To Cede or Seed? Risk and Identity Among the Woodland Potawatomi During the
Removal Period,” Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 31(1): 57-88.
Skinner, Alanson. 1924. The Mascoutens, or Prairie Potawatomi
Indians. Bulletin of the Public Museum
of the City of Milwaukee. Volume 6, No.
Slotkin, J. S. 1957.
The Menomini Powwow: A study in Cultural Decay, Milwaukee Public Museum,
Publications in Anthropology, no. 4
Thomas, Matthew 2004. Where the forest
meets the farm: a comparison of spatial and historical change in the
Euro-American and American Indian maple production landscape. PhD dissertation. UW-Madison.
Vennum, Thomas. 1982. The Ojibwa Dance
Drum: Its History and Construction. Smithsonian Life Series Number 2.
Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington, D. C.
Weldman, Samuel 1907.
The Geology of North Central Wisconsin, Bulletin XVI, The Wisconsin
Geological and Natural History Survey, E. A. Birge, Director. Published by the
Wissler, Clark 1916 Societies of the Plains Indians,
Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, Volume
XI. New York.
What was that was being validated in
this Great Lakes version of NW coast potlatching?
How was Big Drum a means of
domesticating the threat that the wage economy (Raibom 104) presented to the political leadership? Was it the status of the community and the
leaders within it?
EVIDENCE for off-reservation ceremonial
May 18, 1912 Marshfield Herald reports
that the annual Medicine Dance of the Wisconsin Chippewa was held at Sugar
In his memoir of life at McCord, George Amour writes that people settled
at McCord so “the could enjoy some economic stability and continue the practice
and preservation of their religion, customs and traditions.” (My emphasis and I
note the order of his reasons).
“Tah-qua-kik: Continuity and Change at the Community on a Hill,”
nd, manuscript; “Stray Bands and Dream
Dancers: Indian Farms and Potawatomi Settlement in Central Wisconsin During the
Late 19th and Early 20th Century,” nd, manuscript prepared for the Norwest
Regional Planning Commission, Spooner, Wi.; “The Rozellville Indian Community:
Historical Background,” 2004, manuscript.
In May of 1919, improvising an appropriation of Western concepts he
appears to think his auditor could appreciate, Simon Kahquados, speaker of the
Wisconsin Potawatomi told Publius Lawson (1920: 42) that the Potawatomi “are
the chosen people. They are the accepted ones. They believe they are the
leading tribe by divine right.”
Alphonse Gerend (1932:9) wrote that “The older Potawatomis at Skunk Hill
often referred to themselves as the Chicago Potawatomi.” As “chicog,” is the
Potawatomi word for “skunk,” the name Skunk Hill is effectively a
transformation of “Chicago.” Indeed, Gerend got John Nuwi to write out the
names of places phonetically: “’Sh-kok-ko’ stands for the name Chicago. According to his (John’s) version and that of
other Indians interviewed, the meaning of the term is ‘skunk’” (Gerend, WHS archives). More than twenty years before the issue of
the name of this locality emerged in the local paper.
A certain Max Petersen had taken up the
cause of informing the general public that the original name of this “young
mountain” is “Power’s Bluff,” as “the [non-Indian] people of that locality do
not seem partial to the name Skunk Hill,” (Pittsville Record, October 28, 1909)
the name preferred by Indian people when they spoke English. When they spoke
Anishinabewmowin, they seemed to refer to the community as Tah-qua-kik
translated as “daagwaagiig…it is fall (autumn)” by Ernie St Germaine,
personal communication July 16, 2008.
Now, Ho-Chunk. White Pigeon was
married to a descendent of Glory-of-the-Morning (Lawson 1920:108), an early
18th century Ho-Chunk female chief, (see Murphy 200:28-29)
Items Taken From the Pittsville Record, The Marshfield Herald, October
John “Louie” sold this land for $125 to H.F. Roehrig in 1927. The Indenture was signed and sealed in the
presence of Skunk Hill community member Russell Barnes and attested to by an
“his mark,” with the notary writing in the name “John Louie.” Jones
(1923:12) lists some of the Potawatomi who lived at Indian Farms and includes a
“Nwee or John Louis,” no doubt the same person.
The Pittsville Record of October 14, 1909 reports that “(t)he U.S.
government has bought this land of these Indians in Nebraska and in exchange
purchased the skunk hill tract, paying the tribe, in quarterly installments,
the difference between the land purchased the price of the land north of here.
I can’t reconcile Gerend’s claim that Nuwi died in 1926 but John “Louie”
sells the land that John Nuwi lived in as a widower in 1927.
Was the area a tribal borderlands?
Gerend (1932) notes that fifteen
miles north Skunk Hill was another settlement called The Indian Farm, located a
miles south of the Eau Plaine River, “known in the Chippewa dialect as
‘She-sheg-e-ma-we-she-can-sebe,’ or the Soft Maple River.”
“Indian” Albert Wyotten, who mostly resided in Kansas, died at Skunk
Hill early in 1914, on “his last visit in the country he roamed when a boy, 50
years ago” (Marshfield Herald, January 10, 1914). Dying in 1914, in his
nineties, Wabeshgo for example “has been a resident of Wood county for over
forty-three years” (Marshfield Herald, October 24, 1914).
“Gathering for Religious Dance,” The Daily Reporter, (Grand Rapids, Wi.)
October 13, 1906
Planet Botanic HYPERLINK
“http://www.planetbotanic.ca/fact_sheets/slippery_elm_fs.htm” http://www.planetbotanic.ca/fact_sheets/slippery_elm_fs.htm visited July 18, 2008.
Gerend (1932) writes that “they
sold most the blueberries and cranberries that they picked.” A local resident
reportedly “bought 50 quarts (a washtubful) from the Indians for $1.50…when the
Indians returned from Dancy,”
WISCONSIN, Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990.
Compiled and edited by Richard L. Forstall, Population Division, US Bureau of
the Census, , DC 20233
Potowatomies Paid Off, The Daily Reporter, (Grand Rapids, Wi.) August 1,
Potowatomies Visit Grand Rapids Today, The Daily Reporter, August 3,
Marshfield Herald. May 6, 1911; May 20, 1911; October 28, 1911; November
Marshfield Herald, July 5, 1915
Marshfield Herald January 10, 1914
Marshfield Herald, July 17, 1915
The Marshfield Herald, September 11, 1915.
For Ojibwe, see W. J. Hoffman,
“The Midewiwin or ‘Grand Medicine Society ‘ of the Ojibwa,” Bureau of American
Ethnology. Seventh Annual Report to the Smithsonian Institution, 1885-1886, pp.
145-300. Washington: Smithsonian
Institution Press; Ruth Landes, The Ojibwe religion and the Midewiwin, 1968,
Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, and Michael Angel, Preserving the
Sacred: historical Perspectives on the Ojibwe Midewiwin. For Potawatomi, see Publius Lawson, The Potawatomi, p 70 in The Wisconsin Archeologist 19:2 James
Clifton, Potawatomi, p. 734 in Handbook of North American Indians: The
Northeast. Smithsonian Institution,
Robert Ritzenthaler, The Potawatomi Indians of Wisconsin, p 152 in Bulletin of
the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee, 19:3. For Ho-Chunk, see Robert Hall, “The Winnebago Medicine Rite” in Archaeology
of the Soul: North American Indian Belief and Ritual, University of Illinois
Press. For Menominee, see W. J Hoffmann, The Menominee Indians. BAE Fourteenth Annual Report to the
Smithsonian Institution, 1892-93, Pt 1 3-228.
Georg Kohl estimates that the entrance fee for joining the Ojibwe
Midewiwin in the middle of the nineteenth century was in the tens of thousands
George T. Amour, last resident of McCord, in his page and one-half long
“A Personal Account, My Birthplace: The McCord Indian Village,” mentions the
Big Drum or Dream Dances three times
Wissler (1916: 869) writes of the plains societies in the late
nineteenth century from whence the Dream Dance originates as a transformation
of the Grass Dance. It was “ a period of
great economic readjustment…With this new life their social ideas and machinery
were decidedly out of joint…many young men were so overwhelmed by the vacuity
of the new life that they took to suicide or other less direct ways of throwing
their lives away. In our opinion this
status afforded unusual conditions for the assimilation and diffusion of new
“The warpath was acclaimed as a tremendous restorative, both for the
individual, who desired to live again, and for the groups, which thus regained
its energies.” (Landes 1970: 256-6)
The gender of the recipient is not insignificant: White Buffalo Calf
Woman gave the pipe to the Dakota.
Algonquians thus knew that they were receiving a genuine and legitimate
Dakota ceremonial complex. My emphasis
The agent in Kansas reports of the Potawatomi in 1889, “As it is, there
is very much time and money wasted in useless visiting, and I have observed
that the northern Indians, whether on the reservation for the purposes of a
visit or permanent residence, are inclined to be troublesome and insubordinate”
(ARCIA 1889: 216, emphasis added).
Beverly Anderson gave a talk at the African Studies Sandwich Seminar on
April 16, 2008 titled “Friendly Societies in Jamaica,” that described some of
the same activities that can be seen in the drum societies of the Upper Great
Rohrl (1972: 219) writes that the dance “appears to function as a means
of maintaining traditional beliefs and customs.”