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The history of Columbia County, Wisconsin, containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and constitution and of the constitution of the United States

Butterfield, C. W.
II.--The indian tribes of Wisconsin,   pp. 21-29 PDF (4.5 MB)

Page 21

this ancient race and those of modern ones; the results, however, of these
comparisons throw
little, if any, light upon "the dark backward and abysmn" of mound-building
     The evidences of an extinct people of superior intelligence is very
strikingly exhibited in
 the ancient copper mines of the Lake Superior region. Here are to be found
excavations in the
 solid rock; heaps of rubble and dirt; copper utensils fashioned into knives,
chisels, and spear
 and arrow-heads; stone hammers; wooden bowls and shovels; props and levers
for raising and
 supporting the mass copper; and ladders for ascending and descending the
pits. These mines
 were probably worked by people not only inhabiting what is now the State
of Wisconsin, but
 territory farther to the southward. The copper Was here obtained, it is
believed, which has been
 found in many places, even as far away as the northern shore ef the Gulf
of Mexico, wrought
 into various implements and utensils. But there are no traces in Wisconsin
of a " copper age
 succeeding a " stone age," discernadle in any prehistoric relics.
They all refer alike to one
 age-the indefinite past; to one people-,the Mound-Builders.
                      II.-THE INDIAN TRIBES OF WISCONSIN.
     When, as early, it is believed, as 1634, civilized man first set foot
upon the territory now
included within the boundaries of Wisconsin, he discovered, to his surprise,
that upon this wide
area met and mingled clans of two distinct and wide-spread families-the Algonquins
Sioux. The tribes of the former, moving westward, checked the advance of
the latter in their
excursions eastward. As yet there bad been no representatives of the Huron-Iroquois
seen west
of Lake Michigan-the members of this great family, at that date dwelling
in safety in the
extensive regions northward and southward of the Erie and Ontario lakes.
Already had the
French secured a foot-hold in the extensive valley of the St. Lawrence; and,
naturally enough,
the chain of the Great Lakes led their explorers to the mouth of Green bay,
and up that water-
course and its principal tributary, Fox river, to the Wisconsin, an affluent
of the Mississippi.
On the right, in ascending this bay, was seen, for the first time, a nation
of Indians, lighter in
'complexion than neighboring tribes, and remharkably well formed, now well
known as the
     This nation is of Algonquin stock, but their dialect differed so much
from the surrounding
tribes of the same family, it having strange guttural sounds and accents,
as well as peculiar inflec-
tions of verbs and other parts of speech, that, for a long time, they were
supposed to have a
distinct language.  Their traditions point to an emigration from the East
at some remote
period. When first visited by the French missionaries, these Indians subsisted
largely upon wild
rice, from which they took their name. The harvest time of this grain was
in the month of,
September. It grew spontaneously in little streams with slimy bottoms, and
in marshy places.
The harvesters went in their canoes across these watery fields, shaking the
ears right and left as
they advanced, the grain falling easily, if ripe, into the bark receptacle
beneath. To clear it
from chaff and strip it of a pellicle inclosing it, they put it to dry on
a wooden lattice above a
small fire, which was kept up for several days. When the rice was well dried,
it was plced
in a skin of the form of a bag, which was then forced into a hole, made on
purpose, in the
ground. They then tread it out so. long and so well, that the grain being
freed from the chaff,
was easily winnowed. After this, it was pounded to meal, or left unpounded,
and boiled in
water seasoned with grease. It thus became a very palatable diet. It must
not be inferred that
this was the only food of the Menomonees; they were adepts in fishing, and
hunted with skill
-the game which abounded'in the forests.
     For many years after their' discovery, the Menomonees had their homes
and hunting

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