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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

1. Prehistoric and historic Native American occupation,   pp. 1-42


Page 18

different attempts were made to move the Winnebago across the Mississippi, and each time
many returned. An historical account tells of the Rock River Winnebago:
...even after they had been removed to the reservation provided for them, they
continually revisited them [their former homes along the Rock River] in small parties,
to the great annoyance of the citizens; and the Government was finally compelled, in
1841, to send a military detachment to secure obedience to the order confining them to
territory set off to them beyond the Mississippi. But though forced to leave, they
would frequently return in small parties; and when these straggling bands would pass
their old-time burial places, they would manifest the deepest reverence. (Butterfield
1879:328)
Many American Indian families were granted40 acres of land under federal allotment acts
during the 1870s and 1880s. This land was low quality, as the better acreage had long been
claimed by Euro-American settlers. Most of this allotted land was sold within a generation or
two, in many cases because of tax deliquency. Many American Indian individuals, from an
early date, chose to live in towns and cities rather than at official and unofficial settlements.
Often these individuals returned to tribal lands for holidays and retirement.
Potential Associated Site Types
Several American Indian village sites of the historic period are known to exist north and south
of the Janesville area. None, with the exception of Black Hawk's encampment (discussed
below under "The Black Hawk War: The Janesville Connection" context) are known to exist
within the current boundaries of the City of Janesville. The general subsistence-settlement
pattern that characterized the groups living in and utilizing Rock County included relatively
large semi-permanent villages and partial reliance on agriculture. Seasonally, harvesting
wild rice, fishing, and hunting added to the subsistence base. The subsistence and settlement
patterns also tended to adapt to the demands of the fur trade. There was an increased demand
for taking small fur-bearing animals (Kay 1977). With the introduction of the brass kettle,
maple sugar production became an important economic factor (Kay 1977).
Generally, village sites in the Janesville area would have been located on major streams, while
small hunting camps would have been located in areas that supported a wetland marsh
environment. While the majority of potential Native American sites would be located along
rivers, lake shore, streams, and ponds, special purpose camps, such as hunting or nutting, may
have been located in the uplands surrounding Janesville. Additional site types that could be
located in Janesville include fishing camps, cemeteries, and temporary encampments associated
with travel up and down the Rock River and overland along the well-defined trail system.
Historic period American Indian cemeteries (single or multiple burial) are of special
importance because these resources are protected by state and federal law. One historic period
American Indian burial site, is known to exist in the immediate vicinity of Janesville. This site
is listed in the archeological site files at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin under
Archeological Site Inventory no. 017064. It is further described as an unnamed cemetery located
within the NE1/4, NE1/4, NE1/4, NW1/4 of Section 27, Township 3, Range 13. Additionally,
the Rock County Historical Society curates a set of 15 color pictures of this site and the
immediate area. One of these pictures is labeled "fir tree where Indian girls are buried."
If present within the city limits of Janesville, Native American cultural resources could be used
to help answer numerous research questions, many of which are outlined in Cultural Resource
Management in Wisconsin. A major problem concerning potential American Indian cultural
resources in Janesville is one that threatens similar sites throughout the state: urban
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation
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