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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 14

American Indian sites from which European artifacts were recovered have been excavated in
the vicinity of Rock County, but these are few. Two interesting ones, associated with the
Winnebago, have been excavated along the north shore of Lake Koshkonong in Jefferson County.
The first, Caracajou Point, contained evidence for occupations dating from the prehistoric
period up into the 1830s. The second, Crabapple Point, included trade silver and other Euro-
American artifacts dating from 1760 to the early 1800s. These sites are associated with the
well-documented Rock River faction of the Winnebago. With both of these sites, ethnohistoric
documents and artifacts together enabled researchers to come to conclusions they could not have
reached with only one body of evidence. This approach of combining archeology with historic
documents will allow further identification of the hundreds of American Indian sites from the
historic period located throughout Wisconsin. It will also allow researchers to answer
questions not only concerning who lived at a site and when, but involving subsistence and
residence patterns, warfare, and other group social and political happenings.
The seventeenth century saw the arrival in Wisconsin not only of European explorers and
trappers, but also of American Indian groups displaced by the Iroquois wars. The dislocations
begun by the Iroquois in New York during the 1630s and 1640s had long-lasting effects in
southern Wisconsin. The decades following 1630 saw numerous eastern groups moving into
Wisconsin. They moved about seasonally, searching for game, planting crops, gathering wild
rice, fruits, and nuts, and intermingling and trading with groups who were present when they
arrived and those who had preceded or followed them into the western Great Lakes area. The
establishment of French trading along the Illinois River during the later part of the
seventeenth century caused many groups to migrate to the south and southeast. This move put
them out of much of the danger they faced from the Iroquois. It was at this time that the
Kickapoo moved to the headwaters of the Rock River. While the French influence grew, the
Iroquois continued to trade with the western Great Lakes groups. The Iroquois even attempted
to redominate the western Great Lakes trade by taking military action against the French. The
French retaliated and, aided by various groups from the Green Bay area, took the offensive
against the Iroquois. The Iroquois-French hostility stopped at the beginning of the eighteenth
century due to a diplomatic error by the British. This error caused the Iroquois to turn toward
the French, with whom they forged new trade and territorial agreements.
Stability in the region lasted only a few years. In 1712, the Fox, Kickapoo, and Mascouten were
defeated near Detroit by the French and their allies. In retaliation, the Fox and their allies
embarked on a rampage throughout the Wisconsin area. They disrupted trade and once again
tribal patterns adjusted. The Kickapoo and Mascouten tired of the warfare in 1717. At this
time they surrendered to the French and retired to their Rock River settlements. In the early
1720s, however, the Fox were joined by the Winnebago, Sioux, Iowa, and Oto. Eventually the
Lake Koshkonong in Jefferson County, in 1878.
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation
14


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