Menominee Chiefs

These are legends of the Menominee People. This information was taken from written history of men who knew or said they knew these Chiefs personally. True of false we can never really know.

Among the Menominee, the White Beaver (to which Oshkosh belonged) the Wolf, the Turtle, the Crane and the Bear were the principle clans. There were several lesser ones such as the Turkey, ect.

 

Some remembered were Waupomasah, nicknamed Old Sore Eyes was one of the principle chief's of the Menominee at Lake Shawano. The meaning of his name was "Admired Man". He was in the War of 1812 and died at Keshena about 1868 living to be 80 years old.

 

Poe-go-nah was called Big Soldier who died at nearly 90 years of age, in the village of his name in Calumet County, on Lake Winnebago. From early in in his life he had gone on every war expedition with his people and even with other tribes. He was the tallest man among the Menominee, being six foot four inches tall. He was known to always wear an eagle feather on the top of his scalp situated just so, that it would twirl in the breeze. He was envied by some for his exocentric way of looking and would challenge those who envied him to try and come and take it if they can.

He attended the treaty at Green Bay in 1832, where a drunken soldier acting as sentinel in protecting the Indian camp, recklessly ran his bayonet through Poe-go-nah's thigh. The old chief seized the Soldier, disarmed him with one hand and grabbed him by the throat with his other hand and through him to the ground calling him a dog and telling him if he were an enemy he would take his life for his insolence. Col. Brooks the commanding officer had the reckless soldier whipped in the presence of the Indians. Poe-go-nah went out on the Sauk expedition in 1832 but said it was child's play but let the young warriors get some experience. He made his charge to show fearlessness but never fired his gun.

He left two sons, both large men. Sacketook and Wiskeno (The Bird) the former a chief and a good man.

 

Pewautenot's son Waunako was a pretty smart Indian and a good speaker. He belonged to the band on the Menominee River. He is the Uncle to Keshena.

Oshkosh had a remarkable amount of knowledge of his people. He is thought to be born in a tribal hunting camp at Point Bas (Nekoosa) on the Wisconsin River. During the War of 1812 he served with the Menominee Warriors on the side of the British at Mackinac, Fort Megis and Fort Sandusky. During the Black Hawk War he served on the side of the Americans. In the year 1827 at the Treaty of Butte des Morts, Governor Lewis Cass recognized Oshkosh as chief of the Menominee's. In 1830 Judge James Doty in a dramatic trial saved the Chief from the penalty of murder of another Indian on the grounds that American Laws did not apply to the Indians.

He died at Keshena. He requested his tribe, when he died to bury him in a sitting posture, with his pipe, tobacco pouch, gun and powder horn, and pouch, one beaver trap and a rat trap, so that he might be properly equipped when he arrived in the good hunting ground.

On May 26, 1926 his remains were removed from an unmarked grave beside the banks of the Wolf River and were interred at the foot of the Statue of him in Memorial Park at Oshkosh, the city that bears his name.

Ahconemay, his oldest son was to take his place as head chief after his death, and was so considered by the tribe, until he was suspended by the Indian agent for killing Augustin Grignon Jr. * Even after his suspension the tribe still regarded him as they had his father, head chief of the tribe.

*The event occurred in 1871. Augustin Grignon Jr. was the half-breed son of the elder Augustin, and was employed in the fur trade. He was killed by Oshkosh's eldest son because he refused to allow him to drink in his cabin. Ahconemay was tried and sentenced to state prison; but after a year or more was pardoned by the governor and returned to the reservation in Shawano County. See Shawano in the News - June/July 1871 and June 1872

Oshkahenawniew, or "The young man" was Oshkosh's only brother, He was small in stature, abusive and bitter in his speech. He was about seven or eight years younger then Oshkosh, and took part with the Menominee in most of their activities. He died about 1867.

 

Charley Carron is the son of Josette who was recognized by Governor Cass at the treaty of Little Butte des Morts in 1827 as the second chief of the Menomonee. Charley lived near Omro at one time but moved to Mukwa, on the Wolf river about 1847 and was in the Indian trade there until 1854 when he moved to Grand Rapids. While in the trade he had several narrow escapes from being killed by Indians; was shot at three or four times and stabbed many times with a knife. He spent most of his days at Grand Rapids and Plover on the Wisconsin River.  Charley was well educated and of fine physique and was a noted leader of the Half-breeds in dare devil exploits.

The Indian called The Rubber was of a boasting disposition, fond of representing himself as a hero of exploits of which no one else had any knowledge; especially befriended the Americans and the American cause, when others were aiding the British. This was done in order to gain favor in the eyes of the American military officers in the shape of a frequent friendly dram (liquor). He would also pull other antics such as collecting gifts from the settlers on the Bay on the pretence he was the owner of the territory. He died somewhere along the shore of Green Bay perhaps at Grass Point about 8-9 miles below Green Bay probably of Cholera.

 

Chief Reginald Oshkosh