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Marie Cawakawįga (De Carrie) Decora (abt. 1775 - 1838)

Marie Cawakawįga "Marie, Mary, Chau Wau Kau" Decora formerly De Carrie aka DeKaury
Born about in Wisconsin Territorymap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Wife of — married 1795 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 63 in Green Bay, Brown, Wisconsin Territory, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified | Created 9 Jun 2011
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Marie was Ho-Chunk.


There are many variants of this name: Chau Wau Kau /De Carrie/, Chau Wau Kau /Decorah/, Eechauwaukak, Ee-chau-wau-kak, Chau /Decarrie/, Marie /Decorah/, Marie /Decarrie/.

The Hocąk (Winnebago) name is rather eccentric. For one, all female names end in wį-ga, where -wį- is a female gender infix, and -ga is a definite article used for personal names. Given the variations, it seems clear that the name means, "Muskrat." The standard word for muskrat is wicawak, but we also have hicąwąk (Kinzie). The /h/ is often dropped before a preceding vowel, so we have Dorsey's icawáK. The slightly corrupted name Ee-chau-wau-kak comes from this version of the word (Icąwąk-ka). Sometimes the word for water, , is prefixed to yield nįcawák. In early times, it was foreshortened to cowo (for cawa). (Merrell) This explains the shorter personal name, Chau-Wau-Kau (for Cawaka < Cawak-ka).

Marie will have been a member of the Thunderbird Clan as the daughter of a chief from that clan, and "Muskrat" is not a name in that clan. Therefore, it is a nickname. It should be noted that the word for muskrats was also used for 25¢ pieces, since they were exchanged for a muskrat skin. However, there is another interesting possibility. Since we may deduce that she was first married to Big Rat, the question arises as to what kind of "rat" this name refers. Given the unflattering character of the name, it may be that the "rat" meant was the muskrat, and that his name was properly Cawakaxetega. At the time, widows in white culture retained their former married names, so that at her marriage to Perriche, she will have been "Mrs. Muskrat," which is Cawaka-wį-ga, literally, "Muskrat's Woman."

Inasmuch as her husband was French, her official first name was "Marie," however, in various affidavits, she appears under the Anglicized name "Mary."


Cawaka lived with her husband near Depere or Rapids Des Pere, Wisconsin.


Waggoner says (p. 5), "(Chou-ge-ka) Decora, fathered two daughters, Marie or E-chau-wa-cau and Therese or Mah-na-tee-see, who are erroneously described as 'full-blood' Winnebago women in the affidavits."

Francis Roy testified that, "... the mother of the said Mary Bellair Sr. was the daughter of a Winnebago Squa or Woman by the name Mary Dekorree and that Mary Dekorre [or Dekorri] was Sister of Chief Dekorre [or Dekorri] of the Winnebago Tribe of Indians; that this affiant has seen said Mary Dekorree Bellair nursed & taken care of by Mary Dekorre [or Dekorri] when an infant in the arms; and that she the said Mary Bellair is about the age of Thirty years old; that the Father of Mrs. Mary Bellair was Pierish Grignon; that this affiant also knows that Mrs. Bellair has a daughter now living with her — by the name of Mary of the age of about fifteen or sixteen, that the Father of the said Mary Bellair Jr was a French man by the name of Lewis Bellair now dead. (Waggoner, 41b)

"Louis Menaige, a Canadian, served in the War of 1812. He was a resident of Portage and was living there in 1832. He married Margaret, daughter of Perrish Grignon and his wife, Es-chah-wan-kah, a sister of the Old Decorah. Their children were Peter, Josette, and two others." - Norton William Jipson, Story of the Winnebagoes (Chicago: The Chicago Historical Society, 1923 [unpublished]), 260-261.

Jipson (226) sums up her genealogy: The Old Decorah also had a sister called Es-chah-wau-kah, who married Perrish Grignon, and had a son Amable, who married Archange LaBathe about 1827, and died in Prairie du Chien in 1836, leaving three children: Antoine, born about 1828, Hypolite, born about 1830, and Archange, born about 1834. Other children of Es-chah-wau-kah were Lavoine, Margaret who married Louis Monagu, and Mariette Josette Monagu, who married John Baptiste Benway, was also said to be a granddaughter of Es-chah-wau-kah. Margaret, who married Louis Monague, had four children: Peter, born 1820, Josette and two others, Mary (probably Mariette) married Louis Bellair, and in 1838, was said to be about thrity years of age. She had a daughter, Ma[r]y aged fifteen (1838).”


The Wisconsin Death Index records her decease on 6 Nov 1838 in Green Bay.


  • Henry Merrell, "Winnebago Dictionary." Merrell (1804-1876), a fur trader at Portage, created this list in the 1830s for his personal use; his manuscript was loaned to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1899 so this 20-page typed copy could be made; the location of the original manuscript is not known. In US Mss 6F, folder 1.
  • Col. John Harris Kinzie (1803-1865), Notebook compiled at Prairie du Chien in 1826 (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society).
  • Learner’s Dictionary, Hocąk–English/English–Hocąk, edd. Johannes Helmbrecht and Christian Lehmann. Arbeitspapiere des Seminars für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Erfurt Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft, no. 21. 2d ed. (Erfurt: the Editors, May, 2006).
  • Norton William Jipson, Story of the Winnebagoes (Chicago: The Chicago Historical Society, 1923). This is an unpublished typescript.
  • Wisconsin, Death Index, 1820-1907, Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. Wisconsin Vital Record Index, pre-1907. Madison, WI, USA: Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services Vital Records Division.
  • WikiTree profile De Carrie-1 created through the import of The Sammons Family Tree.ged on Jun 9, 2011 by Steve Sammons.
  • WikiTree profile DeKaury-4 created through the import of The Sammons Family Tree.ged on Jun 9, 2011 by Steve Sammons.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Marie by comparing test results with other carriers of her mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known mtDNA test-takers in her direct maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share some percentage of DNA with Marie:

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DeKaury-4 and De Carrie-1 appear to represent the same person because: Spoon Decora had two daughters, variously named as Mary or Marie, and Therese. Marie/Mary married Perrish Grignon, who spoke French at home, but knew both Winnebago and English. Her chosen Christian name would naturally be in French as Marie, however, in American documents, often French names were given their Anglicized equivalents, which in this case is "Mary." The Affidavits found in Waggoner refer to her as "Mary," but make it explicitly clear that she is the daughter of Spoon Decora. I have a certain expertise in Winnebago, and I am in possession of Waggoner's book, so I will be able to keep the correct data from both profiles.
posted by [Living Dieterle]

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Categories: Ho-Chunk