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Nąwáčagᵋwįga (Fortress Woman) Rasdall (abt. 1815)

Nąwáčagᵋwįga Rasdall formerly Fortress Woman aka Naw waw chock wink ah
Born about in Wisconsin, Illinois Territory, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Wife of — married 1 Mar 1837 in Four Lakes, Madison, Dane, Wisconsinmap
Descendants descendants
Died [date unknown] [location unknown]
Profile last modified | Created 23 Sep 2019
This page has been accessed 217 times.
Nąwáčagᵋwįga was Ho-Chunk.




The first part of the name comes from nąwáčak, "fort, fence," from , wood; wa-, "an action that"; čak, meaning unclear, but has something to do with sealing things off. So nąwáčak is "wood involved in an action to seal something off." Nąwáčagᵋwįga is from, nąwáčak, "fort, fence"; -wį-, a feminine gender infix; and -ga, a definite article used in forming names. So her name means, "Fortress Woman," which is certainly consistent with a Bear Clan name.


[There] personally appeared Abraham [Abel] Rasdell a white man aged thirty two years, who being duly swom according to Law doth depose and say that about the fifteenth day of December 1834 he was married with Onck say onc ah a full Blood Winnebago woman daughter of Monk skaw kah & Hopink ah according to Indian custom‘ That he has one Child named Cain a Son begotten on the body of said Onck say onc ah that was three years old the fifteenth day of Jany last. that said child is smart and active, and residing with deponant at Four Lakes [in] the Wisconsin Territory. and deponant further says that on or about the first of March 1837, he was married according to the Indian custom to Naw waw chock wink ah sister to the said 0nc say onc ah and daughter of the aforesaid Indians—That he has one child named Sarah Ann a daughter begotten on the body of the said Naw waw chock wink ah said child was born Jany 22nd 1838 that said child is smart and active and residing at present with this deponant & its mother. 21 Sept. 1838 (Waggoner, 22b)

She eventually parted from her husband. It is not clear whether she took her daughter with her. The Chicago Daily Tribune gave a sensationalized account of her departure, claiming that the Army forcefully separated married couples, which is certainly not true. Butterfield (387) gives a less dramatic account: "He subsequently married another Winnebago woman; they had no issue, and when her people migrated west, she concluded to go with them — so Rasdall and his Indian wife cut a blanket in two, each taking a part, the Indian mode of divorce." This neatly avoids dealing with matter of their shared child by denying that there was such a person.


  • Linda M. Waggoner (ed.), “Neither White Men Nor Indians: Affidavits from the Winnebago Mixed-blood Claim Commissions, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, 1838-1839” (Roseville, Minnesota: Park Genealogical Books, 2002). Extracted from Territorial Papers of the United States, Wisconsin, 1836-1848. M236. “Special Files of the Office of Indian Affairs,” 1836-46. “Special File 161” (Roll 41). “Special File 190” (Roll 42). National Archives, Washington D.C., Documents on Microfilm, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Record Group 75).
  • Consul Willshire Butterfield (1824-1899), History of Dane County, Wisconsin ... 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 (Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880).
  • Chicago Daily Tribune, 13 October 1895, page 50.

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F  >  Fortress Woman  |  R  >  Rasdall  >  Nąwáčagᵋwįga (Fortress Woman) Rasdall

Categories: Ho-Chunk