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Mąwáruga (Ho-Chunk) Winneshiek (1777 - 1848)

Mąwáruga Winneshiek formerly Ho-Chunk
Born in Doty Island, Winnebago, Wisconsinmap
Son of [father unknown] and [mother unknown]
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married 1811 in Wisconsinmap
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 71 [location unknown]
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Mąwáruga was Ho-Chunk.
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Mąwáruga (Ho-Chunk) Winneshiek was a Wisconsinite.
Mąwáruga (Ho-Chunk) Winneshiek was an Illinoisan.
Notables Project
Mąwáruga (Ho-Chunk) Winneshiek is Notable.

"There was one well-known chieftain who resided on the banks of the Pecatonica near the site of the present city of Freeport. Concerning this chief and his family relationship, authorities have been confused." (Jipson, 132)


"The elder member of the family, Ma-wa-ra-ga, is said by his descendants to have been born on Doty Island in 1777." (Jipson, 133)


"The Elder Winneshiek, who presided over the Pecatonica village, was called by his people, Ma-wa-ra-ga [Mąwáruga], meaning muddy. The name Winneshiek is an Algonquin equivalent of the Winnebago name Ma-wa-ra-ga. Winne means dirty or brackish as applied to water, and shiek (properly zick) means a growth. This name is frequently applied to the yellow birch tree, as the bark of this tree has a dirty or smoky color. (Rev. E. P. Wheeler.)" (Jipson, 132-133) The name Mąwáruga was, as Jipson has shown, a nickname. Mąwá does mean "muddy"; the -ga is a suffix indicating a personal name. The -ru- is obscure. It might be ru’, which means, "to carry," in which case the name Mąwáruga would mean, "He Carries Mud," which indeed may have been equivalent to Winne-shiek, and have constituted a reference to his having sported a beard. "As applied to Winneshiek, this name undoubtedly refers to the beard which was an hereditary characteristic of the male members of the Winneshiek family, having been possessed by the elder Winneshiek, his son, Coming Thunder, and grandson, John Winneshiek, of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. John Blackhawk, a grandson of Chief Coming Thunder, says there is an admixture of white blood in the Winneshiek family, which was related to the well-known French Winnebago Decora family, and he thus accounts for the existence of the beard in the various members of his family." (Jipson, 133)


"The writer was informed that at the time of Dodge’s visit to Winnesheek, the band numbered upwards of two hundred. Winnesheek himself was at that time about sixty years of age. Mr. Shull describes him as a short fleshy man, very taciturn, very honest, and, more wonderful than all for an Indian, very temperate. He was much respected by his nation, and at the same time a firm friend to the white man." (Johnson, 242)


"The elder Winneshiek became very bitter toward the whites. This attitude was due to the fact that the white miners trespassed on the mining lands, title to which had been given the Winnebago by the treaty of 1825.

Previous to the so-called Winnebago war of 1827, Winneshiek met John Connolly, Indian Agent at Galena, complained bitterly of the duplicity of the whites, and uttered what, in the light of subsequent developments was considered an ominous threat against the white settlers. Undoubtedly his hatred was augmented by the fact that his son, Coming Thunder, was captured at his Pecatonica village by the white army under Colonel Dodge and held for some time as a hostage.

While the prevalent opinion gives White Cloud, the so-called Winnebago Prophet, credit for Winneshiek's participation in the Black Hawk War on the side of the Sac and Fox, there are reasons for believing that Winneshiek's hatred for the whites prompted him to persuade White Cloud to join Black Hawk in a desperate effort to force the whites off from the land claimed by the Indians.

As there has been some misunderstanding, let it be distinctly understood that Winneshiek the younger, otherwise called Wan-kon-ja-ko-ga [Wakąjaguga], or Coming Thunder, was the man who, in Minnesota, was made head chief of the Winnebago by order of the United States government, and that the elder Winneshiek left the Pecatonica region soon after or during the war of 1827, and died in 1835 near Hokah, Minnesota." (Jipson, 133-134) The date of his death is controversial.


Waggoner (47, nt. 94) says, "Hounka was likely Coming Thunder Winneshiek’s brother, not son. Winneshiek’s father, who died in 1848, was Chief Mawaragah Winneshiek. He had four sons, only two of whom were well known: Coming Thunder, the eldest, and Short Wing. His other sons were probably Hounka or “Hoon kaw” and Ben Winneshiek. Coming Thunder in turn had three sons whose English names were John, George, and Little Winneshiek. Hughes thought that George might have been Hounka, but I disagree, because he was too young. The 1857 annuity rolls (101) show the following consecutive heads of family: Nau He Kaw [or fourth-born son, probably Ben Winneshiek]; Winnoshik [Coming Thunder]; Hoon Kaw; Wau sho pe we kaw [Coming Thunder’s mother]. Hau kaw kaw [or third-born son, who was probably “Ha-ya-ka-kay,” brother of “Hoon kaw,” otherwise known as Short Wing.


1777 — born on Doty Island (44.192097, -88.447785). (Jipson, 133)

1812 — inasmuch as his son Coming Thunder was born this year at Portage, Wisconsin (43.537827, -89.471743), it is evident that his father was in residence at this place. (Jipson, 133)

aft. 1812 to ca. 1827 — "Notes on Stephenson county, Illinois, by William J. Johnston [p. 242]. a copy of which can be found in the Chicago Historical Library, tell us the lodge poles and other equipment which marked the site of Winneshiek's village were in evidence when the first white settlers located at the site of the present city of Freeport (42.302684, -89.619119)." (Jipson, 134) This village was located on the Pecatonica River.

Village Site

"This village was situated on a part of the present site of Freeport.
The wigwams stood on the south side of the small brook which
runs through our town near its confluence with the Pekatonica,
and a very little to the west of the Railroad depot grounds. Many
of our old citizens remember seeing the poles of the lodges standing
long after those rude habitations were abandoned by their occupants.
The burial ground was on the north side of the creek near the place
where the Freight House of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad
now stands, and while excavating the earth in that vicinity about two
years ago, a number of skeletons were dug up by the workmen. Their
cornfield was on the other side of the Pekatonica river, a short distance
from the bank of the stream." (Johnson, 242)

1832 — "At the close of the Black Hawk war this band was removed with the rest of their tribe into the vicinity of Prairie du Chien." (Johnson, 242)

1835 — Hokah, Minnesota (43.758808, -91.350472).

Place Name Memorials

"Until 1836 the settlement at Freeport was called "Winneshiek," after the Winnebago chief of that name who had his village where the Illinois Central station now stands." (Fulwider, 68)



Thank you Richard Dieterle for the research into and creation of this profile. See his contributions to the pre-rename version of this profile.

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