Coming Thunder (Ho-Chunk) Winneshiek
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Coming Thunder Wakąjaguga (Ho-Chunk) Winneshiek (abt. 1812 - abt. 1864)

Coming Thunder Wakąjaguga Winneshiek formerly Ho-Chunk
Born about in Portage, Wisconsin, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1835 [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died about at about age 52 in the village of the Iowas on the western side of Missouri near the line between Nebraska and Kansasmap
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Profile last modified | Created 5 Oct 2019
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Coming Thunder (Ho-Chunk) Winneshiek is a part of Wisconsin history.
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Coming Thunder was Ho-Chunk.
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Coming Thunder (Ho-Chunk) Winneshiek is Notable.




Wakąjaguga is conventionally translated as "Coming Thunder." This is from Wakąja, "Thunderbird"; gu, "to leave returning, to leave to go home"; and -ga, a definite article suffix used in personal names. So the real meaning of the name is "Thunderbird Leaving for Home." It is, perhaps needless to say, a Thunderbird Clan name.


“His descendants say that his son, Coming Thunder, was born about 1812 at Portage, Wisconsin. (Jipson, 212)


“In person Winneshiek (Coming Thunder) has been described as medium sized, with black mustache and chin whiskers. He always wore goggles and usually carried a pipe." (Jipson, 221)


"In belief he adhered strictly to Indian customs and rites. His followers were called blanket Indians and really constituted one half of the tribe. He was possessed of much native shrewdness, but was very hospitable and, as he was a good hunter, his larder was unusually well supplied, and his guests were royally entertained. He was no orator, but on occasions demanding a forceful presentation of his views or a statement of his wrongs, he was represented by Weeru-kana-ga (The Leader) known to the Whites as “Buffalo”, a member of the Buffalo clan. From the time, when, as a lad of fifteen, his face showing hatred and defiance, he dared his white pursuers to do their worst, until the day of his death, his spirit was never broken, and unlike some of his brother chieftains he was never cowed, but continued to assert and demand his rights. He divined the sinister motives of the government officials and seldom did he recede from his position. But withal he was usually kind and hospitable to both Whites and Indians, and it can safely be asserted that he was both morally and intellectually the superior of many of the white officials with whom he was compelled to deal.” (Jipson, 221-222)

Relatives, Wives and Children

“Coming Thunder had four wives, the principal one being called He-sja-soo-ke-ga or Light Eyes. He had several children; among them Little Winneshiek, John Winneshiek, Mrs. James Hall, Mrs. Bearheart, Mrs. Greyeagle and Mrs. James Blackhawk (mother of John Blackhawk).” (Jipson, 222)

"Winneshiek’s involvement was grounded in kinship, as his maternal grandfather was a Sauk man and his maternal uncle, White Cloud (known as 'the Winnebago Prophet'), was Black Hawk’s principal spokesperson. The Ho-Chunk’s avuncular kinship system imparts a close relationship between a mother’s son and her brother that entails obligations on both sides." (Waggoner, 29b)

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.


Waggoner says (43), "In May of 1864 the Omaha Indians and their agent held a council with Winneshiek and his brother, Short Wing. The record of the council is the last time Winneshiek’s name appears in records. Apparently on his way back to Wisconsin, he “was taken sick” and “died at the village of the Iowas on the western side of Missouri near the line between Nebraska and Kansas.” Some say his death occurred shortly after the Omaha council, others say not until 1872."



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

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The name "Coming Thunder" is that by which he is best known. The Hochunk name of which it is a translation, is known to a few historians. Given that most HoChunks do not speak HoChunk, it is better to lead with the English version by which he is best known, otherwise his fundamental name will be missing in the heading. That's why, generally, I put the HoChunk name in the Middle Name position. "Winneshiek", btw, is a rare case of a native name that functions in a way equivalent to a Western surname.
posted by [Living Dieterle]

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