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Wīhą́gā Washington Woman Ho-Chunk (abt. 1795 - 1868)

Wīhą́gā Washington Woman Ho-Chunk aka Yellow Thunder
Born about in Koshkonong Villiage, Wisconsin, British North Americamap
Daughter of and [mother unknown]
Wife of — married [date unknown] in Wisconsin, United Statesmap
Descendants descendants
Died at about age 73 in Delton Township, Sauk County, Wisconsin, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified | Created 24 Aug 2019
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Wīhą́gā Ho-Chunk is a part of Wisconsin history.
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Wīhą́gā was Ho-Chunk.
Notables Project
Wīhą́gā Ho-Chunk is Notable.




Jipson says that her name was We-hun-kee.[1] No Hocąk name ends in -kee. Rather all names end in either -ga, or -ka, which are definite articles used in personal names. So this name is a distorted version of Wīhą́gā, a birth order name meaning, "Second Born Daughter." Therefore, the wife of Yellow Thunder was the second born daughter of White Crow.


Here is a story related by Juliette Kinzie:[2]

"Among the women with whom I early made acquaintance was the wife of Wau-kaun-zee-kah, the Yellow Thunder. She had accompanied her husband, who was one of the deputation to visit the President, and from that time forth she had been known as "the Washington woman." She had a pleasant, old-acquaintance sort of air in greeting me, as much as to say, "You and I have seen something of the world." No expression of surprise or admiration escaped her lips, as her companions, with childlike, laughing simplicity, exclaimed and clapped their hands at the different wonderful objects I showed them. Her deportment said plainly, "Yes, yes, my children, I have seen all these things before." It was not until I put to her ear a tropical shell, of which I had a little cabinet, and she heard its murmuring sound, that she laid aside her apathy of manner. She poked her finger into the opening to get at the animal within, shook it violently, then raised it to her ear again, and finally burst into a hearty laugh, and laid it down, acknowledging, by her looks, that this was beyond her comprehension.
I had one shell of peculiar beauty — my favorite in the whole collection — a small conch, covered with rich, dark veins. Each of the visitors successively took up this shell, and by words and gestures expressed her admiration, evidently showing that she had an eye for beauty — this was on the occasion of the parting visit of my red daughters.
Shortly after the payment had been completed, and the Indians had left, I discovered that my valued shell was missing from the collection. Could it be that one of the squaws had stolen it? It was possible — they would occasionally, though rarely, do such things under the influence of strong temptation. I tried to recollect which, among the party, looked most likely to have been the culprit. It could not have been the Washington woman — she was partly civilized, and knew better.
A few weeks afterwards Mrs. Yellow Thunder again made her appearance, and carefully unfolding a gay-colored chintz shawl, which she carried rolled up in her hand, she produced the shell, and laid it on the table before me. I did not know whether to show, by my countenance, displeasure at the trick she had played me, or joy at receiving my treasure back again, but at length decided that it was the best policy to manifest no emotion whatever.
She prolonged her visit until my husband's return, and he then questioned her about the matter.
"She had taken the shell to her village, to show to some of her people, who did not come to the payment."
"Why had she not asked her mother's leave before carrying it away?"
"Because she saw that her mother liked the shell, and she was afraid she would say, No."
Th::is was not the first instance in which Madame Washington had displayed the shrewdness which was a predominant trait in her character. During the visit of the Indians to the Eastern cities, they were taken to various exhibitions, museums, menageries, theatres, etc. It did not escape their observation that some silver was always paid before entrance, and they inquired the reason. It was explained to them. The woman brightened up, as if struck with an idea.
"How much do you pay for each one?"
Her Father told her.
"How do you say that in English?"
"Two shillings."
"Two shinnin — humph" (good).
The next day, when, as usual, visitors began to flock to the rooms where the Indians were sojourning, the woman and a young Indian, her confederate, took their station by the door, which they kept closed. When any one knocked, the door was cautiously opened, and the woman, extending her hand, exclaimed — "Two shinnin."
This was readily paid in each instance, and the game went on, until she had accumulated a considerable sum. But this did not satisfy her. At the first attempt of a (86) visitor to leave the room, the door was held close, as before, the hand was extended, and "Two shinnin" again met his ear. He tried to explain that, having paid for his entrance, he must go out free. With an innocent shake of the head, "Two shinnin," was all the English she could understand.
The Agent, who had entered a short time before, and who, overhearing the dialogue, sat laughing behind his newspaper, waiting to see how it would all end, now came forward and interfered, and the guests were permitted to go forth without a further contribution.
The good woman was moreover admonished that it was far from the custom of white people to tax their friends and visitors in this manner, and that the practice must be laid aside in future."

Indian Princess

In a letter from Edwin D. Coe to Dr. H. L. Skavlem, he says, "[Satterlee Clark] enlarged a good deal on the sensation which the daughter created at Washington [in 1828] and said among other things that the papers spoke of her as an Indian "princess." He said she was not only very comely but cleanly in person and free from the rank odor and need of soap that squaws of his acquaintance were usually chargeable with."[3]

In her visit to Washington in 1828, she was given a gift: "R. A. Forsyth the leader of the party of Winnebagoes ... gives abstract of expenditures on account of deputation of Winnebago Indians and among them is 4 yds. blue cloth for squaw."[4]


Washington Woman is buried with her husband somewhere on their residence on Yellow Thunder's 40, SW ¼ of the SE ¼ of Section 36 of Delton Township (T 13N, R 06E) in Sauk County, Wisconsin, United States.


A modest monument to Yellow Thunder and his "mate" (Washington Woman), is located a couple of hundred yards down the road from their original claim where they are actually buried.[5]



  1. Jipson, 207.
  2. Juliette Kinzie, Wau-Bun, 85-86.
  3. Wisc. Arch., 84.
  4. Wisc. Arch., 85.
  5. Find A Grave.


  • Juliette Augusta McGill Kinzie, Wau-Bun, The "Early Day" in the North-west (Chicago & New York: Rand, McNally & Company, 1873) 83-84.
  • Norton William Jipson, Story of the Winnebagoes (Chicago: The Chicago Historical Society, 1923). This is an unpublished typescript.
  • H. L. Skavlem, "The Village Sites," The Wisconsin Archaeologist, 7, #2 (Apr-June 1908): 73-103 (84-85).
  • Find A Grave, database and images (accessed 15 October 2019), memorial page for Mate Thunder (unknown–1868), Find A Grave: Memorial #178431652, citing Chief Yellow Thunder Monument, Baraboo, Sauk County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by BluMoKitty (contributor 46830270) .


Thank you Richard Dieterle for the research into and creation of this profile. See his initial contributions to this profile. See the Changes tab for recent edits.

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Comments: 9

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You're understandably confused because in the Change record there is no reference to my have deleted the statement about Algonkins. This original statement was added, according to Google search, on Feb. 24. Try finding it — it's been eliminated from the record as far as I can tell. My deletion of the statement has also been eliminated. Vide"The+statement+at+the+beginning+of+the+biography+makes+readers+aware+of+disputed+information"&sourceid=opera&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 To a naive person, it looks as if the Change record has been tampered with.
posted by Richard Dieterle
Nothing has been tampered with. Your deletion of the Algonquin reference was recorded on 30 Dec 2021, the same day you posted a comment about it.. See the Changes tab. You can see the details of it by clicking on "edited the biography" which takes you to a page that compares the previous version with your edited version:

posted by Jillaine Smith
P.S. I think this is now the third time I've explained what happens to the history of edits when the last name at birth field is changed. The first two were on another Ho-chunk profile. You can "follow" the change history by scrolling down to the line near the bottom of the change list that describes the rename. It appears as a merge because when a last name at birth is changed, the underlying wikitree software a) creates a new profile and b) merges the old with the new.

But to save time, here's a link to the change history of the original profile you created before the name change. I've also updated the acknowledgements link with it:

posted by Jillaine Smith
You don't understand the problem. Washington Woman was declared to be Algonquian on the basis of an unsourced statement from a secondary source. This is PRECISELY the sort of thing that is supposed to have been prohibited by the rules. Statements of this level of importance, if they conflict with sourced statements, should themselves be backed by proper sources. A random opinion voiced in Wikipedia (and apparently later withdrawn) doesn't have sufficient standing to even be quoted. And this is done in the face of the fact that her father was well known to have been White Crow, a Hochunk chief. That alone contradicts the claim that she is "Algonquin", and yet the statement is made that because the opinion of an unknown person has been labeled as "without citation" that putting it at the head of the profile is Oll Korect. For this, my reasoned and source supported profile is simply set aside, like the unknown amateur author of the Wikipedia entry is simply a more trusted source, even if he has nothing to back up his statement. My indignation is aimed at Forbes’ declaration: "The statement at the beginning of the biography makes readers aware of disputed information." So if Joe Blow says out of the blue that Washington Woman is Iroquois, then do we put it at the top of the page and imply that her standing as Hochunk is under dispute. By whom? On what grounds? It's odd, to say the least, that I put in nearly 30 years of research only to be told that my opinion on matters falling under my expertise are on par with the whims of Joe Blow.
posted by Richard Dieterle
RIchard, would you please draft what you feel would be the correct information and appropriate source citations, then, please?

Edited to add: I don't see reference to Algonquin in the profile at this point.

posted by Jillaine Smith
edited by Jillaine Smith
Deleted: "The Wikipedia profile for her husband indicates, without citation, that she was Algonquin." The unsourced claim is not to be found in Wikipedia. It was probably deleted because it was groundless. Furthermore, Wikipedia is an amateur encyclopedia. In the article in question there is now no mention of Yellow Thunder's wife. Furthermore, she is the daughter of White Crow, a very well known Hochunk chief. She has a Hochunk birth order name. At most she could be half Algonquian, but I don't know that White Crow's wife was foreign. Unless there is some reason to think so, the suggestion that Washington Woman is Algonquian (Sauk? Pottawatomie?) is a baseless fantasy. I personally take offense at being demoted below an amateur source when I am generally recognized as having scholarly status in the subject at hand.
posted by Richard Dieterle
Thanks for cleaning up this profile, Richard. The acknowledgements language is based on Wikitree's standard boilerplate. If there is another way you'd like to be cited or acknowledged, please feel free to edit the profile accordingly.
posted by Jillaine Smith
edited by Jillaine Smith
So you're putting an unsourced citation at the head of the profile to discredit my analysis! then again, who will know? All my contributions to this profile have been WIPED OUT! Wīhą́gā is a birth-order name, so if everyone is going to have the same last name "Ho-Chunk", there will be no way to distinguish the people whose birth order names just happen to be "Second Daughter"! NO THINKING went into this.
posted by Richard Dieterle
None of these people had a surname, so the tribe name goes in that field. Their given names are retained in the first name field. The statement at the beginning of the biography makes readers aware of disputed information.
posted by Kathie (Parks) Forbes

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