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Wīhą́gā Washington Woman (abt. 1780 - 1868)

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Wīhą́gā Washington Woman
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 in Delton Township, Sauk County, Wisconsin, United Statesmap
Profile last modified 21 Feb 2020 | Created 24 Aug 2019
This page has been accessed 62 times.
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Wīhą́gā Washington Woman is a part of Wisconsin history.
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Wīhą́gā Washington Woman was a Native American and member of the Ho-Chunk tribe.
Wīhą́gā Washington Woman is Notable.

Contents

Biography

Name

Jipson (207) says that her name was We-hun-kee. 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.

Life

Here is a story related by Juliette Kinzie: "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."

This 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."

Burial

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.

Monument

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.

Sources

  • Juliette Augusta McGill Kinzie, Wau-Bun, The "Early Day" in the North-west (Chicago & New York: Rand, McNally & Company, 1873) 83-84.
  • 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) .
  • Norton William Jipson, Story of the Winnebagoes (Chicago: The Chicago Historical Society, 1923). This is an unpublished typescript.


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