This form of his name, Kaǧíosạ̀ga, is attested by J. O. Dorsey. Otherwise, he was known by the synonymous name, Kaǧiskạga. The kaǧí is the Northern Crow or Raven. Ska is the usual word for "white," whereas sạ means, "pale, whitish." At the 1832 treaty they mentioned that he was blind. "[The] term 'the blind' refers to his having one eye" (Lurie, 58 #28), hence the nickname "The Blind." He also bore the more specific French name "Le Borgne," which means "having only one eye."
Parkinson tells us, "White Crow appeared to be about fifty years of age. He was about five feet, ten inches in stature, straight and erect; and of a mild and pleasant countenance for a savage. He was a fine and fluent speaker, and the spokesman of his band on all important occasions." (Parkinson, 190)
White Crow was a member of the Bear Clan, whose function was that of police, but also to exercise special functions in war. The Peace Chief was always of the Upper Moiety, more specifically of the Thunderbird Clan. His opposite counterpart was the War Chief, who could be of either moiety. White Crow, therefore, was the War Chief of the villages over which he presided.
The Black Hawk War
At the beginning of the Sauk War he believed that the Sauks would vanquish the whites and tried to warn them. The White Crow had told Capt. Beon Gratiot, that he was friendly towards him as his brother was the Winnebago Indian Agent; that he did not wish to see him killed, and that he had better leave Col. Dodge and go home; that the Sauks and Foxes would kill all the whites; that the whites could not fight, as they were a soft-shelled breed; that when the spear was put to them they would quack like ducks, as the whites had done at Stillman's Defeat; and he proceeded to mimic out, in full Indian style, the spearing and scalping in the Stillman affair; and that all the whites who persisted in marching against the Indians, might expect to be served in the same manner.
Draper suspects that White Crow was of doubtful loyalty during the war:
... among the possible evil deeds was his suspected duplicity in acting
as a guide of our forces in pursuit of Black Hawk near Koshkonong.
White Crow, or The Blind, as he was frequently called, joined the army
at First lake, with about thirty Winnebago warriors, with the promise of
pointing out the trail of the retreating Sauks. All the historical accounts
of the period unite in casting strong suspicions on White Crow's
fidelity; and his threats at the Blue Mounds go far towards corroborating
this view of his conduct. It should be added, that his son, White Pawnee,
White Crow signed the treaties of 1827, 1828, and 1832. (Lurie, 58, #28)
He was the father of "the Washington Woman," who married Yellow Thunder, and Pani Blanc, who succeeded him as chief.
Lurie (58, #28) says that in 1832, when he signed the treaty of that date, he was a member of the Rock River Band.
He was chief of a village by Lake Koshkonong of about 1200 people who lived in white cedar bark lodges. It can be seen that this large village still operated under the dual chief system, with Whirling Thunder the Thunderbird or Peace Chief, and White Crow the War Chief.
Death and Burial
He died in 1836 and is buried near the village of Cross Plains. Concerning his grave, Lyman C. Draper says,
These Indians, during a short halt, with solemn ceremonies, paid
their accustomed devotions to the last remains of their departed
chief White Crow. The place of interment of that celebrated chief
is at a point near the foot of a bluff, twenty-five feet or more west
from the line of said military road, and about one hundred and fifty
yards southward from a spring near the easterly side of said road,
the waters from which flow northward and join a larger stream
[Black Earth Creek] which finds its way through Black Earth Valley to
Wisconsin river at Arena [via Blue Mounds Creek, 43.191703, -89.886854].
That this was the grave of that chief, I was at the time informed by
Whirling Thunder himself. The grave may probably still be found, unless
obliterated by vandal hands in the improvement of the village of Cross
Plains (43.114563, -89.648792), in or near which it is so located, where,
should the project be deemed of sufficient consequence, the citizens
of that village could erect a monument, commemorative of the good
or evil deeds of the once renowned White Crow, among whose
praiseworthy acts was his rewarded participation in the rescue and
restoration of the Hall girls ... (Draper, 495-496)
Since neither a spring nor the course of the old military road can be found on maps of this vicinity, it is not possible to locate the site of the grave with the precision given in the description. See the 1907 topographical map. See also the original plat map of 1835 predating the military road and the village, and the 1873 plat map in which the area now the center of Cross Plains was called "Christina." However, on topographic maps, the relevant bluff can be located and the grave can be put very roughly at 43.110518, -89.646004. This is located near the center of Section 3, Township 7N, Range 7E.
Rev. James Owen Dorsey, Winnebago-English Vocabulary and Winnebago Verbal Notes, 4800 Dorsey Papers: Winnebago (3.3.2) 321 [old no. 1226] (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, National Anthropological Archives, 1888) 82 pp.
Juliette Augusta McGill Kinzie, Wau-Bun, The "Early Day" in the North-west (Chicago & New York: Rand, McNally & Company, 1873 ).
Peter Parkinson, "Notes on the Black Hawk War, Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, X (1888): 184-212.
Charles Bracken, "Further Strictures on Ford's Black Hawk War," Wisconsin Historical Collections, II (1903 ): 402-414 [404-410].
Lurie, "A Check List of Treaty Signers by Clan Affiliation" (58, #28) says that in 1832, when he signed the treaty of that date, he was a member of the Rock River Band.
Lyman C. Draper, "Additions and Corrections. White Crow, or The Blind," Wisconsin Historical Collections, X (1888): 495-496.
Charles E. Brown, "The White Crow Memorial Pilgrimage," Jefferson County Union (Oct. 20, 1918) 1-10 .
Col. Daniel M. Parkison, "Pioneer Life in Wisconsin," Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, I-II (1855): 326-.