Indian history of Winneshiek county, Iowa

In the preparation of this article it has been the compiler's aim to make the work as complete and correct as possible. Diligent search has been made for information, and considerable pains have been taken to give the people of Winneshiek county a reliable account of the Indians who once inhabited this section of the country. The writer has discovered that a number of erroneous statements in regard to these Indians have unfortunately found their way into print. In such instances every effort has been made to procure accurate information.


Table of Contents.

Removal to Iowa
Social Organization
Manners and Customs
Decorah Family Genealogy
Additional Decorah Family Members
Decorah Family Line
Decorah History
Decorah Exhumed
Chief Winneshiek
Chief Winneshiek on British Side
We-no-shee-kah and his Band
Mission School Trading Post
Fort Atkinson
Barracks at Fort Atkinson
Removal From Iowa


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Historical evidence reveals the fact that at one time the northern part of Winneshiek county formed a small part of the vast hunting grounds of the Sioux Indians, and that the southern portion was given over to the Sauks and Foxes. In a council held at Prairie du Chien, August 19, 1825, a boundary line was established between the Sioux, on the north, and the Sauks and Foxes, on the south. The principal object of this treaty was to make peace between these contending tribes as to the limits of their respective hunting grounds in Iowa.

This boundary line began at the mouth of the Upper Iowa river and followed the stream, which traverses Winneshiek county, to its source. In order to decrease still further the encounters between the Sauks and Foxes, on the one hand, and the Sioux, on the other, the United States secured, at a council held at Prairie du Chien July 15, 1830, a strip of territory twenty miles wide on each side of the boundary line already established and extending from the Mississippi to the east fork of the Des Moines. This strip, forty miles in width, was termed the "Neutral Ground." The tribes on either side were to hunt and fish on it unmolested, a privilege they ceased to enjoy when this territory was ceded to the Winnebagoes. In this way the tract of land now known as Winneshiek county became a part of the Neutral Ground.