The Legacy of Chief Big Foot (Rough Draft)

Much concern has been demonstrated by many different parties across the United States about the exploitation of the North American Native Indian, particularly over the past fifty years.  The prime argument has questioned whether or not the American Native Indian is really being exploited or, more innocently, simply being honored for who they were and what they now mean to our contemporary culture(s).  Many of the more larger markets who choose to use the North American Indian likeness as mascots for their points of reference have really come under fire; the Washington Redskins – a marquee professional football team established well over 80 years ago – have a massive fan base who adore their iconic depiction as well as their association with the Redskin logo, have been extremely pressured by the United States government to completely remove the Indian connotation from their teams ideology in its entirety.  As of right now the Washington Redskin organization, along with great support from the National Football League, has been able to withstand the onslaught of negative attention and has kept its identity, at least for the time being.

While big money markets have the resources and political influence to circumvent the possible financial disasters that could befall an important organization like the Washington Redskins, smaller communities who have close ties and have chosen to identify themselves to the North American Indian image don’t.  One small community who fits these description fully is that of Walworth, Wisconsin.  Walworth is the home of Big Foot Union High School and their mascot is the endeared Chief Big Foot (Maunk-suck).  For many years Big Foot Union High School has battled to keep their iconic namesake.  Unlike certain big businesses who have a tremendous amount of  their wealth and well-being wrapped up and fully dependent on their positive association with a particular Native American Indian likeness, Big Foot High School bears very little consequential monetary value to its connection with the famous chief’s name.  This then begs to question why the people of Walworth – as well as associated surrounding towns – fight to keep their mascots name.  Chief Big Foot is not only represented by the school, but also by many small businesses within the Walworth County region.  Do these types of communities, specifically Walworth in this argument, have true emotions for this man and his tribe?  Clearly, money is not a dominate factor here.  To that end, one would have to believe that the fight to keep their identity connected to the Lake Geneva Potawatomi Indian Chief is much about demonstrating their pride in association to that precise man, as well as his people.  If money and well-being are questionable influences, then simple affection must be; or is it even a simpler answer than either of those?  The purpose of this paper is to reveal the type of man that Chief Big Foot (Maunk-suck) was through the examination of his Potawatomi tribe in the hopes to explain his influence within Walworth County.

Historical Context

            In an effort to reach a logical conclusion to the above-mentioned proposition, both the Potawatomi Indian(s) and Chief Big Foot’s history will be experienced, paying close attention to the early 19th century.  Potawatomi Chief Big Foot and his tribe lived through the tumultuous era of early Native American Indian assimilation (1790 CE – 1920 CE), the removal act (1830), the Black Hawk War (1832 CE), and, ultimately, their migration known as the “Trail of Tears (1830 CE – 1838 CE).  The reader must understand that these were times of great change for the whole of Native America Indian nation and that strain, stress, and sickness weighed heavily on all Indians. To that end, any and all primary accounts regarding Chief Big Foot during these periods would no doubt be exposing him to a worst case scenario encounter, as I’m sure he and his people would not have been in the best of spirits.  These genuine meetings would also necessarily reflect the kind of man Chief Big Foot was, particularly in a raw uncensored and unapologetic manner; his general character traits can be surmised from these difficult times, as a man’s character is never more tested then when he is suffering.

Historiography

            The basis for this specific historiography is unique, as it being used to reveal the strength of the Native American Indian during a time span that led to everlasting change.  It is of extreme importance to this paper study and subsequent understanding of Chief Big Foot and his tribe, as this topic (i.e. the removal) overwhelmed the general landscape and living dynamics of all the Native American Tribes.  More importantly, it happened during the same time frame as Chief Big Foot was at the height of his power, and at which some of the first-hand encounters with him were documented for the written record.  It affords the reader the opportunity to lay away certain biases that may exist regarding Native Indian frailty prior to ingesting the subject matter.  This was presented in the hopes that Chief Big Foot and his people may be viewed as a stronger, intelligent, and heartier people(s) than some others have previously suggested.  This historiography also aims to suggest that Chief Big Foot’s actions are even more praise worthy, when you consider the forthcoming and all of the dire consequences he and his people confronted.

Most people within the contemporary era with a modicum of interest are led to believe that most Native Indians were both absolutely distressed and/or helpless concerning their definite removal from their associated tribal lands.  Certainly, the historical primacy regarding this sequence of events cannot be questioned, as it changed the way Native American Indians would live their lives forever.  Conversely, their resolve and character during this epic removal period has been debated and perpetuated abroad by historians, anthropologists, keen historical enthusiasts, and by the more casual and simple observers alike as either weak or of strong constitution – hence the avidly used term “Trail Of Tears” and all of its largely suggested accounts of horror.[1]   Through the brief examination of historian R. David Edmunds’ book The Potowatomis and anthropologist James A. Clifton’s The Prairie People, I hope to acquire a more accurate account of the Potowatomis’ general psychological profiles during their removal.

Anthropologist James A. Clifton’s written account of the Potowatomis explains in great detail (and unapologetically) that the Potawatomi Indians were not entirely the passive and meek individuals portrayed by many historians, particularly during this specific time period that demanded the Potowatomis to constantly relocate.  Clifton explains that migration was essentially a natural aspect in the ways of Indian life, as he tells us, “In the first place, the experience of migration into new habitats was nothing new to these tribesman.  From the year they first entered the historical scene, down to 1833, there was no time in which some portion of the tribe, large or small, was not on the move somewhere else.  Indeed. For nearly two centuries migration had been a favored adaptive strategy, one used to cope with internal strains within the tribe as well as with external stresses”[2]  Furthermore, Clifton expands on this idea, as he states, “To a large degree the great dispersion of the parts of the tribe during the 1830s reflected these existing internal conflicts and divisions.  And, once completed, the dispersion of the Potawatomi population into widely separated habitats reinforced the divisiveness that had preexisted the great migration.  In this respect, the diaspora of the 1830s more resembled the kinds of adaptive migrations some Potawatomi group was always making after 1680.  The dual processes of fission and dispersal once again relieved strains within the tribe.”[3] Clifton finishes embellishes his argument with quantitative data, as he claims, “The facts of Potawatomi migrations after 1833, in broad outline, tell their own tale.  Some twelve hundred Wisconsin and Michigan Potowatomis never left Upper Great Lakes habitat at all.  They simply drifted northward away from the pressure of American settlement and held out until the pressure for removal diminished.”[4]

James A. Clifton’s dialog is very well-crafted and does help the reader to understand why his view is plausible.  Conversely, in its own manner, it does try to oversimplify the Potawatomi Indians’ traumatic experience with rationale that is, by-and-large, irrelevant to the situation.  While certainly the Indians may have been very capable when it came to migrating from place to place, the scenarios which motivated these early forms of extirpation were, by their very nature, much different than being coerced from their lands in the early 19th century.  A genuine/authentic account of Clifton’s analysis from a reputable Potawatomi Indian would have certainly cemented his belief(s).

In contrast to that of anthropologist James A. Clifton, historian Russell Edmunds tells the story of a lesser Potawatomi Indian, one that seemed unable to completely navigate the surrounding environment effectively, as well as one who was compliant and fainthearted.  For example, Edmunds tells us, “Other Potowatomis, led by Quiquito (Moving Sun), a chief from the Kankakee River, fled into Indiana.  Suffering from hunger, these Potowatomis sought refuge with William Marshal, the Indian agent from Logansport.  In the previous summer Marshal had fed a large number of Indians during the Black Hawk War, and after Quiquito’s arrival at Logansport, the Indian agent again provided the tribesmen with rations of bread to sustain them through the winter.”[5] In another case, Edmunds writes, “Pepper arrived in Logansport on April 11, 1833, and found a large number of Indians awaiting removal.  Besides Quiquito’s band of 256 Prairie Potowatomis, many Wabash Potowatomis, Kickapoos, and Weas also had assembled.  Since Pepper did not have sufficient funds to feed all the Indians, he ordered them back to their villages, but instructed them to reassemble during the first week in June, when the removal would start west.”[6]  In Russell Edmunds’ epilogue, he again discounts the capacities of the Potowatomis as he states, “Dissatisfied with Iowa or Kansas, several groups of Potowatomis straggled back across the Mississippi and wandered aimlessly through their old homelands.  Although a few of the Indians reappeared in Michigan and Indiana, most returned to Wisconsin, where they sought assistance from the Winnebagos and Menominees.  Whites in Wisconsin resented their return, and government agents complained that the Potowatomis were roving through the countryside, living off white gardens and killing white livestock.”[7]

Russell David Edmunds’ writings suggest an Indian people who are timid, afraid, and completely oblivious as to how to sustain themselves in a natural environment, particularly when placed in a transitional setting.  His perspective is largely unaccountable and subjective as there are no references or other factual details to back this sort of behavior.  Unlike that of Clifton ─ who also chooses to view history with a subjective, yet culturally accurate eye ─ Edmunds doesn’t reveal a back history of the Potawatomi that would suggest they were inherently obedient or ignorant.  For a culture whose strength was their capacity to outlive all of nature’s incredible devastating variables, Edmunds needs to develop a much stronger case, if he is to spread the bias of an inadaptable people.

In closing, Clifton offers a more factual/viable account of the Potowatomis psychological demeanor, as he imbues the nature of the happening with the Potowatomis natural given strengths as a culture.  His depictions of the Potawatomi Indian and their counter-part tribesmen are that of great cunning, passion, strength, pride, and determination, especially to remain a part within their native landscapes.  Clifton’s explanations also reveal that the predominate existing ideology surrounding these events is in fact questionable, particularly if viewed through a more accurate lens; a complete assessment that encompasses the entire historical background of the Potowatomis would be a logical beginning if only to understand the Native American Indians legacy, especially during their “Last Trek” and “The Trail of Tears”.  To that end, through the use of psychohistory, Clifton’s perspectives are subjective, but merited, as they are based on how the Indians were forced from their inception to live from the land and were undoubtedly subjected to its harsh realities; Native Indians were masters of their surroundings because they had to be, if only to survive.  It’s only logical then that they would be very adept at handling and meeting their needs, as necessity is the mother of invention.

Potawatomi’s Diverse Culture

            The Potawatomi Indians descend from an extremely rich and diverse culture, as their genesis can be traced back to that of a vast collection of different tribes.  Potawatomi, Chippewa, Ottawa, Sauk, Fox, and others were once considered to be one nation of people.  They were also referred to as “People of the Place of Fire,” “Fire Nation,” and “Fire People. [8] Indeed, when more than two nations combine the outcome will generally be that of varied thought as well as expanded creativity.  While it would be easy to simply dismiss this happening, it does reveal that the Native Indian culture is built from great depth and by default benefits from the wisdom obtained through these shared experiences.  It also helps to shed light on Chief Big Foots larger background, allowing us to create an image of what this man’s character may be capable of being.

Potawatomi Ancestry

            The origins of Chief Big Foot’s Potawatomi’s can be traced back to a group of Native Indians that originally migrated north and settled in and around Green Bay, Wisconsin.  This tribe (or parts of it) eventually moved south, where Chief Big Foot and his specific Potawatomi Indian tribe would later call Lake Geneva their home, infusing the local region with their diverse culture.  Turner tells us, “There were a number of villages surrounding Lake Geneva or Kishwaukeeto (Clearwater), as they called it, the principle one being at the head of the lake, where their Chief, Maunk-suck, or Big Foot, held his council and hoisted his banner on a tree, the stump of which is still pointed out.”[9] Clearly, the Potawatomi found Lake Geneva to be a very attractive  location to finally settle. The Potawatomi and their Chief demonstrated great environmental awareness, as the lake and its surroundings had immense natural resources.  The successful movement/migration of the tribe from one local to the next affords historians the opportunity to view these specific tribes as a very flexible and adoptable people.  It also indirectly reveals great leadership, which no doubt Chief Big Foot benefited from late in his life.

Potawatomi Ingenuity

            The Potawatomi Indians were a very capable group of people, as they navigated the land and water for all of their necessary survival resources, they were masters of their domain.  Strong and Laufer explain, “They hunted deer in large groups, and black bear in the winter when they were in their caves.  Beaver, otter, minks, and muskrat were trapped for both food and fur.  Gill nets were used to catch fish in the warm months in both lakes and streams; in the winter time fish were speared through the ice, or were caught in seines.” [10] Much like their capacity to acknowledge a very robust environment, the Potawatomi demonstrate very good decision making.  Again, these skill sets and thought processes reveal a very intelligent people, with a strong will to survive.  The connections between migrating from one region to another successfully, and carving out a new life through the use of their exceptional skill sets practicing both critical and analytical thought must be made.  The Potawatomi’s are clearly a well versed populace, who have very strong influential leaders such as Chief Big Foot.

Assembling Chief Big Foot’s History

            The connection from the abovementioned history to that of debatable written records regarding the give and take of information between foreigners and Chief Big Foot is extremely limited as there are very little primary resources that associate Chief Big Foot and his tribe to the external world.  One specific outsider/explorer who had an actual audience with this tribe and witnessed their extraordinary ways was Juliette A. Kinzie.  She was a 19th century historian who kept written accounts of her early travels.  In these writings she explains that her experience with the Potawatomi’s and Chief Big Foot was fascinating and that they were well received.  Kinzie explains from her personal experience, “We paused long to admire, and then spurred on, skirting the head of the lake, and were soon ascending the broad platform, on which stood the village of Maunk-suck, or Big-Foot.  The inhabitants, who had witnessed our approach from a distance, were all assembled in front of their wigwams to greet us, if friends – if otherwise, whatever the occasion should demand.  Their salutation were not less cordial than we expected.”[11] This is fascinating behavior from the Natives, to be sure. With the ongoing threat posed from the U.S. Government regarding their assimilation and removal to that of the white settlers encroaching upon their lands one would suspect a very hostile Chief and Potawatomi tribe.  On the contrary, Kinzie experiences a very happy, confident group of people.  This direct account of the Potawatomi and Chief Big Foot is extremely important, as it establishes them as a people of peace and integrity.  It affords even the most novice of historians a specific opportunity to realize the gentle nature of Chief Big Foot.

In another one of Kenzie’s personal accounts regarding Chief Big Foot she reveals a very stoic and stern man and seems to be intimidated by his outer physical appearance, but counters with something interesting.  Kenzie writes, “The chief was a large, raw-boned, ugly Indian, with a countenance bloated by intemperance, and with a sinister, unpleasant expression.  He had a gay-colored handkerchief upon his head, and was otherwise attired in his best, in compliment to the strangers.”[12] Clearly, during her first encounter with Chief Big Foot, Kinzie is a bit unsettled.  While she is definitely overwhelmed by his physical features she is also reassured by his dress.  It would be easy – yet inaccurate – to quickly dismiss Chief Big Foot as simply a pompous over-indulgent individual, but that would be overlooking what Kinzie actually experienced in her first meeting.  In her written dialogue she clearly depicts Chief Big Foot as wanting to be presentable; to look at his best for his guests; this act gives the strangers a modicum of his respect through their basic acknowledgment, and, more importantly, reveals an inner-side to Chief Big Foot (i.e. an awareness and kindness) we would have never know without.

Further along in her writings, Kinzie acknowledges that Chief Big Foot displays the capacity to be rational, specifically towards the ongoing conflicts between the government and his people, as he is directly responsible for not endorsing war.  Kinzie reveals, “It is this chief that Chambly, or as he is now called Shaw-bee-nay, Billy Caldwell and Robinson were dispatched, during the Winnebago War, in 1827, to use their earnest endeavors to prevent him and his band from joining the hostile Indians.  With some difficulty they succeeded, and were thus the means, doubtless, of saving the lives of all the settlers who lived exposed upon the frontier.”[13] Certainly, the above-mentioned material tells of a man who resists anger, and pursues peace in lieu of hostile activity.  These are traits worthy of acknowledgement, as they are noble in their cause.  Chief Big Foot’s leadership in this matter cannot be underestimated.  His personal constitution helped to shape his tribes demeanor towards reinforcing a certain reconciliation with that of the government.

Back to the Future

            Recognizing Chief Big Foot’s attributes from almost two centuries ago isn’t an easy task.  Conversely, when we read certain documentation (or written dialogs) that pertain to his legacy it is clear that the historical mentions are there and for the most part accurate with each other.  “No matter the name, Chief Big Foot loved and revered the Geneva Lake area.  Legend has it, he received the name Big Foot from the huge snow shoe tracks he left in the snow while in pursuit of a deer.  Chief Maunk-suck, or Chief Big Foot, is not found in many history books nor did he play a major role in American history.  But, his legacy, demeanor, love for nature, character and integrity remain firmly imbedded in the mystique of the area.   Although physically gone, the spirit of Chief Big Foot remains.”[14] What’s more, a local diner has his namesake and history embedded into their menus, making him a part of their everyday business culture.  They write glowingly and in honor of the long ago departed Chief, claiming he was a man who loved and cherished Lake Geneva, and the surrounding areas, as well.  They also mention he was a man of fine disposition.[15] Chief Big Foot’s legacy is clearly represented and on display throughout Walworth, particularly at certain businesses, and at the high school, as well.  This gracious portrayal of a proud, yet friendly man, who deeply cared for this region and its beauty has great influential powers and acts as inspiration to the spirits of those people who read the passages.  While all the contemporary accolades concerning Chief Big Foot seem to be parallel in nature, as well as generally sincere, the specific story regarding the advent of Chief Big Foot’s name is not.  In fact, of the two stories told neither is even relatively the same.  Waters tells us, “Legend has it, he received the name Big Foot from the huge snow shoe tracks he left in the snow while in pursuit of a deer.”[16]  While the historical dialog within the Big Foot Country Club’s web page tells us, “Legend has it that as a young brave, he danced wildly in the rain until his feet collected so much mud he could no longer move.  It was that dance which earned him his life-long name which translated into Big Foot”.[17] Clearly, each version represents a different story line.  This type of discrepancy is unacceptable, particularly if all the sentiment pertaining to the chief is to be taken seriously.  As mentioned earlier, currently many people are becoming increasingly agitated by the use of Native American Indians as simple forms of decoration, as it marginalizes their existence.  To that end, any story depicting how Chief Big Foot earned his name should be legitimate, if only to express a believable sincerity.

Conclusion

            After examining (albeit briefly) Chief Big Foot and his Potawatomi Indians history, the evidence shown here describes an influential man who was of sound nature, generally friendly, and also conscious enough to take time and consider those who surrounded him, especially those of strangers; most would have considered these outsiders to be their enemy, especially during that time span.  This is a powerful confirmation of great character, specifically when the historical context of the era was very troublesome for the Chief and his people.  While Chief Big Foot’s actual recorded history does lack a certain depth and clarity – attributes that would afford even the most amateur historian a more clear and concise opinion regarding the issue at hand – the aforementioned available information is proof enough that Chief Big Foot (and his tribe) are worthy of being honored, particularly by the local constituency in the Walworth, Wisconsin community.  The only question remaining after this research – a question raised by the research itself – is whether or not the Walworth community is genuine about the message they are sending.

The use of a certain ethnicities likenesses is under serious consideration, many individuals and even governing bodies would prefer these practices to be considered illegal and eliminated in their entirety.  If communities like those of Walworth, Wisconsin are to be considered even remotely sincere regarding their reflections and use of a certain ethnicities images, then every piece of historical evidence used to promote these ideas must be accurate or risk being seen as the mere propaganda and marketing device the skeptics claim they are to be.  Stories relating to how Chief Maunk-suck obtained his actual iconic namesake of Big Foot must at the very least be revealed accurately, if only to protect their right to portray the legendary Chief Big Foot with true dignity.

Bibliography

Big Foot Country Club. “History.” Big Foot Country Club. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.bigfootcc.org/history.

Big Foot Inn. “About Our Community.” Big Foot Inn. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.planitnorthwest.com/shopping/pdfs/Big-Foot-menu.pdf.

Clifton, James A. The Prairie People. 2nd ed. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1977.

Edmunds, Russell David. The Potowatomis, Keepers of the Fire. 4th ed. Norman: University of   Oklahoma Press, 1978.

Kinzie, John H. Wau-bun: the “early day” in the North-west. New York: Derby & Jackson, 1856. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://archive.org/details/waubunearlydayin00kinz.

Strong, William Duncan, and Berthold Laufer. The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region, with Special Reference to the Illinois and the Potawatomi. 2nd ed. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1938. Accessed November 18, 2014.https://archive.org/stream       /indiantribesofch24stro#page/16/mode/2up.

Turner, J.M., and Lura Turner. Handbook of Wisconsin, Its History and Geography. Burlington: Lura J. and J.M. Turner, 1898.

Waters, John V., and Mary Jane Waters. “Chief Big Foot: A Proud Heritage, Legacy, and Region.” Big Foot High School. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.bigfoot.k12.wi.us/bf50/Chief%20Big%20Foot.htm.

 



[1] James A. Clifton, The Prairie People, 2nd ed. (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1977), 279.

[2] Ibid., 279

[3] Ibid., 280.

[4] Ibid., 280

[5] Russell David Edmunds, The Potowatomis, Keepers of the Fire, 4th ed. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978), 244

[6] Ibid., 244

[7] Ibid., 273

[8] William Duncan Strong and Berthold Laufer, The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region, with Special Reference to the Illinois and the Potawatomi, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1938), 16, accessed November 18, 2014, https://archive.org/stream/indiantribesofch24stro#page/16/mode/2up.

[9] J.M. Turner and Lura Turner, Handbook of Wisconsin, Its History and Geography (Burlington: Lura J. and J.M. Turner, 1898), 129.

[10] Strong and Laufer, 23.

[11] John H. Kinzie, Wau-bun : the “early day” in the North-west (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1856), 319, accessed November 18, 2014, http://archive.org/details/waubunearlydayin00kinz.

[12] Ibid., 319.

[13] Ibid., 319-320.

[14] John V. Waters and Mary Jane Waters, “Chief Big Foot: A Proud Heritage, Legacy, and Region,” Big Foot High School, accessed September 26, 2014, http://www.bigfoot.k12.wi.us/bf50/Chief%20Big%20Foot.htm.

[15] Big Foot Inn, “About Our Community,” Big Foot Inn, accessed September 26, 2014,http://www.planitnorthwest.com/shopping/pdfs/Big-Foot-menu.pdf.

[16] Waters and Waters, “Chief Big Foot.”

[17] Big Foot Country Club, “History,” Big Foot Country Club, accessed September 26, 2014,http://www.bigfootcc.org/history.

 

Outline

I. Introduction

Much concern has been demonstrated by many different parties across the United States about the exploitation of the North American Native Indian, particularly over the past fifty years.  The prime argument has questioned whether or not the American Native Indian is really being exploited or, more innocently, simply being honored for who they were and what they now mean to our contemporary culture(s).  Many of the more larger markets who choose to use the North American Indian likeness as mascots for their points of reference have really come under fire; the Washington Redskins – a marquee professional football team established well over 80 years ago – have a massive fan base who adore their iconic depiction as well as their association with the Redskin logo, have been extremely pressured by the United States government to completely remove the Indian connotation from their teams ideology in its entirety.  As of right now the Washington Redskin organization, along with great support from the National Football League, has been able to withstand the onslaught of negative attention and has kept its identity, at least for the time being.

While big money markets have the resources and political influence to circumvent the possible financial disasters that could befall an important organization like the Washington Redskins, smaller communities who have close ties and have chosen to identify themselves to the North American Indian image don’t.  One small community who fits these description fully is that of Walworth, Wisconsin.  Walworth is the home of Big Foot Union High School and their mascot is the endeared Chief Big Foot (Maunk-suck).  For many years Big Foot Union High School has battled to keep their iconic namesake.  Unlike certain big businesses who have a tremendous amount of  their wealth and well-being wrapped up and fully dependent on their positive association with a particular Native American Indian likeness, Big Foot High School bears very little consequential monetary value to its connection with the famous chief’s name.  This then begs to question why the people of Walworth – as well as associated surrounding towns – fight to keep their mascots name.  Chief Big Foot is not only represented by the school, but also by many small businesses within the Walworth County region.  Do these types of communities, specifically Walworth in this argument, have true emotions for this man and his tribe?  Clearly, money is not a dominate factor here.  To that end, one would have to believe that the fight to keep their identity connected to the Lake Geneva Potawatomi Indian Chief is much about demonstrating their pride in association to that precise man, as well as his people.  If money and well-being are questionable influences, then simple affection must be; or is it even a simpler answer than either of those?

A. Thesis: The purpose of this paper is to reveal the type of man that Chief Big Foot (Maunk-suck) was through the examination of his Potawatomi tribe in the hopes to explain his influence within Walworth County.

II. Historical Context

In an effort to reach a logical conclusion to the above-mentioned proposition, both the Potawatomi Indian(s) and Chief Big Foot’s history will be experienced, paying close attention to the early 19th century.  Potawatomi Chief Big Foot and his tribe lived through the tumultuous era of early Native American Indian assimilation (1790 CE – 1920 CE), the removal act (1830), the Black Hawk War (1832 CE), and, ultimately, their migration known as the “Trail of Tears (1830 CE – 1838 CE).  The reader must understand that these were times of great change for the whole of Native America Indian nation and that strain, stress, and sickness weighed heavily on all Indians. To that end, any and all primary accounts regarding Chief Big Foot during these periods would no doubt be exposing him to a worst case scenario encounter, as I’m sure he and his people would not have been in the best of spirits.  These genuine meetings would also necessarily reflect the kind of man Chief Big Foot was, particularly in a raw uncensored and unapologetic manner; his general character traits can be surmised from these difficult times, as a man’s character is never more tested then when he is suffering.

III. Sources/Historiography

IV. Body paragraph #1

A. The Potawatomi Indians have an extremely rich and diverse culture, as their genesis can be traced back to that of a vast collection of different tribes.

1. Potawatomi, Chippewa, Ottawa, Sauk, Fox, and others were once considered to be one nation of people.  They were also referred to as “People of the Place of Fire,” “Fire Nation,” and “Fire People. [1]

B. Clarification: Indeed, when more than two nations combine, the outcome will generally be that of varied thought as well as expanded creativity.

C. Significance/Importance: While it would be easy to simply dismiss this happening, it does reveal that the Native Indian culture is built from great depth and by default benefits from the wisdom obtained through these shared experiences.  It also helps to shed light on Chief Big Foot’s larger background, allowing us to create an image of what this man’s     character may be capable of being.

V. Body paragraph #2

A. The origins of Chief Big Foot’s Potowatomis can be traced back to a group of Native   Indians that originally migrated north and settled in and around Green Bay, Wisconsin.  This tribe (or parts of it) eventually moved south, where Chief Big Foot and his specific Potawatomi Indian tribe would later call Lake Geneva their home, infusing the local region with their diverse culture.

1. Turner tells us, “There were a number of villages surrounding Lake Geneva or Kishwaukeeto (Clearwater), as they called it, the principle one being at the head of the lake, where their Chief, Maunk-suck, or Big Foot, held his council and hoisted his banner on a tree, the stump of which is still pointed out.”[2]

B. Clarification:  Clearly, the Potawatomi found Lake Geneva to be a very attractive         location to finally settle. The Potowatomis and their Chief demonstrated great             environmental awareness, as the lake and its surroundings had immense natural          resources.

C. Significance/Importance: The successful movement/migration of the tribe from one       local to the next affords historians the opportunity view these specific tribes as a very flexible and adoptable people.  It also indirectly reveals great leadership, which no doubt        Chief Big Foot benefited from late in his life.

VI. Body paragraph #3

A. The Potawatomi Indians were a very capable group of people, as they navigated the land and water for all of their necessary survival resources, they were masters of their domain.

1. Strong and Laufer explain, “They hunted deer in large groups, and black bear in the winter when they were in their caves.  Beaver, otter, minks, and muskrat were trapped for both food and fur.  Gill nets were used to catch fish in the warm months in both lakes and streams; in the winter time fish were speared through the ice, or were caught in seines.”[3]

B. Clarification: Much like their capacity to acknowledge a very robust environment, the Potawatomi demonstrate excellent decision-making skills.  Again, these skill sets and thought processes reveal a very intelligent people with a strong will to survive.

C. Significance/Importance:  The connections between migrating from one region to another successfully and carving out a new life through the use of their exceptional skill sets practicing both critical and analytical thought must be made.  The Potowatomis are clearly a well versed populace, who have very strong influential leaders such as Chief Big Foot.

VII. Paragraph #4

A. The connection from the above-mentioned history to that of debatable written records   regarding the give and take of information between foreigners and Chief Big Foot is extremely limited as there are very little primary resources that associate Chief Big Foot and his tribe to the external world.  One specific outsider/explorer who would got an actual audience with this tribe and witnessed their extraordinary ways was Juliette A. Kinzie.  She was a 19th century historian who kept written accounts of her early travels.  In these writings, she explains that her experience with the Potawatomi’s and Chief Big Foot was fascinating and that they were well received.

1. Kinzie explains from her personal experience, “We paused long to admire, and then spurred on, skirting the head of the lake, and were soon ascending the broad platform, on which stood the village of Maunk-suck, or Big-Foot.  The inhabitants, who had witnessed our approach from a distance, were all assembled in front of their wigwams to greet us, if friends – if otherwise, whatever the occasion should demand.  Their salutation were not less cordial than we expected.”[4]

B. Clarification: This is fascinating behavior from the Natives, to be sure. With the ongoing threat posed from the U.S. Government regarding their assimilation and removal   to that of the white settlers encroaching upon their lands, one would suspect a very hostile Chief and Potawatomi  tribe.  On the contrary, Kinzie experiences a very happy, confident group of people.

C. Significance/Importance: This direct account of the Potawatomi and Chief Big Foot is extremely important, as it establishes them as a people of peace and integrity.  It affords even the most novice of historians a specific opportunity to realize the gentle nature of Chief Big Foot.

VIII. Paragraph #5

A. In another one of Kenzie’s personal accounts regarding Chief Big Foot, she reveals a    very stoic and stern man and seems to be intimidated by his outer physical appearance, but counters with something interesting.

1. “The chief was a large, raw-boned, ugly Indian, with a countenance bloated by intemperance, and with a sinister, unpleasant expression.  He had a gay-colored handkerchief upon his head, and was otherwise attired in his best, in compliment to the strangers.”[5]

B. Clarification:  Clearly, during her first encounter with Chief Big Foot Kinzie is a bit unsettled.  While she is definitely overwhelmed by his physical features she is also reassured by his dress.

C. Significance/Importance:  It would be easy yet inaccurate to quickly dismiss Chief Big Foot as simply a pompous, over-indulgent individual, but that would be overlooking what Kinzie actually experienced in her first meeting.  In her written dialogue, she clearly describes Chief Big Foot as wanting to appear presentable, to look at his best; this act gives the strangers a modicum of respect through his acknowledgment and, more importantly, reveals an inner-side to Chief Big Foot (i.e. awareness and kindness) we   would never know without it.

IX. Paragraph #6

A. Further along in her writings, Kinzie acknowledges that Chief Big Foot displays the capacity to be rational, specifically towards the ongoing conflicts between the government and his people, as he is directly responsible for not endorsing war.

1. Kinzie reveals, “It is this chief that Chambly, or as he is now called Shaw-bee-nay, Billy Caldwell and Robinson were dispatched, during the Winnebago War, in 1827, to use their earnest endeavors to prevent him and his band from joining the hostile Indians.  With some difficulty they succeeded, and were thus the means, doubtless, of saving the lives of all the settlers who lived exposed upon the frontier.”[6]

B. Clarification: Certainly, the above-mentioned material tells of a man who resists anger and pursues peace in lieu of hostile activity.  These are traits worthy of acknowledgement, as they are noble in their cause.

C. Significance/Importance: Chief Big Foot’s leadership in this matter cannot be underestimated.  His personal constitution helped to shape his tribe’s demeanor towards reinforcing a certain reconciliation with that of the government.

X. Paragraph #7

A. Topic Sentence: Recognizing Chief Big Foot’s attributes from almost two centuries ago isn’t an easy task.  Conversely, when we read certain documentation (or written dialogs) that pertain to his legacy it is clear that the historical mentions are there and for the most part accurate with each other.

1. Supporting Evidence: “No matter the name, Chief Big Foot loved and revered the Geneva Lake area.  Legend has it, he received the name Big Foot from the huge show shoe tracks he left in the snow while in pursuit of a deer.  Chief Maunk-suck, or Chief Big Foot, is not found in many history books nor did he play a major role in American history.  But, his legacy, demeanor, love for nature, character and integrity remain firmly embedded in the mystique of the area.   Although physically gone, the spirit of Chief Big Foot remains.”[7]

What’s more, a local diner has his namesake and history embedded into their menus, making him a part of their everyday business culture.

2. They write glowingly and in honor of the long ago departed Chief, claiming he was a man who loved and cherished Lake Geneva, and the surrounding areas, as well.  They also mention he was a man of fine disposition.[8]

B. Clarification: Chief Big Foot’s legacy is clearly represented and on display throughout Walworth, particularly at certain businesses and at the high school.

C. Significance/Importance: This gracious portrayal of a proud yet friendly man who cared deeply for this region and its beauty has great influential powers and acts as inspiration to the spirits of those people who read the passages.

XI. Paragraph #8

A. Topic Sentence:  While all the contemporary accolades concerning Chief Big Foot seem to be parallel in nature, as well as generally sincere, the specific story regarding the advent of Chief Big Foot’s name is not.  In fact, of the two stories told neither is even relatively the same.

1. Supporting Evidence: Waters tells us, “Legend has it, he received the name Big Foot from the huge snow shoe tracks he left in the snow while in pursuit of a deer.”[9]  While the historical dialog within the Big Foot Country Club’s web page tells us, “Legend has it that as a young brave, he danced wildly in the rain until his feet collected so much mud he could no longer move.  It was that dance which earned him his life-long name which translated into Big Foot”.[10]

B. Clarification:  Clearly, each version represents a different story line.  This type of discrepancy is unacceptable, particularly if all the sentiment pertaining to the chief is to be taken seriously.

C. Significance/Importance:  As mentioned earlier, many people currently are becoming increasingly agitated by the use of Native American Indians as simple forms of decoration, as it marginalizes their existence.  To that end, any story depicting how Chief Big Foot earned his name should be legitimate, if only to express a believable sincerity.

VII. Conclusion

A. Thesis Rephrased

After examining – albeit briefly – Chief Big Foot and his Potawatomi Indians’ history, the evidence shown here describes an influential man who was of sound nature, generally friendly, and also conscious enough to take time and consider those who surrounded him, especially those of strangers; most would have considered these outsiders to be their enemy, especially during that time span.  This is a powerful confirmation of great character, specifically when the historical context of the era was very troublesome for the Chief and his people.  While Chief Big Foot’s actual recorded history does lack a certain depth and clarity – attributes that would afford even the most amateur historian a more clear and concise opinion regarding the issue at hand – the aforementioned available information is proof enough that Chief Big Foot and his tribe are worthy of being honored, particularly by the local constituency in the Walworth, Wisconsin community.  The only question remaining after this research – a question raised by the research itself – is whether or not the Walworth community is genuine about the message they are sending.

The use of a certain ethnicity’s likenesses is under serious consideration; many individuals and even governing bodies would prefer these practices to be considered illegal and eliminated in their entirety.  If communities like those of Walworth, Wisconsin are to be considered even remotely sincere regarding their reflections and use of a certain ethnicity’s images, then every piece of historical evidence used to promote these ideas must be accurate or risk being seen as the mere propaganda and marketing device the skeptics claim them to be.  Stories relating to how Chief Maunk-suck obtained his actual iconic namesake of Big Foot must at the very least be revealed accurately, if only to protect their right to portray the legendary Chief Big Foot with true dignity.

Bibliography

Big Foot Country Club. “History.” Big Foot Country Club. Accessed September 26, 2014.             http://www.bigfootcc.org/history.

Big Foot Inn. “About Our Community.” Big Foot Inn. Accessed September 26, 2014.             http://www.planitnorthwest.com/shopping/pdfs/Big-Foot-menu.pdf.

Clifton, James A. The Prairie People. 2nd ed. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1977.

Edmunds, Russell David. The Potowatomis, Keepers of the Fire. 4th ed. Norman: University of   Oklahoma Press, 1978.

Kinzie, John H. Wau-bun: the “early day” in the North-west. New York: Derby & Jackson,           1856. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://archive.org/details/waubunearlydayin00kinz.

Strong, William Duncan, and Berthold Laufer. The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region, with       Special Reference to the Illinois and the Potawatomi. 2nd ed. Chicago: Field Museum of    Natural History, 1938. Accessed November 18, 2014.https://archive.org/stream       /indiantribesofch24stro#page/16/mode/2up.

Turner, J.M., and Lura Turner. Handbook of Wisconsin, Its History and Geography. Burlington:    Lura J. and J.M. Turner, 1898.

Waters, John V., and Mary Jane Waters. “Chief Big Foot: A Proud Heritage, Legacy, and            Region.” Big Foot High School. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.bigfoot.k12.

wi.us/bf50/Chief%20Big%20Foot.htm.

[1] William Duncan Strong and Berthold Laufer, The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region, with Special Reference to the Illinois and the Potawatomi, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1938), 16, accessed November 18, 2014, https://archive.org/stream/indiantribesofch24stro#page/16/mode/2up.

[2] J.M. Turner and Lura Turner, Handbook of Wisconsin, Its History and Geography (Burlington: Lura J. and J.M. Turner, 1898), 129.

[3] Strong and Laufer, 23.

[4] John H. Kinzie, Wau-bun : the “early day” in the North-west (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1856), 319, accessed November 18, 2014, http://archive.org/details/waubunearlydayin00kinz.

[5] Ibid., 319.

[6] Ibid., 319-320.

[7] John V. Waters and Mary Jane Waters, “Chief Big Foot: A Proud Heritage, Legacy, and Region,” Big Foot High School, accessed September 26, 2014, http://www.bigfoot.k12.wi.us/bf50/Chief%20Big%20Foot.htm.

[8] Big Foot Inn, “About Our Community,” Big Foot Inn, accessed September 26, 2014,http://www.planitnorthwest.com/shopping/pdfs/Big-Foot-menu.pdf.

[9] Waters and Waters, “Chief Big Foot.”

[10] Big Foot Country Club, “History,” Big Foot Country Club, accessed September 26, 2014,http://www.bigfootcc.org/history.

 

The Era of Potowatomi Removal

Most people within the contemporary era with a modicum of interest are led to believe that most Native Indians were both absolutely distressed and/or helpless concerning their definite removal from their associated tribal lands.  Certainly, the historical primacy regarding this sequence of events cannot be questioned, as it changed the way Native American Indians would live their lives forever.  Conversely, their resolve and character during this epic removal period has been debated and perpetuated abroad by historians, anthropologists, keen historical enthusiasts, and by the more casual and simple observers alike as either weak or of strong constitution – hence the avidly used term “Trail Of Tears” and all of its largely suggested accounts of horror.[1]   Through the brief examination of historian R. David Edmunds’ book The Potowatomis and anthropologist James A. Clifton’s The Prairie People, I hope to acquire a more accurate account of the Potowatomis’ general psychological profiles during their removal.

Anthropologist James A. Clifton’s written account of the Potowatomis explains in great detail (and unapologetically) that the Potawatomi Indians were not entirely the passive and meek individuals portrayed by many historians, particularly during this specific time period that demanded the Potowatomis to constantly relocate.  Clifton explains that migration was essentially a natural aspect in the ways of Indian life, as he tells us, “In the first place, the experience of migration into new habitats was nothing new to these tribesman.  From the year they first entered the historical scene, down to 1833, there was no time in which some portion of the tribe, large or small, was not on the move somewhere else.  Indeed.  For nearly two centuries migration had been a favored adaptive strategy, one used to cope with internal strains within the tribe as well as with external stresses”[2]  Furthermore, Clifton expands on this idea, as he states, “To a large degree the great dispersion of the parts of the tribe during the 1830s reflected these existing internal conflicts and divisions.  And, once completed, the dispersion of the Potawatomi population into widely separated habitats reinforced the divisiveness that had preexisted the great migration.  In this respect, the diaspora of the 1830s more resembled the kinds of adaptive migrations some Potawatomi group was always making after 1680.  The dual processes of fission and dispersal once again relieved strains within the tribe.”[3] Clifton finishes embellishes his argument with quantitative data, as he claims, “The facts of Potowatomi migrations after 1833, in broad outline, tell their own tale.  Some twelve hundred Wisconsin and Michigan Potowatomis never left Upper Great Lakes habitat at all.  They simply drifted northward away from the pressure of American settlement and held out until the pressure for removal diminished.”[4]

James A. Clifton’s dialog is very well-crafted and does help the reader to understand why his view is plausible.  Conversely, in its own manner, it does try to oversimplify the Potawatomi Indians’ traumatic experience with rationale that is, by-and-large, irrelevant to the situation.  While certainly the Indians may have been very capable when it came to migrating from place to place, the scenarios which motivated these early forms of extirpation were, by their very nature, much different than being coerced from their lands in the early 19th century.  A genuine/authentic account of Clifton’s analysis from a reputable Potawatomi Indian would have certainly cemented his belief(s).

In contrast to that of anthropologist James A. Clifton, historian Russell Edmunds tells the story of a lesser Potawatomi Indian, one that seemed unable to completely navigate the surrounding environment effectively, as well as one who was compliant and fainthearted.  For example, Edmunds tells us, “Other Potowatomis, led by Quiquito (Moving Sun), a chief from the Kankakee River, fled into Indiana.  Suffering from hunger, these Potowatomis sought refuge with William Marshal, the Indian agent from Logansport.  In the previous summer Marshal had fed a large number of Indians during the Black Hawk War, and after Quiquito’s arrival at Logansport, the Indian agent again provided the tribesmen with rations of bread to sustain them through the winter.”[5] In another case, Edmunds writes, “Pepper arrived in Logansport on April 11, 1833, and found a large number of Indians awaiting removal.  Besides Quiquito’s band of 256 Prairie Potowatomis, many Wabash Potowatomis, Kickapoos, and Weas also had assembled.  Since Pepper did not have sufficient funds to feed all the Indians, he ordered them back to their villages, but instructed them to reassemble during the first week in June, when the removal would start west.”[6]  In Russell Edmunds’ epilogue, he again discounts the capacities of the Potowatomis as he states, “Dissatisfied with Iowa or Kansas, several groups of Potowatomis straggled back across the Mississippi and wandered aimlessly through their old homelands.  Although a few of the Indians reappeared in Michigan and Indiana, most returned to Wisconsin, where they sought assistance from the Winnebagos and Menominees.  Whites in Wisconsin resented their return, and government agents complained that the Potowatomis were roving through the countryside, living off white gardens and killing white livestock.”[7]

Russell David Edmunds’ writings suggest an Indian people who are timid, afraid, and completely oblivious as to how to sustain themselves in a natural environment, particularly when placed in a transitional setting.  His perspective is largely unaccountable and subjective as there are no references or other factual details to back this sort of behavior.  Unlike that of Clifton ─ who also chooses to view history with a subjective, yet culturally accurate eye ─ Edmunds doesn’t reveal a back history of the Potawatomi that would suggest they were inherently obedient or ignorant.  For a culture whose strength was their capacity to outlive all of nature’s incredible devastating variables, Edmunds needs to develop a much stronger case, if he is to spread the bias of an in-adaptable people.

In closing, Clifton offers a more factual/viable account of the Potowatomis psychological demeanor, as he imbues the nature of the happening with the Potowatomis natural given strengths as a culture.  His depictions of the Potawatomi Indian and their counter-part tribesmen are that of great cunning, passion, strength, pride, and determination, especially to remain a part within their native landscapes.  Clifton’s explanations also reveal that the predominate existing ideology surrounding these events is in fact questionable, particularly if viewed through a more accurate lens; a complete assessment that encompasses the entire historical background of the Potowatomis would be a logical beginning if only to understand the Native American Indians legacy, especially during their “Last Trek” and “The Trail of Tears”.  To that end, through the use of psychohistory, Clifton’s perspectives are subjective, but merited, as they are based on how the Indians were forced from their inception to live from the land and were undoubtedly subjected to its harsh realities; Native Indians were masters of their surroundings because they had to be, if only to survive.  It’s only logical then that they would be very adept at handling and meeting their needs, as necessity is the mother of invention.

 

Bibliography

Clifton, James A. The Prairie People. 2nd ed. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1977.

Edmunds, Russell David. The Potowatomis, Keepers of the Fire. 4th ed. Norman: University of   Oklahoma Press, 1978.



[1] James A. Clifton, The Prairie People, 2nd ed. (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1977), 279.

[2] Ibid., 279

[3] Ibid., 280.

[4] Ibid., 280

[5] Russel David Edmunds, The Potowatomis, Keepers of the Fire, 4th ed. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978), 244

[6] Ibid., 244

[7] Ibid., 273

Analyzing Juliette A. Kenzie’s Autobiography: Wau-bun: the “early day” in the North-west (1856)

The paper I am constructing requires me to research both the time period and the people it will expose.  Finding a quality primary resource that can give me a view of that specific era’s social and environmental background is of the utmost importance to my research.  This primary source must also be able to relate to me certain unique aspects of the surrounding cultures, if only to better help me shape the image of the particular subject at hand…this being Chief Big Foot of the Potawatomi Indian tribe.  After heavily scrutinizing the available yet still relevant primary sources, Juliette A. Kenzie’s autobiography stood out amongst the rest.  While her autobiography doesn’t necessarily give an in depth perspective on Chief Big Foot and his people, it does give me a very accurate portrayal of the time period and happenings per her first-hand experience(s); her documented life in transition with her relationships with the Native American Indian tribes of the Midwest are a terrific combined source, as they allow me to detect certain prejudices that may skew her view of certain cultural differences between the two races.

The purpose of this paper is to examine Juliette A. Kenzie’s autobiography in the hopes that it is an excellent primary resource for my upcoming research paper concerning Chief Big Foot and the Potawatomi Indian tribe he presided over.

The autobiography of Juliette A. Kenzie is entitled Wau-bun: the “early day” in the North-west (1856).  In the books forward, I got the distinct impression that it was written for both Juliette’s posterity as well as the Native American Indians she encountered.  She tells us, “Some who read the following sketches may be inclined to believe that a residence among our native brethren and an attachment growing out of our peculiar relation to them, have exaggerated our sympathies, and our sense of the wrongs they have received at the hands of the whites.  This is not the place to discuss that point.  There is a tribunal at which man shall be judged for that which he has meted out to his fellow-man.”[1]  Her perspective appears to be one of neutrality; she seems to want to portray her experiences in a factual, genuine context expelling the truth from her mouth to the listener’s ear.  Again, in her preface, she suggests that her story be told using a first person narrative, if only to keep the facts and authentic nature of the document pure, Kenzie tells us, “It may be objected that all that is strictly personal, might have been more modestly put forth under the name of a third person; or that the events themselves and the scenes might have been described, while those participating in them might have been kept more in the background. In the first case, the narrative would have lost its air of truth and reality–in the second, the experiment would merely have been tried of dressing up a theatre for representation, and omitting the actors.”[2]  I am depending on these quotes, that what she has to offer is genuine and, in fact, scholarly driven.

Being largely influenced by her background as a historian, Juliette’s descriptive analysis was necessary for her to keep a day-by-day account of all that was happening in her journey through the Midwest, if only to accurately reiterate it.  Her autobiography lends itself well for qualitative evaluation purposes.  Her written work is very detailed, and her sketches ─ which she illustrates personally ─ help to bring a certain context and detail to that writing.[3]  While the book is necessarily qualitative dialogue, there is quantitative data to be researched, as well.  Mostly, the quantitative data is merely the use of certain dates, but still McGill-McKenzie’s use of these dates helps her to establish time and space between certain events affording the reader a sense of historical relevance between each of these happenings.  Kenzie writes, “There were five younger half-brothers, of the name of Forsyth. In the old family Bible, we find the following touching record of an event that occurred after the family had removed to Detroit:– “George Forsyth was lost in the woods 6th August, 1775, when Henry Hays and Mark Stirling ran away and left him.  The remains of George Forsyth were found by an Indian the 2d of October, 1776, close by the Prairie Ronde.”[4]

As I read through the majority of the autobiography, I am further convinced of Kenzie’s intentions, exponentially.  Her attention to detail regarding the military, foreigners, and the indigenous Indian populace never seems to favor one or the other.  When terrible events occurred I got the impression Kenzie felt empathy towards all the individuals involved.  Her stories, particularly regarding the different types of people she encountered, were always objective by nature.  One such story tells of a certain type of Canadian man…Kenzie explains, “Of the Canadian voyageurs or engagés, a race that has now so nearly passed away, some notice may very properly here be given.  They were unlike any other class of men.  Like the poet, they seemed born to their vocation.  Sturdy, enduring, ingenious, and light-hearted, they possessed a spirit capable of adapting itself to any emergency.  No difficulties baffled, no hardships discouraged them; while their affectionate nature led them to form attachments of the warmest character to their “bourgeois,” or master, as well as to the native inhabitants, among whom their engagements carried them.”[5]  On another occasion she writes specifically of Chief Big Foot, his tribe, and village…she tells us, “We paused long to admire, and then spurred on, skirting the head of the lake, and were soon ascending the broad platform on which stood the village of Maunk-suck, or Big-foot.  The inhabitants, who had witnessed our approach from a distance, were all assembled in front of their wigwams to greet us, if friends–if otherwise, whatever the occasion should demand.  It was the first time such a spectacle had ever presented itself to-their wondering eyes.  Their salutations were not less cordial than we expected.  “Shaw-nee-aw-kee” and his mother, who was known throughout the tribe by the touching appellation “Our friend’s wife,” were welcomed most kindly, and an animated conversation commenced, which I could understand only so far as it was conveyed by gestures; so I amused myself by taking a minute survey of all that met my view.  The chief was a large, raw-boned, ugly Indian, with a countenance bloated by intemperance, and with a sinister, unpleasant expression.  He had a gay-colored handkerchief upon his head, and was otherwise attired in his best, in compliment to the strangers.”[6]  This type of unbiased (matter-of-fact) consideration lends itself well to my research, as it gives further credibility to her opinions on certain matters, as well as affords me the opportunity to be somewhat presumptuous on some of her vague intentions.

In conclusion, this autobiographical document is very well-written; it offers a unique and concise view of early American Indian history as seen through the diligent, unbiased eyes of Juliette A. Kenzie, who was also an actual historian, thus making this an exceptional primary source document.  I see very little in the way of unnecessary prejudice, which always has a way of disrupting and, more importantly, compromising a genuine first-person documented description of events, particularly those that happened long ago in an era where being prejudice was much more socially-acceptable, if not entirely encouraged.  To corroborate her information regarding certain aspects of Chief Big Foot and the Potawatomi tribe, I will likely investigate more primary sources from the past, circa 1800-1850 such as The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region, with Special Reference to the Illinois and the Potawatomi authored by William Duncan Strong.

Biography

Kinzie, John H. Wau-bun: the “early day” in the North-west. New York: Derby & Jackson,           1856. Accessed October 10, 2014. http://archive.org/details/waubunearlydayin00kinz.

Strong, William Duncan. The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region, with Special Reference to       the Illinois and the Potawatomi. 2nd ed. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History,   1926.

 



[1] John H. Kinzie, Wau-bun : the “early day” in the North-west (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1856), vii, accessed October 10, 2014, http://archive.org/details/waubunearlydayin00kinz.

[2] Ibid., vi-vii

[3] Ibid., 182-183

[4] Ibid., 194

[5] Ibid., 196

[6] Ibid., 319

The Legacy of Chief Big Foot

Thesis Question:

How did Chief Big Foot’s life inspire the community of Walworth County to such a degree that they used his namesake as a point of reference for both its high school and other notable areas?

 
Thesis:

 
The purpose of this paper is to reveal the kind of man that Chief Big Foot was through the life he led in hopes to explain his influence on the Walworth, Wisconsin community.

 

Annotated Bibliography

Big Foot Country Club. “History.” Big Foot Country Club. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.bigfootcc.org/history.

Written by the creative elements of the Big Foot Country Club, this particular site is a secondary source that reveals a very general, brief, yet descriptive narrative regarding the Potawatomi Indians and Chief Big Foot. Its story holds true to other primary sources, yet has certain additional elements that aid in the Chief’s overall description; a different, less poignant perspective helps to better understand Chief Big Foot, his people, and their environment.

Big Foot Inn. “About Our Community.” Big Foot Inn. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.planitnorthwest.com/shopping/pdfs/Big-Foot-menu.pdf.

Written by the creative elements at the Big Foot Inn, this unique secondary source is extremely useful/valuable. While it is a narrative segue to a menu at a famous local restaurant, it offers up valuable information as to which particular areas are named after Chief Big Foot and a general layman’s reasoning as to why these communities valued the former Pottawatomi leader. This information will be used to better argue the Chief’s value to the general Walworth area community.

Jenkins, Paul B. The Book of Lake Geneva. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1922. Accessed September 26, 2014. https://play.google.com/books/reader2?id=
p1E0AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&hl=en&pg=GBS.PR3.

Paul B. Jenkins’ particular book covers a large aspect of Lake Geneva’s early significant history. While most of this history is irrelevant to my paper, its focus on the Pottawatomi Indian tribe during the early to mid-19th century is of great importance to my research on Chief Big Foot. This is a substantial resource to my research as this is when Chief Big Foot was an extremely relevant figure amongst his people, as well as early European settlers.

Kinzie, Mrs. John H. Wau-bun: The “Early Day” of the Northwest. Chicago: The Caxton Club, 1901. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=
&id=0nwtAAAAYAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR13&dq=Native+Indian+Chief+Maunk- suck&ots=d9apOFx36H&sig=0Cfvo7D1k-TdFRJNOPcMpdzsqX8#v=onepage
&q&f=false.

Mrs. John H. Kinzie (a.k.a. Juliette A. McGill McKenzie) narrative gives a first-hand experience of life in the Northwest, specifically in the early to mid-19th century. She also mentions the Potawatomi Indian tribe and their Chief, Big Foot. Her recollection of him reaffirms his demeanor/character, looks, and his tribe’s behavior. This directly confirms a small portion of one of my secondary source claims made by John and Mary Waters.

Milwaukee Public Museum. “Potawatomi Culture.” Indian Country. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.mpm.edu/wirp/ICW-56.html.

Milwaukee Public Museum has an online site dedicated to the Potawatomi Indians. The page is filled with the Indians cultural habits, traditions, and general history. Using such available topics as Settlement Pattern, Social Organization, and Kinship, as well as Religious Life, Medicine, and Healing I can further develop my research paper.

Sasso, Robert F., and Dan Joyce. “Ethnohistory and Archaeology: The Removal Era Potawatomi Lifeway in Southeastern Wisconsin.” Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology 31, no. 1 (2006): 165-201. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.maneyonline.
com/doi/abs/10.1179/mca.2006.008.

The authors, Robert F. Sasso and Dan Joyce, are both American archeologists and authors. Sasso and Joyce’s archeological research gives me a scholarly peer-reviewed report on the Potawatomi Indian(s). This particular secondary resource reveals the vast and rich background/history of the Potawatomie through the lens of an archeologist. Sasso and Joyce focus on the Potawatomie’s ways and means, specifically near the time of their extirpation/removal from Southeastern Wisconsin. Through this source, I want to better flesh out Chief Big Foot and his tribe.

Strong, William Duncan. The Indian Tribes of the Chicago Region, with Special Reference to the Illinois and the Potawatomi. 2nd ed. Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1926.

The author: William Duncan Strong was an American anthropologist, archeologist, and author in the 20thcentury. Strong’s research is a secondary scholarly report that reveals a very large breadth of information. This material based on the Potawatomi Indian(s) spans from the mid-17th century to the mid-19th century, giving both literary and image documentation regarding the people. This information will help me to explain Chief Big Foot’s beginnings through the examination of his ancestors. Furthermore, due to its depth in discussing certain epochs of Potawatomi Indian culture, it will also aid my efforts in setting historical context/framework for my research and subsequent paper.

Sultzman, Lee. “Potawatomi History.” First Nations History. December 18, 1998. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.tolatsga.org/pota.html.

The author and site are directly linked to the Milwaukee Public Museum, giving it the necessary credibility I was looking for. This web based historiography of the Potawatomi Indians is very large and filled with facts. It also has information on most other North American Indian tribes; if I chose to compare them I will have a wealth of information to pull from. This site offers me an enormous variety of materials pertaining to the Potawatomi Indians and their culture.

Turner, Lura J., and Joseph M. Turner. Handbook of Wisconsin. Burlington: Lura J. and J.M. Turner, 1898. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://books.google.com/books?id=
PwQwAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA129&lpg=PA129&dq=Chief+Maunk-suck&source=
bl&ots=YPXvx4ZtCy&sig=qQwUBPf1IXFlM2A_rlYj9sjxzSM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gjQc VLGmGOOe8gHFtYCgBg&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=Chief%20Maunk- suck&f=false.

Turner’s scholarly research journal is a primary source and it accounts for many of the happenings in Wisconsin during the 19th century. More importantly, it does focus its attention – albeit briefly – on the Potawatomi Indians, which is vital to my research regarding Chief Big Foot. It reinforces their inhabitants of the area, as well as Big Foot’s prominent role in the surrounding Indian community.

Waters, John V., and Mary Jane Waters. “Chief Big Foot: A Proud Heritage, Legacy, and Region.” Big Foot High School. Accessed September 26, 2014. http://www.bigfoot.k12.
wi.us/bf50/Chief%20Big%20Foot.htm.

The authors: John V. Waters and Mary Jane Waters are both residence of Walworth. John V. Waters served as its mayor for a number of years. John V. Waters and Mary Jane Waters tribute to Chief Big Foot gives me an opportunity to view Chief Big Foot through the eyes of the contemporary community. This is important as it gives relevant insight to Chief Big Foots influence using a modern context. It also reveals some pertinent information regarding certain aspects of who Chief Big Foot is, as well as noteworthy quantitative data such as certain dates; we see that Chief Big Foot was also known as Chief Maunk-suck.

 

What is History

What is History?

As humankind makes its way throughout the ages, it inherently leaves behind evidence of its existence.  It is the inquisitive (i.e. curious) human mind that influences and perpetuates man’s need to understand his past, giving it both meaning and purpose through its validation of documented report.  This written record of both humanity’s successes and failures affords us the capacity to measure this evidence, particularly in the hopes to propagate the positive consequences and avoid its negative connotations.  The human condition is complex to be sure, nostalgia – a longing or pining to understand a known event of the past – is just one of the many human complexities that facilitates and romanticizes the idea that we are something bigger and more important than what we can only physically see and touch in the present.

To that end, it is the purpose of this research to briefly explain how history is an account of the world’s happenings at both the micro and macro levels across varying epochs constantly measuring the change within humanity.

Human history is a massive story; it can occur through one person’s actions during a particularly small event or, on a more complex scale, through global altercations between certain empire-like societies.  First to be analyzed will be a view of micro history, secondly will be macro history, and thirdly how change is history’s motivation.

Micro History

At the seemingly less significant levels of humanity, history is still being made every moment of every day.  We know this because our ancestors have left behind small accounts of their personal lives for us to deliberate over.  Such small personal artifacts may include an individual’s will, diary, memoirs, and even autobiographies; wills can tell us about a person’s financial history, who they cared about, what they possessed in material, and who they owed money to.[1]  A prime example of a micro account of history would be the memoirs of George Washington and his struggles during and after the Revolutionary War.  Another more contemporary piece of vital personal history might be that of Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.  Certainly, being able to look at given piece of personal intimate historical evidence, we begin to understand what made that individual successful or a failure.  This can be of particular importance if who or what we are researching is implicated somehow within our own life or those lives of which we wish to embellish.

Macro History

On a much more inherently larger scale (and arguably of more importance to general humankind), history can reveal certain changes within civilizations that were either caused by nature or man himself.  The use of quantitative historical evidence allows us to study certain statistical records that can reveal shifts of certain populations.[2]  These changes in populaces may have been caused by climate variations, economic strife, famine, and even disease.  Currently, we are debating climate change in this country, as well as abroad; this is clearly a historical macro event, as it involves the entire planet.  Reviewing historical data pertaining to this issue may or may not relieve some of the stressors that surround the dilemma, but it will surely give us a clue as to what we may expect in the future and, therefore, an idea on how to respond in an effective manner!

History’s Measure of Change

Through the quantification of historical events, applying a scientific researchable method allows us to compare and contrast our contemporary world to that of the past.  For instance, through the examination of certain artifacts, paintings, maps, and even fossils, we can get a detailed vision of the way past civilizations survived, what climates they lived in, and how they may have even went extinct.[3] By measuring these changes throughout recorded history, we can better understand how we as a human species (and other species as well) may fare, particularly based on our adjustments made to the aforementioned calculations.  This specific insight could very well determine the fate of the natural world; being cognizant of our world’s constant manipulation of its history is of profound importance.

Conclusion

Evaluating the history of the world is a complex task; it involves researching materials at both the micro and macro levels, as each affects the other extraordinarily.  They are inextricably linked, perpetuating the constant change that is the meaning of history.  The history of civilization is as diverse as it is immense in duration.  Understanding its beauty as well as its decay, especially in all its forms and eras, can only help to move humankind forward into the future, always hopeful that we learn from our mistakes to create a better one for the generations to come.

Bibliography

Michael J. Galgano, J. Chris Arndt, Raymond M. Hyser. Doing History. Boston: Wadsworth, 2013.

 


[1] Michael J. Galgano, J. Chris Arndt, and Raymond M. Hyster, Doing History, 2nd ed. (Boston: Wadsworth, 2013), 71-73.

[2] Michael J. Galgano, J. Chris Arndt, and Raymond M. Hyster, Doing History, 2nd ed. (Boston: Wadsworth, 2013), 74-75.

[3] Michael J. Galgano, J. Chris Arndt, and Raymond M. Hyster, Doing History, 2nd ed. (Boston: Wadsworth, 2013), 77-82.