|CROP CIRCLES IN WISCONSIN
NATIVE AMERICANS OF DODGE COUNTY, WISCONSIN
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Many different native groups lived at Horicon Marsh and the Rock River at and prior to European
exploration and settlement. According to a Dodge County History printed in the 1878 Historical Atlas
of Wisconsin, "The Indians were attracted to Rock river, probably on account of the numerous fish in its
waters and the abundance of game in the adjacent forests. Points adjacent to the different rapids or
fording places of the streams were favorite sites for their villages." One of the early (1640) names of
Horicon Marsh was "Winnebago Marsh" and "The Great Marsh of the Winnebagos," a testament to
Horicon Marsh's proximity to Lake Winnebago and to its Ho-Chunk inhabitants. The Miamis,
Mascoutens, and Kickapoos lived in Dodge County as early as 1640. In addition, the Sioux, Sac,
Sauk, Menominee, Algonquin, Illinois, and Chippewa visited or made their homes at one time or
another at the marsh, sometimes seasonally. They hunted, gathered, and harvested their food from the
In 1664 when Jean Nicolet explored Wisconsin, the main tribe was the Ho-Chunk (or Winnebago, a
branch of the Sioux). Ho-Chunk, as they prefer to be called today, means "People of the Big Voice."
They greeted Nicolet at Red Banks (Green Bay) when he waded ashore waving his pistols and wearing
Oriental robes, as he planned to greet an Oriental people. Their territory extended west along the Fox
River and south through Lake Winnebago and down to the Rock River in Illinois. The Rock River was
known as Eneenneshunnuck, which means, River of Big Stones. It was also called
Atch-a-wa-kah-har-ah. Nicolet was the first white person to explore the Rock River. In 1634 he
mapped the region, calling the Rock River the Marian River.
The Illinois Indians may have used the Rock River and may have visited Horicon during conflicts with
the Ho-Chunk at various times. The Fox succeeded the Miamis, Mascoutens, and Kickapoos in Dodge
County into the early 1700s and then moved further west to the Wisconsin River.
During the 1700s, the Ho-Chunk were generally pushed further west by encroaching
Potowatomiowotomis (which means "Keepers of the Fire") from the east who entered Wisconsin from
the north and south ends of Lake Michigan. Ho-Chunk living at Lake Winnebago came from Green
Bay, emigrating along the Rock River further south. From about 1725 to 1832, the Ho-Chunk
controlled the Rock River from East Waupun, Wisconsin to Dixon, Illinois.
Besides an incredible food source, the Rock River and Horicon Marsh served as important territorial
landmarks. But it was primarily the Ho-Chunk and secondarily the Potowotomi who dominated the area
most recently, the Ho-Chunk generally to the west of the marsh and the Potowotomi to the east.
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