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Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Siouan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languagesNative American languages,
languages of the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere and their descendants. A number of the Native American languages that were spoken at the time of the European arrival in the New World in the late 15th cent.
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). When Father Jean Nicolet encountered them (1634), the Winnebago lived in E Wisconsin, from Green Bay to Lake Winnebago. Except for a war with the Illinois (1671) and one with the Ojibwa (1827), the Winnebago generally were peaceful toward their neighbors, who included the Menominee, the Sac and Fox, and the Ottawa. The Winnebago traded with, and were staunch supporters of, the French. After the fall of French power, however, they allied themselves with the British; they fought against the colonists in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812. The Winnebago clandestinely participated in the Black Hawk WarBlack Hawk War,
conflict between the Sac and Fox and the United States in 1832. After the War of 1812, whites settling the Illinois country exerted pressure on the Native Americans.
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 (1832). After numerous hardships and much loss of population, they were settled on reservations in Nebraska (1860s) and Wisconsin (1880s). Winnebago culture was of the Eastern Woodlands cultural area with some Plains-area traits (see under Natives, North AmericanNatives, North American,
peoples who occupied North America before the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th cent. They have long been known as Indians because of the belief prevalent at the time of Columbus that the Americas were the outer reaches of the Indies (i.e.
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). Their many ceremonies were elaborate, e.g., the spring buffalo dance and the winter feast; many Winnebago continue to follow their traditional religion. The tribe now operates several gambling casinos in Wisconsin and is among the larger employers in that state. In 1990 there were over 6,500 Winnebago in the United States.


See P. Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (1923, repr. 1970) and The Culture of the Winnebago (1949).

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1. Lake. a lake in E Wisconsin, fed and drained by the Fox river: the largest lake in the state. Area: 557 sq. km (215 sq. miles)
2. a member of a North American Indian people living in Wisconsin and Nebraska
3. the language of this people, belonging to the Siouan family
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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