Red Bird

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This article is about the Native American leader. For the figure of the Red Bird in East Asian cultures, see Vermilion Bird. For other uses, see Redbird (disambiguation).
Red Bird
Ho-Chunk: Wanig-suchka
Red Bird and Wekau.jpg
Red Bird dressed in white buckskin for his surrender to U.S. authorities
Leader of the Winnebago (or Ho-Chunk) leader
Personal details
Born c. 1788
Known for Leader in the Winnebago War against the United States

Red Bird (c. 1788–1828) was a leader of the Winnebago (or Ho-Chunk) Native American tribe. He was a leader in the Winnebago War against the United States. He was for many years one of the most friendly and trusted of the Wisconsin Native Americans. In the late 1820s Red Bird and his followers began to grow uneasy over the encroachments of lead miners on Ho-Chunk land. The tribe was also disturbed by the mistaken belief that two Ho-Chunk had been put to death at Fort Snelling in 1826 for a murder they did not commit. Near Prairie du Chien on June 28, 1827, Red Bird and three companions followed the Indian code of revenge and under the influence of liquor murdered Registre Gagnier and Solomon Lipcap and seriously injured Gagnier's infant daughter. They fled after Gagnier's wife and son escaped and gave the alarm in Prairie du Chien.[1]

On June 30, 1827, a band of Ho-Chunk fired on the Wisconsin River keelboat "Oliver Perry" killing two of the crew and wounding several others. With an Indian war threatening, the militia was mobilized and federal troops were dispatched to Prairie du Chien from Jefferson Barracks, Mo. To avert a general war, Red Bird and his companions surrendered at Portage on Sept. 2, 1827. Although the chief expected the dignity of being put to death, he was instead taken to Prairie du Chien where he died in prison, Feb. 16, 1828.[2] Several months later the other Indians were pardoned. One of the most dramatic incidents in Wisconsin history, the surrender of the proud and handsome chief became the subject of stories, paintings, and plays.[1]


  • "For story of Red Bird troubles, see: Snelling (supposed author), Winnebago Outbreak of 1827, Wis. Hist. Colls., V, 143-154. Also: Moses M. Strong, Indian Wars of Wisconsin, Id., VIII, 254-265. Also: Col. Thos. L. McKenny, Winnebago War, Id., V, 178-204. Also: James H. Lockwood, Early Times and Events in Wisconsin, Id., II, 156-168. Also: Ebenezer Childs, Recollections, Id., IV, 172-174."[3]


  1. ^ a b "Odd Wisconsin Archive: The Surrender & Captivity of Red Bird" (Wisconsin Historical Society). 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  2. ^ "Winnebago Indian Chiefs and Leaders". Access Genealogy. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  3. ^ ""History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917": Chapter 5: Decorah". Trempealeau Co. WIGenWeb Project. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 

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