Wisconsin Tribes

Wisconsin tribes originally included more than 30 tribes, including the Chipewa (Ojibwe),  Ioway, Ottigaumies, Sauks, Fox, Santee Dakota (Sioux), Kickapoo, Illinois, Munsee, Mahican, Menominee, Miaml, Peoria, Mascouten, Noquet, Potawatomi, Stockbrdge, Iowa, Missouri, Ottawa, Huron, Oneida, Seneca, Wyandot and the Winnebago.

Federal list last updated 5/16

Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Forest County Potawatomi Community

Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin (formerly called the Winnebago)

Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin

Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of the Lac du

Flambeau Reservation of Wisconsin

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin

Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin

St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin

Sokaogon Chippewa Community

Stockbridge Munsee Community

(Not recognized by the Federal Government)



Brotherton Indians of Wisconsin. Letter of Intent to Petition 04/15/1980.

Muhheconnuck and Munsee Tribes. Letter of Intent to Petition 06/04/2003


By the mid-1700s there had been much reformation in the settling of Wisconsin. There were five basic territories held by five tribes and one disputed area that encompassed all of the present area of Dunn County.

Territories maintained by five tribes, the Chipeway, the Menomonie, the Ottigaumies, the Sauks, and the Winnebago, now known as today’s Hochunk tribe.

There was one area that included the Chippewa and Red Cedar Rivers, in which were many series of battles between the Santee Dakota and Ojibwe tribes. It was said that over the years there were battles between the two rivals at every turn of the rivers.

For 20 miles or more on the land located between the two rivers was called the “Road of War”.

When the first Europeans came into the area, they brought important opportunities for trade, particularly in furs like beaver. They also brought diseases for which the native people did not have natural immunities.

Many of the native people died from smallpox, measles and mumps. In fact, disease is likely to have killed many more Native Americans than armed conflicts did.

Fifty years later, in 1825, at the suggestion of white advisors who thought it was time for the Indians living in their respective traditional areas in the future states of Wisconsin and Minnesota, to meet to determine the actual borders of their territories.

It is interesting to note that three years earlier, in 1822, James Lockwood and Joseph Rolette, both former competitive fur traders living in Prairie du Chien, joined in partnership to get permission from Dakota Chief Wabasha to cut the white pine on the Red Cedar River at the mouth of today’s Wilson Creek in Menomonie.

Hardin Perkins then built the first dam and mill on Indian land on what had been part of the “road of war” between the Dakota and Ojibwe for the previous 300 years or more.

Perhaps this was the incident that triggered the need to gather all of the Indian tribes in the extensive surrounding area to organize the Indian and establish the lines determining the “ownership” of the lands held by them.

And, so it happened that on Aug. 19, 1825, 140 Indian chiefs representing the Sioux, Sac, Fox, Menominee, Ioway, Winnebago and the Anishinaabeg, the Chippewa [Ojibwe] and the Council of Three Fires of Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi, gathering together at Prairie du Chien to establish the boundary lines and ownership of their lands proclaimed on Feb. 6, 1826.

As a result of this historical meeting and its equally historic agreement to define the territory held by the Indians, the knowledge and acceptance of ownership of specific territory opened the opportunities for white opportunists to purchase often extensive areas of land from the Indians.

By 1825, the US government and Indian representatives met in Prairie Du Chien and signed a treaty establishing the boundaries amongst various tribes and opening the way for further non-Indian settlement.

However, this treaty did not prevent further conflict between Native Americans and European settlers looking for land. The native people were eventually forced off their land, moving further west or onto reservations.


The area of land and lakes that is called “Wisconsin” was home for more than 30 American Indian tribes. No other state comes close to equal Wisconsin in that number nor in the complications arising from the fact that among that number there were at least three linguistic stocks; Algonquian, Iroquoian and Siouan.

The majority of Indians spoke Algonquian. Among that group were the Ojibwe (formerly called the Chippewa), and the Kickapoo, Illinois, Munsee, Mahican, Menominee, Miami.

Peoria, Mascouten, Noquet, Potawatomi, Sauk, Stockbrdge, Wyandot and some sub-divisions.

Then there were tribes that spoke Siouan, and included the Iowa, Missouri, Ottawa, the Dakota, the Santee Dakota, and the Winnebago, the later now known by their traditional name, the Hochunk.

There were the Oneida and Seneca Indians who spoke Iroquoian, hanging on to the language and their names after leaving New York State for Wisconsin.

One other tribe from New York was the Huron tribe who headed for the hospitable and future state of Wisconsin after a tremendous loss to the rival Iroquois in 1649.

They first settled on the shore of Lake Pepin, but eventually moving into the Ashland area until the early 1660s when they moved to the Detroit, Michigan area.


10,000 years ago – Paleo-indians came through Wisconsin hunting wooly mammoth, mastodon, and bison.

7000 BC – 1000 BC – Archaic Period of Native American hunter-gatherer culture as Indians built temporary dwellings, added shellfish to their diets, and fashioned spear throwers to hunt small game.

300 BC – 1000 AD – Woodland Period of permanent houses, embellished pottery, bows and arrows, and maize and squash cultivation.

As long ago as 10,000 years ago, Paleo-indians came through Wisconsin hunting wooly mammoth, mastodon, and bison. After the retreat of the glaciers, the climate improved and people began to live in caves, along rivers, and around lakes.

As the glacier receded and the mastodons died out, the Archaic people hunted smaller animals like deer and elk, and harvested wild plants, nuts, and acorns.

During the Woodland Period, around 3,000 years ago, people began to live together in villages, and use bows and arrows to hunt. They built burial mounds for their dead.

Genealogy:Sources of records on US Indian tribes Wisconsin Indian Boarding Schools Wisconsin Tribal Colleges


Article Index:

Places to visit Native American culture exhibits in Wisconsin USA

Here is a list of places to visit in Wisconsin USA to learn about Native American culture.

Aztalan Museum
N. 6264 Hwy. Q
Jefferson, WI 53549
mailing address:P.O. BOX 122, Lake Mills, WI 53551
tel (414) 648-8845

Bad River Heritage Center
P.O. Box 39
Odanah, WI 54861
tel (715) 682-9119

Beyer Home, Oconto County Historical Society Museum
917 Park Ave.
Oconto, WI 54153
tel (920) 834-6206

Buffalo Art Center
P.O. Box 529
Bayfield, WI
tel (715) 779-5717

Camp Five Museum Foundation, Inc.
Hwys. 8 & 32
Laona, WI 54541
mailing address:1011 8th St.Wausau, WI 54403
tel (715) 674-3414 (June-Aug.) & (800) 774-3414 (Sept.-May)
fax (715) 674-3414 (June-Aug.)