The Menomini Indians of Wisconsin: A Study of Three Centuries of Cultural Contact and Change

By Felix M. Keesing | Go to book overview

II. THE OLD TIME MENOMINI

The Menomini of pre-white days occupied an unknown number of villages on or near the Menominee river. Dwelling by the waterways, they were seemingly a fairly sedentary people, with their economic life centered around fishing, gathering "wild rice" (Zizania aquatica) and hunting. They comprised a number of patrilineal totemic descent groups apparently linked into two moieties, Bear and Thunderbird. Situated at the approximate meeting place of three "culture areas", the plains, northern woodland, and eastern woodland areas, the tribe shared to some extent in the cultural characteristics of each, though as noted earlier they are dominantly affiliated with the Algonquian-speaking tribes to the east.


THE PHYSICAL SETTING

The Menomini region is geologically a part of what is termed the "glacial drift" of the North American continent, pressed flat by the encroachments of the polar ice cap in past ages. It is cut by a network of streams, with numerous small lakes and swampy areas, the whole drained by river systems leading eastward into lake Michigan and westward into the Mississippi. The western shore of Green Bay, into which the Menominee river empties, is "low and sandy with frequent harbors separated by shallow stretches"--the harbors being the mouths of the various rivers flowing eastward. The climate is one of extremes, the country being warm and fertile in the summer, but in winter having frozen lakes and streams, and frequent snowfalls.

The greater part of the area was covered in early days with forest, mainly conifers and mixed hardwoods, though here and there were open sandy areas and to the south were rolling plains. Many of the trees played important roles in the tribal economy, notably birch, basswood, oak, cedar and hickory. The forest produced a variety of nuts, berries, and edible roots, also numbers of plants that had a place in

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The Menomini Indians of Wisconsin: A Study of Three Centuries of Cultural Contact and Change
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society i
  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Abstract ix
  • Note on Terminology xi
  • Introductory 1
  • I. the Menomini and Their Neighbors 6
  • Ii. the Old Time Menomini 18
  • Iii. the Period of French Ascendancy 53
  • V. After Two Centuries of Change 102
  • Vi. White Pressure and Passing Lands 127
  • Vii. the First Reservation Experiments 148
  • Viii. Progress in Wardship 170
  • Ix. Ethnological and Museum Data 194
  • X. Recent Times 222
  • Xi a Review 244
  • Bibliography 249
  • Index 255
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