Every Warrior Has His Own Song explores the history and culture of the Winnebago and Ho-Chunk peoples, as well as the personal history of the family of author Alan B. Walker. Patriotic and fiercely loyal to this country and the land of their ancestors, they show respect to the returning veterans of any war. As Walker grew older, he knew that he wanted to be a warrior and wondered if he had the right stuff; in the course of his exploration of his people’s culture, he also tells the story of his service in Vietnam.
Every Warrior Has His Own Song touches on the history and modern life of the Ho-
Chunk/Winnebago nation as well as the story of the Hatchett family, telling a timeless and relevant tale of bravery.
It is an amazing read. I had a hard time putting it down. I believe this book should be a part of every high schools history teachings. It angered me to see what the U.S. Government has done over and over to these Native American Indians. Why have a treaty if you're not going to stand behind it? I was also amazed by the courage of this writer. His service to this country, like his Grandfathers is one of pride and courage. I'm amazed and glad that Alan B. Walker lived through the Vietnam war so that his story and that of his people could be told. -Aron
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Every Warrior Has His Own Song
By Alan B. Walker
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2010 Alan B. Walker
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Treaty of 1832
Author's note: The name Cloud is not the true family name. It wasn't until after 1865 that Hatchett appears on any government document. Cloud is a fictitious name that I chose to use in my writing. Later in life, William Cloud would change his name to Hatchett after he proved himself in battle; only then was he allowed to change his name.
On a sweltering day in late summer of 1832, my great-great-grandfather William Cloud Ku-nu (firstborn son) was born in an earthen lodge somewhere in the territory of Wisconsin. This was part of the HoChunk Nation that consumed the southern portion of the present state of Wisconsin, the northern part of Illinois, and the eastern edges of Iowa and Minnesota. Fish and game were plentiful. Corn, squash, and other plants were grown easily on this fertile land. The nation traded with the wild rice people from the north.
This was where William Cloud took his first faltering steps and spoke his first words of the Ho-Chunk language; it was there that he was strapped on to a cradle board and placed on his mother's back. (Indian women carried their young this way because it freed their hands and gave them more mobility.)
William was one of the first Indians to have a white man's name. His mother (Na-Nee), Descending Eagle, and father (Jda-Gee), E-jahnic-nah-ke-gah (He-Is-Always- There), did not follow the Ho-Chunk tradition when they named him William, nor would they consider having his name changed later in life. This was a trend that other Native Americans would follow. The white man (Mi-Xa-da) did have an influence on their culture. As he advanced into Indian country, bringing with him the white man's religion, he insisted the Indian customs of native prayer, fasting, and medicine lodges were evil, and the Indian people were heathens "without a god." Soon after William was born, his father gave him his Indian name of Ho-Bo-Sinch-Gah, which means "Wind Blow." Only his family would call him by his Indian name; the Indian agents didn't like to hear people called by their Indian names—they wanted to hear the proper English names.
"As long as I can remember, we have been at war with the white man or our brother Indians, and now we are gathered here, and soon our chiefs will sign a piece of paper, and all will change forever," William's father, He-Is-Always-There, told his family. "I hear that they want to move us to what they call the Neutral Ground, land given to us for signing a treaty; I don't know how long we will live in peace or how long we will be at the Neutral Ground. We have lived in this area a long time, and this is our hunting ground. Now they want us to leave here and give us a small piece of land that will be our home."
"The government wants to sell us our own land and make it sound like we are getting something great, and we will be watched like mad dogs. They say we can't cross the river and go east, can't go west or north to our old homes."
In a treaty signed on September 15, 1832, the chiefs gave away the land of their ancestors; in return, the Ho-Chunks were given the Neutral Ground a strip of land forty miles wide established for the Sauk and Fox, to keep the warring Sioux out of their land.
The government troops came in and moved a village of Ho-Chunks to the Neutral Ground, but within two weeks, the villagers were back at their old lodges in the Wisconsin territory. The U.S. government had promised the villagers wagons, horses, and supplies to see them through until regular supplies could be established at the Neutral Ground, but the Indians brought the supplies back with them. Two years after, the treaty was signed. It appeared that nothing had changed. It was a joke that if you wanted rations, you had to go to the Neutral Ground to get them. (Rations consisted of beef or pork—mostly bacon—flour, corn, sometimes coffee, sugar, and beans. This was given to the head of the household. Rations also included clothing and blankets when they were available.)
When William Cloud was two years old, he was walking and learning the Ho-Chunk language, and his mother told him stories about how he would grow up to be a good son, a loyal father, and maybe a warrior. But his father felt differently about William. He wondered where they would end up. He sensed their time was very short on this land. True, the government had tried to move some of the Indians, and it failed; but He-Is-Always-There knew the time would come when they would just put bayonets to the Ho-Chunks' backs and tell them to march.
In September of 1837, the government interpreters asked to hold council with the leaders of the tribe, but they came at a time when the leaders were away; and the sub-chiefs, not the chiefs, were the ones in attendance. The interpreters warned the sub-chiefs that evil things were about to befall them, but if they signed a certain piece of paper, everything would be taken care of, and all would be safe.
The sub-chiefs talked about it for a while, and they agreed that it would be all right for them to sign the government paper, thinking that they were doing a good thing for their people. Little did they know that they had just signed away the last piece of their land in the Wisconsin Territory. Now nothing could stop the government from forcibly removing the Winnebagos from their homeland.
It took another three years before the government started the removal of the Ho-Chunks from their land. Rumors filled the villages about bluecoats coming, but they were just that—rumors. What did come were the Y-Sapes (Black Robes), the white man's religious men. The Indians didn't know this, but the government had given permission to any religious group that wanted to teach the red men about God. Because there was no longer a reservation in the Wisconsin territory, the government called it "open land occupied by Indians."
The Y-Sapes settled in the larger Indian villages, and soon churches and other buildings built of wood planks with floors and windows went up. More white people came into the villages. Most of the Indians had never seen European buildings.
If anything good came from the Y-Sapes' arrival, it was the tinker who traded with the Indians. In his inventory, he carried cast-iron cookware, canvas for lighter tents, modern hand tools, steel hunting knives, boots and shoes, plus much more, which he traded for skins, money, and anything of value. It was strange how the tinker could travel in and out of Indian Territory without any problems. The word was put out by the women of the tribes to leave him alone: "We like what he has to trade." The tinker's goods made life better for the Indians.
The Ho-Chunks went about their normal way of life, not knowing when the bluecoats would ride into the villages and round them up and take them off. In fact, some of the western villages had already been moved onto the Neutral Ground. On February 10, 1840, the order was given to General Henry Atkinson to round up all of the Ho-Chunks and force them into the Neutral Ground. But to the dismay of the army, many Ho-Chunks once again crossed back into Wisconsin. This would go on now for many weeks. The Cloud village was one of the last to be moved, and by that time, the army's nerves had been worn very thin. "They took no prisoners." When anyone fell out, the commanding officers would say, "Let them go; we'll send out a detail later to pick up the stragglers."
The detail, however, turned out to be a death squad. All stragglers were shot and left to rot.
The Indians didn't have many horses. A few had Shoonks (dogs) to help with the load, so the rest of their belongings had to be lugged or packed on their backs. William was eight years old; his parents kept telling him to stay close and to keep up with them. "Why?" he asked, wanting to know.
"You see that bluecoat over there on that horse?" asked his mother, pointing.
William nodded. He saw several mounted soldiers.
"Well, if you fall behind, those bluecoats will shoot you, and there is nothing that we can do about it."
Hearing that, William stepped faster to keep up with his mother. The forced march was about 150 miles as the crow flies. They made it in five days, and it was the bluecoats who fell out in the end. The Ho-Chunks showed those white soldiers that they could handle a little walk in the forest. It's not known how many Indians were lost or shot on these marches.
Their last stop was Fort Atkinson in Iowa, a large complex with high wooden walls where the bluecoats lived. From there, they were assigned to villages in the Neutral Ground. These were typical white man–run villages, where different clans were all mixed together, not at all the way a Ho-Chunk village was set up. That was taken care of after the bluecoats left. After a few months, things settled down, and life returned to normal.
Movement within the Neutral Ground was allowed, but Indians were not allowed to wander outside of the Neutral Ground. The adventurous young members—the future Ho-Chunk warriors in training—moved to the western edge of the Neutral Ground, where the bluecoats chose not to go because one of them had seen a Sioux war party nearby.
The Neutral Ground was a mass of land approximately 165 miles long by forty miles wide and ran on an angle to the southwest. Its western boundary was the Des Moines River. The Fort Atkinson area was quite hilly, with deep ravines and many small creeks and streams, some of which dried up in the middle of the summer. Moving west in the Neutral Ground, the land turned into prairie, mostly flat with some rolling hills. During the time of the Winnebagos' stay in the Neutral Ground, most if not all of this land was virgin soil, with plenty of fish and game and plenty of material to make a lodge.
Most of the activity was around the fort, and many villages sprang up around the fort because it was close to the ration building. This was not good, because the bootleggers and the Y-Sapes could enter these villages easily, and the government did not want to deal with drunken Indians.
William's family moved into the interior of the Neutral Ground. Heis-Always- There didn't like the bluecoats, and he didn't trust the Indian agents, and he didn't like being told by the Y-Sapes that his beliefs were wrong. His discovery of the perfect lodge and longhouse (sometimes called Snake Lodge) site came one day when He-Is-Always-There was following a game trail that topped a wooded hill and zigzagged down into a large valley. He looked over the site and realized that if he made the longhouse in the north portion of the valley, the natural sidewalls of the valley would help muffle the sound of the drum. He hurried back to his family's temporary quarters and told his wife, and the next day, the Cloud family was off. They didn't tell anyone of their find, because they knew that some of the tribal members were telling agents where different people lived in return for extra rations. It was the agents' job to know the whereabouts of all of the Indians.
He-Is-Always-There stopped to ask two of his brothers, Tall De Cora and John Rise Up, to follow them later. John Rise Up stayed behind at the old lodge while the family moved out of the camp, and when all was clear, he followed them. This was done to make sure that no one saw them leave. The Cloud family followed the game trail into the valley; there was only one way in and one way out. Tall De Cora stayed on the game trail and waited for John Rise Up, and soon the two medicine lodge brothers came down the side of the hill. John Rise Up was carrying a new ax, and they all marveled at it.
"I see that you have been trading with the tinker," Tall De Cora said. "Does it fit your hands?"
"Of course it does. It may be a little small, but it will get the job done."
"I thought that you just traded for pot and pans," said He-Is-Always-There and they all laughed.
The first project was to build a lodge for the family with the opening facing to the east. Everyone helped, and it took only a few hours to have a dwelling with a fire pit, sleeping mats, a seating area, and a vent hole for the smoke to exit the lodge. The next day, they started on the longhouse.
Not far from the lodge was a good-sized stream. William and his father went down and looked for turtles; they had to be very quiet, and they saw two snappers sunning themselves on the mud bank. The two hunters came prepared; they each carried a net. He-Is-Always-There pointed at a turtle for William to catch. He-Is-Always-There counted in silence with his fingers, and on three, the two men jumped the slumbering turtles. In seconds, the two hard shells were on their way to the lodge for supper. Every part of a turtle had a use, so it was a good day. Before night fell, He-Is-Always-There had tied their government rations up in a tree so the critters couldn't get to them. There were still a few items that needed to be built in the lodge, such as a storage area for blankets and cold-weather clothes and a safe area for the rations.
The next morning, before any clearing or cutting began; He-Is-Always-There blessed the area and gave an offering of tobacco to the spirits. When this was done, the medicine lodge brothers talked about the size of the new lodge. They decided to build it in the center of the clearing with room to add on to the back side. The lodge opening faced to the east like all of the Ho-Chunk dwellings. This would be a small lodge with one fire pit. The longhouse was the meeting place for the medicine people, an exclusive group that members had to be invited to join. In days gone by, some of longhouses had had as many as fifteen fire pits in them.
"It would be nice to get some of that white man canvas to put on the top," said John Rise Up.
"Hmm," was Tall De Cora's only reply.
"It would make our work easier," admitted He-Is-Always-There. "But I don't know if putting something made by a white man on this medicine lodge is a good thing to do."
They all agreed, and they kept working. It would take three more days to finish the longhouse, and its location was kept a secret. Only members knew the location of the new snake lodge.
As more and more of the traditional Indians moved away from the fort and found their clan sites, the Indians that were left were really the hang-around-the-fort Indians. Some of them had become very pitiful—drunks and beggars and others who didn't want to do anything but wait for their rations.
"It is strange how our people have changed from being a proud and strong nation to this," He-Is-Always-There said. "Some of these Indians are still members of the longhouse, and they know better than to live like this."
On ration day, He-Is-Always-There refused to talk to the Indians who hung around the fort. "When you become a Ho-Chunk again, you can come and talk to me," he would tell them when they tried to start up a conversation. Some became very upset, while others understood and just moved on.
After two years in the Neutral Ground, most of the Ho-Chunks had settled in and came to consider the territory their new home, but not all. Many didn't trust the Indian agent. One of those Indians was He-Is-Always-There. He didn't like the treatment of the Ho-Chunks. "Our men grow fat and lazy because there is little for them to do," he told anyone who would listen to him. "Some of them like to get drunk and act very stupid. They talk about the old days and how great they were. I think that their spirit is broken, and all they have left is old memories. We wait each month for our rations, and when they come, we are all happy until the food runs out. Some of our warrior's still hunt and snare game for us. Some of them try to keep the old ways and live away from the modern Indians, and then there are the hang-around-the-fort Indians. Our medicine men are called liars by the Y-Sapes. Our way of life is soon coming to an end."
He-Is-Always-There understood that the white man had changed their way of life. No longer could an Indian roam the plains or hunt along the Rock River. That was no longer their land. Some of the members would accept the change, but others would have a hard time adjusting. Not all of the tribe lived in the Neutral Ground. Some still lived in Wisconsin and northern Illinois. A few whom the government had somehow missed were scattered along the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, still living the Ho-Chunk way. Those who were able to carry on without any government intervention called themselves "freemen."
The white man's religion was brought into the neutral country by missionaries who got permission from the U.S. government to "teach the Indian children the word of God."
Excerpted from Every Warrior Has His Own Song by Alan B. Walker Copyright © 2010 by Alan B. Walker. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 The Treaty of 1832....................1
Chapter 2 The Treaty of 1846....................21
Chapter 3 Life in the Dakotas....................38
Chapter 4 Company A Omaha Scouts....................48
Chapter 5 A New Home....................57
Chapter 6 Educating the Ho-Chunk Child....................70
Chapter 7 Mission School....................85
Chapter 8 Louis and Olive....................96
Chapter 9 Tools of Forced Assimilation....................103
Chapter 10 Home at Last....................131
Chapter 11 Mabel Wilcox....................144
Chapter 12 Kansas City, Missouri....................155
Chapter 13 Ed's Harness Shop....................175
Chapter 14 The Marriage That Made History....................185
Chapter 15 Farm Life....................192
Chapter 16 Starting Over....................200
Chapter 17 Winifred Patricia Hatchett....................207
Chapter 18 The 1960s....................219
Chapter 19 Becoming a Marine....................228
Chapter 20 Into the Bush....................235
Chapter 21 Foxtrot Ridge....................244