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The Winnebago Campaign

Sometime before first European contact with the Illini (around 1635) the Winnebago, a Siouan people, were in sad shape. Surrounded by war-like Algonquin tribes such as the Fox (Meskwaki), Mascoutens (Fire Nation), Hurons and others, their numbers were greatly reduced. A particularly severe defeat at the hands of the Fox greatly weakened the Winnebago. Then came a crippling epidemic (possibly flux) and starvation followed.
Upon learning of the plight of their northern neighbors, the Illinois sent 500 men loaded with food northward to assist the Winnebagos through their tribulations. The Winnebagos welcomed the Illinois, but during dancing in honor of the Illini, the Winnebagos surprised their guests and killed them. They then made a feast of their rescuers.
Upon learning of this treachery, the Illini dispatched a large war party to avenge their dead. Knowing that the Illinois did not use bark-skinned portable canoes, the Winnebago retreated to an island (in Lake Winnebago?). Buut the season was advanced. The patient Illini waited until the weather grew colder and the lake froze. They stormed across the ice, fell upon the Winnebago, and killed all but 150 or so who were made slaves.
In time, the Illini released their prisoners who are the forefathers of the surviving Winnebagos. It is possible that not all Winnebago bands were involved in the massacre. By the mid Eighteenth Century, the Winnebagos were once again an independent tribe of the Old Northwest.
Although the Illini had decimated the Winnebago, they had also suffered casualties. Taken with the 500 men lost to treachery, the Illini were in a much weakened state at the worst possible time. The Iroquois had turned their faces toward the Illinois Country.
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