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For the Indians there was a lot of prestige in marrying a Frenchman who could basically give an Indian family a very sort of strategic economic relationship. By the time you get to the 1800s you have a large population, probably Metis, who were part Indian, part French, spoke French fluently, could speak Indian languages, who are settling in permanent fur trade centers like Green Bay. And Green Bay from about 1800 to about 1830 would have looked like a small group of farms. That would have been common for everybody at Green Bay. Though the French and Indian War had given control of the land to the British, there had been little change in the day-to-day life of the fur trade. And the first sign that the Americans were coming happens in 1816 when an American expedition comes down here to Green Bay and establishes Fort Howard. There were some commanders who liked to use the whip to punish soldiers. The establishment of Fort Howard doesn’t change things right away. The Oneida Indians, part of the once mighty Iroquois Confederation of Tribes in what is now New York, were compelled to make a desperate move to a new home on Green Bay to preserve their very existence.
And of course the Europeans wanted this land to live on as they migrated from the East Coast. And through the series of several treaties, we had to sell most of our land to the American Government. He had grandeur plans of a great empire in the West, taking all of the Iroquois nations from New York, to move all of those six nations to another place that would be more peaceful and not be so influenced by the white immigrants. They saw that that was destroying the moral fiber of the people.
Soon after this boat did come-- within this boat was Jean Nicolet. The standard understanding of Nicolet is that he was probably a middle aged Frenchman who had been in what was then called New France, today Canada. And so the Indians were very eager to trade with the French and have the French settle among them as traders.
And in 1634, he was sent by the Governor, Samuel de Champlain, west with a group of most likely Huron Indians intent upon studying the french fur trade west into the Great Lakes. One of the things we did do after the Europeans came was to get into the fur trade, and this took a hard toll on our people.
Our people didn’t have no concept of selling or buying. And what happened after that was in the late 1820s and ’30s, you had a lot of the first Yankees, people from New York and New England, coming into Wisconsin. We’re looking to the seven generations of those on board; we’re keeping this land for them. So they thought that if they got out west they could be away from that.
Daniel Whitney was probably the best example, and he had his hands in a lot of different pies. Another one was that so many treaties had been signed.