Long before the Germans and Norwegians immigrated to Wisconsin, our beautiful lands were inhabited by many different Native American tribes, each with its own dialect, art forms and traditions dating back thousands of years.
Some of the earliest known inhabitants of Wisconsin date back to 10,000 BC. As climates changed and time passed, the Native American cultures changed and evolved. The last stepping stone to the tribes that the European explorers met, were the Oneota people. They gradually evolved into the primary tribes who inhabited Wisconsin when the first Europeans arrived—the Ojibwe (Chippewa), Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), Menominee, Potawatomi, Dakota Sioux, Sac and Fox.
Wisconsin’s Native American heritage continues to be an enduring source of pride for our state. Currently Wisconsin is home to the largest number of Native American tribes east of the Mississippi River. There are eleven tribal nations who occupy reservations covering over 500,000 acres. Six of the tribes are Chippewa—Bad River, Red Cliff, Lac Du Flambeau and Lac Courte Oreilles, St. Croix and Mole Lake. The other five consist of Ho-Chunk, Forest County Potawatomi, Menominee, Oneida and Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican.
Jackie Berndt – Milwaukee, WI
“I chose Native American tribes because of their values. There’s a practice called vision quest, where a young child is sent away for a few days to find their purpose and learn how to lead their life with meaning and satisfaction. I try and practice that on a day-to-day basis, bringing my mind to the roots of my heart to guide a life filled with meaning, appreciation and reflection. Other beautiful values they practice are respecting nature, mutuality, practicality and patience.”