Red Bird

(Native Americans: A Comprehensive History)

Article abstract: The leader of the brief{$IWinnebago Uprising} Winnebago Uprising, Red Bird was war chief of a small, militant group of Winnebagos.

Born at the forks of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers, Red Bird succeeded his father as war chief of the Prairie La Crosse Winnebagos. As lead prices rose during the 1820's, federal officials seeking to obtain rich Indian lands attempted to discourage Indians from mining and selling lead to traders. Consequently, tensions escalated, and in 1826 warriors killed members of a French trading family. In 1827, two warriors were accused of murder; rumors of their imminent execution reached Red Bird's village. Authorized by tribal council, Red Bird and two other warriors killed two white settlers and scalped an infant. On June 30, Red Bird also attacked a Mississippi boatman who had kidnapped and raped several Indian women. Subsequently, federal troops, Illinois volunteers, and white volunteer miners massed at Fort Snelling. When other Winnebagos failed to join the uprising, Red Bird surrendered to white forces, expecting immediate execution. His trial met with several delays, however, and Red Bird died of dysentery shortly before charges against him were dropped because of a lack of witnesses.