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The Murder of Joe White

The Murder of Joe White: Ojibwe Leadership and Colonialism in Wisconsin

Erik M. Redix
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 294
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  • Book Info
    The Murder of Joe White
    Book Description:

    In 1894 Wisconsin game wardens Horace Martin and Josiah Hicks were dispatched to arrest Joe White, an Ojibweogimaa(chief), for hunting deer out of season and off-reservation. Martin and Hicks found White and made an effort to arrest him. When White showed reluctance to go with the wardens, they started beating him; he attempted to flee, and the wardens shot him in the back, fatally wounding him. Both Martin and Hicks were charged with manslaughter in local county court, and they were tried by an all-white jury. A gripping historical study,The Murder of Joe Whitecontextualizes this event within decades of struggle of White's community at Rice Lake to resist removal to the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, created in 1854 at the Treaty of La Pointe. While many studies portray American colonialism as defined by federal policy,The Murder of Joe Whiteseeks a much broader understanding of colonialism, including the complex role of state and local governments as well as corporations. All of these facets of American colonialism shaped the events that led to the death of Joe White and the struggle of the Ojibwe to resist removal to the reservation.

    eISBN: 978-1-60917-432-3
    Subjects: History, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)

    On December 13, 1894 Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibweogimaa(or chief) Giishkitawag was shot to death by game warden Josiah Hicks on the orders of his superior, Horace Martin. The game wardens were serving Giishkitawag with an arrest warrant for hunting deer out of season. Giishkitawag, or Joe White, as local whites knew him, was the leader of an Ojibwe community at Rice Lake, Wisconsin. The shooting occurred north of Rice Lake at Long Lake, an important site for Ojibwe fishing and wild rice gathering. Giishkitawag was traveling from Long Lake to the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation when the Rice...

  5. Pronunciation Guide
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  6. CHAPTER 1 The Rise of Nena’aangabi and American Expansion in the Western Great Lakes, 1825–1837
    (pp. 1-30)

    At the 1855 annuity payment at Madeline Island, thousands of Lake Superior Ojibwe from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan gathered. Also present was Richard Morse, a Detroit physician. Dozens of Ojibwe leaders were there, yet the one that most captivated Morse was Nena’aangabi:

    He is rather less than the medium height and size, an intelligent face and mild expression, a very keen eye, and when animated in speaking, a sort of fiery look or twinkle. Like most of the warriors, his face is highly colered with vermillion. At the head of his warriors and in council, he wears an elaborate turban...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Nena’aangabi and the Language of Treaties, 1837–1855
    (pp. 31-64)

    At the 1855 annuity payment, Nena’aangabi told American officials about his understanding of the treaty that had transpired the year before where Lake Superior Ojibwe bands ceded iron-ore-rich lands in northeast Minnesota and retained reservations. In his colorful oratory, Nena’aangabi told government officials, “I swallowed the words of the treaty down my throat, and they have not yet had time to blister my breast.”¹ The implication was that the longtime leader was dissatisfied with prior treaties and the relationship with the United States that had developed in the prior few decades. By 1855, Nena’aangabi was the most influential Ojibwe leader...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Waabizheshi’s Vision of an Intercultural Community at Rice Lake, 1855–1877
    (pp. 65-100)

    In 1855, Waabizheshi assumed leadership of the Rice Lake community from his father Nena’aangabi following the influential leader’s death on the battlefield. Waabizheshi inherited a thriving community, as well as an important political legacy, from his father, whom Richard Morse described in 1855 as “the favorite orator and chief” of the Lake Superior Ojibwe.¹ Lacking the raw charisma of his father, the exotic appeal of his warrior sister, or the tragedy that surrounded his brother Joe White’s murder, Waabizheshi is overshadowed in the historical record. Nevertheless, his leadership was pivotal in the history of the community. Waabizheshi led the community...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Aazhaweyaa and Ojibwe Women in Transition
    (pp. 101-124)

    In 1915, Thomas Bracklin wrote a letter to Commissioner of Indian Affairs Cato Sells requesting an allotment on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation for himself and his children. Bracklin, then around fifty years old, cited the rich legacy of his family, telling the commissioner, “I believe that if the true history of my ancestors was better understood by the Indian Office, there would be no hesitation in granting my application.”¹ Bracklin was the firstborn son of Aazhaweyaagiizhigokwe, commonly known as Aazhaweyaa, eldest daughter of Nena’aangabi. In the 1850s, Aazhaweyaa became a venerated warrior, celebrated throughout Ojibwe territory. However, the mid-nineteenth...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Giishkitawag Confronts Removal, 1879–1894
    (pp. 125-148)

    In 1877, Giishkitawag, at age thirty-eight, became ogimaa of the Ojibwe at Rice Lake following his brother Waabizheshi’s death. The seventeen years of Giishkitawag’s leadership were difficult ones. Federal, state, and local governments all challenged Ojibwe sovereignty. The Barron County Board petitioned the federal government for removal of the community to the reservation, and the white population of Barron County boomed. While Giishkitawag did not seek a military solution to avoid removal, historical evidence suggests that Giishkitawag was much more aggressively defiant in resisting removal to the reservation than his brother. Where Waabizheshi avoided federal officials and solely focused on...

  11. CHAPTER 6 The Murder of Joe White and the Culmination of Removal
    (pp. 149-178)

    “I knew the face well. Blood was running out of his ears. A crack in his skull. His right shoulder all mashed up. Next I saw a bullet mark,” commented Joe Baker, providing an eyewitness testimony during the arraignment of two Wisconsin game wardens who murdered Giishkitawag, or Joe White. At the time of his chilling account in 1894, Baker and the rest of his community at Bakerville still lived off the reservation in wigwams, four decades after the Treaty of La Pointe had created the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation. Among their Ojibwe friends and relatives, the villagers of Bakerville...

  12. CHAPTER 7 Maggie Quaderer, Steve Grover, and the Creation of Community at Whitefish, 1894–1920
    (pp. 179-204)

    In 1900, most of Giishkitawag’s community lived at Whitefish on the reservation. While there was still a significant number of holdouts living off the reservation at Bakerville on Long Lake, the majority of the community, including all of Nena’aangabi’s surviving children and grandchildren, lived on the reservation. No one succeeded Giishkitawag as ogimaa. Like almost all Native people at this time, colonialism undercut traditional political institutions. The farmer at Lac Courte Oreilles and the Indian agent at La Pointe effectively directed much of reservation life, down to dispensing money from sales of timber on allotments, a major source of Ojibwe...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 205-210)

    Charles White appears to not have talked much about his father’s murder, based on what little we know about the murder from his descendants.¹ For Charles White, the murder of Joe White was not just an attack on Ojibwe sovereignty but also robbed a boy of his father. The world in which Charles White grew up was directly shaped by events such as the murder of his father. These were dark times for Native people, as most Native people lived in dire poverty while American institutions were attacking their traditional culture. Federal policy used education as a tool to separate...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 211-268)
  15. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 269-278)
  16. Index
    (pp. 279-282)