FEBRUARY 16, 1828


Born about 1788, he gained his name either because he wore a red coat and called himself English, or wore on each shoulder, in place of an epaulette, “a preserved red-bird.”  While originally a protector of the settlers of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, this changed after 2 Ho-chunk men arrested for murder were erroneously said to have been turned over to the Chippewa by the military authorities and clubbed to death.  Ho-chunk chiefs then chose Red Bird to effect retaliation.  On June 26, 1827, he and 2 companions killed 2 settlers and stabbed an infant.  Joining with his band of 37 warriors and their familes, they later attacked a boat on the Mississippi, killing 4 and wounding 2, but losing a third of their own.  When troops arrived, Red Bird and accomplices surrendered.  Tried and convicted, Red Bird and companions languished in prison awaiting sentencing.  Red Bird died there.  The others condemned to death were pardoned by President John Quincy Adams, in November of 1828.

Source:  “Winnebego Indian Chiefs and Leaders: Red Bird,” from Handbook of American Indians, 1906, AccessGenealogy.   Retrieved 12/19/2019, https://accessgenealogy.com/native/winnebago-indian-chiefs-and-leaders.htm
Lithograph:  Charles Bird King (1785-1862), 1855.  Lithograph from a lost painting by King showing Red Bird (standing) dressed in a white buckskin outfit that was specially made for his surrender to U.S. authorities during the 1827 Winnebago War.  With him is Wekau.  Found in McKenney and Hall's Indian Tribes of North America.   Public Domain.

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