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Origins of Wisconsin


Wisconsin landscape
Wisconsin landscape

The earliest inhabitants of Wisconsin were Paleo-Indians, a nomadic people who appeared in the Great Lakes region about 11,000 bc, during the last Ice Age. Evidence from archaeological sites indicates the Paleo-Indians hunted with spears, killing caribou and other large animals. About 7000 bc, with the warming climate, an Archaic culture emerged. The area was later inhabited by a number of groups known as Mound Builders, who created large earth mounds as burial and ceremonial sites. Remains of some of these mounds may be seen at Butte des Morts (Hill of the Dead), near Neenah; at Aztalan Mound Park, near Lake Mills; and near Baraboo.

When Europeans first entered present-day Wisconsin, they encountered a number of Native American groups. The Menominee, Kickapoo, and Miami were Algonquian-speaking groups, while the Winnebago, Iowa, and Dakota, better known as Sioux, spoke Siouan languages.

Most native peoples lived in villages, raised corn and other crops, and hunted and fished. In the mid-1600s many other groups entered Wisconsin, mostly Algonquian people fleeing enemy tribes farther east. These new groups included the Fox, Sac (Sauk), Potawatomi, and Ojibwa, also called Chippewa. The first European known to have set foot on Wisconsin soil was Jean Nicolet, a French explorer. In 1634, while searching for a water route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, he reached Green Bay. In 1659 and 1660 the French fur trader Médard Chouart, Sieur des Groseilliers, and his brother-in-law, Pierre Esprit Radisson, explored the Lake Superior area. During the next 15 years the Jesuits, a Roman Catholic religious order, established the first missions in the territory, near present-day Ashland and at De Pere. In 1673 the French explorers Louis Joliet and Father Jacques Marquette crossed Wisconsin by way of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to the Mississippi River. "Wisconsin" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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