Origin and History
The Menominee people are an Algonquian-speaking group of Native Americans. They initially inhabited along the western Great Lakes in present-day Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
The Menominee people collected wild rice as their main food staples and around 1634, when they came to contact with the French, the latter designated them as “Folles Avoines.” By that time, the Menominee counted some 3,000 peoples and controlled the northwestern shore of Lake Michigan. Their largest village was located where present-day Green Bay stands.
Around 1658, the Menominee and their Chippewa neighbours fought a war over the access to sturgeon fishing. Meanwhile, Iroquois war parties had begun to make incursions in Western Wisconsin.
In the 1660s, war and epidemic had reduced the population to only 400.
From 1667, the Menominee people started to extend westwards to supply their fur trading activities with the French. From 1701, after the victory of the French over the Iroquois Confederacy, the Menominee people gradually reoccupied territories south and west of their present territory. This area had been left empty by other Algonquian-speaking peoples, who had been chased away by the Iroquois. At some point, the Menominee territory covered most of central Wisconsin as far south as Milwaukee.
The Menominee remained neutral during the First Fox War (1712-16). However, they sided with the French during the Second Fox War (1728-37).
By 1736, the Menominee population had increased to 850.
During the Seven Years’ War, the Menominee people sided with France.
By 1764, the Menominee population had increased to 1,140.
After 1856, the Menominee were confined to a reservation in Northern Wisconsin.
Role during the War
In May 1756, a party of 60 Menominee warriors joined the French for their operations on Lake Ontario. This force encamped at Niaouré Bay (present-day Sackett's Harbor) to harass Oswego and cut its communications with Albany. On July 11, another party of 40 Menominee warrior arrived at Montréal under the command of Marin. They soon accepted to join the expedition against Oswego and left on July 18 for Oswego. On August 17, all Menominee warriors left Oswego to return home.
In 1757, 129 Menominee warriors took part in Montcalm’s expedition against Fort William Henry, and contracted smallpox. That winter, when they returned to their villages, they brought back the disease with them. The epidemic soon spread among North American peoples of the Great Lakes and the Ohio River, which were allied with the French.
During the winter of 1759 at Green Bay, the Menominee revolted against the French, killing 22 French soldiers. Soon afterwards, 7 warriors, who had taken part in this uprising, were sent to Montréal for punishment. Three of them were punished and four, pardoned under the condition that they would join the force sent for the defence of Québec.
In 1761, the British occupied Green Bay.
Menominee warriors usually wore long buckskin pants, breechcloth (a leather belt with a rectangle of leather pulled under it, front and rear.). They wore their hair long and adorned it with fur roach and feathers.
Waldman, Carl: Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes, Revised Edition, pp. 131-133
Wikipedia – Menominee
N.B.: the section Role during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.