Origin and History
The Meskwaki people (aka Fox people) are an Algonquian-speaking group of Native Americans. They initially inhabited a region in the Upper Saint-Laurent Valley (in present-day Ontario) but, under the pressure of the Wyandot People and their French allies, they were soon forced to migrate to the western Great Lakes, in present-day Eastern Michigan, before moving further west to present-day Wisconsin and particularly along the Fox River in the 1640s. They had three types of leaders: a peace chief, a war chief and a ceremonial chief. The peace chief was the only hereditary leader, other were selected by the people when necessary.
The Fox River was a very important waterway for the French, allowing them to link their trading posts on the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River. By 1698, the French estimated the Meskwaki population to approx. 6,500.
From 1712 to 1733, the Meskwaki people fought two wars against the French, who had made alliance with their hereditary enemies: the Chippewa. During these conflicts the Meskwaki where driven out of their territory downstream the Wisconsin River. In 1734, the Meskwaki people (now only 1,500) allied themselves with the Sauk people, this alliance lasted until present-day.
In the 1770s, the Meskwaki people migrated to present-day Illinois, in a territory which they had just conquered over the Illinois people.
Today, the Meskwaki people can be found in Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Role during the War
On April 6 and 7, 1757, 40 Fox warriors went to Niagara to make an alliance with the French. They then set out for a raid. Later during the year, 20 Meskwaki 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.
In 1759, a few Meskwaki warriors took part in the defence of Québec.
We have been unable to find characteristics about the dress of this Native American people that would distinguish them from other peoples. If you can suggest sources documenting such characteristics, please do not hesitate to contact us with your suggestions.
Bougainville, Louis Antoine de: Adventure in the Wilderness - The American Journal of Louis Antoide de Bougainville 1756-1760, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press translated by Edward P. Hamilton p. 107
Sulzman, Lee: Sauk and Fox History
Waldman, Carl: Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes, Revised Edition, pp. 81-82
Wikipedia – Meskwaki
N.B.: the section Role during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.