MESQUAKIE. When first encountered by the French, the Mesquakie (Fox) Indians were living along the Foxand Wolf Rivers, southwest of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Unlike many other Great Lakes tribes, the Mesquakies distrusted the French alliance and resented the emigration of French-allied tribes into Wisconsin in the mid-1600s. In 1710, the French administrator Antoine de
La Moth, Sierra de Cadillac, attempted to win Mesquakie allegiance by luring part of the tribe to the Detroit region, but there they quarreled with French-allied Indians and then attacked the French fort in 1712. The French and their allies retaliated and killed many Mesquakies near Detroit as the latter attempted to flee to the Iroquois. Most of the survivors returned to Wisconsin, where the Mesquakies disrupted the French fur trade, attacking French traders and raiding French and allied Indian villages in Illinois. In 1716, the Mesquakies defeated a French expedition that attacked their fortified villages in Wisconsin; and in 1728, although another French army burned their villages and cornfields, the Mesquakies retreated and suffered few casualties. Meanwhile, Mesquakie attacks upon French settlements in Illinois paralyzed the region and brought the fur trade to a standstill.
In 1728–1729, the Kickapoos and Winnebagos, former Mesquakie allies, defected to the French. Surrounded by enemies, the Mesquakies attempted to leave Wisconsin and migrate to New York where they hoped to seek refuge among the Iroquois. In August 1730, while en route across Illinois, they were intercepted by a large force of French and allied Indians and surrounded in a small grove of trees on the prairie. After a four-week siege, the Mesquakies attempted to flee during a thunderstorm but were followed and slaughtered on the prairie. The few survivors returned to Wisconsin, where in 1732 they were attacked again by French-allied Indians. The following year, the surviving Mesquakies were given refuge by the Sauk, who shielded them from further French attacks, and with whom part of the Mesquakies (Sauk and Fox Indians) have since resided.
Other Mesquakies established new villages in the Dubuque, Iowa, region, where their women mined and supplied lead to Spanish and American settlers. In 1856, the Iowa Mesquakies purchased eighty acres along the Iowa River, near Tama, Iowa. During the next century, adjoining lands were purchased, and in 2000 the settlement encompassed an area of almost 3,500 acres. Residents of the settlement community remained a conservative people, proudly retaining many of their old traditions and their continued identity as Mesquakies.
Edmunds, R. David, and Joseph L. Peyser. The Fox Wars: The Mesquakie Challenge to New France. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1993.
McTaggart, Fred. Wolf that I Am: In Search of the Red Earth People. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976.
Murphy, Lucy Eldersveld. A Gathering of Rivers: Indians, Metis, and Mining in the Western Great Lakes, 1737–1832. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.