Winnebago, Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Siouan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). When Father Jean Nicolet encountered them (1634), the Winnebago lived in E Wisconsin, from Green Bay to Lake Winnebago. Except for a war with the Illinois (1671) and one with the Ojibwa (1827), the Winnebago generally were peaceful toward their neighbors, who included the Menominee, the Sac and Fox, and the Ottawa. The Winnebago traded with, and were staunch supporters of, the French. After the fall of French power, however, they allied themselves with the British; they fought against the colonists in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812. The Winnebago clandestinely participated in the Black Hawk War (1832). After numerous hardships and much loss of population, they were settled on reservations in Nebraska (1860s) and Wisconsin (1880s). Winnebago culture was of the Eastern Woodlands cultural area with some Plains-area traits (see under Natives, North American). Their many ceremonies were elaborate, e.g., the spring buffalo dance and the winter feast; many Winnebago continue to follow their traditional religion. The tribe now operates several gambling casinos in Wisconsin and is among the larger employers in that state. In 1990 there were over 6,500 Winnebago in the United States.
See P. Radin, The Winnebago Tribe (1923, repr. 1970) and The Culture of the Winnebago (1949).