In 1855, a federal treaty moved the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) people from their reservation near Long Prairie to a site along the Blue Earth River. The Ho-Chunk farmed the area's rich soil with some success, but drew the hostility of white neighbors who wanted the land for themselves. Though they did not participate in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, they were exiled from Minnesota during the conflict's aftermath.
Winneshiek II (second from left) and other Ho-Chunk leaders, at Fort Snelling, c.1865. The man third from the left is thought to be Waukon Decorah, a leader in Ho-Chunk diplomatic relations with the United States.