The ancestors of most Wisconsin German dialect speakers, such as this woman, came from Pomerania, which is now located in northwestern Poland, just east of the German-Polish border. This speaker was a third- or fourth-generation Wisconsinite and a schoolteacher. She shares memories of Indians in her area, who were likely members of the Ho-Chunk tribe. By the time Germans began settling in Wisconsin in the mid-nineteenth century, the displacement of Native people by the U.S. government was already well underway, meaning that German-Indian contacts were not necessarily frequent.
Dialect: Pommersch, Wisconsin German Dialects
Location: Marathon, Wisconsin
Did there use to be Indians around here?
Yes, but only a few, very few. My father said that often in the winter they had, in the woods, their winter camp, and they made baskets from elm, slippery elm. And they also brought baskets and would trade them for food, bread and whatever other kinds of food there were. And often they also brought venison.
But there weren’t many Indians here. Right here in this town there were also a few, and [from] this one family the boys even went to school. But even the teachers were afraid of them and did everything they could to keep from coming to school. Because they were afraid of the Indians.