The Indian Agency House in Historical Context

The Indian Agency House was built at the Fox-Wisconsin portage in 1832 to house Indian Sub-Agent John H. Kinzie and his wife, Juliette. This Indian subagency was established as a means of fulfilling the treaty of 1829 between the United States government and the indigenous Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) tribe. A lead mining boom caused such an influx of settlers on Ho-Chunk lands that the government determined to purchase the area from the tribe in order to avoid conflict. This resulting treaty promised the tribe a yearly annuity payment in silver along with blacksmithing services and other goods in return for their land east and south of the Wisconsin River.

Our historic site represents a critical era in Westward expansion and the development of federal Indian policy, particularly during the administration of Andrew Jackson between 1829 and 1837. This was a time of intense political debate, social change, conflict, and moral testing. Please visit the "Explore History" section of our website for a more comprehensive understanding of the time and place. "Artifact Ambassadors" utilizes artifacts in our collection to convey the story from the age of the indigenous people through the 1830s.  The "Vintage Viewpoints" series allows you to immerse yourself in the conversations of the early 1800s. Each audio posting, narrated from primary sources, reflects the perspective of a unique individual in their own words regarding the removal of America's native people groups from their ancestral land. Each year, we develop a new history series that contributes depth and breadth to the vital story of this important historic site, so visit our website often to learn more.

An extensive narrative about the role our historic site played within the big picture of American history may be found in the archives of the National Register of Historic Places.

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Historical Overview