Winnebago, Nebraska; Thurston County
In 1863, the Winnebago people were moved from their home in Minnesota. They were placed on a barren reservation in Dakota Territory. Groups of Winnebago then moved down the Missouri River to the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska. In March 1865, the Winnebago used their own funds to purchase land from the Omaha. That land is now the Winnebago Reservation.
In early 1865, about 75 members of the Winnebago Tribe enlisted in the Nebraska Volunteers. Their unit was known as Company “A”, Omaha Scouts. They were active during various conflicts between the U.S. Government and Native American tribes throughout the 1860’s. The Winnebago had a desire for peace and good ties between Native Americans and the white settlers.
In the summer of 1866, upon the return of the Winnebago veterans, a homecoming festival was held. Chief Little Priest died of wounds received in army service shortly after their return. An annual memorial celebration is held in remembrance of his sacrifice. The year after his death, Little Priest’s service flag was raised as a symbol of the tribe’s allegiance to their country. This ceremony remains an important part of each celebration. Later the gatherings became known as the Annual Pow-wow.
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