Nebraska: Winnebago Reservation


The Winnebago were originally an eastern woodland tribe who called themselves Ho-Chunk, or “People of the First Voice.” In the 1620s, the tribe was 25,000 members strong. However, following an inter-tribal war with the Potawatomi and a smallpox and measles epidemic in the 1830s, their numbers were greatly reduced (some say to about 150 people). The remaining members were forced to migrate to Iowa, then on to Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska.  

History of the Reservation: Winnebago history is marked by relocation and land cessation. They signed their first treaty with the United States government in 1816, followed by cession and boundary treaties during the 1820s and 1830s – resulting in the loss of most of the tribe’s land. Even after that, the Winnebago were moved five times between 1840 and 1863, pushed first to northeastern Iowa, then to Long Prairie, Minnesota, then to Blue Earth, Minnesota and then to Crow Creek, South Dakota. In 1865, during the constant upheaval that cost 700 tribal members their lives, the current Winnebago Reservation in northeastern Nebraska was established by the treaties of 1865 and 1874. Yet the tribe lost more than two-thirds of this land in the General Allotment Act of 1887. By 1913, only 120,000 acres of cropland, woodland and pasture remained.  

Life on the Reservation: Today, the Winnebago Reservation is about 27,000 acres (about the size of Manhattan). The Winnebago Tribe is federally recognized and organized under the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. The Winnebago Tribe established a constitution in 1936 and amended it in 1968. Today, about 2,600 people live on the Winnebago Reservation, and about 4,200 people are enrolled in the tribe. Only one-third of the reservation acreage is owned by the tribe, and much of it is farmland used by both tribal and non-tribal members. Nearly 35% of the population lives in the community of Winnebago, the largest community on the reserve. The tribe operates a casino, but most jobs are through the federal or tribal government or agriculture. While the average yearly income for residents is $59,000, the unemployment rate is 17%, and 19% of residents live below poverty level.  

Winnebago on the map: Northeastern Nebraska 


Enrollment, Land Size 

Census Info and