UPDATE! Click here to find Cathy’s paper at the St. Cloud State University Repository.

I was contacted through a friend by a fellow graduate student named Cathy. She was writing her thesis about a secret organization, akin to the KKK, called the Knights of the Forest. A description of the group by the Blue Earth County Historical Society Review follows:

January, 1863 – Settlers organize a secret society called the Knights of the Forest in Mankato to bring about the removal of the Winnebagos. “A secret order called the Knights of the Forest was formed by two men from Mankato and one from Garden city, for the express purpose of the removal of the Winnebago and all Indians from the state of Minnesota. The Knights grew to considerable size to include many of the most prominent and influential men of …both political parties. One noteworthy act of the Mankato lodge… was the employment of a certain number of men whose duty it was to lie in ambush on the outskirts of the Winnebago reservation and shoot any Indian who might be observed outside the lines…” – Blue Earth County Historical Society Review, April 27, 1886.

She asked for help creating map graphics that could illustrate the forced movements of the tribe, and some of the Indian reservations in which they were put. Using a handful of source maps, I was able to compile the information into 3 map graphics.

The first shows the vast homeland of the tribe as per an 1825 treaty, and the subsequent piecemeal cessions.


The second map attempts to convey the complicated and numerous movements of the tribe between reservations.


The third map provides details about the Blue Earth Reservation near Mankato, MN, including the locations of Ho Chunk villages and lands that were purchased by Knights of the Forest members once the tribe was forced out. Settlers flooded into the reservation, lived in their homes and even took over their planted crops when the tribe left for the Dakota Territory.