Green Bay (La Baye des Puants)

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan. Photo courtesy of Mark L. Anderson, OSA

Green Bay is a narrow estuary off the western edge of Lake Michigan, and it opens about 150 kilometers west of the straits of Mackinac, the heart of the Great Lakes region. The modern city of Green Bay is located at its base, while the bay itself extends some 160 kilometers along the east side of what is now Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Green Bay's shores are heavily wooded, and the region supports plentiful wildlife in the surrounding forests and the bay itself. The Door Peninsula and a string of islands mark the southern edge of Green Bay and extend northward towards the straits of Mackinac. The islands provide shelter and allow canoe travel along their southern edge, moderately safe from the storms that frequent the region. The dolomite ridge of the peninsula is a natural climatic barrier, with a temperature difference of 15 and 25 degrees between its eastern and western sides. 

La Baye des Puants

When the first Frenchmen arrived in the early 17th century, Green Bay was the residence of many different tribes. The French called Green Bay "La Baye des Puants", or Bay of Stinkards. The name Winnebago meant "evil-smelling" in the central Algonquin language, and the French translated it to "Puants". Eventually tribes such as the Potawatomi, Huron and Ottawa were forced out of their homes and found at least a temporary residence on Green Bay. 

At the 1837 Washington meeting, No Heart of Fear indicated Green Bay as the site of the Ioway's earliest villages. Historical evidence documenting the Ioway at or around Green Bay include the records of Father Louis Andre of the Francis de Xavier Mission on Green Bay who in 1676 reported that "seven or eight families" of the Ioway were living near the Winnebagos, although their main village was to the west. 

Archaeological evidence for historic period Native American occupation of the Green Bay area indicates likely Ho-chunk (Winnebago) and Menominee residence. Definitive Ioway archaeological sites are not yet known there, though it might be difficult to differentiate early Ioway from Ho-chunk sites.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan. Photo courtesy of Mark L. Anderson, OSA


Blaine, Martha Royce.
1995. The Ioway Indians. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 

Mason, Ronald J.
1986. Rock Island: Historical Indian 
Archaeology in the Northern Lake Michigan Basin. MCJA Special Paper No. 6, The Kent State University Press. Kent, Ohio.