Encyclopedia Womannica

Leaders: Glory of the Morning

Episode Summary

Glory of the Morning (c. 1709-c. 1832), or Ho-poe-kaw, was a Native American leader and the first woman to appear in Wisconsin’s written records.

Episode Notes

Every weekday, listeners explore the trials, tragedies, and triumphs of groundbreaking women throughout history who have dramatically shaped the world around us. In each 5 minute episode, we’ll dive into the story behind one woman listeners may or may not know -- but definitely should. These diverse women from across space and time are grouped into easily accessible and engaging monthly themes like Pioneers, Dreamers, Villainesses, STEMinists, Warriors & Social Justice Warriors, and many more. Encyclopedia Womannica is hosted by WMN co-founder and award-winning journalist Jenny Kaplan. The bite-sized episodes pack painstakingly researched content into fun, entertaining, and addictive daily adventures.

Encyclopedia Womannica was created by Liz Kaplan and Jenny Kaplan, executive produced by Jenny Kaplan, and produced by Liz Smith, Cinthia Pimentel, and Grace Lynch. Special thanks to Shira Atkins and Edie Allard.

This week of Encyclopedia Womannica is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. Go to thegreatcoursesplus.com/ENCYCLOPEDIA for a free month of unlimited access. 

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Episode Transcription

Hello! From Wonder Media Network, I’m Jenny Kaplan. And this is Encyclopedia Womannica.

Today’s leader was the first woman described in the historical record of Wisconsin.  The exact timeline of her life is a bit of a mystery, but she made a clear impression on countless travelers, authors, and historians. Let’s talk about the Native American Chief Glory of the Morning.

Glory of the Morning, also known as Ho-poe-kaw, was born around 1709 into the Ho-Chunk tribe. She grew up in a large village in what is now Menasha, Wisconsin. 

She was the daughter of the tribe’s chief, and succeeded him around 1727, when she was between  15 and 18 years old. She was the first and only woman on record to lead the Ho-Chunk.

Not long after Glory of the Morning took power, the French reestablished contact with the tribe as part of their settlement efforts. A small force of French troops visited the village under the command of Sabrevoir Descaris. The commander soon decided to stay in the area and resigned from his officer position to become a fur trader. He and Glory of the Morning got married and had two sons and one daughter.

At that time, the Ho-Chunk people and French traders were often intercepted by the enemy Fox tribe, which demanded valuable tributes from travelers on the road. Glory of the Morning and the Ho-Chunk allied with the French against the Fox tribe in a war that lasted seven years.  She was then a key player in peace negotiations ending that struggle.

Descaris eventually left his marriage with Glory of the Morning and returned to Quebec, taking their daughter with him. He passed away in 1760 during a battle in the French and Indian war. 

Despite her husband’s departure, Glory of the Morning continued to foster cordial relationships with the French settlers for some time. She supported the French in their war with Great Britain in 1754, attacking English settlements in the East. But when the British started to turn the tide in the war, Glory of the Morning also tried to establish friendly relations with them. 

Glory of the Morning became an extremely well-known figure among soldiers, settlers, and travelers. Many visitors wrote accounts of their interactions with her, forming the basis for much of our understanding of her life.

One British captain who visited in 1766 described Glory of the Morning as civil and petite, yet distinguished. He also highlighted her old age. She would have been around 60 by the time of the captain’s visit. But her life was far from over. Based on her appearances in other people’s accounts, she lived to a shockingly old age. . A traveling fur trader John Kinzie and his family visited the Ho-Chunk tribe in 1832, and his wife described the ancient chief in detail. Glory of the Morning would have been over 100 years old at that point!

Mrs. Kinzie wrote that Glory of the Morning’s voice was, “tremulous and feeble, except when raised in fury to reprove her graceless grandsons, who were fond of playing her all sorts of mischievous tricks.” She also laughed often and traded sarcastic jokes with the Kinzie family, showing her sharpness of mind at such an old age.

Soon after the visit with the Kinzies, Glory of the Morning passed away. Her exact death date is unknown, but it’s well documented that her advanced age was almost unheard of.

Ho-Chunk legends say that a blizzard swept through after her death. They say unusual thunder echoed through the village and attributed the sound to deities of the clan calling Glory of the Morning to the afterlife.

Glory of the Morning’s descendents kept up her legacy of leadership. . Two Iowa Cities are named after one of her mischievous grandsons, Chief Waukon Decorah.

Glory of the Morning was a strong leader who walked her own path, and made an impression on all those she met.

Join us tomorrow to learn about an incredible, ancient leader!

This week of Encyclopedia Womannica is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. I strive to learn something new every day. I’m guessing that if you’re listening to this show, you feel the same way. That’s why I’m so excited to talk to you about The Great Courses Plus. Their online streaming service offers thousands of lectures on a huge number of topics. It’s like going back to school without tests -- though I’m sure your trivia skills will get a boost. If this episode whet your appetite I highly recommend the course Native Peoples of North America. Learn about Laura Cornelius Kellogg, a founder of the Society of American Indians, who devoted her life to increasing tribal self-sufficiency through communal land ownership and economic enterprises. Right now, Encyclopedia Womannica listeners can get a free month of unlimited access. Sign up today at The-Great-Courses –PLUS –dot -com –slash – ENCYCLOPEDIA. That’s thegreatcoursesplus.com/ENCYCLOPEDIA.

Special thanks to Liz Kaplan, my favorite sister and co-creator! She also happens to be obsessed with the Great Courses Plus. 

Talk to you tomorrow!