Winnebago Indians Are Insane and Dying Off
Special Dispatch to the World Herald
Winnebago Indian Agency, Nebraska, January 10 – As a result
of eating Mexican Mescal beans, partaken of as a ceremony in a new religion
recently introduced among the Winnebago Indians, Thomas Hill, one of the most prominent
members of the tribe, is dead, a dozen others are violently insane and will
probably die and fully half of the tribe are suffering from the effects of the
bean and more or less serious results are expected.
Fully half of the Indians on the reservation have organized
as the “Mescal Band”.
The mescal bean is eaten freely by the Indians, and as a
result of its fearful effects the condition of the religionists is
deplorable. The agent is unable to check
the spread of the religious frenzy under which the members of the tribe are
A few months ago a visiting tribe of Indians from the south
introduced the religion among the Winnebagos. The mescal bean is eaten and, under its influence the Indians imagine
themselves with God. They see him, talk
with him and are given revelations by him. The terrible effects of the bean, combined with the frenzied pitch
which the people work themselves up to, drives them first insane and finally
to a quick death. In the south the
practice has caused the death of large numbers of Indians and the agent at Winnebago
is fearful of the worst results here.
Agent McSheridge, in charge of the reservation says he is
unable to cope with the situation and can only wait for the spasm of religion
to work itself out. He states that one
peculiarity of the craze is that it is embraced by the most intelligent and
best educated Indians on the reservation, they being the leaders of the band.
Hill, the Indian who succumbed to the bean, was regarded as
one of the most intelligent man in the tribe and was a superb physical
The mescal bean is shipped in from Mexico and so far Agent
McSheridge has been unable to stop its importation.
Thursday, January 11, 1906
Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska) Volume: XLI Issue: 103 Page: 1