State of Nebraska - Genealogy Trails











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 laboring.

    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 specimen.

    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