History of Ouisconsin

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Background

Ouisconsin takes its name from a river whose name origins are obscure (believed to derive from a word that means "red stone place"). However, beyond doubt the earliest European settlers in the region were French. A diverse group followed, including Kemrese and Scots as well as Native peoples from regions to the north and east. Interestingly, the ethnic differences were more-or-less soothed by the spread of Cambrian-Rite Catholic Missionaries. At least this allowed for several trading posts to spring up under the auspices of monastic Missions, such as those in Peoria, Chicago and Milwaukee. The fur trade proved very profitable and attracted many more settlers from Les Plaines and Ontario as well as Illinoise and Miami.

Road to provincehood

Black Hawk, Ouisconsin's first Lord Governor (1835-1840)

The origins of Ouisconsin have been described as "the SLC in miniature"-- like the League as a whole, the province first arose as a coming-together of Native tribes and Newcomer settlements. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the region between the Illinoise River, the Mississippi River, and Lake Mishigami was dominated by two large tribes. The Othaaki-Meskwaki or Sauk-Fox confederacy was consolidating into an important regional power along the Mississippi, Ouisconsin, and Rock [1] Rivers. The Southern (or Prairie) Bodéwadmi, or Potawatomi, lived to the south and east along the Great Lake and the Illinoise River.

North of these were two smaller tribes, the Kiwikapawa or Kickapoo to the northwest and the Ho-Chunk to the northeast. The Kickapoo spoke a language that was mutually intelligible with Sauk-Fox and today is not considered a separate language. The Ho-Chunk spoke and continue to speak a Siouan language distinct from their Algonquian neighbors. All of these tribes were relatively recent arrivals in the area following the collapse of the Illinoise Confederacy which had dominated the region throughout the eighteenth century.

European settlement at this time was confined to a few settlements, but by the early 19th century, the southeastern part of what is today Ouisconsin was largely peopled by Newcomers. Ethnically, these were a mix of Kemrese, French, and English settlers, with a few Scots among them. The French had arrived earliest and occupied much of the land near the rivers. Toward the southeast were increasing numbers of English settlers who felt mixed loyalties toward the English Crown.

After the establishment of the NAL in 1803, Philadelphia claimed the region and considered it part of its vast Northwest Territory. In reality, Ouisconsin during the early NAL era consisted of semi-independent communities, with loyalty split between NAL loyalists, partisans of the nascent Louisianne, and some who wanted to remain neutral. Some of the Newcomers considered themselves NAL citizens, others, citizens of Louisianne, and still others enjoyed the lawlessness of their no-man's-land. Some of the Native nations discussed joining the League's Council Fire in the future, others preferred perpetual independence, and still others chose to wait and see.

The moment of decision came in the late 1820s. During the 1828 War, the region was invaded by France and Louisianne, which sought to occupy the old Highlands colonial region, comprising the Great Lakes. Black Hawk, leader of the Sauk-Fox, rallied the tribal and settlement leaders to resist the expansion. A great meeting occurred on the banks of the Ouisconsin River near Prairie-du-Chien, a French fur post in Kiwikapawa territory. The diverse peoples formed an alliance to preserve their independence in the face of the invasion. The Ouisconsin Alliance, as it was called, fought alongside League forces and drove the Louisiannans west, occupying Les Plaines in the process.

Joining the NAL seemed inevitable after the cooperation in the war. There were many holdouts, not least of which were Black Hawk himself. The French speakers, too, feared anti-French sentiment in the League in the aftermath of the war. After six years of discussion, the nations of Ouisconsin became satisfied with guarantees of autonomy and petitioned for provincehood in 1834. Ouisconsin was admitted the following year, and Black Hawk ran unopposed for the new office of Lord Governor.

Early provincehood

The major controversy of the 1830s concerned the border with Illinoise, which in 1832 had become a province loyal to the English Crown. Illinoise's original charter gave its northern limit as the Illinoise River - hence its name. However, the Bodewadmi tribe had comminities located considerably to the south of the river, many of whom had been part of the Ouisconsin Alliance. Most of the French, and some of the English, living along the river would have preferred to be part of a Native province rather than an English one. Citizens of Peoria, a mix of French and English, were bitterly divided over which province they should belong to.

The issue of the border nearly prevented Ouisconsin from being admitted in 1835. Both Parliament and the Council Fire secured the promise of Black Hawk and provincial leaders that a compromise would be reached. Neither province got what it wanted: the Bodewadmi had to give up a good deal of their tribal land, while most of the Illinoise valley ended up in Ouisconsin. For this reason, the Illinoise River does not actually spend much time in Illinoise province. Most contentious was Peoria. In 1840 a joint commission concluded that it should be a condominium between the two provinces, a status it kept until 1970.

Tensions within Ouisconsin centered around the ownership, use, and rights to land - tensions that have continued in one form or another to this day. The fithing governments had a difficult time reconciling tribal land patterns with the Newcomers' system of private land ownership. Other Native provinces, notably Aquanishuonigy, had adopted compromise systems that served as models, but disputes erupted over nearly every new town, highway, railroad, or private farmstead. The provincial and fithing governments frequently discouraged runaway growth by limiting land sales or, in some cases, by shutting down or diminishing the importance of forts that served as anchors for settlements. The Bodewadmi militia, for example, moved its headquarters away from Fort Starving Rock to prevent the growth of a town on a uniquely beautiful natural site. A number of Natives formed corporations to manage tribal assets; most successful among these was the ancestor of the modern Saukenuk Mining and Freight company, which maintained an Othaaki monopoly on the rich lead mines near the Mississippi to the north of Saukenuk.

Growth and industrialization

One of Ouisconsin's largest early public works project was a canal linking the Illinoise River with Lake Mishigami. First proposed by the Parliament in Philadelphia as early as 1825, the project was not taken up by the province until after 1840, and work was delayed for years because of disputes over the route. Many people, particularly Newcomers near St. Francis and Othaaki who had acclimated themselves to Newcomer economics, fought hard for an alternate route between Chicago and the capital, using the Rock instead of the Illinoise Rivers. This, it was thought, would allow Othaaki-Meskwaaki to benefit from the expected trade boom that the canal would bring, whereas the Illinoise River route would benefit only Bodewadmi. However, the Rock River is not navigable for most of its course, and the Othaaki plan called for an expensive and disruptive dredging operation. When it became clear that the Illinoise-Mishigami route was the wisest course of action, the provincial Council voted to enact a series of tolls along it that would ensure the entire province, not just Bodewadmi, would benefit from the canal. The tolls blunted the canal's economic impact and had the secondary effect of limiting population growth in the regions served by the canal.

Ultimately known as the Bodewadmi Canal, the project nevertheless had an enormous impact on the entire region, connecting the Great Lakes system with the Mississippi basin. Peoria, Chicago, and Milwaukee all grew into major ports, as did a number of smaller towns such as Fort Zhagenash on the Illinoise. The railroads followed the canal, and their impact was even greater, bringing many of the products of Les Plaines and the North through the province. Soon immigrants from Europe began adding their mix to Ouisconsin's new urban landscapes. As Chicago transformed into a metropolis with all the associated issues and problems, it was separated from its fithing in 1853. Milwaukee followed in 1862. Unfettered by the fithing governments and their conservative approach to economic growth, the cities encouraged an environment of speculation and free-market capitalism that led to rapid industrialization and the rise of powerful manufacturing concerns.

Politically, industrialization and the Crisis of 1875 prompted Ouisconsin to begin concentrating power in the provincial government rather than the fithings. To prevent the threat of fighting between local militias, the five forces were combined in 1874. And indeed, outside of Chicago and Milwaukee, where labor disputes flared into violence, the province was largely spared the chaos that gripped the League in the 1870s. Economically, the need for more uniform regulation led to the fithing councils surrendering some of their oversight powers. As the population grew, the fithings also surrendered some power in the other direction, giving counties or towns authority over roads and over public order through the establishment of police forces. The creation of a provincial park system in 1878 provided a regular, province-wide means of protecting land.

Twentieth Century

Mobilization for the First Great War finally spurred the industrialization of the parts of Ouisconsin outside Chicago, Milwaukee, and Peoria. Although the war benefited the province economically, opposition to it ran deep. The NAL's entanglement in it was blamed on the Newcomer provinces' ties to Europe, as represented by the four men of the Viceregal College. Shortly into the war, Ouisconsin was one of the provinces to demand a Native Viceroy as a way to prevent such a thing from happening in the future.

The economic crunch following the war led to a rise in ethnic tensions. This flared up most dramatically in the anti-Greek, anti-Costanice Efeseyist Scare of 1921. This was also the age of Prohibition, during which Ouisconsin's rail connections to Louisianne became one of the NAL's main conduits for illegal alcohol. The Chicago Pègre are the most famous figures from this era, but in reality Ouisconsin's booze-smuggling network spanned the entire province and beyond. Many of the province's leading distillers simply set up shop across the Mississippi and relied on Pègre or other criminals to take them to American markets. The mainly French-speaking border town of Alton was reputed to be completely overrun by Chicago gangs, a reputation that the town has more recently tried, with varying success, to cultivate for tourism.

The Second Great War was initially only marginally more popular than the first, but after a series of political concessions, the Viceroy and MPs agreed to support it. Nevertheless, Ouisconsians dutifully did their part in the war effort, while a number of firms conveniently made a tidy profit from the manufacture of munitions and supplies.

In 1970, the NAL's only internal condominium was abolished as the people of Peoria voted to divide their city down the middle, with the larger part going to Illinoise and the smaller part joining Ouisconsin. Ouisconsian West Peoria became Creve Coeur three years later.

Recent events

The Florida War, its aftermath, and the admission of East and West Florida as Provinces has led to a flood of Floridians to Ouisconsin, particularly to the cities. This has made immigration an issue once again. The Floridians are becoming a visible political force in Chicago and Milwaukee politics. Thousands of Floridians marched in Janury 2009 to support the Commonwealth of Four Palms' declaration of independence from their Coronal occupiers.

The League-wide political shakeup that began in 2005 has been quite noticeable in Ouisconsian government. The Covenant Loyalist Party seized many seats in the 2007 elections and became part of the governing coalition. Locally, the Ecotopic Party, a non-player elsewhere in the NAL, has become prominent in the Four Nations; an Ecotopist, Richard Ablanc, has been Chief since 2006. In Bodewadmi, a branch of the Native populist Three Fires Party has gained ground since 2008 by focusing on local issues like land use and green space, rather than the more radical goals in the party's national platform. Increasing outrage over Pègre activity stemming from the ongoing Signoret Crime War has upset the political balance still further since 2008-9. Gweniffer Lloneir's 2010 election as governor, and further CL advances in 2011, cemented Ouisconsin's apparent new role as a Covenant Loyalist stronghold.

[1] Undoubtedly it has a different name *there*.
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