Wapasha (1718–1806) was the name of a Mdewakanton Sioux chief.
Wapasha (Dakota: Wáȟpe Šá ) was born in present-day Minnesota in 1718. During his youth he befriended the agents of King Louis XV of France and was a long-time friend to the French against the British. Wapasha and his followers were allies of the French, and aided them in their conflicts with the British. After the British defeated the French, they were both suspicious and fearful of the their Sioux allies. As a result, there were no English trappers and traders among the Sioux. They had become more accustomed to hunting with rifles than bows and arrows. Fur trading with French trappers brought provisions and ammunition and the Dakota found it difficult to survive without this commerce. Several incidents that took place during the French and Indian War made English trappers apprehensive about returning to the Mississippi River valley. One such incident took place in 1761. A Dakota named Ixkatapay had shot an English trader called Pagonta by the Sioux. The two had quarreled earlier, and Pagonta was reportedly killed while sitting in his cabin smoking. Ixkatapay was turned over to the British for the killing. Wapasha I led the party, composed of 100 men, to the English headquarters in Quebec.
By the time Wapasha had reached Green Bay, Wisconsin, there were only six of the original 100 left, Wapasha and five warriors. The others had drifted off in small groups. One of these deserting bands had taken Ixkatapay with them and returned to their homelands. Wapasha and the remaining five continued to Quebec and offered themselves as surrogates for Ixkatapay in the English court. Because Wapasha said he would have himself executed for Ixkatapay, the British decided to release both Wapasha and the other warriors out of admiration. When he returned home, Wapasha became a war chief and his forces fought in the American Revolution against the Loyalist-allied Ojibwe tribe as well as the Sauk and Fox tribes. Wapasha himself was greeted by the salute of a cannon. The Dakota repelled their enemies, but Wapasha narrowly escaped a smallpox epidemic that struck his entire village. Wapasha died of throat cancer at the age of 88, just after the dawn of the 19th century. He was succeeded by his son, Wapasha II.
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