Keshena, Wisconsin

Populated place
The second largest community in Menominee County is the county seat and home of the Menominee Tribal Offices


Photo taken by J.R. Manning in August 2013




Post office dates: Mar. 22, 1855-Present

The Historic Significance of Keshena 

Written by J.R. Manning

The Village of Keshena is located within the geopolitcal boundaries of the Menominee Indian Reservation and Menominee County. The county and the reservation share nearly coterminous boundaries, so Keshena acts as both the county seat and the location of the Menominee Tribal Headquarters.

The reason for this relationship has its roots in a program that began in Congress in the 1950s. The program was a plan to terminate Indian tribes status in an attempt to assimilate Native Americans into American society. Since it was not legally possible to terminate all tribes with one piece of legislation, termination required tribe by tribe legislation. The first tribe to be targeted by such legislation was the Wisconsin Menominee Tribe, and with the passage of the Menominee Termination Act in 1954 followed by the subsequent decertification process, the Menominee Indian Reservation became Menominee County in 1959, the 72nd county in Wisconsin.

It did not take long to ascertain that termination was not a good idea. The devastation of the Menominee Tribe's economic fortunes after termination are well documented elsewhere (links can be found below) and with great effort by tribal leaders, the Menominee Restoration Act was passed and signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon in 1973. The Menominee Tribe and Menominee Reservation were thus restored and the work to rebuild the nation began.

Today, over 98% of the original Menominee Indian Reservation has been restored. Menominee County operates concurrently with the Menominee Tribe. Keshena is not only the seat of Menominee County and Menominee Tribal Headquarters, it is also the location of the Menominee Casino. There are also reservation lands outside the boundaries of Menominee County, in Shawano and Winnebago Counties.

Update Log 

  • August 20, 2013: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • August 20, 2013: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated Status and Added Photos