Like their neighbors of European descent, Wisconsin’s Ho-Chunk people have survived centuries of struggle to develop and preserve a rich cultural heritage. That heritage is illuminated in several cultural tours highlighting the tribe’s archeology, soil science, clan structure, dance and drumming.
In 1634, when French explorer Jean Nicolet waded ashore at Red Banks, now known as Green Bay, he was greeted by a group of Ho-Chunk people. The French called them “Winnebagos,” a name that continued to be used for more than 360 years.
Through the hard work of tribal elders, the Winnebago organized and were federally recognized in 1963 as the Wisconsin Winnebago Nation. In 1994, the tribe established their constitution, reclaimed their name and legally became the Ho-Chunk Nation, also known as the “People of the Big Voice.”
According to their oral history, the Ho-Chunk people lived in Wisconsin since prior to two ice ages, occupying the area around Green Bay, reaching beyond Lake Winnebago to the Wisconsin River and to the Rock River in Illinois. The tribe hunted, fished, gathered and gardened. A spiritual people, the Ho-Chunk have always respected the land which they call home.
Today, after numerous forced removals, the Ho-Chunk Nation is the only federally recognized tribe in Wisconsin without a contiguous land base or reservation. The Ho-Chunk protect and preserve the scattered parcels of land they occupy throughout Wisconsin. They have also preserved their sacred language; the Ho-Chunk say the Hocak language is a gift from the Creator, carrying generations of wisdom and teachings.
The Ho-Chunk Nation promotes economic development and diversification through their tourism industries: six gaming complexes, five convenience stores and retail shops, two hotel and conference facilities, a multiplex cinema and camping grounds – all spread throughout southern Wisconsin.
For a truly unique experience, visit the Ho-Chunk Nation for a cultural tour. The tribe shares a culturally rich and welcoming environment that provides visitors an insight into Ho-Chunk history and customs. Visitors arrive as guests and leave as hicakoro (friends).
The tribe offers mobile and walking tours of several cultural sites and attractions. Tours are offered year round and tailored to the needs and interests of the tour groups. Their most popular tour is a cultural performance featuring traditional songs of the Ho-Chunk people accompanied by a brilliant display of dancing by seasoned performers. For more information about these cultural tours, contact the Ho-Chunk Office of Public Relations at 800/294-9343, ext 1255 or visit www.ho-chunknation.com.