The Wisconsin Ho-Chunk

Overview of the Ho-Chunk Peoples

Indians with SteamerIndians with SteamerH.H. Bennett photograph turned postcard of a group of Ho-Chunk next to a steamer on the Wisconsin River. This photo was taken on the beach next to the Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial.
Courtesy of Dells Boat Company
Indians with SteamerH.H. Bennett photograph turned postcard of a group of Ho-Chunk next to a steamer on the Wisconsin River. This photo was taken on the beach next to the Stand Rock Indian Ceremonial.
Courtesy of Dells Boat Company

The Ho-Chunk Nation, or Hochungra (meaning “People of the Big Voice” or “People of the Sacred Language”), are one of 11 federally recognized tribes in the state of Wisconsin. Originating at Moga-Shooch, the “Red Banks” near present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin, they made south-central Wisconsin and northern Illinois their homeland for thousands of years. More people might be familiar with the name Winnebago, which is a name given to the tribe by the U.S. government and comes from the Meskwaki word for the Ho-Chunk (Ouinipegouek). The Ho-Chunk Nation finally received official recognition of their original name in 1993.

European Contact and Forced Removal

In 1634, the French trader Jean Nicolet became the first European to encounter the Ho-Chunk people. White settlers began moving onto Ho-Chunk land 150 years later. The 1820s marks the beginning of the removal period of the Ho-Chunk by the U.S. government. The tribe was continually moved from one place to another over a period of 50 years. Each removal resulted in casualties among tribal members, and with each removal, bands of Ho-Chunk would escape back to Wisconsin. The “treaty-abiding” Ho-Chunk finally ended up on a purchased portion of the Omaha reservation (Nebraska) in 1865. They continue to be known as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Today’s Wisconsin Ho-Chunk are descendants of the resistant bands that returned to their homelands.

Follow us: