County by County: Ho- Chunk Nation has Deep Roots in Wisconsin

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They’re one of the most prominent tribes located in Wisconsin with a big presence in Jackson County.

In our County by County First News at Nine’s Zach Prelutsky tells us how the Ho-Chunk Nation has grown since it was formed in the 1960’s

One of only eleven federally recognized tribes in Wisconsin, the Ho-Chunk Nations roots run deep in the badger state.

“For the Ho-Chunk though, history goes back to time immemorial and to our stories of origin along the red banks, which is now Green Bay,” said Jon Greendeer, Ho-Chunk Nation heritage preservation Executive Director. 

Of the nearly 8,000 tribal members, one of the largest settlements is located in Jackson County,  specifically Black River Falls.

“If you take a look at early civilizations, most of the communities were built around being able to access resources,” said Greendeer. “Water, forestry products and other minerals and a lot of times these locations were built for the most optimal living areas that each community has.”

In 1963, the Ho-Chunk Nation was officially formed, with its headquarters in Black River Falls.

With a separate government from the county, Ho-Chunk nation officials say they have built a good relationship over the past six decades.

“I would like to believe that at the agency level the work and partnership is quite effective. It always could be better, but I think for the most part the evolution of our governments have learned its best to grow together,” said Greendeer.

Today the Ho-Chunk Nation might be most noted for their gaming establishments, but Greendeer said one thing he is most proud of is how the nation treats their community, including non-tribal members.

“We can’t take credit for how successful we are without looking at those who were here before us,” said Greendeer. “In order for us to move forward to the next generation they have to remember that we are here today, not because of the work that we did, but because of the work of those before us.”

While tribal members and nation officials have assimilated into their communities as the nation continues to evolve, they say it will be an emphasis to remember where they came from.

“If I were to use what I know of our history and how it has made us today to project how we’re going to be in the future I do believe that our membership wants to have stronger ties to their history, to their kinship and relations and their accomplishments, their language, their way of life,” said Greendeer.

Members of the Ho-Chunk Nation are spread throughout almost every county in Wisconsin and beyond the state.

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