Ho-Chunk Nation Digital Library project celebrates its third year of work

mess

Ho-Chunk Nation Digital Library project celebrates its third year of work

By Ardith Van Riper

The Ho-Chunk Nation Language Division along with the participants from the UW-Madison Tribal Libraries Archives and Museums (TLAM) class hosted a thank you luncheon on May 9 at the Language Division Office in Mauston. 

Their unique partnership celebrates its third year of work on the Ho-Chunk Nation Digital Library project that helps the Nation curate and use its language resources while providing the UW students with a service learning project involving an actual working collection of materials.

The success of this project is primarily due to Omar Poler, instructor of the TLAM class at UW-Madison; Janice Rice, retired UW librarian and member of the Ho-Chunk Nation; and the students from the last three spring semesters’ TLAM classes.  George Greendeer, who has previous genealogy work experience with the Nation’s Enrollment Division and co-authored People of the Big Voice: Photographs of Ho-Chunk Families by Charles Van Schaick, 1879-1942, was hired back in December as the Project Specialist.

TLAM is an effort at UW-Madison to bring indigenous information to library and information science education through coursework, service-learning, continuing education, community-building, networking, resource sharing, and long term partnerships with Native American cultural institutions.  The TLAM course runs every spring.

This spring, the TLAM class worked in groups on the Ho-Chunk Nation Digital Library project.  Kristen Maples, Amy Sampson, and Alicia Eldridge worked with the Ho-Chunk elders.  The elders provided translation and background information on audio and video recording for the students to include in the catalog.  These elders were Maxine Kolner, Andy Thundercloud, Georgia Lonetree, Elliott Garvin, Hope Smith, and Richard Mann.

Elders who are recorded on the audio or video reviewed to date are Kenneth Funmaker, Sr., Edward Lonetree, Jr., Corina Lonetree, Sidney Hall, Ardella Quackenbush, Bill O’Brien, Merlin Redcloud, Gordon Thunder, Annabelle Lowe, Maxine Kolner, Lila Blackdeer, Wayne Falcon, Rebecca Greendeer, Tom Hopinkah, Myron Lowe, Eugene Cloud, George Stacy, Cecil Garvin, Larry Garvin, Richard Mann, Dennis Funmaker, Sr., Chloris Lowe, Velma Lewis, Arvid WhiteEagle, Carlos Funmaker, and John Greengrass.

UW-Madison studentsAlianna Bozhardt, Alicia Eldridge, and Kristen Whitson worked on policy.  Policy included Deed of Gift form, Donor Guide, and applicable copyright and intellectual property law. 

Justin Cornille, Samantha Wolfe, and Sarah Drake worked on cataloging.  Kristen Whitson and Sarah Drake worked on scanning.  Dani Fulwilder worked on archival.

The Digital Library project began three years ago with planning on what needed to be done to catalog, digitize, and archive the Language Division’s audio, video, and written documents.  The initial steps were sorting and organizing material.  Then converting all the Nation’s audio and video recordings and scanning the hard copy written documents into digital files.

Each item is meticulously cataloged using 36 fields of keywords and descriptor details, which are being filled in as the group of students and Nation staff make their way through each item. 

Items are then uploaded to the Mukurto (MOO-koo-too) management system after the cataloging process has been completed.  This management system is where users will be able to search online and see items that are in the Language Division’s collection.  The total number of files in the catalog exceeds 1,000, and that number will be more significant when the site goes live.

“Users will be able to create an account, and then the users will be grouped into what are called communities.  They’ll be levels of access.  Depending on the type of material and subject matter, we can group people by user class group and then assign them the kind of access that we want them to have,” said Division Manager Adrienne Thunder.

“We can even change the setting so that only students and mentors from the Language Apprentice Program can access these materials or only employees of the Language Division.  There is no limit to the number of layers we can create,” said linguistics student Andrea Cudworth.

Thunder says tribal members will have specific access that the general public wouldn’t have.  Eventually, this will all go through the Language and Culture committee to determine the accessibility of the items.

The Nation benefits from having language resources made more accessible, better accounting of materials, and preservation of the original materials.  Some language resources include audio and video capturing the spoken Ho-Chunk language, children’s books in the Ho-Chunk language, photos of Ho-Chunk ancestors, Ho-Chunk dictionary, photos of Ho-Chunk crafts, Ho-Chunk language lessons, and the collection keeps growing.

The project provides valuable professional and learning experiences for UW-Madison students.

“All of us are library and information study students that means we are studying to become librarians and archivists.  I have to tell you that for me, I am in archives to do exactly what we got to do here.  This has been a very fulfilling experience,” expressed UW-Madison Graduate Student Kristen Whitson.

Project Specialist George Greendeer said, “They (students) cataloged 500 items, documents.  We were only expecting 300 for the semester because they had a lot of other stuff to do for their course study.”

The luncheon celebrating this work started with Division Manager Adrienne Thunder speaking and elder Maxine Kolner saying a prayer over the food.  Janice Rice and Andrea Cudworth were each presented with a certificate of appreciation and a blanket for their efforts on the project.

The UW-Madison students prepared the food shared with Language Division staff and honored guests at the luncheon.  The students who worked with the elders presented the elders and George Greendeer with homemade mini loaves of breads.  Staff at the Language Division office were also gifted with an Instant Pot by the UW-Madison students.

Kelly Jo Funmaker attended, representing the Office of the President, and extended gratitude to the individuals who assisted in the project. 

“I know that this one of the President’s top priority, not even for the Ho-Chunk Nation but himself also.  I know that he would be very proud and very happy with what is going on today,” said Funmaker.  

“The fact that they’ve (UW-Madison students over the past three years) not only categorized all of the material, digitized all of the material, and now we are to the point where we are starting to populate the site that’s going to developed for real use,” explains Thunder.

Some of the UW-Madison students have volunteered to return in the summer and continue their work.

Thunder says this work, as much as has been done, is only the beginning. “In the future, the Division hopes to add to the collection with contributions of materials collected by other libraries and museums, tribal and public personal collections, and the Division’s own continuing language revitalization work.”

The Nation’s Mukurtu database will house a vast collection of resources to aid us in the coming years as our Hoocak-first speaker availability declines and our new learners are adding to their knowledge and increasing their use of our language.

This article was previously published in the Hocak Worak

Mad Dog & Merrill filmed at the Neesh-La Powwow

by Ardith Van Riper

Mad Dog and Merrill were at the Neesh-La Powwow grounds on Friday, August 23 filming.  They were joined by Ho-Chunk Chef Elena Terry and prepared Indigenous foods and drink.

Mad Dog & Merrill are self-proclaimed “grillologists” and entertain thousands with the finer points of grilling.  They travel the country performing in front of live audiences and host a TV show.

“We are doing a Native American cultural series with our good friends at NATOW,” said Mad Dog.

The Ho-Chunk Nation and Native American Tourism of Wisconsin (NATOW) sponsored the event.

“NATOW works with the 11 tribes of Wisconsin to promote and market cultural tourism in a way that is sensitive to our culture and those things that we hold sacred to us,” said Apache Danforth, Tribal Tourism Development Director.

“We partner with shows like Mad Dog & Merrill.  They are a nationally syndicated show.  That is one way NATOW can promote and market events like this, things that are happening in Native Wisconsin, the powwows, and any events that are open to the public.

“We purchased four episodes of this show and we brought one here.  One is going to Bad River, the other is going to St. Croix, and at the end of September there are Treaty Days in Madeline Island. Should be fun!”

Merrill asked Elena Terry what an Indigenous Food Chef is.  She responded with, “We work on re-introducing Indigenous ingredients into daily life of our communities, not just tribal members.”

While on camera, they grilled bison steak from Oneida and prepared bison burger mixed with blueberries on a cedar plank and an alder plank.  Also on the grill were onions and peppers on a maple plank.

Merrill prepared succotash which includes beans, sweet corn, beef, and squash.  He also made some tea from fresh lemon, fresh ginger, fresh mint, strawberry, honey, and boiled water.

They aimed at preparing Indigenous foods and drink.

“Indigenous foods are ancestral foods.  Foods that are native to the land, foods that we traditionally ate,” said Terry.  “Most recently, we try to get it out there a little bit more and build stronger communities.  It just ties back into the land.”

Elena Terry started Wild Bearies and they went into a discussion about it.

“Wild Bearies is a community outreach catering company that works to reintegrate community members back into our community through food.  We are seed savers.  We grow ancestral ingredients,” explained Elena Terry.  “Then we go out and share that with our community.”

Mad Dog gifted Elena Terry with some seeds.

Public Relations Officer Forrest Funmaker stated, “The Ho-Chunk Nation had a great time working with the Mad Dog and Merrill Show.

“The Nation thanks Native American Tourism of Wisconsin for bringing the grill challenge to the Neesh-La Powwow.

“The Nation would also like to thank Elena Terry for bringing her newfound indigenous chef talents back to the Nation in her busy schedule.

“They all went above and beyond to make the show as Indigenous as possible. They also loved how well pow-wow committee and Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells worked with getting all the logistics taken care of so that they can produce an off the hook show.”

The episode filmed at Neesh-La Powwow is scheduled to air Sunday, September 22 on WEAU at 10:30 AM.

This article was previously published in the Hocak Worak

Several Ho-Chunk people travel, witness Sharice take oath to Congress

By Ken Luchterhand

The Ho-Chunk people have never experienced such an honor as having one of their own, Sharice Davids, take a large role in this nation’s government.

Sharice was sworn in as a U.S. Representative in Washington D.C. on Thursday, Jan. 3.

The occasion was a historic one, mainly because she and Deb Haaland, elected in the same election cycle, are the first Native American women to be elected to Congress. Haaland is from New Mexico while Sharice is from Kansas.

To help mark and celebrate the event, many Ho-Chunk people traveled to Washington D.C. to be part of it.

A mixed drum group, known as the Hocak Singers, performed during a Congressional reception for Sharice and Deb Haaland at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hotel. The Hocak Singers included Travis Rave, Cody Winneshiek, Gabe Funmaker, Cody Greendeer Sr., Elliot Funmaker, Frank Thunder, Maynard Rave Jr., William Collins, and Jason Pettibone.

Legislators Carly Lincoln, Henu Smith, Karena Thundercloud, and Kristin WhiteEagle attended the ceremony, along with President Wilfrid Cleveland. Also Nicole Homer, Caroline Grezlick, Kelly Jo Funmaker, and Collin Price.

Many Ho-Chunk veterans made the trip as well, including Chief Clayton Winneshiek, Levi Winneshiek, Pierre Decorah, Marlon WhiteEagle, Wally Johnson, Richard Snake, Ralph Snake, and Cari Fay.

Haaland and Davids embraced on the House floor as the newly-elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi congratulated the 116th Congress.

The new Congress is composed of a record number of women (126) members of the Congressional Black Caucus (55), Latinos (42), and the first Muslim woman to serve. Davids is the first LGBT person to represent Kansas.

Many Ho-Chunk dignitaries had high praise for Sharice and what she accomplished.

“For one thing, just generally speaking, on the past election for the federal government, it was good to know that there was such a diverse group of people – in particular, women that were running for seats,” President Cleveland said. “And it was also inspiring to know that they won seats and I think it’s because of that House of Representatives is now controlled by the Democrats.

“It brings pride to Ho-Chunk Nation for her to be sitting there. She brings a lot to Ho-Chunk Nation by being able to win that seat,” he said.

Sharice’s mother, Crystal Herriage, was present at the swearing-in ceremony.

“Just doing the opposite of what my adopted parents did was a start, but I guess I did some things right,” Herriage said. “Sharice has always been able to talk with people. From the time she was in first, second, and third grade, she was always willing to hear what people had to say and a great conversationalist.

“You could talk to her about shoes, about clothes, about anything and everything – she was willing to talk to everybody. I’m glad that we are all here, it’s nice to see native people, and people that support native people. I cried when I was meeting actor Mark Ruffalo. When we get together for things like Standing Rock, getting people to come out and vote – don’t let us be silenced anymore,” Herriage said.

The actual swear-in ceremony in the House of Representatives had a limited capacity; therefore most people were not able to witness the procedure in person.

“People went over to her office to watch the swearing in which was at like 11 or 11:30 a.m. which was aired on C-span,” said Michelle Greendeer-Rave, who also went to Washington D.C. to be present for Sharice’s historic moment.

“The reception was supposed to be at the Museum of American Indians but it had closed down the night before because they ran out of money from the government shutdown. So the coordinator had to find a hotel to host this for 1,000 (Native Americans) with caterers, and you name it. They moved it all to the Marriot,” Greendeer-Rave said. “The drum group was called upon as soon as we got in the door.”

“I loved it. Although the reception started officially at 5, I don’t think Sharice got there until 8 or 9 because Congress was in session and she couldn’t get out because they were doing those really important votes,” Greendeer-Rave said. “When she and Deb did get there, the crowd just followed them, and then obviously Mark Ruffalo showed up and then the crowd jumped in. It was just a hodge-podge of many, many people.”

President Cleveland said the moment signified empowerment of the women within society. He said that the Ho-Chunk is a paternalistic tribe of people. The men are more at the forefront of things that are happening and the woman is the one who maintains the home and the core part of the family. One of the things that she does is keep the family together and make sure that things are moving, she has control in the home, I would say. Looking at how we indigenous people look at the Earth we refer to the Earth as Mother Earth and everything comes from the mother, everything that we see out here – the creation – comes from the Mother Earth.

Cleveland said that looking at it from that perspective, and then looking at the fact that so many women were elected into the House of Representatives, signifies that women have that special purpose within the creation altogether.

“They have that special passion for life, and they can reunite and fix the government the way that it’s supposed to be,” Cleveland said. “Looking at it from way back, everything that is – on the creation – even the stories that we have, the woman has a special place within the Ho-Chunk Nation.”

Veterans made the trip to honor Sharice as well, and to witness a significant change in the federal government.  One veteran, Pierre Decorah, said he was proud to be there.

“It was a privilege as well as our honor very humbled to represent our great Hocak Nation. It was as if we were honored to witness and live history,” Decorah said.

This article was previously published in the Hocak Worak

Brackeen v. Bernhardt – Court of Appeals (5th Circuit) Overturns Ruling Detrimental to Sovereignty

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the District Court’s ruling. “we conclude that… ICWA [Indian Child Welfare Act] and the Final Rule are constitutional because they are based on a political classification that is rationally related to the fulfillment of Congress’s unique obligation toward Indians; ICWA preempts conflicting state laws and does not violate the Tenth Amendment anticommandeering doctrine; and ICWA is constitutional, the BIA did not exceed its authority when it issued the Final Rule, and the agency’s interpretation of ICWA section 1915 is reasonable.”

The Fifth Circuit has previously ruled against the law, leaving some uncertainty about a broad spectrum of laws concerning Indians across the District and, if upheld, across America. The reversed ruling stated that the Indian Child Welfare Act was based upon race classification (not political classification) and was therefore unconstitutional. The ruling would have jeopardized all laws recognizing Indians as a separate and distinct political class.

The case may proceed to the Supreme Court, but for now, Indian country may herald the ruling as recognition of Tribal Sovereignty.

OPINION Reversing Dist Ct

Ho-Chunk Nation Investigates Better Employment Training Plans

Currently the Ho-Chunk Nation is facing several court cases from the previous administration concerning employment-related issues.

Management is looking to reduce costs and retain more employees

They believe training between the supervisors and the employees can be enhanced as an essential customer service function. They believe it provides respect to all employees, which is a Ho-Chunk value.

Ho-Chunk Nation Looks to Reduce Death Benefit Payout

Office of the President (OOP) officials are considering the adoption of insurance to cover the expenses usually paid out by the Nation.

Traditionally, the OOP has been paying $6,500 for burial expenses for each tribal member when requested. The practice has cost the Nation thousands of dollars every year.

The concept of using insurance would minimize the burden by collecting insurance premiums by employees, then paying out claims as they occur.

“We’re looking at reducing the burden as well as streamlining the process,” Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle said.

Clintonville High School Video Highlights Larger Issue of Lack of Diversity, Cultural Competence within Public Education

CLINTONVILLE, WI The Wisconsin Indian Education Association and its board of directors have been monitoring the events surrounding a video originating from Clintonville High School in Clintonville, WI. The video, depicting what appeared to be four boys mock dancing to pre-recorded Native American pow-wow singing and drumming in the middle of a gymnasium, began circulating on social media on Thursday, October 3rd. Existence of the video and unfolding situation was brought to the attention of board president Brian Jackson that same day. On Friday, October 4th Jackson, along with others within the Association, began placing calls to the school seeking clarification to what many perceived as a disrespectful and culturally insensitive display. While those calls and subsequent voice messages went unanswered and unreturned, Jackson and colleagues remained engaged with individuals close to the situation.

After a lengthy investigation, which included a face-to-face meeting with Clintonville High School Administration, the Wisconsin Indian Education Association found the incident to have been a series of unfortunate and highly troubling events that highlight the need for increased cultural competence, diversity and inclusion within education at Clintonville and public schools across Wisconsin.

What began as a festive homecoming week for students at Clintonville High, ended in school-wide disappointment and calls for answers from members of neighboring tribal nations. The 44 second video of the four boys mock dancing to pre-recorded Native American singing and drumming began circulating on social media Thursday, October 3rd and went viral the following day. The boys, participating in a “Dance-Off” event, which was scheduled as one in a series of Homecoming Week activities that day, acted spontaneously and didn’t intended the skit to be malicious, according to Clintonville High School Principal Kelly Zeinert. Yet the explanation demonstrated the need for increased diversity and cultural competence within the school.

Administration says the dance skit was not authorized, approved or organized by staff or employees of the district.

“Our initial thoughts were this incident was not acceptable and we need to explain to our students why it wasn’t acceptable or culturally appropriate,” said Clintonville Superintendent David Dyb. “We need to review how we educate our students on being culturally aware in a global society,” added Dyb.

The mock tribal dance drew a backlash of responses from Native people across Wisconsin and news of the video made its way to the board of directors of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA)—which were holding the organization’s 50th annual convention the following week in Minneapolis.

Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) president Brian Jackson, who also serves on the board of directors for NIEA, traveled last Monday, Oct 21st to Clintonville to meet with Clintonville High School administration and student body to discuss the incident and encourage dialogue between the school and Wisconsin’s Native community.

Clintonville is geographically located in the center of four federally recognized tribal nations: The Ho-Chunk Nation, Menominee Indian Tribe, Oneida Nation and Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Community.

“The Wisconsin Indian Education Association takes seriously incidents that interfere or which have the potential to interfere with the education and/or well-being of Native American students,” said Jackson of the video. “So many people— Native people—were upset by the actions of the students in the video. I felt it was important to hear from Clintonville administration first-hand what happened,” continued Jackson.

The backlash was evident both online on social media and in real-world responses.

“When Kelly arrived at work on October 4th, she had 80-plus phone calls on her voicemail,” said Dyb of the Clintonville High principal’s messages. “The phone calls were then redirected to the district office and another 100-plus calls were received over the course of Friday through the following Monday,” recounted Dyb.

Tribal officials weighed in on the issue, releasing statements condemning the actions in the video.

Among the tribes commenting officially on the video were the Oneida, Menominee and Ho-Chunk.

In attendance at the Monday, October 21st meeting were Brian Jackson, WIEA President; Brandon Thoms, Public Relations and Communications Specialist and consultant to WIEA; Kelly Zeinert, Principal and Kimberly Bakeberg, Associate Principal, Clintonville High School. Dyb met with the WIEA representatives later that day.

Zeinert explained to Jackson that there was much more than meets the eye when it comes to the video. To many, what was shown on the video equated to cultural insensitivity and appropriation however, the untold story is just as complex as the issue itself. After investigating the incident, it came to light that one of the boys in the video plays hockey for the Shawano hockey team. The student told Zeinert that before practice and before some games, the team had listened to Native American pow-wow songs as part of their preparation to get them “pumped up.” It was shared that there are Native American players on the Shawano hockey team—teammates to one of the boys seen dancing to the pow-wow song in the video. According to Zeinert, it was that boy’s idea for the impromptu dance reenactment with the other boys following along. Zeinert said that there were multiple activities taking place throughout the school that day and that the “Dance Off” was just one of several events happening at the same time.

“The boys didn’t realize that what they were doing was inappropriate,” said Zeinert. “We talked with the boys extensively and they feel terrible. They were very remorseful. They now understand why what they did was so upsetting to others.”

Dyb expounded on the implications of the boy’s actions.

“Some of our Native students were offended by the dance,” said Dyb. “Likewise, many of our non-Native students were hurt that they were ‘lumped’ in with the boys that performed the dance—they felt like everyone in the school was being considered a racist,” added Dyb.

As a result of the video going viral and in response to the public backlash, it was announced at a school assembly Friday, October 4th that the homecoming game was cancelled not out of contrition but to avoid further controversy with the potential for protesters “who feel … that the students here at Clintonville High School are racist, and, in turn, me as well, because I allowed that to happen. Or so they think,” said Zeinert to Madison 365.

“Every student and person affected by this situation has the right to feel the way they do about it,” said Jackson. “This demonstrates the importance of Act 31 and serves as a reminder that we all have a responsibility in educating our children to people of other races, ethnicities and cultures. It’s a challenging situation all the way around.”

As part of the Monday, October 23rd all-school assembly, a 10-minute clip of the 1995 PBS documentary Lighting the 7th Fire, an in-depth documentary on the Ojibwe treaty rights struggle of the 1980s and 90s. The film was shown to give context to the purpose of Act 31. Jackson and Thoms spoke of the 12 tribal nations in Wisconsin and the significance of each tribe’s language and culture. At the conclusion of the assembly, Jackson explained the significance of smudging with burning sage, while Thoms offered the traditional practice to students and staff—many of which participated.

To address the need for increased cultural competence, Clintonville High is working with individual tribal members, tribal administrators, WIEA and has planned a series of engagement sessions with Native American presenters and teachers.

Dyb says that the school is committed to healing and moving forward and has already begun that process.

“Dave Raasch, and elder of the Stockbridge-Munsee Tribe, came into the school on October 11th to do a restorative healing circle with the students who were involved and our Native American students who were willing to participate,” said Dyb. “Dave taught about the significance of the circle and shared pieces of the culture. He encouraged us to ask people when we have questions, rather than making assumptions,” added Dyb.

Raasch returned to the school on October 23rd to hold a restorative healing circle with Clintonville staff.

On Monday, October 28th, well-known Menominee/Stockbridge-Munsee musician, artist and historian Richie Plass brought his traveling exhibit titled “Bittersweet Winds” to Clintonville High. The exhibit showcases Native culture and heritage through traditional Native arts and crafts, writing and poetry, historical news articles and photographic images. The “Bittersweet Winds” exhibit was at Clintonville High through October 30 and was open to the public on October 28 and 29.

Plass said he wasn’t surprised when news of the video of the mock tribal dance broke.

“When I heard about it, I called Wendall Waukau at the Menominee School District and talked about getting the exhibit down here,” said Plass. “I’ve been around this so long that I knew I didn’t want to make any assumptions as to what happened,” continued Plass in reference to the video.

In bringing his exhibit to the school, Plass said he hopes that, “students and staff ask questions—so they’re actually made aware of the disparities (among Native Americans)—and understand why a lot of us (Native Americans) don’t agree or support what’s going on with the names (Indian team names) and images (Indian mascots and logos).”

I think that’s a major part of the exhibit. Hopefully they think differently when they see stuff like that happening (authentic pow-wow dances),” added Plass.

Dyb said that he and his administration are reviewing the current K-12 curriculum to make sure they are meeting the guidelines of Act 31. In addition, he says the school’s annual Diversity Day, which is scheduled to be held March 12, 2020, will focus on cultural awareness and sensitivity training.

WIEA’s Jackson encouraged the administration to strengthen the school’s engagement with neighboring tribes, reminding them that tribes have many resources and are willing to share.

“As an association, one of WIEA’s missions is to ensure Native students are afforded the same considerations that students from any other group would expect. That includes proper representation, protection and advocacy,” said Jackson. “By implementing Act 31 into the curriculum, schools can help to curb such incidents and ultimately, promote inclusion and understanding of just who we are as a people,” added Jackson.

As for Clintonville, the high school plans on taking steps to educate and inform their students about cultural awareness, differences among those cultures and acceptable practices relative to other cultures.

“We are taking this as an opportunity to learn and will continue to improve cultural sensitivity and awareness,” said Dyb.

The school plans to reschedule the canceled homecoming dance for a future date.

This article was previously published in the Hocak Worak

Black River Falls Homecoming features Ho-Chunk culture and history

By Kaili Berg

On Friday, October 18, the school district of Black River Falls had its first Annual Ho-Chunk Appreciation Night at the Tiger Stadium in Black River Falls.

The Student Senate club decided that it would be a good opportunity to honor the Ho-Chunk culture and history by having this event while playing football against Wisconsin Dells, which also has a Ho-Chunk population.

The event started with double ball and lacrosse demonstrations at the football practice field. The Johnson-O’Malley committee served corn soup along with fry bread samples prior to the game. Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle welcomed the crowd before the game, and the Ho-Chunk Flag Song was rendered after the National Anthem. At halftime, the community welcomed dancers to the field, and ended with a Tiger win.

“I originally thought of this idea when I spoke at the Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) meeting which was held at Red Creek Elementary School which the Ho-Chunk Nation sponsored, and talked a little bit about Act 31, which is the state mandate that schools teach Native American history and culture,” said Tony Boerger, a teacher at Black River Falls High School (BRFHS). “I thought a little bit about how much we do and what we still could be doing as a school to incorporate Act 31 into our district. I thought that football is such a game of competition and cooperation that it would be a good idea to incorporate Ho-Chunk Culture into it.”

Ho-Chunk language classes created decals that adorned the football helmets of both teams. Shena Munden, a Ho-Chunk language teacher assisted students with creating the decals. The language classes also created signs that were hung up around Tiger Stadium.

“I think we have an amazing opportunity in Black River Falls. We have the Ho-Chunk Nation here, and that rich cultural history and language,” said Boerger. “It should be honored, and Ho-Chunk students should have the opportunity to showcase and celebrate their culture, and at the same time educate students.”

“Students came up with the idea we are BRF, and that Ho-Chunks are a big part of this community economically and socially. It is woven into the fabrics. Sometimes the general public forgets that,” said Eli Youngthunder, a teacher at BRFHS. “It is great learning experience to share the knowledge and culture to the community. As a tribal member, I am happy. It’s nice to see students become so involved in our culture. Seeing them be involved in different clubs and experiences and willing to share with others goes a long way.” 

This article was previously published in the Hocak Worak

Dane County Landfill Biogas Facility Fuels Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison’s First Renewable Natural Gas Maintenance Truck

Ho-Chunk Nation’s Ongoing Effort to be Environmentally Conscious

MADISON, WI November 5, 2019 – Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison is excited to announce that for the first time they are now using Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) to power one of their Maintenance trucks.

During Earth Week in April of this year the Dane County Landfill Biogas Facility opened a $28 million plant as the first of its kind in the United States.  The plant converts the collected methane into compressed natural gas (CNG) which is then injected into its pipeline.  It turns decomposed waste (and cow manure) into renewable fuel which can be bought and sold.

Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison has formed a partnership with Dane County Landfill Biogas Facility to become the Ho-Chunk Nation’s first natural gas fueled vehicle, powered with the cleanest transportation fuel available.  When this fuel is used for vehicles they have a lower emission rate than gasoline or diesel.  Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison has kept their pledge to remain a sustainable leader in Madison and they continue to try to reduce their carbon footprint through research and identify environmentally engaged options.

Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison Maintenance Manager, Erik Lincoln, said he realized an opportunity to partner with the Dane County Landfill to possibly source fuel for his fleet. A 2017 Sustain Dane Badger ‘Bioneer’ Award Top 5 nominee, Lincoln is in his own right is a sustainability leader and one of the driving forces behind the casino’s sustainability initiatives.  He is always looking for ways to meld being a caretaker of the planet while continuing to foster community relations.

Lincoln, a bit of a Futurist, was looking for an alternative to petroleum fuels to power his work truck. “I felt that a renewable natural gas was the best solution for the department while we wait for electric trucks to become a more viable option,” Lincoln stated, “This new work truck is our “greenest” project of Fiscal Year 2019.”

“We’re pleased to be able to combine not only local community knowledge right in our backyard but, also an innovative, first of its kind in the Nation sustainable practice as this one,” said Daniel Brown, Executive Manager, Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison “It is our responsibility to implement earth-conscious solutions within our tribally owned enterprises so we can set a higher standard and be the example to encourage other organizations to do so as they are able.”

Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison is owned and operated by Ho-Chunk Nation Enterprises, with headquarters in Black River Falls, Wis.  Ho-Chunk Nation Enterprises also owns and operates Ho-Chunk Gaming – Black River Falls, Ho-Chunk Gaming – Nekoosa, Ho-Chunk Gaming – Tomah, Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells and Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wittenberg.  For more information, call Ho-Chunk Gaming – Madison at 888/248-1777 or go online www.ho-chunkgaming.com.

This article was previously published in the Hocak Worak