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