Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin

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Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin
Total population
6,563 in 2010[1]
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Wisconsin)
English, Ho-Chunk[2]
traditional tribal religion, Native American Church[3]
Related ethnic groups
other Ho-Chunk people, Otoe, Iowa, and Missouria people[3]

The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, in the United States, formerly known as the Wisconsin Winnebago Tribe, is one of two federally recognized tribes that were once a single tribe formerly known as Winnebago. The other federally recognized tribe is the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. The tribe separated when its members were forcibly relocated first to a reservation in Minnesota, and later to the current reservation in Nebraska. The name Ho-Chunk comes from the word Hochungra, meaning "People of the Big Voice" or "People of the Sacred Language."[3]


The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, while it has no official reservation, has parcels of land placed in Trust as Indian Trust Land as designated by the federal government, Secretary of the Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) spread over Dane, Jackson, Juneau, Monroe, Sauk, Shawano, and Wood counties, Wisconsin. In 1990, the land designated as trust land was 4,200 acres (17 km2) in size.[4]


The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin is headquartered in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.[5] With the adoption of its most recent constitution in 1994, which restored the tribes name from the Wisconsin Winnebago back to its own name for itself, the Ho-Chunk Nation, the modern tribal government structured itself after the federal and state governments, with executive, legislative and judicial branches. All of the tribe's members make up the fourth branch of government, the general council. The current administration is as follows.

  • President: Wilfrid Cleveland[6]
  • Members of the Legislature: Greg Blackdeer (Dist. 1); Lori Pettibone (Dist. 1); Douglas Greengrass (Dist. 1); Henning Garvin (Dist. 2); David Greendeer (Dist. 2); Andrea Estebo (Dist. 2); Darren Brinegar, Vice President (Dist. 3); Kathy DeCamp (Dist. 3); Shelby Visintin (Dist. 4); Matthew Mullen (Dist. 5); Kathyleen LoneTree-JWhiteRabbit (Dist. 5); Forrest WhiteRabbit (Dist. 5); Robert Two Bears (Dist. 5)[7]
  • Supreme Court: Hon. Todd Matha, Chief Justice; Hon. Tricia Zunker, Assoc. Justice; Hon. Samantha Skenandore, Assoc. Justice[8]


The Ho-Chunk Nation speak English and the Ho-Chunk language, which is a Chiwere-Winnebago language, part of the Siouan-Catawban language family.[2]

Economic development[edit]

Mitchell Red Cloud Jr., tribal member and decorated Marine who was killed in combat in Korea

The Ho-Chunk Nation owns and operates several casinos, Ho-Chunk Gaming, in Black River Falls, Baraboo, Madison, Nekoosa, Tomah, and Wittenberg, Wisconsin.[9] The tribe also owns numerous restaurants and hotels connected to the casinos.


The Ho-Chunk people were forcibly relocated several times by the US federal government in the 19th century. In the 1870s, a majority of the tribe returned to their homelands in Wisconsin. Under the Homestead Act, some tribal members gained title to 40-acre (16 ha) parcels of land.[3]

Notable tribal members[edit]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Division of Intergovernmental Relations (July 2016). Tribes of Wisconsin (PDF). Madison: Wisconsin Department of Administration. p. 44. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Ho-Chunk". Ethnologue. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Priztker (2000), p. 475.
  4. ^ Pritker (2000), p. 477.
  5. ^ "Tribal Directory". National Congress of American Indians. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  6. ^ "The Office of the President". Ho-Chunk Nation. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  7. ^ "Legislature". Ho-Chunk Nation. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  8. ^ "Supreme Court". Ho-Chunk Nation. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  9. ^ "Wisconsin Indian Casinos by Tribe". 500 Nations. Retrieved September 5, 2013.

Works cited[edit]

  • Pritzker, Barry M. (2000). A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1.

Further reading[edit]

  • Jones, Tom; et al. (2011). People of the Big Voice: Photographs of Ho-Chunk Families by Charles Van Schaick, 1879–1942. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press. ISBN 978-0870204760.

External links[edit]