The Winnebago Reservation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska is located in Thurston County, Nebraska. The tribal council offices are located in the town of Winnebago. The villages of Emerson, south of First Street, as well as Thurston, are also located on the reservation. The reservation occupies northern Thurston County, Nebraska, as well as southeastern Dixon County and Woodbury County, Iowa, and a small plot of off-reservation land of southern Craig Township in Burt County, Nebraska. The other federally recognized Winnebago tribe is Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, whose reservation is primarily in that state.
Established by an Act of Congress dated February 21, 1863, the reservation was reaffirmed by a treaty dated March 8, 1865 and an act of June 22, 1874. The land was deeded from the Omaha tribe on July 31, 1874. 106,040.82 acres (429.1320 km2) were allotted to 1,200 Indians; 480 acres (1.9 km2) reserved for agency, etc.; the residue, 1,710.80 acres (6.9234 km2), is unallotted.
In 1992 the federally recognized tribe established the WinnaVegas Casino to generate revenues and provide employment. Its council had already legalized alcohol sales on the reservation, in order to keep the revenues from sales taxes and associated fees that its residents had previously paid through off-reservation merchants to the state. It also now directly regulates the sales and can provide for treatment for individuals and families affected by alcoholism. As of 2007, 63% of federally recognized tribes in the lower 48 states had legalized alcohol sales for similar reasons.
In 1994, based on a long-term view of growth, the tribe founded Ho-Chunk, Inc., its economic development corporation, which has strongly contributed to new resources on the reservation. Beginning with one employee, it has grown to 1400 employees operating in 10 states and five foreign countries. Its revenues have provided for development in 1995 of Little Priest Tribal College; as well as a new community school, hospital and a strong housing construction program of more than $1 million, with development of Ho-Chunk Village.
The rise in its economy has enabled the tribe to improve the quality of life on the reservation, as Lance Morgan, the CEO of the corporation, discussed in a forum at Bellevue University in Omaha, Nebraska on April 2, 2010. Ho-Chunk, Inc. has gained awards for small business, and it has initiated a strong housing construction program in collaboration with federal programs. Its leaders were featured on Native American Entrepreneurs, airing in 2009 on PBS. Ho-Chunk, Inc. operates 26 subsidiaries in areas such as information technology, construction, government contracting, green energy, retail, wholesale distribution, marketing, media and transportation.
- "Winnebago Tribe", Nebraska Indian Commission. Retrieved 6/28/08.
- James N. Hughes III, "Pine Ridge, Whiteclay and Indian Liquor Law", Federal Indian Law Seminar, December 2010, p. 7, University of Nebraska College of Law, accessed 27 February 2012
- Ho-Chunk, Inc., Website, accessed 1 March 2012
- KEVIN ABOUREZK, "Winnebago business leader: Poverty at heart of Whiteclay debacle", Lincoln Journal Star, 7 April 2010, accessed 29 February 2012
- Native American Entrepreneurs, American Experience, PBS; 13, 20, and 27 April 2009, accessed 1 March 2012
- Reservation tract maps from the US Census.
- Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, official website
- Ho-Chunk, Inc., economic development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
- WinnaVegas Casino