From now on, the fourth Friday of November will officially be “Ho-Chunk Day” in Madison, Wisconsin. On November 22, 2016, Madison, Wisconsin Mayor Paul Soglin and the Madison Common Council voted unanimously to proclaim the day to honor Ho-Chunk people.
Wilfrid Cleveland, Ho-Chunk Nation president, was in attendance at the November 22 meeting, and said: “Today is a historic day for the City of Madison and the Ho-Chunk Nation. This recognition only strengthens our relationship and commitment to being a great community partner.”
Alder Denise DeMarb, of District 16, had worked with the city and Ho-Chunk representative in Madison to make the day official. She felt it was time to acknowledge Native history in Madison and recognize the historical trauma and how it still reverberates today, so that healing can begin.
According to Ho-Chunk history, Ho-Chunk means “People of the Big Voice,” or “People of the Sacred Language.” “Ho-Chunks have always occupied lands in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota. They have hunted, fished, and gathered plants to provide their food source. The land was sacred because through it the Creator provided all their needs: Food, clothing, lodging and the means for their culture to thrive in its existence,” says Ho-Chunk History.
The Ho-Chunk people are descendants of the effigy mound builders, and the original inhabitants of the Madison region, known to the Ho-Chunk as “Te Jop e ja” or The Four Lakes. Oral traditions and historic documents describe the Ho-Chunk as a large nation of 10,000 that occupied more than 10 million acres.
The first official Ho-Chunk Day was held on November 25, 2016.