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Monday, February 12, 2018

Clans of the Ho Chunk Nation Mosaic

This mural from Nekoosa was taken in warmer weather, though I did see it again a few weeks ago.  That means this was probably September. The Ho-chunk Nation, formerly called the Winnebago, are members of a Siouan-speaking tribe who were established in Wisconsin at the time of French contact in the 1630s. The oral traditions of the tribe, particularly the Thunderbird clan, state that the Ho-chunk originated at the Red Banks on Green Bay.  The 12 clans are:

Wakąja Hikikarac - Thunder Clan
Caxšep Hikikarac - Eagle Clan
Rucge Hikikarac - Pigeon Clan
Wonağire Wąkšik Hikikarac - Hawk/Warrior Clan
Hųc Hikikarac - Bear Clan
Šųkjąk Hikikarac - Wolf Clan
Cexjį Hikikarac - Buffalo Clan
Wakjexi Hikikarac - Water Spirit Clan
Hųwą Hikikarac - Elk Clan
Ca Hikikarac - Deer Clan
Waką Hikikarac - Snake Clan
Ho Hikikarac - Fish Clan

In contrast to their Wisconsin neighbors the Menominee and Potawatomi, the Ho-chunk of pre-European times relied more on agricultural products for subsistence. They planted large gardens and stored dried corn, beans, and other products in fiber bags and in pits dug in the ground for winter use. Using dugout canoes, they also travelled up the Fox and Wisconsin rivers to hunt, caching their canoes as far upriver as possible before proceeding on foot. The Ho-chunk also crossed the Mississippi to reach the prairies to hunt buffalo. Large and small game were also hunted closer to the villages. Nearby rivers and lakes were also extensively fished. Want to know more?  I got the information at this link.

Their history after Europeans came to Wisconsin is a tale unfortunately similar to other tribal histories with much loss due to wars and disease, but with some unexpected information such as they fought against the Americans in the Colonial War and the War of 1812.  In the 1870's "many had bought land so they could become citizens and stay in Wisconsin, but the army rounded up almost 900 Ho-chunk, both landed and landless. Still, about 250 managed to evade the army, and most of those the army removed to Nebraska simply came back to Wisconsin within a year."  The story is similar to a book I am almost done reading called Thirteen Moons (which is a historical novel about an orphan boy who finds his home in the Cherokee Nation just before their removal)

In 1934 the government passed the Indian Reorganization Act which allowed tribes such as the Wisconsin Ho-chunk to gain federal recognition and tribal sovereignty. Twelve years later the government passed the Indian Claims Commission Act, which sought to compensate Indian tribes for claims they had against the United States government. If the name Ho-Chunk sounds familiar that is because the Nation owns and operates several casinos (Ho-Chunk Gaming) in Black River Falls, Baraboo, Madison, Nekoosa, Tomah, and Wittenberg.

linking up to Monday Mural at its new home


  1. Great mural Pam with so much detail and colour. Thanks for the history lesson too, I had no idea there were so many Indian clans. Thanks for taking part in Monday Murals.

  2. And I thought Winnebago was a Camper Van you drove around in over in the US. I feel the Europeans have a lot to answer for with the Indians having their land stolen from them