Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin


Last Updated: 11 months

The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, formerly known as the Wisconsin Winnebago Tribe, is one of two federally recognized tribes of Ho-Chunk people.  

Official Tribal Name:  Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin

Address:  P.O. Box 667, W9814 Airport Road, Black River Falls, WI 54615
Phone:  (800) 294-9343
Fax: (715) 284-2632
Email: michael.rave@ho-chunk.com (Administration)

Official Website: http://www.ho-chunknation.com/ 

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning: Bāwa’tigōwininiwŭg, means ‘people of the big voice’ a.k.a. Hocák (Hochunk), Hochank, Hocangara, Hotcangara, Hochangara

Hocągara or Hocaks, means “People of the Big Voice,” or “People of the Sacred Language.”  

Common Name / Meaning of Common Name: Winnebago (see below for meaning)

Alternate names: Formerly known as the Wisconsin Winnebago Tribe

Alternate spellings / Misspellings: Ho Chunk, Ho-Chunk, Hochunk, Hochank, Hocangara, Hotcangara, Hochangara

Name in other languages:

Winnebago was a name given by the Sauk and Fox, who called the people Ouinepegi, or People of the Stinky Waters. This name was heard as Winnebago by the government agents, and was the name the United States government took for the Ho Chunk people. This remained the official name of the Nation until the Constitution Reform in 1993, when the Ho Chunk reclaimed their original name. 

Region: Northeast

State(s) Today:  Wisconsin

Traditional Territory:

Ho Chunks have always occupied lands in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota. Red Banks (Wisconsin) is the traditional homeland of the Hocąk Nation. It is situated on Green Bay, which the Hocągara called Te-rok, the “Within Lake”. Lake Michigan as a whole was called Te-šišik, “Bad Lake”, which may well have led the Algonquian peoples round about Lake Winnebago to call them “the people of the Bad Waters”, or Winnibégo in Menominee.

The Ho Chunks eventually controlled more than 10 million acres of land in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota. Eventually some of the Chiefs took their people south along the Mississippi and migrated to warmer climates. Those people are now known as the Otoe, Ponca, and Iowa tribes. 

Confederacy: Ho-Chunk (Winnebago)

Treaties: The Ho-chunk signed a total of six treaties with the United States.

Reservation: Ho-Chunk Nation Reservation and Off-Reservation Trust Land

The Ho-Chunk Reservation, established in 1875, is spread over Dane, Jackson, Juneau, Monroe, Sauk, Shawano, and Wood Counties, Wisconsin.
Land Area:  4,200 acres
Tribal Headquarters:  Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Time Zone:  
Population at Contact:

Registered Population Today:

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Genealogy Resources:


Name of Governing Body:  General Council
Number of Council members:   1 Advocate, plus executive officers
Dates of Constitutional amendments: 
Number of Executive Officers:  Presidient, Administrator, Secretary


Language Classification:

Siouan–Catawban -> Western Siouan -> Mississippi Valley ->  Chiwere–Winnebago -> Winnebago

Language Dialects: Ho-Chunk

Number of fluent Speakers:

Only 250 to 300 of the approximately 6,200 enrolled members of the Ho-Chunk Nation speak their own language fluently. Most of these speakers are 45 years or older. Unless something happens soon, the rich complexity of spoken Ho-Chunk that has preserved the traditions and nuances of a largely oral, storytelling culture for centuries will die with the current generation.



The Bear Clan is strongly associated with the kaǧi, a term that denotes the raven and northern crow. It is also the name by which the Hocągara know the Menominee.

On account of his vision, a great Menominee (Kaǧi) chief commanded that all manner of supplies be assembled at a white sand beach on Lake Michigan. And when all this had been done and set in order, as the sun reached its zenith the vision came to life: in the pure blue sky of the eastern horizon a single dark cloud began to form and move irresistibly towards them.

It was a great flock of ravens (kaǧi), spirit birds with rainbow plumage of iridescent colors. The instant that the first of these landed, he materialized into a naked, kneeling man. The Menominee chief said to his people, “Give this man clothing, for he is a chief.” And the others landed in like fashion, and were given great hospitality. They were the Hocąk nation, and that is how they came to Red Banks.

Bands, Gens, and Clans

Related Tribes:

Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Otoe, Ponca, and Iowa tribes.  They are most closely related to the Chiwere peoples (the Ioway, Oto, and Missouria), and more distantly to the Dhegiha (Quapaw, Kansa, Omaha, Ponca, and Osage).

Traditional Allies:


Traditional Enemies:

Lakota, Ojibwe

Ceremonies / Dances:

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Legends / Oral Stories:

Art & Crafts:

Ho Chunk men were gifted in the art of metal working and were knownf for creating copper jewelry. They designed jewelry and body decorations for both men and women. This jewelry, particularly earrings showed the wealth of the individual. 




The Ho Chunk people are credited as being the mound builders within the region. The large effigy and conical mounds are found in southern Wisconsin and along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, these were solely the long inhabited areas of the pre-Columbian Ho Chunk people. These effigy mounds appear in the shapes of animals and birds, and many contain burials. It is important to note that all of these mounds were built with primitive equipment and by hand. They are so symmetrically accurate that it is amazing to view them today with the assistance of a compass. 


The HoChunk were hunter gatherers. The men hunted while the women foraged for plant foods. Food staples consisted of corn, squash, green plants, roots, berries, making maple syrup and maple candy, venison, fresh fish, and small game. They were also seasonal gardeners who grew specialized crops in raised beds.

Economy Today:

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

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs


Ho-Chunck People of Note:

Truman Lowe (b. 1944) – Artist, curator, professor

Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. (1924–1950) – US Marine, decorated veteran of the Korean War

Bronson Koenig (b.1994) – Point guard, University of Wisconsin Badgers basketball team

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