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Ho-Chunk Nation

Tribal Statistics

There are currently 6,563 Ho-Chunk tribal members (as of 9/21/10)

  • 17 and under = 1,975
  • Ages 18 - 64 = 4,795
  • 64 and older = 3547

The Ho-Chunk Nation is not located on one continuous land base, such as a reservation, but has scattered communities and acreage.

  • HCN Trust Land Acreage – 3,535
  • HCN Fee Simple Acreage – 5,328
  • Counties where HCN Trust Lands are located: Adams, Clark, Crawford, Dane, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Sauk, Shawano, Vernon & Wood Counties in Wisconsin and also in the State of Illinois.
  • Additionally, large numbers of tribal members live in Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago

Ho-Chunk Nation is the largest employer in both Sauk and Jackson County employing roughly 3100 people.

Tribal Government

The HCN is governed by a constitution that created four branches of government.

The HCN Constitution:

  • Article IV, General Council retains the power to: 

    • Set policy for the Nation
    • To review and reverse actions of the Legislature for legislative reconsideration
    • To review and reverse actions of the Judiciary, does not retain the power to review and reverse decisions
    • Propose amendments
    • To call for a Special Election
    • Actions by the General Council shall be binding
    • Annual meetings all eligible voters at least 18 years old
  • Article V, Legislature retains the power to: 
    • Make all laws, codes, ordinances, etc.
    • Establish all expenditures by law and appropriate funds
    • Set its own procedures
    • Acquire or purchase land
  • There are a total of 24 legislative powers
  • The HCN Legislature holds bi-monthly legislative meetings and monthly district meetings
  • Article VI, Executive Branch power:
    • Is vested in the President of the Ho-Chunk Nation
    • Composed of any administrative departments created by the legislature, at present consists of Administration, Business, Education, Health, and Social Services, Heritage Preservation, Housing, Justice, Personnel, and Treasury
  • Powers of the President:
    • Execute and administer all laws of the Ho-Chunk Nation
    • Preside over meetings of the legislature
    • Cast a deciding vote
    • Call for Annual and Special Meetings of the General Council
    • Represent the Ho-Chunk Nation on all matters that concern its interest and welfare
  • Article VII, Judiciary is composed of: 
    • HCN Tribal Court-Chief Judge and Associate Judges
    • Traditional Court-traditional dispute resolutions, made up of Traditional Clan leaders
    • Supreme Court-Chief Justice and Associate Justices
  • The judicial power of the HCN shall be vested in the Judiciary
  • They have the power to interpret and apply the Constitution and laws of the Ho-Chunk Nation
  • The Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary branch officials are all elected
  • The terms of the president and legislature are four years and the chief justice of the Supreme Court has a six-year term. Terms are staggered

Brief History

In 1634, when the French explorer Jean Nicolet waded ashore at Red Banks, people of the Ho-Chunk Nation welcomed him. For some 360 years, this nation was labeled as the Winnebago Tribe by the French. In November 1994, the official results of the Ho-Chunk Nation secretarial election were published, approving the revised constitution and the proper name of the nation reverting to the Ho-Chunk (People of the Big Voice) which they have always called themselves, thus establishing the Ho-Chunk Nation. The exact size of the Ho-Chunk Nation was not historically documented at the time. However, their territory extended from Green Bay, beyond Lake Winnebago to the Wisconsin River and to the Rock River in Illinois, tribal territory was by the Treaty of 1825, 8.5 million acres.

While most people think of Native Americans as hunters or gatherers, the Ho-Chunk were also farmers. For example, their history tells of corn fields south of Wisconsin Dells, “that were as large as the distance covered when you shoot an arrow three times." They appreciated the bounty of the land we now call Wisconsin.

Their story is the story of a people who loved the land of Wisconsin. In the last 170 years they faced tremendous hardship and overcame long odds to live here. Their troubles began in the late 1820's when lead miners began to come into southwestern Wisconsin.

At that time, the U.S. Government recognized the Ho-Chunk as a sovereign nation and the fact that they held title to more than eight million acres of some of the finest land in America. Treaty commissioners, speaking for the United States, promised they would punish any whites going on recognized Ho-Chunk lands. However, the lure of lead and good farmland proved too great. Within ten years, the U.S. government reversed its position. The Ho-Chunk were forced to sell their remaining lands at a fraction of its worth and were removed from Wisconsin.

First, the Ho-Chunk people were moved to northeastern Iowa. Within ten years (1846), they were moved to a wooded region of northern Minnesota. They were placed there as a barrier between warring Lakota and Ojibwe. As a result, the Ho-Chunk were victims of raids by both. At their request, they were to be moved to better land near the Mississippi River. European immigrants objected and before they could move, the U.S. Senate moved them further west. Within four years of their arrival (1859), the U.S. reduced their reservation from 18 square miles to nine square miles.

Four years later (1863), they were moved to a desolate reservation in South Dakota surrounded by Lakotas. The U.S. allowed the Ho-Chunk to exchange their South Dakota reservation for lands near the more friendly Omahas of Nebraska in 1865.

Throughout this time, many Ho-Chunk refused to live on the increasingly poor areas away from their abundant homelands in Wisconsin. Many returned to Wisconsin. The memories of living Ho-Chunk contain stories of their elders being rounded up at gunpoint, loaded into boxcars and shipped to "their reservation" in Nebraska. The Wisconsin Ho-Chunk do not have a reservation in Wisconsin, but portions of land that hold “reservation” status. Today, all Wisconsin Ho-Chunk tribal lands are lands they once owned, but have had to repurchase.

Services available to Tribal members

 
Housing – (608) 374 -1225
  • · Home Ownership Program
  • · Property Management – tribally funded rental units for HCN members
  • · Ho- Chunk Housing Community Development Agency (HHCDA) – commonly know as HUD housing - (800) 236-2260

Education – (800) 362-4476

  • Supportive Education Services – HCN youth are educated in four primary school districts:

    • 1) Tomah; 2) Black River Falls; 3) Baraboo and 4) Wisconsin Dells
  • Higher Education – post high school funding
  • Head Start – Pre-kindergarten
  • Johnson O’Malley
Labor – (800) 294-9343
  • Tribal Employee Rights Ordinance (TERO) – certification of Indian preference for contracting and subcontracting; safety
  • 477 Federal Program – supportive services; youth employment
    • Training – acquire/maintain certifications. Licenses; payment of ceu’s training
Health Services - funded by HCN, Indian Health Services and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. HCN currently operates two tribal health care clinics in rural Black River Fall and Wisconsin Dells.
  • Ho-Chunk Health Care Center, Black River Falls- (888)685-4422
  • House of Wellness, Wisconsin Dells - (888) 559-5294
  • Health Management
  • Food Distribution Program
  • Community Health Representatives
  • Community Health Nurses
  • At-Large Health Care
  • Alcohol/Drug Program
  • Environmental Health
  • Benefit Coordinators
  • Special Diabetes Programs for Indians
  • Contract Health
  • Mental Health Program
Social Services – Funded by HCN and the Wisconsin Department of Child and Family Services. Social Services operates in Black River Falls and Wisconsin Dells.
  • Youth Services: (888)685-4422
    • After school programs, study time, recreational, cultural activities, youth leadership, community service
  • Child and Family Services: (888)685-4422
    • Child protection, Indian Child Welfare, Kinship Care, Independent Living, Juvenile Justice, Elder Protection
  • Community Support Services: (888)343-8190
    • Child care assistance, emergency assistance, life skills program, domestic abuse services, maternal child health, family services program.
  • Tribal Aging Unit (TAU): (888)701-8284
    • Nutrition-meals, transportation, energy assistance, workshops, activities, field trips, coordinating community events
  • Phone number for Wisconsin Dells House of Wellness Social Service Office: (888)555-7889

Veteran’s Services - 715-284-4563

Personnel - (800) 232-0086
  • Employment Listings
Heritage Preservation
  • Cultural Resources - (800) 561-9918
  • Enrollment - (800) 331-7824
  • Natural Resources (715) 284-2531
  • Language Program - (800) 492-5745
Branch Offices
  • Chicago - (773) 202-8433
  • La Crosse (Three Rivers House) - (608) 783-6025
  • Madison – (608) 277-9964
  • Milwaukee – (414) 747-8680
  • St. Paul – (651) 641-801
  • Tomah – (608) 374-260
  • Wisconsin Dells – (608) 356-4197
  • Wisconsin Rapids/Nekoosa – (715) 886-5392
  • Wittenberg – (715) 253-3847
Ho-Chunk Nation Executive Office and Legislature
  • (715) 284-9343
  • (800) 294-9343

Wa ehi hoci - Courts - (800) 434-4070

Enterprises

Business Type of Business
Ho-Chunk Casino, Hotel & Convention Center
Wisconsin Dells/Baraboo, WI
Gaming/lodging/meeting facility entertainment
Majestic Pines Casino & Hotel
Black River Falls, WI
Gaming/lodging facility
Rainbow Casino
Nekoosa, WI
Gaming
DeJope Bingo
Madison, WI
Gaming
Whitetail Crossing Casino
Tomah, WI
Gaming, Ancillary Casino
Ho-Chunk North Casino
Wittenberg, W
Gaming, Ancillary Casino
Crockett Resort and RV Park
Lyndon Station Delton, WI
Office & Cleaning Supplies
Ho-Chunk Theater
Tomah, WI
Entertainment
Ni Si ni
Bottled Water
Da Xu
Organic Coffee
Whitetail Crossing
Baraboo, WI
Black River Falls, WI
Nekoosa, WI
Tomah, WI
Wittenberg, WI
Convenience/gas station
For questions about this information, contact David O'Connor (608) 267-2283