Voicing Across Space: Subverting Colonial Structures in Ho-Chunk/Winnebago Tribal History
Abstract: The Ho-Chunk people, or People of the Big Voice, have lived in the area that is now known as Wisconsin since time immemorial. Despite struggles associated with removal from ancestral territory and settler government attempts at genocide, they remain strongly tied to their place of creation. The United States government recognizes the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin as two separate political entities, ignoring pre-Euroamerican relationships of the communities as one nation. This dissertation focuses on mid-19th to 20th century Ho-Chunk history to demonstrate the ties that continue to exist between the two communities and the differing histories that have informed each community’s current state. Themes of environmental stewardship, Ho-Chunk women’s experiences, and self-determination characterize this tribal history. This research focuses on the historical memory of HoChunk/Winnebago communities and how events of the past continue to be remembered and influence present life. This investigation recognizes the historical narrative of removal that has formed separate communities in Wisconsin and Nebraska, the impact of Indian education policy on Ho-Chunk communities, addresses intertribal activism in the Termination Era, and investigates how the Ho-Chunk/Winnebago have advocated for their people as a Big Voice.
Chapters focus on the treaty era and removal, the formation of the Winnebago reservation in Nebraska and organization of the Ho-Chunk in Wisconsin, assimilationist educational policies through school systems, the establishment of tribal governments, the use of powwows and advocacy within the Ho-Chunk community, and reflects on the legacy of colonialism and community memory.