From the non-Indian perceptive,
the history of tribal rights to operate gaming goes back nearly
500 years. In 1532, at the request of the Emperor of Spain,
Francis of Victoria ruled that Indians of America owned the land
and Spain could not claim title to it. This decision became the
basis for every major Indian policy in our history. Instead of
taking land and other rights, it became necessary to set up
political and legal relationships through treaties. Treaties are
agreements between separate nations; legally recognized groups
that have the right to govern themselves.
When the U.S. Government forced
the Ho-Chunk and other Indian nations to sell or give up their
land, the Indian Nations did not sell their right of self
government. in 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized this
principle in the Cabazon decision. It said state interests do
not justify state regulation of Indian gaming enterprises. The
Supreme Court said there is an overpowering federal and tribal
interest in self-determination that is advanced by allowing
Indian Nations to regulate gaming on Indian lands.
The Supreme Court also said a
state that regulates, but does not prohibit gaming, cannot
enforce gaming regulations on tribal lands. In such a state,
tribal governments have the right to regulate and control
gambling within their boundaries. As separate nations, the
internal civil affairs of tribes are within their own
responsibility. Tribal governments and state governments are
self-regulating bodies under the protection of the federal
Congress recognized this decision
when it adopted the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The
act sets up a framework for cooperation between the Indian
Nations and the states. The purpose of the Act is to strengthen
tribal government, improve the self-sufficiency of Native
Americans and promote economic development on Indian lands.
Anyone who has seen the changes in Indian country in recent
years will tell you the act is meeting these goals and more. The
benefits of Indian gaming are being experienced on Indian lands
A Personal Narrative
Editor’s note: The following was
submitted by the Hocak Wazijaci Language & Culture Program
From the personal narrative by John
T. De La Ronde.
In 1844, Captain Summer came here
again with the dragoons, and sent for me to aid him in hunting
in the woods after Dandy, the Winnebago chief.
We found him at the head of the
Baraboo River, and the Captain made him ride on horseback, and
fastened his legs with ox-chains under the horse’s belly, when
he demanded to be conducted to Governor Dodge. This was granted,
and he was taken to Mineral Point.
Governor Dodge asked him what he
wanted of him. After having given so much trouble to the
Government? He said he wanted to talk with him in council, which
request was granted. Then Dandy took a Bible from his bosom, and
asked the Governor, through me, if it was a good book?
The Governor was surprised to see a
Bible in the hands of an Indian, and bade me inquire where he
got it. Dandy answered, that if the Governor would be so good as
to answer his question, he would render an account of all he
would like to know.
Then the Governor told him that it
was a good book — that he could never have a better one in his
hand. "Then," said Dandy, "if a man would do all that was in
that book, could any more be required of him?"
The Governor said no. "Well," sand
Dandy, "look that book all through, and if you find in it that
Dandy ought to be removed by the Government to Turkey River,
then I will go right off; but if you do not find it, I will
never go there to stay."
The Governor gave him an answer to
the effect that his trick had no effect. He was then replaced on
the horse, chained up again, and taken to Prairie du Chien.
The chain had so blistered his legs
and feet that it was two or three weeks before he was able to
walk. Some time after an order came from Turkey River to send
Dandy there. He had been put in charge of a corporal at Fort
Crawford, who was obliged to carry Dandy on his back when he has
occasion to be moved.
After the order was given to the
corporal to take his prisoner to Turkey River, he went back into
the fort to get his whip. He thought that the prisoner was not
able to run away, as he could not walk. But as soon as the
corporal was out of sight, Dandy jumped from the buggy and took
his course toward the bluffs at a full run.
When the corporal returned, finding
his prisoner gone, he went after him; but failed to overtake
him. The corporal swore that if he ever saw Dandy again he would
kill him, as he had made him so much trouble in carrying him
about from place to place, and then to play him such a bad
That was the last time the military
ever went after Dandy: and the good old chief lived many a year
thereafter to recount his exploits. He died at Peten Well, near
Necedah, where he and his family were encamped, in June 1870, at
the age of 77 years.
The Ho-Chunk Chronology
White man first encountered
the Ho-Chunk, Jean Nicolet visited them at the request of
Governor Champlain. Oral history tradition tells us Nicolet
met the Ho-Chunk in the Green Bay area of Wisconsin.
1640 - 1660
An early history of the
Ho-Chunk is derived from Baqueville de Ia Potheries Histoire
de l'Amerique Septentrinale. He obtained his information
from Nicolas Perrot.
Father Claude Allouez (French
priest) was at Green Bay with the Ho-Chunk.
Two missionaries desecrated
the Ho-Chunk Sacred Stone.
Father Claude Allouez founded
the St. Francois Xavier Mission at the mouth of the Oconto
Fathers Marquette and Joliet
descended the Mississippi River via the Fox and Wisconsin
LaSalle and the fur trade
Nicholas Perrot was given
command of Green Bay.
Ho-Chunk village moved to the
Fox River and to Lake Winnebago. There were six hundred
French government made treaty
with the Ho-Chunk community at Green Bay.
Chief Pontiac War. The
Ho-Chunk befriended the English at Green Bay.
First regular trading post
recorded at Milwaukee.
Louisiana Purchase from
France greatly increased the size of the United States.
Indian removals began with the Georgia Compact.
The territory was known as
the Old Northwest. Land encroachment was starting as
westward expansion began. Ho-Chunk remained loyal to the
British during the War of 1812 fighting at Fort Mackinac,
Detroit and Sandusky.
Territory of the Ho-Chunk was
a triangle shaped area with Green Bay, North Central
Illinois and La Crosse as the points. The British thought
the Ho-Chunk were too mercenary and ended their official
ties. Furs were still plentiful. The Ho-Chunk attacked
Prairie du Chien. tribal population was 4,500.
A Treaty of Peace and
Friendship signed in St. Louis. This was the first of many
treaties negotiated between the Ho-Chunk Nation and the U.S.
Continued removal of eastern
Indians. The federal government began looking at Wisconsin
land. There were 5 Ho-Chunk villages at Lake Winnebago and
14 village sites on the Rock River.
Menomonie and Ho-Chunk held
land in common. The government negotiated only with the
Menomonie. Thus began the Ho-Chunk land loss.
Treaty of Prairie du Chien
established firm boundaries among the tribes of the Great
Lakes region. The treaty provisions were violated
immediately as white lead miners flooded the Ho-Chunk
The territorial claim of the
Ho-Chunk extended from: SE, the Rock River headwaters to
forty miles from the mouth of the Illinois, West to the
Mississippi River, North to the Black River, to the Upper
Wisconsin River but not across the Fox River.
The Ho-Chunk nominated the
warrior, Red Bird, to address the problem of the miners. He
killed several settlers in Prairie du Chien. The Treaty of
1827, signed at Butte des Morts, again established
Treaty of 1828 was treaty of
cession. Ho-Chunk sold the lead mining region to the
government and agreed not to, "molest or interfere" with any
of the white miners in the region.
In the Treaty of 1829, the
Ho-Chunk ceded 2,530,000 acres of land for $18,000 annually
for a 30 year period. They also received 3,000 pounds of
tobacco and 50 barrels of salt annually in addition to
$30,000 in presents at the signing.
The Indian Removal Act,
enacted during Andrew Jackson's tenure as president, paved
the way for the great Native American removals of the 19th
Old Day-kau-ray delivered an
address on education to the agent, Mr. Kinzie, in regard to
sending the children away to school.
The Sacs and Foxes left lands
granted to them by the Treaty of 1816 and moved back to
lands they once occupied across the Mississippi River.
Militia was called and the "Black Hawk War" ensued. Treaty
of 1832, a punitive measure forced upon the Ho-Chunk by the
federal government, ceded just under half of their lands in
Council at Four Lakes
(present day Madison, WI) White Crow stated,". ..many
provisions have been promised but few delivered."
Records show a Catholic
mission for the Ho-Chunk in Wisconsin at this time, some
records of which are located at the Archdiocese of Detroit
because they were then a part of Michigan Territory. Another
source shows a school being developed near Prairie du Chien
and another mission school built on the Yellow River,
Allamakee County Iowa.
Federal government opened the
land sales offices in what would become Wisconsin Territory.
Small pox epidemic decimated the Ho-Chunk.
Winnebago Mission in
established. Almost 900,000 acres of land sold.
Rev. Samuel Mazzuchelli
corresponded with George Wallace Jones regarding the
Winnebago Mission and School in Wisconsin Territory.
Treaty of 1837 signed in
Washington, DC. Most Ho-Chunk who went were young people,
with no authority to negotiate a treaty. The Ho-Chunk
understood that they had eight years until their removal
from Wisconsin but in reality the treaty states eight
months. All land east of the Mississippi River ceded to the
Forced Ho-Chunk removal to
Turkey River, Iowa, the so-called "Neutral Grounds." Little
Decorah established a village on the Iowa River. During the
ensuing years the Ho-Chunk kept returning to Wisconsin but
were always escorted back to Iowa. Mission school in Iowa
moved to the Turkey River, about four miles southeast of the
Population at Turkey River
Our Blessed Lady of the Seven
Dolors Ho-Chunk Mission established.
A company of Dragoons rounded
up the Ho-Chunk for removal to Iowa.
The Ho-Chunk ceded "Neutral
Grounds" area and ended up (following the 1847 treaty) in
land between the Sioux and their enemy the Chippewa in north
Treaty ceded land between
Long Prairie and Lake Watab to the US for the establishment
of a Ho-Chunk reservation as a buffer between the Chippewa
and the Sioux.
Henry M. Rice selected the
reservation site between the Long Prairie, Watab,
Mississippi and Crow Wing Rivers in what was part of
Wahnahta, later Todd County, Minnesota. In August, 1848,
about 400 Ho-Chunk arrived at the reservation.
Our Blessed Lady of Seven
Dolors mission closed.
Originally evolving from the Prairie du Chien Agency, which
was established in 1807, the Winnebago Subagency became a
full agency in 1848.
Grand Council held in St.
Paul between the principal chiefs of the Ho-Chunk, including
One-Eyed Dekora, Winneshiek, Big Canoe, Good Thunder, little
Dekora, Carimona, Little Hill, along with a number of Sioux,
and Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey.
Canon Francis de Vivaldi
arrives at Long Prairie, MN. Our Lady of Seven Sorrows
Chapel (mission) and a school are opened.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of
Carondelet from St. Paul, MN arrive at Long Prairie and
teach in the school there.
The Ho-Chunk, having troubles
with the Chippewa, negotiated a treaty to exchange the Long
Prairie reservation for land on the Crow Wing and
Ho-Chunk expressed interest
in moving Southwest to the Missouri River, to be among the
Otos and the Omaha's.
Beginning of removal from
reservation to a fertile farming area reservation near Blue
Earth, Minnesota, in the south central part of the state.
The Sisters of St. Joseph
return to St. Paul. Sisters of the Love of God, an order
founded by Canon Francis de Vivaldi in 1847 begin teaching
at the school at Long Prairie.
School at Long Prairie
Winnebago mission founded at
Blue Earth and is attended by diocesan priest residing at
Saints Peter & Paul Church in Mankato.
The Ho-Chunk ceded the
western portion of their reservation.
The Ho-Chunk passed a code of
laws dealing with stabbing, stealing and drunkenness. Two
hundred and sixty fatal cases of small pox were reported.
Schooling began with 62 males and 48 females enrolled.
Captain Jim, a Ho-Chunk
chief, froze to death during the winter. He had fought for
the U.S. in the War of 1812 and in the Black Hawk War.
Ho-Chunk circumstances had
diminished to a horrible state. The promised allotments were
never completed and the Ho-Chunk were surrounded by
hostile/unfriendly white people. The Sioux Uprising also
occurred and even though the Ho-Chunk did not participate,
the government forced them to leave Minnesota.
Ho-Chunk Mission at Blue
Removal of Wisconsin Ho-Chunk
to Crow Creek Reserve in South Dakota by federal statute.
Federal statute appropriated
money for expenses of removal.
Treaty of land cessions in
Dakota Territory included the purchase of a portion of the
Omaha Reservation in Nebraska for the Ho-Chunk.
Act to Increase and Fix the
Military Peace Establishment of the United States included a
clause authorizing the president to enlist a force of Native
August 1, 1866: General Order
from the Office of the Adjutant General implementing
provision of the above act. Colonel Carrington began efforts
to enlist Ho-Chunk and Pawnees for service on the Bozeman
A priest residing at Sacred
Heart Church, Polonia, WI (north and east of Stevens Point)
attended the Ho-Chunk in Wisconsin.
1870 Federal statute
appropriated refund to the Ho-Chunk for amount taken from
tribal funds to pay for removal from Minnesota.
Population of Ho-Chunk stood
Last of the forced removals
Additional purchase of 20
sections from Omaha. Ho-Chunk continue to return to
Evangelical Reform Church
established a mission seven miles east of Black River Falls,
Special legislation passes
permitting Wisconsin Ho-Chunk 40 acre homesteads. They were
not given clear patent to their land for twenty years and
could not sell it until then. The first Ho-Chunk to
homestead was known only as "Indian George."
Norwegian Lutheran mission
and boarding school established four miles from Wittenberg,
Federal statute authorized
the sale of a portion of the Ho-Chunk Reservation in
Federal statute authorized
the Secretary of the Interior to determine damages resulting
to any person who had settled on Crow , Creek and Ho-Chunk
reservations in South Dakota between February and April,
appropriated funding for the establishment of the Tomah
Indian Industrial School at Tomah, WI. St. Augustine's
Mission and School established in Ho-Chunk, NE, first
mention founded is 1891.
Tomah Indian Industrial
School opened on January 19th with seven employees and seven
Federal statute granting a
railroad right-of-way through Omaha and Ho-Chunk
reservations in Nebraska
Federal statue for the relief
of Ho-Chunk Indians in Minnesota
Amendment to 1894
right-of-way extending time for construction.
Granting of railroad and
station rights-of way on Omaha & Ho-Chunk reservations in
construction and operation across the Omaha & Winnebago
reservations in Nebraska.
Amendment to 1898 federal
statute for railroad right-of-way in Nebraska.
expenditures from interest pursuant to fourth article of
Treaty of 1837, and joint resolution for support, education
Federal statute authorized
expenditures from interest pursuant to fourth article of
Treaty of 1837, and joint resolution for support, education,
Federal statute enabled Omaha
& Ho-Chunk to protect from overflow their tribal and
allotted lands located within the boundaries of any drainage
district in Nebraska.
Federal statute authorized
treaty interest expenditures pursuant to the fourth article
of the Treaty 1837. A proportionate share was held for the
Ho-Chunk Indians resident in Wisconsin.
Joint resolution authorized
the Secretary of the Interior to pay the Winnebago Tribe of
Indians in Nebraska and Wisconsin, interest accrued since
June 30, 1909.
Joint resolution amending the
previous joint resolution.
The Tomah Indian Industrial
School was made the Ho-Chunk Agency.
Appropriation for clerical
staff at Ho-Chunk Agency, Nebraska.
Mission school near
Wittenberg reverted back to Norwegian Lutheran Church.
Relocation of the boarding
school from Black River Falls to Neillsville, WI.
An act for relief of the
Ho-Chunk Indians of Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Winnebago Indian Mission
An act conferring
jurisdiction upon the Court of Claims to hear, examine,
adjudicate, and enter judgment thereon in claims which the
Ho-Chunk Tribe of Indians.
Grant of jurisdiction to
Ho-Chunk for legal and equitable claims arising out of
Treaty of 1855.
Indian School at Neillsville
The Winnebago Agency's
jurisdiction was broadened to include the Stockbridge and
Oneida in Wisconsin and the Ottawa and Potawatomi in
Michigan as well as the Ho-Chunk in Wisconsin, Iowa, and
Mission near Wittenberg, WI
Wisconsin Ho-Chunk Nation
began conferring with the Bureau of Indian Affairs regarding
the possibility of organizing under the Indian
Merger of the Reformed and
Evangelical Churches. Indian Mission transferred to the
Board of National Missions.
Tomah Indian Industrial
School closed in June. Children had been farmed out in a
kind of foster care situation. All employees were gone by
July 1, 1941.
Cooperative established by Rev. Ben Stucki.
Veteran evangelist John Stacy
retires from church duties.
Indian Claims Commission Act
Rev. Mitchell Whiterabbit
accepts call as pastor of Indian Mission Church.
Tribal reorganization began
when Nebraska and Wisconsin Ho-Chunk agreed to bring a
common claim before the Indian Claims Commission.
Tomah Agency was incorporated
into Great Lakes Consolidated Agency.
provisionally reconstituted as the acting Wisconsin Ho-Chunk
Business Committee. This group began to investigate
organizing under Indian Reorganization Act.
Wisconsin Winnebago Tribal
Census taken by
Superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the
tribal secretary determined that there were 494 eligible to
vote in the first election under the reorganization.
January 9, 1963: Referendum
regarding reorganization of the tribe.
June 8, 1963: First election
September 14, 1963: First
general council election.
Data gathering survey.
November 1, 1994: Wisconsin
Winnebago officially adopt their new constitution which
changes their name to the Ho-Chunk Sovereign Nation.
Ho-Chunk is the name they called themselves and means
"People with the Big Voice."
Ho-Chunk Stubbornness - They survived
because of it
By Susan Lampert Smith
Wisconsin State Journal
(Article was previously printed in the
Journal, March 15, 1998. Complete article reprinted with
permission from the Wisconsin State Journal)
Ho-Chunk history makes the year 1884 sound
like on with little to celebrate.
While Wisconsin was being born as a state,
the tribe that once controlled 10.5 million acres from Green Bay
to Rock Island, Ill, was at its second stop on a 34-year trail
of tears. By 1848, the tribe that numbered 5,000 in 1820 had
been cut in half, ravaged by smallpox and starvation. The
Ho-Chunk had been moved to a reservation in northern Minnesota
to serve as a buffer between warring Chippewa and Sioux.
Tribe history notes that in 1848 the tribe
"suffered from scurvy and would have starved if the trader had
not extended credit.
Over the next 30 years, government
policies moved the Ho-Chunk four more times. And with every
move, some Ho-Chunks fled to their Wisconsin homeland, only to
be rounded up by soldiers, herded onto trains, and sent west yet
again. It is a history only two generations removed from people
who are alive today, and a reason, said Ho-Chunk Nation
spokesman Spencer Lone Tree, that some Ho-Chunks have mixed
feelings about celebrating Wisconsin's sesquicentennial.
"We have two schools of thought on it,"
Lone Tree said. "There are those who want nothing to do with it,
because they're still bitter about the past."
Lone Tree counts himself with those who
want to look ahead to the future, and said that tribal dancers
will participate in the sesquicentennial folk fair. Modern
relationships with the state are further complicated by ongoing
negotiations on gaming compacts and the Ho-Chunk's moves to buy
land and put it in trust.
Nettie Kingsley, director of the Ho-Chunk
Historic Preservation Department, said that requests for
information about the tribe's history have risen this year.
"It's too bad it had to take the
sesquicentennial to get people to wake up and realize" the
tribe's place in history, she said. At the same time, she said
she enjoys the chance to share the history of the Ho-Chunk
By historical accounts, relations between
the Ho-Chunk Nation and Europeans began cordially enough in
1634, when Jean Nicolet landed at Red Banks on Green Bay, gun
blazing, thinking he had discovered a route to China. The
Ho-Chunks held a huge feast to welcome the explorer.
In the grand treaty of Prairie du Chien in
1825, the government recognized that the tribe controlled much
of central and southwestern Wisconsin and promised no settlers
would move into their lands with-out permission.
That respect was short-lived. Lead miners
were already moving into southwest Wisconsin. Following an
attack on settlers led by Red Bird, a Ho-Chunk warrior, the
tribe agreed in 1829 to give up title to the lead district.
Another treaty followed the 1832 Black
Hawk War - even though most Ho-Chunks sided with the United
States - and forced the tribe north of the lower Wisconsin
River, into what anthropologist Nancy Lurie said was then called
"the barren heart of Wisconsin."
Soon, the government plotted to move the
Ho-Chunk out of Wisconsin altogether. Wisconsin territory
governor Henry Dodge wrote that the Ho-Chunk had become debased
by contract with whites.
"I have no hesitation in expressing my
opinion that the wretched remains of this people can only be
saved by the humane and protecting policy of the government, by
removing them," Dodge wrote.
The treaty of 1837 did just that. Told
that the government just wanted to talk, the tribe sent a
delegation of low-ranking young people to Washington. Henry
Merrill, a Wisconsin pioneer who witnessed the negotiations,
wrote in his memoirs that the interpreter lied to the Indians,
telling them they had eight years to stay in Wisconsin, rather
than the eight months in the treaty.
"At length, (the Ho-Chunk) yielded not to
their judgements but to the pressure brought on them," Merrill
Lurie said that while earlier treaties
were signed by members of the Thunder Clan (the civil chiefs)
the Bear Clan (the police chiefs), the 1837 treaty had few
signatories from the Thunder Clan and none from the Bear Clan.
"They were bilked," she said.
John T DeLaRonde, a soldier who
participated in a 1840 roundup of the Ho-Chunk villages along
the lower Wisconsin River, wrote of women who begged to be shot
rather than taken from their homeland. Others pleaded for a
chance to say farewell to their ancestors.
"They said they were going to bid good-bye
to their fathers, mothers and children," DeLaRonde wrote in his
1876 memoirs. "The captain directed me to go with them, and
watch them; and we found them on their knees - kissing the
ground and crying very loud - where their relations were
Ho-Chunk Ken Funmaker Sr., 65, heard his
grandfather talk of the day soldiers arrived in his village,
which was on the Mississippi River, near present-day
"The soldiers rounded up the people and
they burned everything," Funmaker said. "He was just a little
guy. All they let him keep was a pair of (ice) skates."
The tribe lost many of its sacred
religious items in the roundups; the name for one former village
near La Crosse is "the place where the war bundles burned."
Probably the lowest point in history came
in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln ordered the tribe out of
Minnesota to calm settlers' fears over a Sioux uprising.
The location of the new reservation, among
ancient enemies in what is now South Dakota, prompted one of the
largest returns to Wisconsin. Histories tell of Ho-Chunk carving
canoes from cottonwood trees, and paddling down the Missouri,
then back up the Mississippi, to get home to Wisconsin.
Still, they weren't safe. In December
1873, U.S. soldiers surrounded Ho-Chunks gathered for a
religious festival and herded them, at bayonet point, into
railroad cars. They were left on the plains of Nebraska with
little shelter or food. Another 240 died of starvation that
winter, and, when the survivors returned to Wisconsin in the
spring, they found their belongings stolen or destroyed.
The following year marked yet another
shift in Indian policy. The part of the tribe (known in Ho-Chunk
as Wazijaci, or dwellers in the pine) that refused to leave
Wisconsin was granted the right to buy 40-acre homesteads. The
reservation tribe, which finally wound up on the Missouri River
in Nebraska, became the Nebraska Winnebago or Norsajaci
(Dwellers on the Muddy).
The history of the Ho-Chunk refusing to
leave Wisconsin in the face of repeated expulsions says a lot
about the national character.
"That's how we are that's why we act so
stubborn," Funmaker said. "We didn't want to go away."
By buying back its traditional homeland,
the Wisconsin Ho-Chunk now own more than 2,000 acres and have
become a major employer, thanks largely to Casinos.
Ken Funmaker, who headed the tribe in the
early 1980s (and whose sister, JoAnn Jones, led the tribe during
its critical building period on the early 1990s) now runs the
Ho-Chunk Wazijaci Language and Culture Program. Tribal customs
also benefited from the tribe's stubborn ways. Because the
Ho-Chunk lived in scattered settlements, they proserved their
language and religion better than tribes subjected to
missionaries and reservation schools.
Anthropologist Lurie said the Ho-Chunk
managed to survive more than 150 years of government policy that
alternated between views that disease or assimilation would get
rid of the tribe.
Funmaker, though doesn't see the survival
of the Ho-Chunk in Wisconsin as surprising.
"What if your people lived in their
country and someone came and took it?" he said, "It's the only
place you know. It's your homeland.