Ho Chunk: People of the Sacred Language
The Ho Chunk People have remained and continue to remain one of the strongest indigenous Nations in the United States. This is because the Elders of the Nation are honored and their teachings have upheld throughout history.
Ho Chunk Elders say that history begins with the creation of all things on earth. They say that Ho Chunk means "People of the Big Voice," or "People of the Sacred Language." Ho Chunks have always occupied lands in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota. They have hunted, fished, and gathered plants to provide their food source. The land was sacred because through it the Creator provided all their needs: Food, Clothing, Lodging and the means for their culture to thrive in its existence.
The Ho Chunk people respected the land and took care to harvest from the land only what they needed and never with greed. They were a benevolent people. The people numbered in the thousands. The Clan Chiefs watched over their people and performed their clan duties with reverence and diligence, teaching their offspring to do the same.
Every member of the Nation has his or her place within the clan system and within the Nation. There was never any identity crisis in the old days, because children were reared in a very strict society with rigid guidelines and duties to perform on a daily basis. The People were rich with culture and pride to perform their duties well.
As Caretakers of the land, they moved as the food source did, and during seasons providing the plant life abundant to this region. Villages moved to conserve the area's resources. Eventually some of the Chiefs took their people south along the Mississippi and migrated to warmer climates. Thus we have some southern tribes that speak dialects of the Ho Chunk Language (e.g., Otoe, Ponca, and Iowa).