On the frigid morning of November 8, 1832, over four hundred forty Ho-Chunk (Hoocąk) family representatives gathered here at the Fort Winnebago Indian Agency. Indian agent John H. Kinzie carefully recorded their names, villages, and the sizes of their families in preparation for the annual payment for land. Land which had been sold under pressure to the U.S. government. The census penned that day offers an unparalleled look into the people who called this region home for millennia.
Each name on the register represents a family who was at that very moment on the cusp of losing all that was familiar and known, for in only a year's time, seventy-five percent of these families would be driven from their homes. By the end of the decade, the faces of Wisconsin's cultural landscape had changed entirely.
The Historic Indian Agency House and the Ho-Chunk Nation Museum & Cultural Center have partnered to bring the cultural landscape of 1832 to life and to educate through the powerful material encapsulated in the 1832 annuity register. The result is an outdoor exhibit entitled, "A Landscape of Families," which now stands on the very site where the census was taken nearly two hundred years ago. It provides a final glimpse of the Ho-Chunk people in enjoyment of their homeland prior to the start of forced expulsion from their villages.
The exhibit is further enhanced by extensive, interactive online material on a dedicated website. Meet by name the people who lived throughout Wisconsin and northern Illinois two centuries ago. Discover the locations of and information about their villages and traditional way of life. Hear their stories as told by their descendants who have overcome extreme odds to return to their homeland. Allow primary historical sources to take you on an unbelievable day-by-day journey through the unfolding of events as they led up to the final annuity census at the portage in 1832 and continued into the process of forced removal in 1833 and beyond.
It is our joint hope that you will enjoy your engagement with this material, but even more, that you come away changed by the insights gained. We invite you to explore and reflect upon the depths of a story we cannot afford to forget.
Essay Contest for Ho-Chunk Students
Ho-Chunk families with students in grades 5 through 8 are invited to enter an essay on what is important to them about their Ho-Chunk history and heritage.
Exhibit coming spring 2022
Grand Opening Dedication Ceremony coming May 14, 2022
Grand Opening Ceremony
Save Saturday, May 14, 2022, on your calendar for the grand opening ceremony which will feature thought-provoking presentations by various speakers; an unforgettable performance by the Wisconsin Dells Singers and Dance Troupe of the Ho-Chunk Nation; and much more.
Thank you to those who have supported this initiative and the grand opening event.
*"A Landscape of Families" is made possible in part by Wisconsin Humanities, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Wisconsin. This project supports Wisconsin Humanities' mission to strengthen the roots of community life through educational and cultural programs that inspire civic participation and individual imagination. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.