Winnebago tribe is known by many names including “Hotcak” or “Ho-Chunk” which both mean “People of the Big Voice or People of the Parent Speech” or “Wonkshieks” which means “First People of the Old Island.” This meaning is much better than “Winnebago” that means “smelly waters” and was the name often used by a neighboring tribe of the Algonquin. Most people of this tribe prefer “Ho-Chunk” and is what is recognized on a federal level. This picture of the Ho-Chunk people in regalia was officially sent by the Ho-Chunk Nation as a way to educate people on what is authentic. You can follow the Ho-Chunk Nation on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/HoChunkNationPR.
Present-Day Warm-heartedness & Wholesomeness
One of the oldest pow wows are hosted through the Winnebago Pow Wow. In 2017, it celebrated 151 years of bringing together over 70 tribes to be unified and yet recognize each other’s cultures. More on this event can be seen here: https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/pow-wows/2017-winnebago-homecoming-celebration-pow-wow-celebrates-151st-year/. With people coming together, friendships strengthen and benefits the whole nation. Wait until the 2018 Pow Wow comes around…and see the smiles lengthen as people embrace the different traditions.
Past Warmheartedness & Wholesomeness (Folktale)
This Winnebago/Hotcak/Ho-Chunk/Wonkshiekse folktale called “The Orphan Who Was Blessed With A Horse” is found here: http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheOrphanWhoWasBlessedWithAHorse-Winnebago.html.
Many more of this same culture are found as part of the First People – The Legends website along with many other tribes here: http://www.firstpeople.us/.
Here is a summary:
A boy was known as “Little Orphan” and lived with his grandmother. Everyone made fun of him except for his grandmother. Despite the incessant teasing, the boy remained kind and respectful. One day, his grandmother wished for the boy to receive a dream from the spirits, the Thunders, which required fasting from food and drink for many days. Four times he fasted four days and four nights and nearly killed him. After many years, the boy continued these fastings to receive a dream. Finally, he made it to a fifth day of fasting but was thirsty that he headed to a spring. At the spring was a horse dying of fatigue and ribs showing. The boy brought water and grass to the horse and cared for its coat. The boy told his grandmother how he did not have a dream though did take care of the horse. The grandmother said that one should always care for those who cannot care for themselves and was pleased with the boy’s actions. The horse never regained its beauty though did receive its health again. Then one day, word spread in the village that a great herd of buffalo were near and among them was an all-white holy buffalo. There would be a contest on who can get the skill of that white buffalo. The winner would receive the yugiwi (princces) hand in marriage. The boy vowed to get the white buffalo. He fed even more grass in preparation and was so quiet that the boy heard a voice call him nephew and asked why the silence. The boy did not know what talked but them asked the horse if it had spoke. It was the horse, and the horse said the boy would get the white buffalo. The next day, everyone rushed upon their horses but the boy was so fast on his horse that he brought back the white buffalo skin before anyone else could go far. Everyone rejoiced for their was much meat to eat. The horse said that if the boy looked towards the sunset, he would discover who the horse really was and so the boy did. In the clouds he saw a white horse and knew he had been blessed by the Thunderbirds.
Interesting Notes on Kindness
- The boy was kind no matter how he was treated by others in the village
- The grandmother taught the boy about kindness and complimented and encouraged the boy when he was kind to the horse
- The boy did not hesitate to help the horse and looked after every need
- The horse/Thunderbird repaid the boy’s kindness and dedication through the gift of the white buffalo’s skin
What stories of kindness do you know associated with the Winnebago/Hotcak/Ho-Chunk/Wonkshieks? Anywhere in the world – past or present? Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.
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