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Ho-Chunk Nation kick-off its first-ever dugout canoe journey in the Madison

The first Ho-Chunk Dugout Canoe Journey across Southern Wisconsin started Monday and will traverse areas from Waunakee to Beloit.
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:20 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2022 at 9:44 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The first Ho-Chunk Dugout Canoe Journey across Southern Wisconsin started Monday and will traverse areas from Waunakee to Beloit. Along the water routes, paddlers will visit landmarks of historical and cultural significance to the Ho-Chunk Nation.

“Madison is really important, the Dejope area is really important, because of the four lakes, it has abundant resources, the Ho-Chunk have been here, time in memoriam,” said Ho-Chunk Nation Public Information Officer Casey Brown.

The journey continues throughout the week, including several locations around the Madison area, before heading down the Rock River to Janesville. The week concludes in Beloit on Friday. Brown says there are a few guides on the journey, but it is open to anyone who wants to paddle out and join the group. For Brown, it is an opportunity to educate the community on the culture and history of the Ho-Chunk Nation in Southern Wisconsin.

“We’re showing that this type of journey that we’re doing now, while it is unique, it was not a unique journey at all pre-colonialism,” said Brown.

One of the paddlers, Arvina Martin, says it is a chance to connect to the history of the Ho-Chunk and bring that story into the present.

“At one point, someone said, ‘when do you think the last time there were four Ho-Chunks in a dugout canoe?’ and the answer we think was right around the time they tried to move us, around the 1830s I believe,” said Martin. “And just reminding people that we have our traditions, and they may evolve, and we’re still here.”

It is a learning opportunity Brown especially hopes to impart to the next generation.

“Teaching the youth on this trip about their community and this community and what it means to the Ho-Chunk Nation, but adding in other folks that are a part of our community because we are all this area, we are all Madison, we are all Dejope, we are all the Rock River,” said Brown.

For updates on the journey and locations for the dugout canoe, go to the Ho-Chunk Nation Facebook page.

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