Ho-Chunk Powwows: Innovation and Tradition in a Changing World

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Date
2008-01-01
Authors
Arndt, Grant
Arndt, Grant
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World Languages and Cultures
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World Languages and Cultures
Abstract

One hundred years ago members of the Ho-Chunk Nation held their fifth annual homecoming powwow on the homestead of John Blackhawk, just outside of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. The Black River Falls Badger State Banner reported that the event "consisted of a series of dances, pony races, ball games, [and] foot races" and attracted three hundred HoChunk and other American Indian participants from around the state, as well as "the interest of many of our citizens, who drove out at intervals to witness the festivities." In a large, circular dance arbor roofed with freshly cut pine branches specially constructed for the event, men and women danced around a central drum in regalia described as "very elegant" and of "dazzling beauty," while a group of singers were "beating the drum with sticks in perfect time." Inspired by the beauty of the dance, Ho-Chunk participants occasionally presented the master of ceremonies, George Monnegan [George Monegar], with a blanket, piece of bead work, or other valuable object to be used as a prize for the dancers and for competitors in the athletic contests. Mr. Monnegan, "very masterful in his management," gave a speech acknowledging each gift. The dancing was periodically interrupted so that the crowd could relocate to a half mile long racecourse and ball field for athletic contests. The powwow grounds also featured the camps of the visiting delegations, as well as a number of tents for vendors selling ice cream and other refreshments.'

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This article is published as Arndt, G.; “Ho-Chunk Powwows: Innovation and Tradition in a Changing World.” The Wisconsin Magazine of History. 2008, 91(3); 28-41. Posted with permission.

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