Flag of the Ho-Chunk Nation to fly atop Bascom Hall for the first time in university history

On November 5, the University of Wisconsin-Madison will fly the Ho-Chunk Nation Flag atop Bascom Hall, as part of an ongoing commitment to educate the campus community on First Nations history and to recognize the land as the ancestral home of the Ho-Chunk. Flag raising is part of contemporary Ho-Chunk culture.

It will be the first time in the history of the university that the flag of the Ho-Chunk Nation will fly above Bascom Hall. It will also be the first time that the university has shown respect to another nation by displaying that nation’s flag for a day along with the American flag and the state flag of Wisconsin.

The flag will be hoisted in a public ceremony – “Ho-Chunk Nation Flag Raising on Bascom Hill: Honor, Respect and Sacrifice” – at 10 a.m. on November 5 in front of Bascom Hall.

“It is fitting that the Ho-Chunk Nation Flag is the first to be honored in this manner,” says Aaron Bird Bear, director of tribal relations at the university. “This land was coerced into the United States through a violent 1832 treaty, which is how UW-Madison came to occupy the Ho-Chunk ancestral land. Events like this help us understand the Ho-Chunk culture, tribal sovereignty, and why this place is so sacred to the Ho-Chunk – how Teejop nurtured, sustained and transformed humans for thousands of years with his energy and its abundance.

The Ho-Chunk call the land Teejop (Dejope, or Four Lakes) in HoocÄ…k, the Ho-Chunk language. The campus is home to numerous conical, linear, and effigy burial mounds – the monumental art burial sites created approximately 2,500 to 1,000 years ago. Burial mounds once surmounted the hill of Bascom. The Ho-Chunks serve as keepers of the remaining mounds. The Our Shared Future Heritage Kiosk on Bascom Hill recognizes the land as the ancestral home of the Ho-Chunk and promises a shared future of collaboration and innovation with the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank will welcome several members of the Ho-Chunk Nation to the campus. Guest dignitaries include Traditional Chief Clayton Winneshiek, Vice President Karena Thundercloud, the Wisconsin Dells Singers and members of the Sanford WhiteEagle Legion Post 556.

“This is a historic day that was long overdue,” Thundercloud says. “I want to thank everyone who made this day a reality. “

The event is open to the public. There will be a limited number of places for guests; others are invited to attend the ceremony from the public areas of Bascom Hill. The Ho-Chunk Nation requests that certain ceremonial elements of the program not be photographed or filmed, such as prayers and songs of honor. More instruction will be offered during the program. The public is also invited to observe the descent of the flags at 4 p.m. Brief comments will be offered at both ceremonies.

Members of the Ho-Chunk Nation regularly participate in flag raising ceremonies with local governments and educational institutions to share their culture and strengthen bonds between communities. In November 2020, the city ​​of Madison participated in a flag raising with the Ho-Chunk Nation. The Ho-Chunk Flag flies daily in front of the Madison Municipal Building along with the American Flag and the City Flag.

“This ceremony is new for the university but not for the Ho-Chunk,” said Bird Bear. “This is definitely a time of learning and growth for us as an academic community – an opportunity to understand relationship building through Ho-Chunk culture and to raise awareness of tribal sovereignty and governance. We hope the campus community will join us for this historic event.

For other events celebrating Native November, please visit www.wisc.edu/native-november/

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