Street signs in Wazee development reflect Ho-Chunk tradition

By Ken Luchterhand

Anyone driving around the new Wazee development area near the Mission area in Black River Falls, where the new District One Community Center is being constructed and new housing will soon begin, will notice the street signs with very non-typical names.
Those names include Big Bison Bull Street, Sharp Fang Avenue, Pigeon Nest Street, Five Horned Avenue, and Whirlpool Street.
Although the names seem out of the ordinary, there is a meaning behind every street name.
There are 12 clans in Ho-Chunk culture and each of the names represent each of the clans. The names had to be tweaked a bit to represent those clans without duplicating an already existing street name.
The issue first came to discussion at the Area 1 meetings when tribal members were asked for suggestions. A list of 23 names was drafted from those suggestions, including some with common Ho-Chunk last names. There already are some street names with those last names, so the idea of using those were not allowed.
“We had to keep in mind the other streets in Jackson County using those same names, especially for emergency purposes,” said Planning Division Director Mike Rave. “When Jackson County Sheriff’s Department dispatch sends an ambulance to Elk Street, for example, there can’t be any confusion where that might be. There already is an Elk Street in the city of Black River Falls and that might create misunderstanding when responding to an emergency.”
To avoid that confusion, a new unique name had to be produced, although it has the same meaning. For instance, “Five Horned Avenue” is the same an “Elk Avenue,” just in a different, descriptive manner.
In that fashion, each of the 12 clans of the Ho-Chunk people are represented with a new descriptive manner, Rave said.
For instance, “Sharp Fang Avenue” represents the snake clan, “Trout Avenue” represents the fish clan, and “Lightning Bolt Street” represents the thunder clan.
Each of the street names has been established in Ho-Chunk, too, but the English names are what will be displayed on the street signs. The Ho-Chunk Language Department played the major role with this task.

Ceetok Xete Na?a?gu            Big Bison Bull Street
S?u?u?kja?k Seep Na?a?gu         Black Wolf Street
Hee Saaca? Na?a?gu              Five Horned Avenue
Harupini Na?a?gu                  Whirlpool Street
Hi Pa Hi Na?a?gu                  Sharp Fang Avenue
Hu?u?c Xete Na?a?gu              Big Bear Street
Hee Cakiwake Na?a?gu       Branched Antlers Avenue
Woona?gire Wa?a?ks?ik Na?a?gu     Warrior Avenue
Hoo S?us?uc Na?a?gu             Trout Avenue
 Ja?a?ja?p Hawares Na?a?gu    Lightning Bolt Street
 Koogowa? Na?a?gu               Golden Eagle Street
 Ruucge Hooma? Na?a?gu      Pigeon Nest Street