Tribal Office Building opens its doors for this year’s Ho-Chunk Winter Camp

By Gary Garvin

People of all ages shared a day filled with laughter, songs, and other activities at the Ho-Chunk Nation tribal office building on Saturday, Feb 9. 2019.
Ho-Chunk Nation’s Heritage and Preservation department sponsored this year’s Ho-Chunk Winter Camp which highlighted many traditional Ho-Chunk practices. Ho-Chunk Nation’s Heritage and Preservation Director Jon Greendeer expressed a deep gratitude to everyone that played a role in the success and operation of the camp.
Demonstrations and exhibits included scraping, stretching, and smoking deer hides, black ash basket making, moccasin making, kansu games, moccasin games, and a snow snake competition.
“We had a drum which were singing songs and created the robust ambience for the place. We had traditional cooked soups and desserts. We had crafts which primarily focused on yarn, finger weaving, and paaxge old style beadwork, so that kind of encompassed this year’s winter camp,” Greendeer said.
Greendeer’s passion for sharing knowledge keeps him motivated. “One of the most amazing things, that makes me, or any other educators motivated is being able to see that one moment when somebody gets it. Not just simply enjoying themselves and having fun, you hope everybody is doing that, but that one moment when something clicks with them, and it makes sense to them, and it becomes a part of them,” said Greendeer.
“The camps are built around making sure people feel welcomed and valued because they are there. And that’s the feature I love of the camps. It’s important for them to come and see that, because if you do that, they will come more often,” said Greendeer.
 “The activities that we have at our camps naturally attract Ho-Chunk people. I believe that they are inherent to those practices, they don’t even know that, but there is a connection there and it’s very motivating to witness them see that connection,” said Greendeer.
Behind the tribal office buildings Jimmy Blackdeer facilitated the snow snake competition. “It was pretty good, I stayed busy all day,” said Blackdeer. The top snow snake throwers won prizes as well as bragging rights. “People were having a good time of all ages, native and non-natives giving it a throw,” said Blackdeer.
“The camps have one goal and a lot of objectives to reach that goal. The goal of the camps, at least from my office, from my position is to strengthen your tribal identity by making connections through cultural activity. That’s what the goal is,” said Greendeer.
“What really is happening at least from my perspective is that you are embracing who you are. Parts of yourself that you haven’t really gotten a chance to see or feel or come to understand. That’s what these camps are for,” said Greendeer.