Honoring Ho-Chunk Heritage

The Wisconsin Alumni Association shares stories of the original occupants of the campus area.

Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin wears a blanket presented to her by members of the Ho Chunk Nation

Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin (right, with panelist Molli Pauliot) was presented with a blanket at a Wisconsin Idea Spotlight that highlighted Ho-Chunk history. Dave Stremikis

In June, alumni and friends gathered along the shores of Lake Mendota for a special Wisconsin Idea Spotlight. “Ho-Chunk Land — Stories of Teejop” was named for the Ho-Chunk word for the area that is now the site of the UW–Madison campus.

The program was presented by the Wisconsin Alumni Association in partnership with the UW–Madison work group Our Shared Future, which represents the university’s commitment to respect the inherent sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk Nation and the other First Nations of Wisconsin. The group calls on faculty, staff, and students to deeply consider the university’s shared past and present with Indigenous peoples.

Panelists JoAnn Jones ’82, MS’83, JD’86; Molli Pauliot x’94, MA’20, PhDx’23; and Kendra Greendeer PhDx’23 offered perspectives and stories of Ho-Chunk history, values, and traditions.

Participants also enjoyed boat rides on Lake Mendota with Janice Rice MA’75 and undergraduate Asia Rave x’25, who shared stories and visuals of Ho-Chunk mounds and historical sites around the lake.

Sarah Schutt, chief alumni officer and executive director of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, says, “It was an honor to welcome Ho-Chunk alumni and students and learn from their stories and personal experiences. We look forward to future opportunities to collaborate with members of the Ho-Chunk Nation.”

Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin stopped by to meet the panelists, who presented her with a blanket and welcomed her to Teejop. “I thought it was nice that she went out of her way to make sure that she met some Ho-Chunk alumni and students,” says Pauliot.

Greendeer, commenting on the value of this first-of-its-kind event, adds, “We should make learning the Ho-Chunk history of these lands a requirement rather than an elective.”

Published in the Fall 2022 issue

Tags: Alumni, diversity, First Nations

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