The Hochungla Singers
Recorded by Raymond Boley. Produced by Canyon Records.
Both men are now retired and living in St. Paul, Minnesota; Daniel was in highway construction work and Preston an industrial engineer. The latter now serves on several important Minnesota state commissions dealing with Indian affairs and lectures on Indian culture, past and present. He is married to a Sioux and frequently joins their drums.
The Winnebago are a Siouan-speaking tribe of Native American people, thought to be a part of a northward migration from the Mississippi Valley. In their complex organizations they show a relationship to the Osage, Oto, and Omaha, among others.
When contacted by the French in 1634, they lived in permanent villages in the area that now includes Green Bay, Wisconsin and nearby Lake Winnebago, and the southern part of the Door Peninsula. They hunted buffalo, and as farmers raised beans, corn squash, and tobacco, which were supplemented by collecting berries, rice and nuts. Homes were dome shaped shelters of poles covered with woven mats.
Tribal history has been marked by war, disease, and flight to new lands. In their Wisconsin homelands, they were almost totally destroyed by the Illinois, but captives were allowed to return and again formed a tribe.
During the American Revolution the Winnebago fought with the English, as they did again in the War of 1812. Later, they joined the Sacs and Foxes during the time of Black Hawk's raids. This latter alliance caused many of them to move from Wisconsin to Iowa in 1832. Smallpox struck the tribe twice before 1836, and in that year a third attack killed about one-fourth of the remaining members. In 1845 the survivors were moved to Minnesota.
A new home was assigned the tribe on the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota, near their long standing enemies, the Sioux. Sickness, death, and other hardships caused some of them to move south, and in snowstorm-plagued journey in the winter of 1863-64, a group reached the lodges of the Omaha tribe in Nebraska. Of the two thousand who started the trip, only about twelve hundred sick and starving tribesmen survived. The Omahas provided them with shelter and food, and in 1865 sold a portion of their own reservation to the U.S. Government - which in turn deeded it to the Winnebagos. Additional lands were added to this Winnebago Reservation in 1874.
Bands of Winnebagos, who had been living in the northern section of their original homeland in Wisconsin, had refused to move to Iowa in 1832. Through the years they insisted upon their right to remain in Wisconsin, culminating in 1874 in the U.S. Government allowing them to assume 40 acre homesteads in Wisconsin providing they would give up any claim to the Nebraska reservation.
Today, the Wisconsin Winnebagos number about 1500 and live in scattered communities from Wittenberg in east to LaCrosse in west, with the Black River Falls area having the largest concentration. A modern version of the old band organization has been developed, and the people remain bound by a common kinship and culture.
The Winnebagos living in Nebraska also nubmer about 1500 and reside chiefly in an area in the northeast part of the state near the Missouri River. They maintain close relationships with their friends the Omahas who live around nearby Macy.
...Notes by Glenn H. White