Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

Located on Green Bay, Wisconsin, at the time of contact, the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk later expanded across southwestern Wisconsin and northwestern Illinois. They are now two separately organized groups: one on tribal and individual trust lands scattered over a dozen counties in central Wisconsin and the other on a reservation in Nebraska. Since 1994 the Wisconsin group took on the ancestral name of Ho-Chunk, while the Nebraska division is known as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Subsistence traditionally was heavily based on horticulture, supplemented by hunting, fishing and gathering. The Winnebago language is closely related to the languages of the Iowa, Missouri, and Oto people.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Eastern Woodlands


United States

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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Winnebago/Ho-Chunk collection covers a time span from approximately 1620 to the late twentieth century. The primary work in this collection is Radin 1923, no. 1, which provides a detailed ethnography of the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk from the early seventeenth century to 1913. This material is supplemented by the summary of Winnebago/Ho-Chunk culture history by Lurie (1978, no. 11), which covers the early period described by Radin, and expands coverage up to 1978. This document discusses the fur trade period, treaties and land cessions between the U. S. government and the Nebraska and Wisconsin branches as two separate entities of the tribe, and post-World War II economic conditions. Other major topics include culture change and cultural stability among the Wisconsin Winnebago/Ho-Chunk in 1944 (in Oestreich 1944, no. 6) and the status of the berdache in Winnebago/Ho-Chunk society (in Lurie 1953, no. 8). In addition Radin (1945, no. 10) attempts to show how three marked characteristics of Winnebago/Ho-Chunk civilization – the conservation of old cultural elements, the receptivity to new ideas, and the capacity for making new integrations – interact with one another to create new culture patterns in the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk milieu. Hill (1990, no. 12), based on ethno-historical research, is a study of the drinking practices of the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk from the early 1860s to the early 1920s, relating these practices to the changing socio-cultural environment. The major focus in this work is on the manner in which the Peyote religion helped control excessive drinking. Richards’ paper in this collection (Richards 1993, no. 13) focuses on the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk during the late prehistoric/early historic period, with particular emphasis on subsistence. The Astor site in Green Bay, Wisconsin is suggested as a potential link between the prehistoric/historic Winnebago/Ho-Chunk and limited subsistence information from the site is examined in that light.

Overview by

John Beierle

Chief’s house, as a place of sanctity - use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)" and/or  "EXECUTION OF JUSTICE (696)"

Chiefs - use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

Clans - use "SIBS (614)"

Council, village level - use "COUNCILS (623)"

Dual division of tribe (halves) - use "MOIETIES (616)"

Government allotments to dependent ethnic groups - use "PUBLIC WELFARE (657)"


Religious societies, general - use "SODALITIES (575)"

War bundle feast of Thunderbird clan - use "ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL (796)" with "SIBS (614)"

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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