Open year-round, 24 hours a day, the exhibit provides a glimpse of the Ho-Chunk families registered in the area in 1832
"The intention was to put this house into perspective, because it had far-reaching implications," explained Adam Novey, who initiated the effort to design a new exhibit on the grounds of the Historic Indian Agency House. The project, which received Wisconsin Humanities grant funds, opened in May of this year. "We wanted people to be able to stop any time of day or year and learn more about this story."
Adam had been doing research for the historic site and museum when he found the 1832 census taken by the U.S. government's Indian sub-agent who lived in the house. Things came together quickly once he reached out to Josie Lee, director at the Ho-Chunk Nation Museum and Cultural Center. "Josie Lee's knowledge and partnership made this possible," Adam said.
As the extensive exhibit website explains, on November 8, 1832, over four hundred and forty Ho-Chunk (Hoocąk) family representatives gathered at the Fort Winnebago Indian Agency. Indian agent John H. Kinzie carefully recorded their names, villages, and the sizes of their families in preparation for the annual payment for the land. The census from that day offers an unparalleled view of the people who lived there before they were pressured to sell the land to the U.S. government.
190 years later, speakers, singers, and dancers (pictured above) gathered on the lawn of the Historic Indian Agency House for the opening. Additionally, the website includes multi-media resources sharing stories of Hoocąk families who were registered in the 1832 census and traces their ongoing journey. Additional oral histories and videos are coming, Adam says.
"I had the chance to go to the location of all the villages and take pictures and video footage," he explained. "We want people to be able to connect these Ho-Chunk names with these places, these regions, and to know the stories of the people who knew these places, right where I'm standing."
Wisconsin Humanities is proud to have supported this important work through our grant program. Every year we give away more than $200,000 in grants for humanities programs around the state, all designed by communities to serve communities.