The Winnebago people call themselves, “Ho-chunk”, which means “People of the big voice” in the Winnebago (Ho-chunk) Language. The Winnebago people are descendants of the Mound Builders who built ceremonial, temple, and effigy mounds from 200 BC to 1600 AD in the states of Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. While dwelling in the Wisconsin area during the 1840’s, the Winnebago people were moved to neutral ground in northeast Iowa. In 1846, they were forced to move into Minnesota on the Long Prairie Reserve. Years later in 1855, they were moved onto the Blue Earth Reservation in Minnesota. In 1862, they were moved to Crow creek, South Dakota. And finally in 1865, the Winnebago Nation moved to present-day northeast Nebraska with their federal tribal land called the Winnebago Indian Reservation.

 Many of the Winnebago people fled back to their original homelands in Wisconsin, whereas some stayed on the reservation in Nebraska. Today, there are two tribal nations of the Ho-chunk, one in Nebraska (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska) and the other residing in Wisconsin (Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin). Both have separate sovereign tribal governments. Today there are over 1200 Winnebago Tribal members residing on the Nebraska reservation, with over 3800 people listed on the tribal rolls.



Their language belongs to the Siouan language family. The kinship underlay traditional Ho-Chunk social organization, and was based upon 12 clans. These clans represented various things that were in their surroundings in the woodland environment. Clan membership is determined through the father’s line. The 12 clan names are:

Wakąja Hikikarac - Thunder Clan

Caxšep Hikikarac - Eagle Clan

Rucge Hikikarac - Pigeon Clan

Wonağire Wąkšik Hikikarac - Hawk/Warrior Clan

Hųc Hikikarac - Bear Clan

Šųkjąk Hikikarac - Wolf Clan

Cexjį Hikikarac - Buffalo Clan

Wakjexi Hikikarac - Water Spirit Clan

Hųwą Hikikarac - Elk Clan

Ca Hikikarac - Deer Clan

Waką Hikikarac - Snake Clan

Ho Hikikarac - Fish Clan


Here are various words and phrases in the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) Language.

 Hello. (male term) – Aho./Ho (Ah-hoe)

Hello. (female term) – Hą (H(ah)

How are you? (Sitting) – Janisge šanąk? (Jah-nee-sgay sha-nahk?)

Good – Pį (Pee)

Paper – Wagax (Wah-ghax)

Pencil – Wiwagax (Wee-wah-ghax)

School - Wagax haja hoci eja (Wah-ghax hah-jah hoe-chee aye-jah)

Teacher – Wagigųs (Wah-ghee-g(oo)s)

Where are you going? - Hacįja howašere? (Ha-ch(ee)n-jah hoe-wah-shay-rday?)

Thank you (You have done good for me) – Pįnągigi (Pee-nah-ghee-ghee)