Ho-Chunks dance at Baraboo High School

By Marlon WhiteEagle

Cultural awareness was the focus for a group of Ho-Chunks who danced at the Baraboo High School.

The high school gym was the site for the all school assembly that featured singers, dancers, and stories about the Ho-Chunk powwow culture.

Members of the Sanford White Eagle American Legion Post 556, Joe White Eagle Sr. and Paul Cloud, brought in the eagle staff and American flag to begin the dance program.

Evan Logan served as the event’s emcee.

He introduced the various dance styles as they performed their exhibition dances. He started with the Ho-Chunk appliqué dancers, followed by the men’s traditional, women’s fancy, and men’s fancy.

The cultural exchange was a community-organized performance along with the Baraboo School District.

Ho-Chunk tribal member Patricia Reyes was one of the main organizers.

“The Principal Glen Bildsten reached out, asking about some cultural awareness brought to the school.  When we talked, there was Lisa Runner, Damian Thundercloud, and myself, we went to the school and talked to Glen,” Reyes said.

“We started a Parent Committee for Baraboo.  We organized all of this through word of mouth communication. That’s how we got most of the dancers signed up.”

Evan Logan shared his own personal stories about his interaction with different tribes, people and their families who are a part of the powwow culture.

“They asked us to come in to talk about the powwow culture. To tell some of the stories, and awareness of our powwow culture. They wanted us to give our take on it,” Logan said.

“Mainly, they wanted us to explain some of the stories that we’re taught on our side. We actually went to the people, like the fancy shawl, we talked to the actual person.”

Logan talked to the family of the first women fancy shawl dancers who told him their story.

“Some of the stories are told wrong,” Logan said. “That’s why I wanted to come here. I think it’s our obligation to be here to teach these ones in this area. It’s our responsibility.”

After each dancer present danced their style, the students were invited to participate in a round dance. The gym floor was full as the men danced clockwise around the drum, and the women danced the opposite direction.

The program concluded when the veterans retired the colors and the dancers followed them out of the dance arena.

More cultural awareness is in store the Baraboo School District in the coming months, according to Reyes.

“There’s another parent group for Baraboo. They’re also with Wisconsin Dells. They’ll be doing another performance in March,” Reyes said.