The Ho-Chunk Nation Assembles Historic Virtual Meeting of the General Council

By Ardith Van Riper

     The Ho-Chunk Nation’s Annual Meeting of the General Council convened in the first-ever virtual setting on Saturday, December 5.  This Annual Meeting is one of the largest and most vital events of the Ho-Chunk Nation because the tribal membership meets to set policy for the Ho-Chunk Nation.

     Meeting virtually has become a useful tool in preventing the spread of covid-19.  Governments, businesses, schools, individuals, and the world has had to adjust their daily lives to stay safe during the pandemic.  Wisconsin became a hot spot for the virus in the past few months and community spread is uncontained.

     “The Health and safety concerns of Tribal Members especially Elders are a primary consideration at the Office of General Council,” wrote Office of General Council Advocate Cari A. Fay in the ‘Legality of Holding a Virtual GC Meeting’ notice.

     The Office of General Council coordinated and broadcasted the E-Meeting from Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells with assistance from Lumi, Majic Productions, and the Ho-Chunk Nation IT Division. 

     Like past in-person General Council meetings, the determination of quorum for this year’s E-Meeting was to be established through registration and electronic vote.  Although quorum was not met this year, Emcee Matthew Mann announced that there were 1,239 individuals registered at one point during the meeting.  A total of 727 individuals participated in the final quorum vote. 

     Current policy states twenty percent of the eligible voters of the Ho-Chunk Nation constitute a quorum.  The number needed for a quorum this year was approximately 1,233 or more.  

     Enrolled Ho-Chunk Nation tribal members needed to operate two different electronic platforms, Zoom and Lumi, to participate in the E-Meeting.  Members viewed the meeting in Zoom, and casted their votes in the Lumi website.  The Office of General Council also live-streamed the E-Meeting on a YouTube channel but consequently cut it short because non-tribal members gained access. 

     The Hocak Worak Facebook page posted an ‘Enrolled Tribal Member Virtual Packet’ the night before the E-Meeting.  The packet provided multiple links to documents typically distributed at an in-person General Council meeting, along with links to Zoom and Lumi. 

     One of those documents was the Ho-Chunk Nation Annual Report.  The Planning and Development Division from the Department of Administration gathered information and produced the report.  This report is located at

     Other documents included the Proposed Agenda & List of Resolutions and a Scanned General Council Booklet.  The booklet contained the Office of General Council Mission Statement, proposed resolutions, meeting procedures, meeting minutes, attorney review and analysis, Office of General Council Report, and the Office of General Council 2021-22 Budget.

     Unlike past in-person General Council meetings, the Ho-Chunk Nation Legislature did not release funds for a payout to attendees, and the Office of the President did not approve paid administrative leave for tribal member employees to participate in the historic event.

     Like past in-person General Council meetings, routine activities took place.  The White Eagle Post 556 posted the colors at Ho-Chunk Gaming – Wisconsin Dells.  Bear Clan members Robert Funmaker and Harrison Funmaker were also present.  Steve Wileman and his IT crew assisted tribal members through the Help Desk phone lines.

     The drum group was offsite this year.  The Little Thunder Drum Group led by William Collins broadcasted from the Amber Rave Roundhouse near Black River Falls, Wisconsin.  They rendered honor songs and provided songs during breaks in announcements.

     The emcee called on Representative Sharice Davids in the late afternoon to speak during the historic meeting.  She congratulated the Ho-Chunk Nation on forward-thinking and thanked the members who registered and logged in for their participation.  Davids was one of the first two Native American women elected to the United States Congress in 2018.  She recently won a second term.

     The emcee also announced birthdays and made shout-outs to tribal members participating from out of state.

     The broadcast concluded a little before 5:00 PM.  The General Council did not address the new seven proposed resolutions or the two tabled resolutions from the 2019 General Council meeting.