The Hoocąk (Ho-Chunk) have occupied the Teejop (Four Lakes) area for thousands of years and it is believed they were the first residents of the Lake Monona shoreline. This past May, the Ho-Chunk community and Bill Quackenbush, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, planted traditional corn, called Teejop Waksik Wicawas (Four Lakes Ho-Chunk Corn), at the entrance of the San Damiano property. Weeded, tilled, and fertilized this summer by the Ho-Chunk and volunteers, the corn was well above knee-high by the fourth of July! On September 2nd, this special corn was harvested with plans to be dried for seed corn for next year’s growing season.
Harvest season is a busy and meaningful time for the Ho-Chunk people. Old and revived traditions are celebrated - gathering foods, harvesting crops, fishing, and hunting. In the past, these actions were essential to surviving a long, cold winter. Recently at the Tribal Office Complex in Black River Falls, WI, the Ho-Chunk celebrated a traditional green corn ceremony of drumming, singing, dancing, preparing roasted corn, sharing traditional food, and storytelling. Bill Quackenbush shared, “Bringing back traditional cultural experiences within our tribal community often includes many others coming to our gathering to sit alongside us as well. We hope to celebrate a Green Corn Festival at San Damiano next year.”
This past year, the Ho-Chunk, in collaboration with the City of Monona and Friends of San Damiano, hosted the Snow Snake Games in February and San Damiano was the first stop on the Ho-Chunk week-long dugout canoe journey of the chain of Madison Lakes. Bill shared, “I’ll be working with the City of Monona and San Damiano Project Steering Committee to assist them with their park strategic planning, at whatever capacity they ask of me. I’ll be looking forward to the coming years to see the property transform.”