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Native Languages of the Americas:
Ho-chunk Legends and Traditional Stories

This is our collection of links to Ho-chunk folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed our Native American folklore section by tribe to make them easier to locate; however, variants on the same legend are often told by American Indians from different tribes, especially if those tribes are kinfolk or neighbors to each other. In particular, though these legends come from the Ho-chunk tribe, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Dakota and Menominee are very similar.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Ho-chunk legend for this page or think one of the ones on here should be removed, please let us know.

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Important Ho-Chunk Mythological Figures

The Twin Heroes These mythical twins, born when their pregnant mother was killed by a monster, are common to the folklore of many Midwestern and Eastern tribes. They are generally portrayed as heroic monster-slayers in Ho-Chunk and other Great Lakes legends, but sometimes get into trouble for killing creatures they should not. Their Hochunk names are usually given as Flesh (Warora or Waroka) and Spirit or Ghost (Wanaghi), but sometimes the younger brother is known as Stump instead.

Earthmaker (Ma'una): This is the traditional Hochunk name for the Creator (God.) He is also known as Wajaguzera (the Creator) or Waxop'ini Xetera (the Great Spirit.)

Herecgunina (also spelled Herecgunira or Herecguniga.) The counterpart to the Earthmaker, Herecgunina is responsible for making all the bad things in the world. In some tales he is portrayed as more of an evil devil-like spirit, in others, as more of a assistant to Earthmaker.

Little Hare (Wacjingega, Wacdjîgéga, or Wash-ching-geka, in Hochunk.) The transformer/culture hero of the Hochunk tribe, associated with the rabbit. Little Hare is the grandchild of Mother Earth and is usually portrayed as a heroic monster-slayer, who uses his wits to defeat creatures that menace the Hochunk people.

Wakdjunkaga (also spelled Wakjunkaga, Wakdjâkaga, Wakdjukaga, and other ways.) The trickster figure of the Hochunk tribe (his name literally means "tricky one." Like his younger brother Little Hare, Wakdjunkaga was sent to help and protect the Hochunk people, and sometimes he does try to do this, but his clownish and socially inappropriate antics usually cause more trouble than they are worth. Wakdjunkaga stories range from light-hearted fables, to cautionary tales about the consequences of bad behavior, to ribald jokes.

Ho-chunk Indian Folklore

*Encyclopedia of Hotcâk (Winnebago) Mythology:
    Online compendium of Hochunk myths including comparison to legends of neighboring tribes.
*Ho-chunk Legends:
    Eleven stories from the Wisconsin tribe.
*Winnebago Creation Myth * Ho-Chunk Origin Story:
    Hochunk myths about the beginning of the world and the creation of the first humans.
*Little Brother Snares The Sun * Little Brother and the Sun:
    Hochunk legends about a boy who trapped the Sun.
*Boy Stolen by Thunderbird:
    Hochunk legend about a boy hero who escaped from the Thunderbird.
*Adventures of Little Hare:
    Winnebago stories about Hare's contests with an elephant, an ant-man, and the Sun.
*Medicine Song:
    Origin of a sacred Hochunk song.
*A Man and His Three Dogs:
    Winnebago legend about a transformed wolf who saved a human couple.
*A Man's Revenge:
    Legend about a tribe that was punished for killing a Ho-Chunk man's children.
*Raccoon Tricks Four Blind Men:
    Winnebago folktale about Raccoon making mischief.
*A Wife For Knowledge:
    Legend about a Winnebago man who gave up his wife to become a medicine man.
*Big Eagle Cave:
    Winnebago legend about a mysterious cave.
*Black And White Moons:
    Winnebago legend about the changing of the seasons.
*Bear Clan Origin Myths:
    Several versions of the origin of the Hochunk Bear Clan.
*Great Walker's Medicine:
    Winnebago legend about the origin of medicine plants.
*Skunk Origin Myth:
    Winnebago legend about a woman who became a skunk.
*The Boy Who Was Blessed By A Mountain Lion:
    Winnebago legend about Cougar helping a boy revenge himself on a wicked village.
*The Lost Child:
    Winnebago legend about a girl kidnapped by a water-spirit.
*The Orphan Who Was Blessed With A Horse:
    Winnebago legend about an ostracized boy and horse who won a buffalo hunt.
*The Spider's Eye:
    How Spider became the overseer of the world.
*The Woman Who Fought The Bear:
    Winnebago legend about a spirit bear who punished two taboo-violating girls.

Recommended Books on Ho-Chunk Mythology
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Folklore of the Winnebago Tribe:
    Collection of Ho-Chunk legends and folktales.
Four Seasons of Corn:
    Interesting photoessay on the importance of corn to the traditional lives of the Hochunk people.

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Additional Resources

 Winnebago religion
 Native American legend books
 Indigenous religious traditions
 Ho-Chunk nation
 Iroquoian language
 Iroquois tribes
 Wisconsin Indian tribes
 Eastern Woodlands Native Americans
 American Indian culture facts

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Learn more about the Winnebago Indian tribe.

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