The Ho-Chunk Nation’s Language Division released an online Ho-Chunk dictionary

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 5:33 PM CDT
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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - On July 30, the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Language Division released an online Ho-Chunk dictionary.

The goal of the language division is to preserve and promote the revitalization of the Ho-Chunk language. With this intention, there are multiple project and resources working toward this goal, including the online Ho-Chunk dictionary.

“We consider language to be a bedrock of our identity and a bedrock of our society and of our people as a whole language.” Henning Garvin, Ho-Chunk linguist, said.

Garvin said the online Ho-Chunk dictionary is a valuable resource for the community.

“It’s huge. It’s actually, this is a game changer when it comes to our own language preservation,” Garvin said. “Again, having something that’s so accessible, anybody with an Internet connection can view this resource. Anyone who wants to learn Ho-Chunk has access to this resource.”

Garvin said the best estimates say there are fewer than 50 first-language Ho-Chunk speakers alive, making efforts to record the language even more important.

“The unfortunate reality is we’re going to get to a point someday where we don’t have these elders to call anymore and we don’t have all of these native speakers added at our disposal,” Garvin said. “But, if we can capture, again, as much of their knowledge as possible and what they’re so graciously willing to share with us and put it in this database, we still have that resource.”

The Ho-Chunk linguist said the reality of this language revitalization means the direct results of the division’s efforts won’t be seen immediately.

“Everything we’re doing now, the impact is being felt minimally, but it’s really not going to be understood until years down the line,” Garvin said. “You have to have the long view when it comes to language preservation. You have to be thinking 50 to 100 years out, thinking what we’re doing now, how is that going to impact future generations?”

Staff members of the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Language Division said their path is clear, continuing to work and preserve the language to the best of their abilities.

Garvin said the online dictionary currently has over 11,000 words and will be continually update with more words and sentences.

More information about the language department can be found on it’s website.

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