From Beloit Daily News | By Jacob Roushia | June 16, 2022


Over five days, Ho-Chunk Nation youth will go on an educational and spiritual journey following the path of their ancestors which includes the Beloit area. Starting Monday, Fifteen Ho-Chunk Nation youth will paddle in a dugout canoe, just like their ancestors, across the lakes of Madison and in the Rock River. “Before the pandemic, Dane County donated two willow trees to us,” said Casey Brown, Ho-Chunk Nation public relations officer. “We have been wanting to make a dugout canoe for a while and with willow trees we were able to.”

A dugout canoe is created by hollowing out wood from a tree like a willow, and coating it with a natural water repellent such as animal fat.

“The dugout canoe we will be using will be able to fit three youths at a time,” Brown noted. “Everyone will get the chance to ride in the canoe throughout the journey.”

Dugout canoes were one of the earliest forms of travel used by the Native Americans. “We took a long time to develop a plan with our education and language department to map the routes and historical significance of each stop on the route,” Brown noted.

This Journey begins on Monday, June 20 at Lake Mendota in Middleton, Wisconsin and will end along the Rock River in South Beloit on Friday, June 24. The last day of the journey will begin in the Town of Beloit at Preservation Park located at 3444 S Riverside Drive at 9 a.m. Later at 11:30 a.m. the Ho-Chunk Nation group will stop at Wootton Park in Beloit to talk about their tribe’s past and continued presence in the Beloit area. The group’s journey will conclude at Nature At The Confluence in South Beloit with a presentation from noon—2:30 p.m. They will discuss the history of Kechunk Ciinak (Turtle Village), which until 1832, was a Ho-Chunk village located on the same land where Nature At The Confluence presently exists. “We still have a presence at Kechunk Ciinak today, volunteering and assisting at Nature At The Confluence,” Brown said.

Along with the 15 youth there will be 10 adults from the Ho-Chunk Nation in various standard canoes and boats. “We might look more like a flotilla paddling across the lakes and river,” Brown said. “There will also be an emergency boat following us just in case.” “I invited several others that are welcome to join us for a leg or part of the journey,” Brown said. “We would love to meet the public. If anyone is interested to join us or stop by at the various locations along our route, feel free.”

The total journey can be followed via

The location of the launch is the same lake where a 1,200 year old dugout canoe was recently found by the Wisconsin Historical Society. This dugout canoe was found on Nov 2, 2021 and is currently undergoing preservation efforts at the Wisconsin Historical Society’s State Archive Preservation Facility. The facility will be the journey’s first stop to observe the canoe found last year.