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Jon Greendeer shares story of Ho-Chunk Nation 

Ho-Chunk leader, Jon Greendeer (center), poses with Marlene De La Cruz Guzman (left) and Rick Trietley (right).

“When that road appears for you, you walk forward and never look back.” This is a quote said by Jon Greendeer about the Ho-Chunk mindset on moving forward. Jon Greendeer, who is the President of the Ho-Chunk nation, came to Viterbo to speak to students, staff, and community members on February 12, 2024. The presentation took place in Viterbo’s Nursing Center, beginning at 6:30 p.m..  


Greendeer is a graduate of UW-Marathon County, and he completed his bachelor’s degree in political science from UW-Stevens Point in 2004. After the completion, he was appointed as the executive administrative officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation. He is currently serving his second four-year term as president; his first term took place between 2011 and 2015. During his time speaking with community members from the La Crosse area, Greendeer discussed the history, strength, and beliefs of the Ho-Chunk people.  


Greendeer began by speaking in the native language of the Ho-Chunk Nation. He told part of the Ho-Chunk creation story to his audience, including some history on the importance of the language and why it is so important to keep the language alive.  


In another memorable section of his presentation, Greendeer brought the audience back to their time in elementary school, where most students learn about the basic needs for human survival: food, water, and shelter. He took his listeners through scenarios, showing that figuring out how to meet those needs is not as easy as one may think. Greendeer told his audience to imagine that the people in the room were going to be a tribe. He asked the audience to give suggestions on how to feed the 70 to 80 “tribe members.” Ideas such as hunting deer and fishing came up, but Greendeer pointed out that those alone may not feed everyone; assuming those doing the hunting were able to succeed, which is not always the case. Greendeer then reminded his audience that the Ho-Chunk people, as well as other indigenous groups, have learned how to thrive from the land, and they have been doing so since the Ice Age.  


Greendeer concluded his presentation with the previously stated Ho-Chunk quote, followed by offering to answer any questions the audience may have had. Viterbo’s community members received a lot of information they could take away from the inspiring story Greendeer spoke about the Ho-Chunk Nation.  

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Sailor Zarecki
Sailor Zarecki, Campus Life Editor
I am the Campus Life Editor for the Lumen; a first-year English major from...
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