What is Treaty Day?
In a treaty signed on September 15, 1832, the Ho-Chunk nation ceded Teejop (Four Lakes) to the United States. It may be the most significant day in our community’s history. The treaty is a foundational document for everyone; it’s what allows non-Ho-Chunk people to reside in Madison today.
But for the Ho-Chunk it had a very different significance. It was signed under duress—without free, prior, and informed consent—and required them to leave Teejop. The treaty began more than forty years of attempted ethnic cleansing when soldiers and many settlers repeatedly used violence and threats to force the Ho-Chunk from Wisconsin.
These campaigns did not succeed. The Ho-Chunk people’s love for this land, its waters, and their ancestors could not be broken by treaties and violence. Guided by leaders such as Wakanjaxeriga (Roaring Thunder, also known as “Dandy”) and Hotakawinga (Mary Crane), many Ho-Chunk either refused to leave Wisconsin or quickly returned.
On Treaty Day, we consider the world the Treaty of 1832 made and re-made. It’s an opportunity to learn together about our ongoing legal agreement with Ho-Chunk people and their odyssey of creativity and resilience. Every September, we begin our academic journey together by asking how this history informs our present and shared future.