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I am an Indian First and an Artist Second

Honoring the Ho-Chunk Warrior

I have been photographing our Ho-Chunk community at the Memorial Day Powwow in Black River Falls, Wisconsin since 1999.  The powwows held here are the oldest ones in Wisconsin and one of the oldest in the country.  It is during the Memorial Day Powwow in which we honor our veterans both past and present.   There are flagpoles that encircle the outside of the dance arena. It is here where the families raise the flag of their deceased veteran family members and often place a photograph of them on or at the base of the flagpole. 

The role and responsibility of the veteran is still central to our traditional ceremonies.  The Ho-Chunk warriors have fought in the United States military since the Civil War, ironically during a time when they were not considered United States citizens.  At this point in history the Ho-Chunk were also paid to join the service by individual whites, who did not want to go to war.  Statistically, Native Americans send more of their people off to war more than any other group in American, one in four Native Americans are veterans.  I am in awe of these people and their experiences.

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