Rededication Ceremony at Daycholah Center venerates the history, culture, and presence of the Ho-Chunk people
October 11, 2021 • Green Lake, Wisconsin
On Indigenous People’s Day, United Church Camps, Inc. (UCCI) rededicated one of its outdoor ministry campuses as Daycholah Center. The name honors the Ho-Chunk people as the original keepers of this land, using the Ho-Chunk word for Green Lake: Daycholah. The new name and rededication represent a renewed commitment to preserving the sacred place for the spiritual renewal of all people.
“The renaming of this facility acknowledges its heritage and the significance of this area to our history,” shared Karena Thundercloud, Vice President of the Ho-Chunk Nation. She asked those in attendance to “think about the life of this lake, [how it] brought us together, and will continue to connect us in our greatest identity as a community.”
Thundercloud was one of several speakers that addressed those gathered. Rev. David McBride, minister of the Hocak United Church of Christ in Black River Falls, reflected that “renaming shows that when all work together, a movement toward justice can happen.” Franz Rigert, representing the Wisconsin Conference, offered affirmation from the United Church of Christ.
Cari Fay, a member of the Hocak church and a moderator for the renaming effort, offered historical and spiritual perspectives. She said that Ho-Chunk elders would hear concerns of the people, presiding over ceremonies and worship at Council Rock on Green Lake, near Daycholah Center. “The message is that we are one–with the Creator, with nature, and with each other. If we sit and listen with an open heart and open mind, who knows what we might hear.”
Larry Littlegeorge, president and board chair of the Alliance for Justice and the impetus for the renaming, recognized that the name change represents a big step forward for the church in admitting the wrongs done to Indigenous people in the name of Christianity. When asked, does the name matter? Will it make a difference? He said yes, “when we get in the same boat, the same canoe, we can do things together. Our hand has always been extended. It is you who has finally changed.”
The Ho-Chunk people showed their compassionate and generous spirit by giving UCCI’s leaders blankets and star quilts, leather pouches containing scripture, fragrant cedar pouches, and a hand-carved walking stick. They performed traditional smudging and presented UCCI with a Ho-Chunk Nation flag that will fly over the future welcome center.
The overcast sky and intermittent drizzle reflected the contemplative spirit of the day. The speakers, ceremony, presentation of gifts, and a shared meal brought those in attendance together as a family and formed a bond for the shared future of outdoor ministry at Daycholah Center.
In a moving testimony, Cordell Funmaker, a Ho-Chunk student, addressed the crowd in his native Ho-Chunk language, saying, “my people have a word, it is wōgíxeté, it means love one another.” He performed several songs with drumming, and shared that “to me, as a younger individual, to see this reconciliation gives me hope and gives me promise for the future of our people.”
Indeed. It gives us all hope and promise for the future.