Travel routes used by the Ho-Chunk Nation make their way through the Dejope or Four Lakes region, which includes Wisconsin. Although in some cases they have been transformed into modern roads and walking paths, many of the original trails are only found in scattered historical records and living memory.
Combining investigation with historical work and in collaboration with the Ho-Chunk Nation, University of Wisconsin-Madison doctoral student Megan Binkley will continue to work with Tribal Heritage Preservation Officer Bill Quackenbush, other Ho-Chunk Nation community advisors, and Jesse Assistant College of the Nelson Institute Conaway to integrate historical records and history Oral and Archaeological Data in a Map of Ho-Chunk Routes and Trails Through Time.
“There are many different explanatory avenues for coming together to try to understand the past that are not accessible through textual records,” Binkley said.
Binkley is pursuing a Ph.D. in anthropology with a focus in archeology, minors in scholarship, and community geography. This work began as an interdepartmental collaborative project based on the capstone course of Conaway’s Environmental Studies and Land Use Chapter by Dr. Holly Gibbs. It later evolved into an internship with the UniverCity Alliance.
Binkley said Gibbs and Conaway demonstrated how to integrate community participation into academic research.
“Working with Dr. Conway and Dr. Gibbs has shown me that there are indeed many potential avenues for blending archeology, community engagement, and collaborative work with First Nations while approaching the situation as a student and from the perspective of, ‘I still have a lot to learn about the landscapes in which I have spent my life. All,” Binkley said.
Conway said she appreciates Binkley’s work with an Aboriginal for her doctoral work and participation in community research.
“Working close to home is efficient and effective and also has a great impact on building relationships with tribal partners and tribal neighbors here,” Conway said.
For her university project, Binkley created a map of Ho-Chunk history, language, and culture covering Waunakee Village and Westport. This project was the result of Waunakee’s partnership with the UniverCity Alliance through the three-year UniverCity Year program.
The development of this project, which was financially supported by a community learning grant from the Morgridge Center, is an example of how the UniverCity Alliance can be a link across campus and in communities. During the partnership, Waunakee wanted to do more work with Ho-Chunk Nation. Meanwhile, Binkley attended two associated classes, which provided a platform to pursue her Ph.D.
The UniverCity Alliance served as a link between these efforts.
“Meghan’s experience is just one more example of how UW structures — from courses to internal scholarship programs to training — can be leveraged to advance community priorities, such as building Ho-Chunk Nation relationships with local governments,” she said.
Binkley was also working closely with Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Historical Preservation Officer Bill Quackenbosch on the map. He encouraged Binkley to continue digitizing the Ho-Chunk Nation’s travel routes.
“The relevance of this pathway still exists today to show the presence of humans using this small portion transmitted through our ancestors’ footprints,” Quackenbusch said.
Documenting these trails is important for establishing their cultural significance, Quackenbush said, for federal and state officials working on road projects across the state.
Conway echoed the importance of maps in emphasizing cultural significance. It can influence oversight, policy and regional planning.
“Maps have power, especially when they are well made, well researched and appropriate cultural channels navigated for design and approval,” Conway said. Maps are powerful tools for educating tribal and non-tribal audiences.
The Binkley university project evolved into an internship opportunity with the UniverCity Alliance during the summer of 2021. Quackenbush provided older 17th, 17th, and 19th century maps of Binkley showing hand-drawn portions of Ho-Chunk travel routes, and Binkley used software platforms to transform them In digital files, the routes are shown in a geographically accurate manner.
“Many of these travel routes have multiple lives. They started as First Nations and Ho-Chunk travel routes, then became colonial military trails, and now are modern roads or modern hiking trails,” Binkley said. “I was struck by the fact that I might have walked in some of these places and had no idea the depth of their history.”
For some, this date is always present. Quackenbush’s mother prefers to drive on Highway 12 because it was a former Indian track.
“This is where ancient people used to travel,” Quackenbusch said. “Some people enjoy thinking about the deep heritage of the area, how many people have walked the path, and how our environment has changed throughout our lives.”
Now, Benkley will expand the map she started by combining written records, spoken history, hand-drawn maps, and archaeological excavation notes from a variety of places, including the Wisconsin Historical Society, University of Washington-Madison’s Department of Anthropology, and small museums across the United States. Midwest.
Binkley also hopes to secure grant funding to compensate its community advisors for their time and expertise and to create paid research opportunities for additional members of the Ho-Chunk Nation interested in participating in aspects of this project.
“Learning together is more fun,” said Binkley. “By bringing all these different perspectives together, we will learn a lot when we have several people working on this project.”
By Abigail Baker