Fort McCoy News May 27, 2016

Ho-Chunk Nation harvests tamarack trees on post

Members of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin harvested approximately 90 tamarack trees May 9 as part of a partnership with Fort McCoy.

"The Ho-Chunk Nation has an ongoing need for young tamarack trees to use in constructing their traditional lodges," said Natural Resources Branch (NRB) Chief Mark McCarty with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division.

"Several lodges are constructed each year for celebrations. Since we had identified several pockets of young tamarack on Fort McCoy that needed to be removed, we contacted a Ho-Chunk representative to offer them for harvest as part of our existing memorandum of agreement (MOA)," he said.

A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation loads a tamarack tree on a trailer during a tree harvest by the nation at Fort McCoy in early May.
A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation loads a tamarack tree on a trailer
during a tree harvest by the nation at Fort McCoy in early May.
Photo by
Mark McCarty

The trees were removed from an area located near the south end of a runway at Sparta-Fort McCoy Airport, said Forester James Kerkman with the NRB. The height of the trees posed a risk to incoming and outgoing aircraft and to the safety glide path for the runway.

"It's an area for tree removal that we previously identified," Kerkman said. "Having them harvested improves the safety at the airport runway while at the same time providing a resource to the Ho-Chunk Nation."

McCarty said the MOA with the Ho-Chunk Nation is important to maintain.

"The MOA allows me, as the installation Native American coordinator, to consult directly with the Ho-Chunk tribal historic-preservation officer," McCarty said. "Without the agreement, all communication would need to be between the Fort McCoy garrison commander and the president of the Ho-Chunk Nation since we are dealing with a sovereign nation.

"The MOA also streamlines the process for consulting with the Ho-Chunk Nation by establishing the ability to conduct consultation through points of contact," he said. "This improves our ability as an installation to meet our obligations regarding Native American cultural resources and sacred sites."

James Blackdeer with the Ho-Chunk Nation said the support from Fort McCoy is appreciated. "The staff at the fort was very helpful," he said.

According to the website, the Ho-Chunk people have remained and continue to remain one of the strongest indigenous nations in the United States.

"This is because the elders of the nation are honored, and their teachings have upheld throughout history," the website states regarding Ho-Chunk history. "Ho Chunk elders say that history begins with the creation of all things on earth. They say that Ho-Chunk means 'People of the Big Voice,' or 'People of the Sacred Language.'"

Ho-Chunks traditionally have occupied lands in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

For more information about the Ho-Chunk people, go online to For more information about Fort McCoy cultural- and natural-resources management, call 608-388-2252.

   (Article prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office and the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.)