By Tom Jones, Michael Schmudlach, Matthew Daniel Mason, Amy Lonetree, & George A. Greendeer
People of the Big Voice tells the visual history of Ho-Chunk families at the turn of the twentieth century and beyond as depicted through the lens of Black River Falls studio photographer Charles Van Schaick. The family relationships among those who sat for the photographer are clearly visible in these images. Sisters, friends, families, and young couples appear and reappear, fleshing out a narrative of the period, from 1879 to 1942, referred to as "the dark ages” in Indian tribal history.
Following introductory essays from three of the authors are more than three hundred beautifully detailed duotone photographs. Unique to the project are captions that identify over ninety percent of the individuals pictured—made possible by the continuing efforts of tribal members and genealogists.
Also included are candid shots of Ho-Chunk on the streets of Black River Falls, outside family dwellings, and at powwows. As author and Ho-Chunk tribal member Amy Lonetree writes, A significant number of the images were taken just a few short years after the darkest, most devastating period for the Ho-Chunk. Invasion, diseases, warfare, forced assimilation, loss of land, and repeated forced removals from our beloved homelands left the Ho-Chunk people in a fight for their culture and their lives. The book includes three introductory essays (a biographical essay by Matthew Daniel Mason, a critical essay by Amy Lonetree, and a reflection by Tom Jones) and 300-plus duotone photographs and captions in gallery style. Unique to the project are the identifications in the captions, which were researched over many years with the help of tribal members and genealogists, and include both English and Ho-Chunk names.
A significant contribution to the history of Native peoples, People of the Big Voice is a breathtaking portrayal of a resilient community whose story continues today.
"People of the Big Voice is the collaboration of many individuals who are committed to preserving the history of the Ho-Chunk. These photographs bring forth memories like carefully wrapped, stored items. Only when unwrapped do they reveal the cultural fabric of Ho-Chunk life.” —from the Foreword by Truman Lowe
About the Authors
Tom Jones is an assistant professor of photography at the University of Wisconsin Madison. His work may be found in the National Museum of the American Indian and the Chazen Museum of Art. Michael Schmudlach serves on the Wisconsin Historical Society s Board of Curators and has a lifelong relationship with the Ho-Chunk. Matthew Daniel Mason is an archivist at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Amy Lonetree an associate professor of American studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz and coeditor of "The National Museum of the American Indian: Critical Conversations." George A. Greendeer has been the Ho-Chunk Nation's tribal genealogist since 2000. Tom Jones, Amy Lonetree, and George A. Greendeer are enrolled members of the Ho-Chunk Nation."