The La Crosse Public Library acknowledges that it occupies the ancestral lands of the Ho-Chunk, who have stewarded this land since time immemorial.
The city of La Crosse occupies land that was once a prairie that was home to a band of Ho-Chunk. In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act in attempt to forcibly and often violently remove Indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands located east of the Mississippi River to occupied territory west of the river. Throughout the 1830s and 1840s, the Federal Government conducted a series of six attempts to forcibly remove local Ho-Chunk by steamboat via the Mississippi River to reservations in Iowa, northern Minnesota, southwest Minnesota, South Dakota, and finally to Nebraska. The historic steamboat landing where this took place is now Spence Park in downtown La Crosse.
However, many of La Crosse’s Ho-Chunk found their way back to their homeland and eventually the federal and local governments moved on to new strategies to eradicate Indigenous folks and culture from the newly established United States of America. As of 2016, Wisconsin was home to over 8,000 members of the Ho-Chunk Nation, about 230 of whom live in La Crosse County.
To learn more about this local history, visit the Archives & Local History Department.