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Photo gallery Artists bring Ho-Chunk beadwork, imagery to giant banners on Bascom Hall

November 7, 2023
A view of the front facade of Bascom Hall taken from a drone. On a sunny day, a few people walk across the brick and concrete path in front of the building. The four panels of the Seed by Seed banner hangs between tall, white columns above the building's main entrance. The banner has been printed with a texture resembling beadwork and contains symbols and colors representing traditions of the Ho-Chunk Nation. Four green rings represent the four lakes of Teejop, the name the Ho-Chunk give the land now occupied by UW–Madison. Inside each ring, square patches in light blue, dark blue yellow and red represent the reflections of light on the water at different times of day. Two large pink triangles on either side of the banner represent flowers, with green stems and triangular leaves leading to the center panel. On the center panel, a large diamond made of small blue triangles frames a blue thunderbird, which is flanked by two red, abstract W's, representing UW–Madison. Below the thunderbird are two green water spirits, which resemble four-legged animals with very long tails. Below the water spirits are six light blue triangles representing water. Above and below the large diamond frame are bursts of yellow beading, representing the sun. Along the bottom border of the banners are stylized animal symbols of the twelve clans of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and beneath each animal is a traditional Ho-Chunk flower motif in blue and green.

The Ho-Chunk Banners hanging on Bascom Hall are the fruits of a creative partnership formed by UW–Madison doctoral student Molli Pauliot and faculty members Marianne Fairbanks and Stephen Hilyard. The banners they designed incorporate symbols, imagery and traditional colors of the Ho-Chunk Nation, of which Pauliot is a member. The banners honor those whose ancestral land UW–Madison now occupies. Photo: Bryce Richter

At a special ceremony held Tuesday, Nov. 7, the campus community and invited guests celebrated the installation of Ho-Chunk banners on Bascom Hall, commissioned as part of the University of Wisconsin’s 175th anniversary. The university occupies land that was the ancestral home of the Ho-Chunk.

The banners, designed in collaboration by UW–Madison doctoral student Molli Pauliot and faculty members Marianne Fairbanks and Stephen Hilyard, are part of the Our Shared Future initiative, the university’s commitment to respect the inherent sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk Nation. The banners will remain up through November and then return during the spring semester as part of a regular rotation of themed banners.

Six men seated in a circle beat a large drum with traditional mallets and sing. Behind them is Bascom Hall, decorated with the Ho-Chunk Banners.

The Lake Delton Singers provided the drum for the ceremony. They played and sang as a crowd gathered on Bascom Hill. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A man wearing a hat with a U.S. flag and veteran pins stands behind a podium adorned with a red cloth printed in white characters with the number 175. He speakes into a microphone. Behind him is Bascom Hall, where the Ho-Chunk banners are on display.

Paul Cloud offered a prayer to begin the ceremony. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A woman smiles as she speaks to the audience from the podium.

Carla Vigue, director of tribal relations for UW–Madison, emceed the event. Photo by: Bryce Richter

A man wearing a light brown sports jacket jestures with his hands as he speaks from the podium.

“What you see behind you is more than just a mural, more than just banners. It speaks volumes to our history, our clan system, our culture," said Ho-Chunk Nation President Jon Greendeer. “I cannot express enough appreciation for Molli and what she’s done. I have no idea what kind of work went into putting something like this together, but I will tell you that by looking at this and seeing our clans represented, seeing the art and that every symbolism in there is deliberate and means something — I’m so happy to see something like this.” Photo by: Bryce Richter

A close-up of the seated audience. One person in the audience is wearing a blue jacket with the great seal of the Ho-Chunk Nation embroidered on the back.

Members of the Ho-Chunk and campus communities gathered for the ceremony. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Chancellor Mnookin stands behind a podium with a red banner hanging from the front with the number 175 printed in white text. She is speaking into a microphone and gesturing with her hands. Behind her is Bascom Hall with the Ho-Chunk banners displayed between the building's columns.

In her remarks, Chancellor Mnookin said, “We still, I know, have a lot of work to do before every person feels that this university is ‘for’ them — before they can necessarily see themselves here and can thrive here. It will take each of these seeds — and many more — to help us grow a stronger future together. And I am committed to working in partnership to doing that.” Photo by: Bryce Richter

A woman seated in the audience looks on as she holds her young son, who is playing with the beaded necklaces around her neck.

While Pauliot addressed the crowd, her daughter Julia White and grandson Azias Pauliot listened to her message about the meaning of Our Shared Future. Photo by: Bryce Richter

Later in the program, Molli Pauliot stands at the podium, and speaks into the microphone. She is flanked on either side by Marianne Fairbanks and Stephen Hilyard.

As she stood alongside Fairbanks and Hilyard, Pauliot remarked, “Our Shared Future is a process, not a land acknowledgement or something to recite. It is a collective act of moving together from ignorance to awareness; an educational framework for posing questions; and an opportunity to celebrate Ho-Chunk people, as well as learn about the hard truths of our histories with them. It is a challenge to educate ourselves and each other, and create a better future together. The Ho-Chunk Banner design for the 175th anniversary is an example of the university’s commitment and opportunity to learn more about the Ho-Chunk people.” Photo by: Bryce Richter

A woman wearing several beaded necklaces and pendants speaks from the podium.

JoAnn Jones, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, retired judge and UW–Madison alumn, spoke of the meaning of Our Shared Future. “My hope for this university," she said, "Is the shared vision that you speak about. And that the future of this institution is that it stands for all citizens — all the citizens of the state and all the Indian nations.” Photo by: Bryce Richter

Pauliot, Fairbanks, Hilyard and Mnooking stand in a row on Bascom Hill. Pauliot, Fairbanks and Hilyard are wearing wool blankets presented to the artists on behalf of the university in thanks for their work. Mnookin is wearing a beaded pendant with an emblem of Bucky Badger, a gift to her from the Ho-Chunk Nation.

As the ceremony drew to a close, Pauliot, Fairbanks and Hilyard stood alongside Mnookin. Draped around their shoulders, they wore wool blankets given to them on behalf of UW–Madison in thanks for their service in the creation of the banners. Photo by: Bryce Richter

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