President Jon Greendeer and Ho-Chunk elder Allen Cloud engage with SPASH students, offering words of encouragement following a rehearsal of their cross-cultural song cycle. (Courtesy Stevens Point Area Public School District)

Special Ho-Chunk performance coming to SPASH

By Patrick Lynn

In a celebration of heritage and language, the Stevens Point Area Senior High School Concert Choir in March will present a unique performance featuring the Ho-Chunk language.

“Hoocąk Hit’et’era Nąąwą: Ho-Chunk Language in Song” is scheduled for March 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the SPASH auditorium, 1201 North Point Dr.

The performance marks a “pivotal moment” in the recognition and preservation of the Ho-Chunk language, which is an asset of Wisconsin’s ancestral legacy, according to a news release from the school district.

Stevens Point and its surrounding areas are deeply rooted in the history of the Ho-Chunk Nation. To pay homage to that heritage, the SPASH Concert Choir — under the direction of Luke Adsit, composer and choir director — embraced the challenge of learning and performing a song cycle in the Ho-Chunk language.

The initiative not only celebrates the cultural significance of the region but also highlights the importance of preserving endangered languages, the district said.

“The Earth Still Speaks,” a cross-cultural musical composition, has been created through a collaborative journey between Adsit and Ho-Chunk elder Allen Cloud. Their partnership has allowed for an authentic incorporation of the Ho-Chunk language into the music, bridging the gap between the two cultures through the universal language of song.

The collaboration has been an enlightening process, exploring the nuances and complexities of translating concepts and emotions across languages, the district said.

Originally conceptualized in the fall of 2019, the song cycle’s debut performance by the SPASH Concert Choir signifies a historic moment for both the school and the community.

Inspired by Adsit’s master’s thesis “The Pedagogical Value of Learning a Musical Work in an Endangered Language: Ho-Chunk,” the performance promises to be an enlightening experience, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Ho-Chunk language and culture.