Children enjoy games at the grand opening of the Village Market at Ho-Chunk Village on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska on August 24, 2019. Photo: Ho-Chunk Village Farmers Market

Winnebago Tribe celebrates opening of farmers market on reservation

Winnebago residents know where to find Cassie Kitcheyan’s Native arts and craft supplies shop.

Right across from the school, just off the highway.

Kitcheyan said she’s hopeful a lot more people will know where to find her shop following the Saturday opening of a new farmers’ market on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska. As one of the vendors who sold her products at the farmers’ market, she was able to inform dozens of potential customers how to find her shop.

“While we were at the market, it was a great time to tell them that we actually have a store in town,” she said. “We were able to direct them and even tell them our store hours.”

The Village Market is a 4,644-square-foot indoor farmers’ market on the north edge of Winnebago that offers space for farmers and other vendors to sell their products, including sweet corn, popcorn, arts and crafts. The Winnebago Tribe officially opened the market on Saturday.

The Hu-Jop Singers perform at the grand opening of the Village Market at Ho-Chunk Village on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska on August 24, 2019. Photo: Ho-Chunk Village Farmers Market

The market’s grand opening included free food – 200 buffalo burgers, 200 cheeseburgers and 200 hot dogs – music by Winnebago drum group Hu-Jop Singers, face-painting, a magic show and an honoring event for two key supporters of the Village Market and the tribe’s agricultural efforts.

The tribe honored Dr. Ed Spevak of the Saint Louis Zoo and his wife Mary with a star quilt.

Aaron LaPointe, business manager for Ho-Chunk Farms, said Spevak has provided seeds for raised garden beds distributed to tribal citizens and donated nearly $3,000 worth of fruit trees for a tribal garden.

“We were able to recognize him for all his efforts in helping us in our with our food sovereignty efforts here in the community,” LaPointe said.

The tribe also honored Lance Morgan – president and CEO of Ho-Chunk Inc., the tribe’s economic development corporation – for his support of the Village Market. The tribe gave Morgan a plaque with a picture of the Village Market.

“He really had a huge role in in the idea of developing a farmers’ market and understanding what the benefits of it would be,” LaPointe said.

And, of course, the grand opening event featured vendors, and Village Market organizers were even able to sign up four new vendors.

“There were tons families. We had kids’ activities going on,” LaPointe said. “It was just that real sense of community we’re trying to develop with this farmers’ market.”

Aaron LaPointe serves as business manager for Ho-Chunk Farms, the Winnebago Tribe's agricultural arm. He is seen at the grand opening of the Village Market at Ho-Chunk Village on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska on August 24, 2019. Photo: Ho-Chunk Village Farmers Market

The Village Market was paid for through a tribal community development fund, Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation, federal U.S. Department of Agriculture funds and Ho-Chunk Inc.

Vincent Bass, coordinator for the market, said it will help encourage tribal members to grow their own gardens and share their produce with others.

The tribe’s food sovereignty efforts include an initiative to establish small food-related businesses, such as farmers, value-added producers, traditional artisans, crafters and service vendors. The tribe also plans to connect those small business owners with loan capital, business planning and technical assistance.

Bass, 67, said he remembers when nearly everyone in Winnebago had a garden and children were expected to help tend those gardens. Harvest feasts were common back then, he said.

“In the last couple generations, we lost that,” he said.

Vince Bass serves as director of the Winnebago Tribe Food Sovereignty Program. He is seen at the grand opening of the Village Market at Ho-Chunk Village on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska on August 24, 2019. Photo: Ho-Chunk Village Farmers Market

He said Little Priest Tribal College in Winnebago plans to host gardening, harvesting and canning classes in the coming months. Efforts to encourage food production and processing will help reduce soaring rates of obesity and diabetes on the reservation, he said.

“As a community, we’re really trying to improve our health,” he said.

He said the tribe is planning to establish a community garden next year. In the meantime, food and other vendors will continue offering fresh produce and other products at the Village Market every Saturday from 1-6 p.m.

The Farmers Market is located at Ho-Chunk Village, just off US Highway 77 in Winnebago, Nebraska. Image: Ho-Chunk Village Farmers Market

Vendors like Cassie Kitcheyan.

She said the Village Market will reduce the tribe’s reliance on outside communities for food.

“The Village Market provides that opportunity for local people to buy from other local people instead of driving all the way to Sioux City (Iowa),” she said.

“It’s also important because it provides that opportunity for local artists and farmers to showcase what they have and help them maybe supplement some of their income.”

Ho-Chunk Inc. owns Indianz.Com but the website operates independently and is not involved in the corporation's activities.

What an event! Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate and organize this special day.

Posted by Ho-Chunk Village Farmers Market on Sunday, August 25, 2019

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Tribally-owned housing company continues to expand operations (July 23, 2019)
Winnebago Tribe among the first to enter industrial hemp industry (July 22, 2019)
Winnebago Tribe incorporates language into billboards and public signs on reservation (March 8, 2019)
Winnebago Tribe moves forward with major community expansion plans (March 1, 2019)
Winnebago Tribe explores new frontiers as opportunities grow on homelands (February 18, 2019)
Winnebago Tribe still fighting back a year after raid on reservation (February 4, 2019)
Winnebago Tribe continues to see more return to homelands (January 16, 2019)
Winnebago Tribe wins round in lawsuit to defend its sovereignty (December 19, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe defends sovereignty in dispute with state officials (December 11, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe doubles investment in solar energy on reservation (September 24, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe turns to tradition with annual corn harvest (August 29, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe moves forward with food sovereignty initiatives (August 8, 2018)
'It’s been very healing': Yoga classes come to Winnebago Reservation (July 27, 2018)
Winnebago artist Henry Payer taps into tribal history (July 5, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe set to assume control of troubled hospital on reservation (June 27, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe brings gardens to youth on the reservation (May 30, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe works to revitalize Ho-Chunk language for future generations (May 10, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe names executives for takeover of troubled Indian Health Service hospital (May 1, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe takes advantage of new 'Opportunity Zone' designation (April 27, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe fights back in court after 'attack on sovereignty' (April 24, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe promotes food sovereignty for future generations (March 30, 2018)
Trending in News
More Headlines