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, Wisconsin studio photographer, Charles Van Schaick. The family relationships between those who “sat for the photographer” are clearly visible in these images—sisters, friends, families, young couples—who appear and reappear to fill in a chronicle spanning from 1879 to 1942. 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.
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.
"As a Ho-Chunk enrolled in the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and a scholar, I feel very happy that our ancestors are honored and remembered in such beautiful photographs. A deeply touching and academically significant book, People of the Big Voice is a must-read for all!" (Renya Ramirez (Ho-Chunk/Winnebago), associate professor of American studies, UC Santa Cruz)
"People of the Big Voice marks the emergence of critical scholarship on Ho-Chunk history and self-representation by Ho-Chunk scholars, with essays that combine analytical insights and personal reflections on Van Shaick’s photographs. A vital contribution to the understanding of Ho-Chunk history, People of the Big Voice is a moving tribute to the individuals depicted in Van Schaick’s photographs, and a testament to the strength and survival of the Ho-Chunk Nation." (Grant Arndt, assistant professor of anthropology and American Indian studies, Iowa State University)
"This well designed and well written book opens a doorway into another time, place and culture, but it's the hundreds of faces that look out at us from its pages that speak to us with a big voice." (Reggie McLeod, Big River Magazine)
"This volume presents 330 duotone photographs taken over six decades. . . . Although taken in a studio with backdrops and props, the photographs are rich with cultural information, particularly as they depict clothing and material culture of the period. While Van Schaick was a commercial photographer, and the Ho-Chunk paying customers, the images are captivating, respectful, and dignified. (Library Journal)
2012 Winner of the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History
2012 Bronze in the Multicultural Non-Fiction Category from Independent Publisher Book Awards
2012 Winner in the Best Overall Design Category from Next Generation Indie Book Awards
2012 Winner in the Multicultural Non-Fiction Category from Next Generation Indie Book Awards
2011 Winner in the Midwest Regional Interest-Illustration Category from Midwest Independent Publishers Association
2011 Winner in the Total Book Design Category from Midwest Independent Publishers Association
2011 Winner in the Photography: People Category from USA National Best Book Awards