Ken Funmaker / Hoc'ak from Friendship, Wisconsin
Ken Funmaker and his wife, Rhonda and their children live in Friendship, Wisconsin in a traditional woodlands wigwam. Ken is lean, brusque, earthy and funny all at the same time and strongly committed to the traditions of his people. He is a Hoc'ak (pronounced Hochunk) native, a tribe of people that occupied the woodlands of Wisconsin and continue to occupy that land.
Ken and Rhonda explained to us that an elder prophesied that at some age (when many things had come "of age"), the elders would no longer be the old ones but the young leaders of the people and that when this time came about, people from other places would come to them and that some would say they were Indian even thought they didn't look Indian. When this happened, they were told to feed these people and treat them well.
The Funmakers treated us as one of the "people from other places" and they fed us a feast of wild rice, squash chops and many other delightful foods. They treated us well--I could hardly walk after eating that meal. Their home is a traditional woodlands "wigwam" which is a long tunnel constructed of bent wood and covered with shingles. It has the feel of a cozy cave. The house also has two rectilinear additions, one for the kitchen and one that has a computer station; the perfect blend of old and new. The house sits on land that once was a settlement of about 3000 Hoc'ak families living in wigwams like theirs.
Both Ken and Rhonda are of the Bear Clan. The Funmakers maintain a traditional lifestyle as much as is possible in this modern world. Rhonda is a native gardener and very involved in collecting and distributing heritage seed from native plants. Down the road from the wigwam is the beginning construction of what they hope will one day be a cultural center alive with activities that preserve and retain the cultural traditions of the people. Before we left, Ken gave us some of his own tobacco to help us gain passage with the deer (our van had just had an incident with a deer a few nights before). Rhonda gave us a coffee can of her dried corn and we drove away feeling that the gifts exchanged were far greater than that which is visible.
Listen to a sample of the show here