Sauk Prairie students get hands-on lesson Ho-Chunk culture

PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. –  As students at Tower Rock Elementary put together the final pieces to their very own Ciporoke Friday afternoon, teachers hoped it would be a lesson on Native American culture the kids wouldn’t soon forget.

Ciporke is the Ho-Chunk word for house and Lightning Newride has been building them since he was a teenager–in that time he’s gotten pretty good at.

On Friday he used those skills to help fourth graders a take a hands-on approach to their section on Native American studies.

Lightning partnered with school teacher Angus Mossman and his students, to build a Ho-Chunk style lodge on school grounds. Land that was historically occupied by his people.

“My goal is to have students understand there is a whole diversity of cultures and of ways of life and people who live around us and they all bring those traditions here,” Mossman said. “We can appreciate and understand and learn things from their traditions that help us understand and appreciate each other.”

Students were involved in every aspect of the project, from collecting tree samplings, to digging holes which support the tree beams, and tying the pieces together to build the lodge.

10-year-old Jaelyn Sorg was one of the kids helping build the Cirporoke and she said the experience is something she’s sure to remember.

“It’s really fun,” Sorg. “You actually get to experience what you’re learning about or reading about.”

Lightning’s instruction also went beyond the mechanics. With every sampling used to put together the Ciporoke came a lesson on nature.

“I tell them, everything, our shoes, our clothes, the houses we live in the cars we drive, the fuel that goes into the vehicle, everything comes from mother earth,” Lightning said. “We need to learn to give back and say thank you for that.”

Mossman said the Ciporoke will remain on school grounds for as long as Mother Nature allows.