Black Hawk Powwow Grounds

Also known as: Andrew Blackhawk Powwow Grounds, Wau-che-raw-was-kaw Allotment
W8426 WI 54E, Komensky, Wisconsin

A Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) of the Ho-Chunk Nation



Being a circular structure, it doesn't really matter which direction you approach from, it looks pretty much the same. Note the flagpoles that surround the stadium.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning September 2017




The Ho-Chunk Powwow Grounds is cultural and social center built around a dance ring, or powwow, that has been in use for at least 125 years and probably even more. The dance ring is a circular stadium structure, surrounded by poured concrete seating, covered with frame structures. In the center of the ring is a covered, octagonal drum arbor with a poured concrete floor.

Surrounding the stadium is a ring of flagpoles that are used during the powwow in memory of veterans. The permanent structure of the dance ring is also surrounded by several semi-permanent structures that serve food vendors during the powwow.

West of the stadium is an area of sacred grounds that cannot be developed in any way. There are also sacred burial areas on the grounds. They are not marked but are roped off, and treated with utmost reverence and respect. Ground penetrating radar has been used to verify that the earth has been disturbed and remains are, in fact, buried there.

A state historical marker at the entrance of the grounds commemorates Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr., grandson of Chief Winneshiek. (Winneshiek refused to be relocated to Nebraska and returned here.) Red Cloud was born near this spot and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Korean War.

The powwow is held each Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, and a special powwow is held on Independence day. For more about the powwow, see the National Park Service article about the grounds.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 28, 2007
Reference number
Areas of significance
Ethnic Heritage - Native American; Religion
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Historic functions
Religious structure; Auditorium; Meeting hall; Cemetery
Current functions
Religious structure; Auditorium; Meeting hall
Periods of significance
1875-1899; 1900-1924; 1925-1949; 1950-1974
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 4
Contributing structures: 1
Contributing sites: 1
Contributing objects: 2
Non-contributing buildings: 1

Update Log 

  • September 17, 2017: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status, added description and uploaded photos
  • September 4, 2010: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added GPS Coordinates