Home Local News Highly respected Ho-Chunk elder Cevil Garvin to receive honorary degree from UW–Madison

Highly respected Ho-Chunk elder Cevil Garvin to receive honorary degree from UW–Madison

Cecil Garvin (Photo: Jeff Miller/UW–Madison.)

Ho-Chunk elder Cecil Garvin, who has devoted much of his professional life to the preservation and promotion of the Ho-Chunk language and culture, will receive an honorary doctorate degree this May from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Garvin, whose Ho-Chunk name is Waacanąžįga (“He Stands on the Boat”), is a primary author of many of the language materials presently used in K-12 education to teach Ho-Chunk and he co-authored a foundational Ho-Chunk language text and workbook for adults, according to a recent feature article from University Communications.

As a child, Garvin learned Hoocąk (formerly known as Winnebago), a highly endangered Siouan language that is still spoken in two states — Wisconsin and Nebraska. As elders have passed over the years, Garvin remains one of just a few speakers left who are fluent in Hoocąk.

Garvin spent many years as an associate lecturer at UW–Madison where he taught Ho-Chunk language classes to small groups on the UW campus, served as a master speaker consultant for Ho­-Chunk language classes and contributed to linguistic research, including doctoral dissertations.

“Mr. Garvin is an esteemed teacher and researcher and a vital knowledge-holder for the Ho-Chunk Nation, the state of Wisconsin, and the global Indigenous community,” UW Chancellor Jennifer Mnookin told UW News. “He richly deserves this honor, which recognizes his extraordinary career and outstanding service to society.”

Garvin will be conferred the honorary doctor of humane letters degree at the spring commencement ceremony for all doctoral, MFA and medical professional degree candidates on Friday, May 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the Kohl Center.