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“We’re here and we have a rich culture and heritage.” Indigenous Storyteller-in-Residence Andi Cloud shares shares the legacy of Indigenous people in Wisconsin

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“The Ho-Chunk people have a rich tradition oratory,” said Andi Cloud, Madison Public Library’s first Indigenous Storyteller-in-Residence. “So that’s how our stories have passed on. It’s through word of mouth. And that’s how I think most, if not all, Indigenous tribes have that oral tradition and it really stuck with me.”

The Indigenous Storyteller-in-Residence is in collaboration with Ho-Chunk Gaming. Cloud started her position on Oct. 11, Indigenous People’s Day, and it will run until Dec. 18. Cloud is an enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and was raised in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Storytelling has been a huge part of her life. She recalled as a child growing up and her grandmother sharing stories. These experiences taught her the value of shared experience and community stories. 

“When I was five or six, and I’d spend the night at my grandma’s house and she would recite stories to me and my brother. That’s how she put us to sleep,” she remembered. “And from there, I became interested and now I love hearing people’s stories. I love talking to people, especially veterans. I love talking to veterans. I love hearing about their time in boot camp and how they got started in the armed forces. And I think this is really vital to anyone’s story. When you sit down with them and talk to them, there’s a part of themselves, they really see you. And I think it’s a trust and an honor thing, altogether.”

Cloud attended the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse (UW-L) and earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and political science. She returned to the UW-L and obtained a master of education-professional development degree in 2012. She worked in different positions and fields throughout Wisconsin. She saw the ad for the opportunity to work with the Madison Public Library and Ho-Chunk Nation in a newspaper, applied and was selected. She is now looking forward to this chance to share the legacy of Indigenous people with Madison and Wisconsin residents. 

“I’m most looking forward to people understanding that they’re on ancestral lands,” said Cloud. “Right now, I’m doing a mound map of the Ho-Chunk burial mounds and I cannot tell you how many mounds there are around the city and in the city. And I think that’s wonderful. So that’s one thing.

“Another thing is that they take away something from it and they kind of have an understanding, like a sense of what Ho-Chunks are because I think a lot of times when we think about Indigenous people, or Native American people, they go back to those old stereotypical pictures,” she adds. “And then you go back to the idea that they’re historic or that they’re in history. And that’s just not the case. We’re here. We’re here like everyone else. We have a rich culture and heritage. I’m just so happy that there’s a spotlight that shining on us in this moment. That’s the start of many other spotlights throughout the state that will embrace their Indigenous neighbors.”

This three-month program will have both in-persona and virtual events. Programming will feature art workshops, activity kits, outdoor story walks, digital stories, and exhibits. Throughout these sessions, Cloud will share stories of Ho-Chunk history and life. She will share content explaining the origins of the Ho-Chunk Nation, including facts like how the Nation originated outside of Green Bay in Red Banks (Mogasuc). This information is important when thinking about the experiences and rich, cultural history of the Ho-Chunk Nation.  

“I’m happy that I can share my people’s stories and my story,” said Cloud. “So far, Madison’s been really embracing this program and it’s just it’s so surreal to me. I cannot believe that I’m a part of this. I am so grateful to the powers that be that I can do this. and I just hope for a wonderful program and that people really come to appreciate and acknowledge that we’re here and we have stories, and this is our language, and this is our life, this is how we live. And all of our good things.”  

 

To learn more information about programming and events, visit: https://www.madisonpubliclibrary.org/events/special-series/storyteller. For more information, contact Andi Cloud, at cloud.andi@gmail.com