The Format

To call this work an "encyclopedia" is actually a misnomer. It would perhaps better be described as a "compendium." Just the same, it does contain a conventional encyclopedia organized under "Subject Entries." As its title suggests, the principal focus is on mythology very broadly construed. However, its actual scope extends far wider, basically into just about any story either belonging to the Hocąk nation, or about them.

The starting point is the Table of Contents (Index page). From here every page of the Encyclopedia can be accessed through links. It is formatted as follows.

Head Material

© – Copyright — for many years the work was not copyrighted, but in 2005 I decided to protect its contents, since original material by the author was being used without any acknowledgement. This copyright is not too serious: for original material such as commentaries or essays, all I require is a footnote or similar acknowledgement. Stories can be taken without any such acknowledgement. Complete and free access is granted to any member of the Hocąk Nation.

E-mail — my e-mail address is given below my name. Any inquiry is welcome.

Archives — this site has been archived by Internet Archive. In citing the Encyclopedia in academic articles, it is recommended that the archive be used, and the date of the archived version be entered in the standard way for the date of publication. This eliminates the need to state when the site was viewed.

Searchable Archives — the site is a member of the "Collections from Friends of the Archive." The link takes the reader to a page where a search of these archives can be conducted. This is particularly useful for looking up where a particular Hocąk word has been used. After the page opens to the initial search results, click on "More Results from" In searching for the occurrences of the word mąra, for instance, it will yield ten pages of entries. From there one can go to the specific archived page indicated.

Archive-It Location — this link leads to "Encyclopedia of Hocąk (Winnebago) Mythology Web Archive (Collections from Friends of the Archive)." Here a thorough archive of every page of the site may be accessed for the dates given. The Encyclopedia is archived twice a year.

Wayback Machine Archive Location — these are archived versions of the site that are collected at random intervals and sometimes miss pages.

Stats — the Feedjit link shows the origin of recent visits to the site. The counter measures how many visits have been logged since 1999.

— these buttons indicate when a new page has been introduced, or when a page has been substantially revised. The dates are revised at irregular intervals.


Guides — designed to facilitate research. These include lists of contributors, core myths, catalogues of story types and themes, songs, glossaries, bibliographies, analytic guides to major collections of materials used as sources (Radin, McKern, Susman); Hocąk Syllabary, Transliteration, and Pronunciation; and Myths Analyzed in Lévi-Strauss, "Four Winnebago Myths" (since the titles have changed to the myths that he has sited).

Maps — a set of links to the maps that occur in the site.

Essays — original works by the author of the site, Richard Lewis Dieterle (b. 1945). These concern themselves with expanded analyses of myths, and archeological discoveries that have some connection to the Hocąk Nation.

Language Studies — the primary lexicon, other lexicons, Comparative Frequency of Select Words in Certain Stories, Letter Frequency Inventory, and The Lord's Prayer in Hocąk. There follows a complete set of links, listed in alphabetical order by title, of the Hocąk texts contained in the site.

Narrative Structure — an examination of text that are highly structured in a way reminiscent of the Iliad or the Bible.

Ethnography — the complete ethnographic notes on the Hocąk tribe collected by W. C. McKern, and recently found at the Milwaukee Public Museum. All original manuscripts are contained in the collection with printed versions set out on a single page so that they may be searched.

Archaeology — essays on the archaeology that pertains to the Hocąk Nation.

Subject Entries — accounts of spirits, people, animals, and sacred objects that appear (with few exceptions) in two or more stories. This part of the work is a conventional encyclopedia.

Stories — primarily stories of the spirits set in primordial times.

Place Name Stories — stories about places or how cities or topographic objects got their names.

Personal Histories and Anecdotes — stories (that purport to be) about actual people.

Foreign Stories Told by the Hocągara — these are stories told in Hocąk, or by the Hocągara, that are foreign in origin.

Mention of the Hocągara in the Mythology of Other Nations — stories told by other nations about the Hocągara.

Big Knife Fiction of Hocąk Inspiration — versions of Hocąk stories told as fiction by white people ("Big Knives").

Miscellaneous Material — items that are not Hocąk in origin, but which were of great importance to the nation.

Genealogies — diagrams of the kinship among groups of spirits or heroic personages.

Spuria — stories that purport to be Hocąk but which are not.

Pictures — photographs, paintings, drawings, and computer graphics arranged according to the following categories: Spirits & Gods; People; History; Pictographs, Pictograms, & Engravings; Artifacts, Insignias, Emblems, Signs, and Symbols; Animals of the Air; Animals of the Earth; Animals of the Waters or Underworld; Insects; Plants; Celestial Objects; Calendrics; Places.

Resources and External Links — Links outside the Encyclopedia.

The Format of Stories and Articles. The stories (woraks and waikąs) are rewritten by me (Richard L. Dieterle). This is not an acceptable scholarly practice, but regrettably, it is compelled by necessity. The first consideration is that of copyright: the right to a given translation is held by its publisher, and there are a myriad of sources drawn upon in this encyclopedic account. As a legal safeguard, it has therefore been necessary to rewrite stories. A second consideration, is that many of the manuscripts are almost illegible in places, with some words rendered uninterpretable. There are lists of animals in one manuscript, for instance, many of whose Hocąk names are not now known. Where the manuscript says, "He shot animals a, b, c, . . . z," my versions simply says, "He shot numerous animals." The list of animals and other omitted items may be of help in interpreting the meaning of the myth, so the resultant degradation of data is unfortunate, however unavoidable it may be. Nevertheless, my versions are very close to the originals and may be considered mere paraphrases. This has, in some cases, a stylistic advantage, as many stories told from memory have sentences out of logical or chronological order due to the raconteur remembering something that he meant to (or should) have said earlier in his narrative.

The body of the story sometimes contains links, either to the precise relevant place in the Commentary section below, or to some other article or story of relevance to the linked material.

At the end of the story are found the following categories of addenda:

Commentary — explanations of the content and meaning of the story given by the editor (Richard Lewis Dieterle). The explication of the meaning of a myth is often highly speculative, but is presented in the hope that it will stimulate thought and insight. The links in the body of the Commentary are to places elsewhere in the encyclopedia that are evidence for statements made there.

Commentaries follow stories but never subject entries.

Comparative Material — stories from anywhere in the world that are significantly similar to the Hocąk story. Most parallel stories are North American. These have links to the "Glossary of Indian Nations" where links to further stories from a given tribe can be found.

Links — a set of links to subject entries pertaining to things mentioned in the body of the story.

Stories — a set of links to stories connected to types of things mentioned in the article or story. In a story about the war between Thunderbirds and Waterspirits, for instance, a set of links to stories about Thunderbirds and to stories about Waterspirits are listed. In an article about Bird Spirits, a list of links to stories mentioning Bird Spirits will be presented. This allows anyone studying a given subject to find the material on it at hand.

Themes — a set of links to stories and articles exemplifying in whole or part a certain theme. "Theme" is very difficult to define and no very precise idea of it is here employed, but the following examples can give some idea of the material found under this rubric:

the Giants massacre an entire village, but spare at least one child to eat later in life; the youngest animal (or person) is superior; coming across a warparty traveling in column and falling in at the rear; Thunderbirds are reduced to using grass or weeds when they smoke their pipes; dragging a bear to the kill by his hair; powerful spirits eat snakes (even though they are sacred); a young man possesses a magical, round, black stone; internal stones; crossing a body of water by using a plant or animal as a ship and commanding the wind; otherworld journeys inside an animal skin sack; a spirit transforms himself into another man's doppelgänger.

To be entered in the list of links, a theme must have two or more exemplars.

Archaeology — finds that seem to have a connection to the story or subject.

Genealogy — a set of links to genealogical tables setting out kinship relations of some of the characters mentioned in the article or story.

Maps — a set of links to maps that may be helpful in exploring the geography of places mentioned in articles or stories.