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Ho-Chunk elder Elliot Garvin, known as Ahusak, walked on from this world on March 9, 2024, surrounded by his loved ones. 

Aged 75, Elliot dedicated much of his professional life to the preservation and promotion of the Ho-Chunk language and culture, leaving behind a profound legacy cherished by many.

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Born on March 10th, 1948, to Ruby and Francis Garvin, he spent his formative years in Black River Falls, where his passion for his heritage began to flourish. Described as a good soul, Garvin was known for his generosity, dedicating his time and energy to anyone who crossed his path. His sense of humor, coupled with his warmth, left an indelible impression on those fortunate enough to know him.

Lucas Stacy, reflecting on his memories of Garvin, shared, "I really felt that he cared about us, and he had great patience with us. I think we all really looked up to him, I know I always did. I will never forget the smile he had some mornings for Ho-Chunk class, ‘Mr. McStacy’, he'd say to me, smiling, and I would just crack up laughing right away."

A dedicated leader of the Ho-Chunk Medicine Lodge, Garvin upheld traditional ways and served as one of its five leaders. Rock Greendeer fondly recalled Garvin’s eloquence, stating, "He really was one of the best Ho-Chunk Speakers. He spoke so well, it was like music to your ears."

Garvin’s list of accomplishments is extensive, ranging from his role as a Ho-Chunk District 1 Legislator to his most fulfilling endeavor as an eminent speaker and language instructor of the Ho-Chunk Nation. 

As an Eminent Speaker, Garvin played a pivotal role in the Language Division, offering valuable support and guidance to the Language Apprentice Program and Hoocak Academy. His dedication to teaching the language, assisting with curriculum development, and preserving the Ho-Chunk language was unparalleled. In 2023, Garvin recorded the Ho-Chunk language with The Language Conservancy, a nonprofit working to preserve Indigenous languages in North America. His recordings were uploaded to an online Ho-Chunk dictionary

In a time when first-language speakers are becoming increasingly rare, Garvin was a beacon of hope, counted among the fewer than 40 remaining Ho-Chunk speakers left.


Elliot Garvin's contributions to the preservation of the Ho-Chunk language and culture will continue to resonate for generations to come. His legacy as a teacher, leader, and advocate for his people will be forever cherished by the Ho-Chunk Nation and beyond. As Garvin embarks on his journey to the spirit world, his spirit will live on through the countless lives he touched and the language and culture he worked tirelessly to preserve.

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About The Author
Kaili Berg
Author: Kaili BergEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Reporter
Kaili Berg (Aleut) is a member of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq Nation, and a shareholder of Koniag, Inc. She is a staff reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Berg, who is based in Wisconsin, previously reported for the Ho-Chunk Nation newspaper, Hocak Worak. She went to school originally for nursing, but changed her major after finding her passion in communications at Western Technical College in Lacrosse, Wisconsin.