DVIDS – Information – Fort McCoy’s Suukjak Sep Lake continues to be an simply accessible place of magnificence at put up’s Pine View Recreation Space


Whether in the heart of summer or the height of winter, Fort McCoy’s Suukjak Sep Lake in the installation’s Pine View Recreation Area is a place of beauty and a source of outdoor recreation for visitors to the recreation area.

The lake is surrounded by the Pine View Campground managed by Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Family and Morals, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR). There are 16 cabins right next to the lake that are available for rent year-round, and there is also camping at the Pine View Campground near the lake from May 1st to November 30th annually.

The lake was formerly known as Squaw Lake but was renamed in 2016 through a collaboration between Fort McCoy, the Ho-Chunk Nation and the state of Wisconsin.

An article announcing the change in The Real McCoy newspaper in July 2016 stated: “Water bodies adjacent to Pine View Campground at Fort McCoy’s North Post were relocated to Suukjak Sep (pronounced sook-junk-sep) Lake and Suukjak Sep renamed Creek to honor the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin – a federally recognized tribe native to the Wisconsin installation area. The bodies of water were formerly known as Squaw Lake and Squaw Creek.”

The new name, Suukjak Sep, means “black wolf” in the Ho Chunk language. The lake is an artificial dam on the stream. The creek itself was named Squaw Creek sometime in the mid-1800s.

In the article, Mark McCarty, former chief of the Natural Resources Branch (NRB) of the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works of the Environment Department, said: “The ancient name of the creek and lake dates from a very different time in American history and is believed to be from when considered offensive the ho-chunk people. Fort McCoy has been asked for assistance by the Ho-Chunk Nation to see what steps are needed to change the name.”

Alexander Woods, Ph.D., an archaeologist at Colorado State University’s Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands who was working with cultural resources in partnership with NRB at the time, added in the story, “On an 1858 map, it became referred to as Squaw Creek Monroe County. The name is supposedly due to the presence of a large Ho Chunk camp nearby. The Ho-Chunk actually had a large village in the area and is known as Suukjak Sep. Since the name Squaw Creek originally referred to the presence of this ho-chunk community, it is fitting that the new name reflects that.”

Fort McCoy didn’t have the authority to rename the creek and lake, McCarty said.

“The Ho-Chunk Nation was the applicant in the renaming process, and Fort McCoy assisted in completing the paperwork and submitting it to the state and federal levels,” McCarty said in the article. Official notification that the renaming of the 7.5-mile creek and 14-acre lake had been approved came in a letter from Executive Secretary Lou Yost of the US Geological Survey’s Committee on Geographic Names to Cathy Schmit, Administrator of Monroe County in Sparta, Wisconsin in mid-May 2016.

“The changes were made in the Geographic Names Information System, the nation’s official repository of geographic names,” Yost wrote.

“The use of the name Ho-Chunk is particularly appropriate given current efforts to revitalize the Ho-Chunk language,” McCarty said.

Ho-Chunk Nation President Wilfrid Cleveland said in 2016 that efforts to rename lakes and streams were appreciated. “It is a great honor that Fort McCoy leadership recognizes the rich history and culture of the Ho-Chunk Nation,” said Cleveland. “The renaming of the lake (and creek) as our sacred language is a mark of great respect and also shows the strong relationship we have had over the years.”

In May 2022, Fort McCoy renewed a memorandum of understanding with the Ho-Chunk Nation to maintain respect between the facility and the Hop-Chunk people, including the maintenance of Suukjak Sep Lake and Suukjak Sep Creek.

“Thank you for your kind presence here today as we reaffirmed this Memorandum of Understanding with Fort McCoy, the U.S. Army, the federal government and the Ho-Chunk Nation,” said current Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon WhiteEagle at the MOU signing ceremony May 10 in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. “I have held this role here as President of the Ho-Chunk Nation since 2019, and I am humbled to participate today in recognizing the respectful relationship we have with the federal government and especially here today with the Colonel who is the Relationship affirmed… and this respectful collaboration with the nation to preserve the… ancestral land.”

The lake itself, at 14 hectares, is large enough to provide good year-round fishing, said DFMWR Recreational Specialist Alex Karis. Annually, each spring, the lake is stocked with thousands of rainbow trout, and the creek and lake also provide a natural habitat for numerous species of freshwater fish.

One winter activity to try at Suukjak Sep Creek is taking part in Wisconsin’s early trout catch and release season, which novice anglers can participate in below the dam on the lake that leads to the La Crosse River. Anglers must have the required Fort McCoy fishing license and Wisconsin fishing license and trout stamp to fish on the property.

The trout catch and release season in the early inland waters runs from 5am on the first Saturday in January to midnight on the Friday before the first Saturday in May. In 2023, this would mean the season starts on January 6, 2023. Learn more about Fort McCoy fishing rules and requirements by visiting Fort McCoy’s iSportsman page at https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net.

“Suukjak Sep Lake also offers anglers a place to try their hand at ice fishing,” said Karis. “As long as there is enough ice, the lake is easily accessible from our cabins at the campsite, which are available for rent throughout the winter.”

And in warmer weather, when the campground is open, there’s a swimming beach on the lake, and people can also rent canoes and kayaks and more, Karis said.

The lake really adds to the reasons why the recreation area and campground are special,” said Karis.

Find out more about activities in the Pine View Recreation Area by going online at https://mccoy.armymwr.com/categories/outdoor-recreation or Fort McCoy DFMWR on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mccoymwr visit.

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/fmpao, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy” and on Twitter by searching usagmccoy. Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app on your smartphone and setting “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.

Date of recording: 12/22/2022
Release Date: 23.12.2022 00:36
Story ID: 435826
Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US
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