The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska historically struggled with poverty and all the problems poverty brings. Throughout the 20th century, times were hard on the Winnebago Reservation in northeast Nebraska. There were no economic opportunities on a rural reservation.
In 1992, after changes to federal gambling laws, the Winnebago Tribe opened a casino on tribal land near the town of Sloan, Iowa. The casino was an immediate success. But in 1994 Iowa expanded gaming in the Tribe’s primary markets. The Tribe realized that gaming revenues would not be a long-term solution to the Tribe’s overall goal of prosperity.
Ho-Chunk, Inc. was formed in 1994 with one employee to diversify the Tribe’s investments away from gaming. The goal was to develop an entrepreneurial company that was able to recognize and develop various economic opportunities.