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Walter Willard Funmaker (1935 - 2004)

Dr. Walter Willard "Wally Ąnącųxétega" Funmaker
Born in Tomah, Monroe, Wisconsin, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
[sibling(s) unknown]
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died at age 69 in Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center, La Crosse, Wisconsin, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 23 Dec 2019
This page has been accessed 182 times.
Walter was Ho-Chunk.




Walter was born in 1935. He passed away in 2004.

In his own words: "I was born in an Indian Hospital in 1935 in Tomah, Wisconsin. Later the hospital became the Veterans Hospital ..." (Funmaker, vi)


Walter was the first born of his family and therefore had the birth order named Kųnųgá. His Hocąk name was Ąnącųxétega, "Big Armfulls," from ą, "arm" (ąną, plural); , "to have many, to have plenty, to be provided with, etc.", xete, "big, large", and -ga, a definite article suffix used in personal names. This is a Bear Clan name, and refers to the fact that bears take up things in their arms.


"Family members include his wife, Gail Rave; his children from former marriages, Forrest Funmaker of Merrit, British Columbia, Pine J. Giroux of Savage, Minn., Leaf O. Funmaker of Richfield, Minn., and Sage D. Funmaker, Brook A. Funmaker, Linden S. Funmaker, and Samuel LePont, all of Minneapolis; five grandchildren, Madeline Funmaker, Sophia Funmaker, Cassandra Rain Funmaker, Jalen Wopha Funmaker, and Allison Sage Giroux; his sisters, Annarae Funmaker of Black River Falls, Prudence Funmaker (deceased), JoAnn (Thomas) Jones of Baraboo, Bonnie (Sheldon) Hanson of Augusta, Wis., Joyce (John) Warner of Madison, and Prudence Funmaker (deceased); a half-brother, Algie Wolters of Trempealeau; two half-sisters, Barbara Nyhan of Black River Falls, and Serena Bertleson of Minneapolis; and 11 other half brothers and half sisters, Eliza (Cleland Goodbear) Green of Tomah, Gilbert Funmaker (deceased), James Funmaker Jr. of Black River Falls, Kyle Funmaker of La Crosse, Sybil (Allen) GreyOwl of Tomah, Ethel (Paul Koenig) Funmaker of La Crosse, Daniel Funmaker of Black River Falls, Eloise (Reynaldo Avila) Funmaker of Minneapolis, Kent Funmaker of Shakopee, Minn., Brent Funmaker of Black River Falls, and Myron Funmaker of Black River Falls." (LaCrosse Tribune)


"Along with my traditional upbringing, I respected the more formal education system of the non-Indian society. I was a serious student throughout my elementary and secondary school years." (Funmaker, vi) "Nineteen sixty-four marked the beginning of my college career. I attended California State University at Los Angeles and finished my undergraduate degree. ... After the usual mourning period of a year [for my mother], I returned to Graduate School at the University of Minnesota to finish my master's degree in Anthropology, which I based on the life of [my mentor] Walking Soldier." (Funmaker, vii-viii)

Military Service

"Upon completion of high school in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, I joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1953." (Funmaker, vi) "Wally enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for three years and served at the Nevada Test Site as a Marine Guard. He later remarked, 'I don't know who those people were who wanted to have a nuclear test site in the United States and I got jumpy because I didn't want to inhale radiation. You know, a guy could get cancer very easily.' Wally was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in December of 1956." (LaCrosse Tribune)


He was the Culture-Bearer for the Hocąk Nation in Wisconsin. "Although I had returned to graduate school to complete my doctoral work in ethnography, I continued to train in Winnebago culture through clan ceremonies and Great Spirit observances with One Who Wins and Night Walker. My herbal medicine plant knowledge has grown considerably thanks to the spirit of Black White Eagle that lives on within my life." (Funmaker, viii)


He died 4 June 2004, and is buried in the Decorah Cemetery, Black River Falls, Jackson County, Wisconsin, USA. "Funeral services were at 12 noon on Friday, June 4, 2004, from the Wally Funmaker residence and burial, with military honors by Andrew Blackhawk American Legion Post #200. ... Clayton Winneshiek and Kenneth Funmaker Sr. were the presiding elders. Wally's casket bearers were fellow Marines: Doug Greengrass, Roy Greengrass, Howard Swallow, Bill Goodbear, Wilferd Cleveland, and Rex Whitegull." (LaCrosse Tribune) His tombstone has the following set of inscriptions:

"Live Your Ways"

and a footprint and profile of a bear. (Find a Grave)


  • Walter W. Funmaker, The Winnebago BlackBear Subclan: A Defended Culture. A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota, in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, December 1986.
  • Find A Grave, database and images (accessed 22 December 2019), memorial page for Dr. Walter Willard Funmaker (17 Jan 1935–4 Jun 2004), Find A Grave Memorial no. 202793477, citing Decorah Cemetery, Black River Falls, Jackson County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by kmapp (contributor 46799577).
  • LaCrosse Tribune, LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Obituaries for Wednesday, June 9, 2004.

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Categories: Ho-Chunk