HoChunk Renaissance was founded in May 2001 with a mandate from the Tribal Council of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. Despite a strong desire to teach the HoChunk language and culture, the program did not meet with immediate success. Neither the director nor the research assistant spoke HoChunk, and HoChunk Renaissance had trouble retaining a fluent speaker to teach the language.

In the fall of 2001, HoChunk Renaissance conducted a survey of the Winnebago residents. They learned that, while few people knew the HoChunk traditional ways, most if not all were interested in reviving their culture.

In early 2003, the original director resigned and Janet Bird was promoted to the director position. In April of that year, the Tribal Council met with Bird, new employee Beverly Snow Peterson and several community members. The Tribal Council challenged this group to create a viable plan and budget for the future of HoChunk Renaissance.

The HoChunk Renaissance planning group envisioned several teaching teams working to revive the HoChunk ways. Each team would consist of one fluent speaker/teacher, one apprentice with marginal language skills, and one support staff member. These groups would encourage the apprentices to improve their skills while the whole team taught HoChunk in the community.

The Tribal Council approved the budget and plan, and within a week, nine new employees signed on. HoChunk Renaissance began teaching classes community-wide and planning curricula for teaching in the schools that fall.

Three AmeriCorps VISTA workers also joined HoChunk Renaissance to work on tangential projects, such as the Cooperative HoChunk Audio Resource Project.

In the fall of 2003, the HoChunk Renaissance teaching terms completed an initial curriculum and began teaching language classes to students of all ages. Teaching teams offered classes at daycare and HeadStart facilities, public and private schools, and Little Priest College.