Oct 24, 2016

The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has inhabited Lac du Flambeau since 1745. The word Chippewa and Ojibway are one and the same. The Band was given the name “Lac du Flambeau” (Lake of the Torches) by the French traders and trappers who visited the area and saw them harvesting fish at night by torchlight. The reservation is checker-boarded with parts in three counties. On a recent trip to Wisconsin I took the self-guided “Walk in the Footsteps of the Elders” tour. They have a guided tour, too.

My first stop was at their tribal fish hatchery. Fishing is and has been an integral part of their culture. Working with the state of Wisconsin the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa study the fish population and restock reservation waters. The Lac du Flambeau Reservation has 
260 lakes, 65 miles of streams, lakes and rivers, and 24,000 acres of wetlands including a 10-lake chain. The world's largest sturgeon to be speared was hauled in on the shores of Lac du Flambeau's
Pokegama Lake. It measured a whopping 7 feet and 1 inch, weighed 195 pounds and was 40 inches around. This world record fish is located in the George W. Brown, Jr. Ojibwe Museum & Cultural Center.

My next stop was the George W. Brown, Jr. Ojibwe Museum & Cultural Center to see the giant fish and to learn more about the Ojibwe. They are Eastern Woodland Indians similar to the Iroquois of New York State. In fact many have Oneida ancestry. The museum shows how they lived during the four seasons. I like the one that showed them ice fishing. The beautiful “Jingle
Dress” was decorated with small pieces of metal.  I would love to see and hear a dance with someone wearing the dress. There are also displays of a French fur trading post, Ojibwe arts and crafts, and more.  There is a birch bark canoe and a 24-foot dugout canoe recently recovered from the waters. I think that a canoe that large would have been a war canoe. We should all live by the Ojibwe Seven Teachings - Honesty, Humility, Truth, Wisdom, Love, Respect, and Bravery. 

I have read about and seen pictures dealing with the schools the US government built to house Native American children but The Mikwendaagoziwag (“They will be remembered”) Heritage Center, once the boys’ dormitory for the BIA/Government-run boarding school, is the first one I have visited. The girls’ dormitory was located next door but has been torn down. It is where children were taken from their families
without permission and then immersed in European-American culture thus losing their culture. They were all taught English and while the boys were taught a trade the girls were taught housekeeping skills.  While I think the intentions were good the biggest problem is that after the schooling was completed the students had a foot in two worlds – the Native American and American-European world but didn’t really belong to either. 
Of course, to raise need money to provide a better life for their people they, too, have opened a casino - a great place to eat even if you don't gamble. support their people and aThe Indian Bowl is where pow wows have been held for more than 60 years; it is now undergoing an upgrade and expansion.  I would love to attend an event there. Often there are reports about violations of personal liberties and the like that are taking place in foreign countries. We often choose to ignore the awful treatment the Native Americans suffered under the hands of the European-Americas.