Sandy Lake Tragedy

The Sandy Lake Tragedy was the death of several hundred Ojibwe during the US Government's attempt at removal of the tribe in 1850.

Background

By the 17th century, the Ojibwe nation was spread across the Lake Superior region in modern day Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. With the bands in Wisconsin, Michigan, and parts of eastern Minnesota being east of the Mississippi River, they came under the effect of the Indian Removal Act. In 1830, when the act was signed by US President Andrew Jackson, the Ojibwe lands east of the Mississippi were not highly desired by white settlers. By 1850, however, pressure from whites in both Wisconsin and Minnesota led President Zachary Taylor to order the removal under corrupt circumstances, breaking multiple treaties in the process.

Tragedy

To force the Ojibwe west of the Mississippi, the BIA made a last-minute change to move the annual annuity payments from a central region around La Pointe, Wisconsin, the economic and spiritual center of the nation, to not so central but a well known trade-hub location of Sandy Lake, Minnesota. In the fall of 1850, representatives from 19 Ojibwe bands packed up and started an arduous journey to the shores of Sandy Lake, where they had been told to gather in late October for annual annuity payments and supplies. As it turned out, the annuity payments and supplies were late in coming to Sandy Lake, and the people had to wait until early December before they received the limited sums of money and available supplies. Trying to survive on spoiled and inadequate government rations while waiting for the annuities, about 150 Ojibwe people died from dysentery and measles at Sandy Lake. Another 230-250 died en route home.

Results

As a result of this tragedy, the Lake Superior Chippewa bands under the leadership of Chief Buffalo of La Pointe, pressed President Millard Fillmore to cancel the removal order. There was a loud public outcry from the whites regarding the government's inhumane treatment of the Ojibwe, supporting Chief Buffalo's request, resulting in the formal end of the Indian Removal Act. Still, not wanting to have Indians among them, the whites encouraged the establishment of Indian Reservations.

Chief Buffalo became a proponent for setting up permanent reservations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota in the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe. Many of the Chippewa Bands agreed to the establishment of Ojibwe Reservations and subsequent relocation to these Reservations. Majority of these reservations were located at already well-established Ojibwe communities, but aggregating less powerful Bands with their more powerful neighbors. Under Treaty of La Pointe, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, Red Cliff, Lac Courte Oreilles, Bad River, Lac Vieux Desert, L'Anse, Ontonagon and Lac du Flambeau Indian reservations were established.

In the following year with the Treaty of Washington (1855), additional reservations were established in Minnesota. Under this treaty, Leech Lake, Cass Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish Indian Reservations were established for the Pillager Chippewa. For the Mississippi Chippewa, Sandy Lake Indian Reservation, together with other Mississippi Chippewa Reservations of Pokegama Lake, Rabbit Lake, Gull Lake and Lake Mille Lacs, were established. The same treaty established the Rice Lake Indian Reservation, but due to the Bureau of Land Management claims of the Rice Lake Indian Reservation being within the boundaries of the Sandy Lake Reservation, the reservation was never formally platted.

Unfulfilled Hope

Despite the Sandy Lake Tragedy, the St. Croix Band and the Mole Lake Band still held hope of the fulfilment by the United States of the previously broken treaties and refused the signing of the Treaty of La Pointe. By refusing to sign the treaty and be relocated onto reservations, the two Ojibwe Bands lost their Federal Recognition, and did not regain their recognition until the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, also known as the Indian New Deal. During the non-recognition period, the Mole Lake Band became associated with the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation, while the St. Croix Band was split and assiciated with both Lac Courte Oreilles and Lake Mille Lacs Indian Reservations.

Sandy Lake Memorial

On October 12, 2000, a memorial commemorating the Sandy Lake Tragedy was established at the Army Corp of Engineers Sandy Lake Dam Campgrounds. Along Minnesota State Highway 65, a rest area with a view of Sandy Lake was established, enhanced with a Historical Marker plaque to further commemorate the Sandy Lake Tragedy.

References

  • Loew, Patty. 2001. Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal." Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press.
  • Warren, William W. History of the Ojibway People. Borealis Books (St. Paul, MN: 1984).
  • Wisconsin Historical Society.

See also

External links

Ojibwa, Anishinaabe, or Chippewa (also Ojibwe, Ojibway, Chippeway, Aanishanabe, or Anishinabek) is the largest group of Native Americans-First Nations north of Mexico, including Métis.
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The Indian Removal Act, part of a U.S. government policy known as Indian Removal, was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. It's considered by many modern observers to be a very shameful moment in American History.
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The Lake Superior Chippewa (Anishinaabe: Gichigamiwininiwag) were a historical band of Ojibwe Indians living around Lake Superior in what is now the northern parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
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Chief Buffalo (Ojibwe: Ke-che-waish-ke/Gichi-weshki – "Great-renewer" or Peezhickee/Bizhiki – "Buffalo")(1759?-September 7, 1855) was an Ojibwe leader from La Pointe, Wisconsin USA.
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Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the thirteenth President of the United States, serving from 1850 until 1853, and the last member of the Whig Party to hold that office.
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The Indian Removal Act, part of a U.S. government policy known as Indian Removal, was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830. It's considered by many modern observers to be a very shameful moment in American History.
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Indian reservation is a land managed by a Native American tribe under the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs. Reservations were established when White Americans began to forcibly take land from the American Indians, who had lived in the Americas for
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The Treaty of La Pointe may refer to either of two treaties made and signed in La Pointe, Wisconsin between the United States and the Ojibwe (Chippewa) Native American peoples.
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The Grand Portage Indian Reservation is located in Cook County near the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead Region in the extreme northeast part of the state. The community was considered part of the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa, but is not a party to the treaties that group signed.
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The Fond du Lac Indian Reservation (or Nah-Gah-Chi-Wa-Nong (Nagaajiwanaang in the Double Vowel orthography), meaning "Where the current is blocked" in the Ojibwe language) is an Indian reservation in northern Minnesota near Duluth in Carlton and St.
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The Lac Courte Oreilles are one of seven Wisconsin bands of Ojibwa. The band is centered at the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation in northwestern Wisconsin, which surrounds Lac Courte Oreilles (Odaawaa-zaaga'igan in the Ojibwe language, meaning "Ottawa Lake").
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Bad River Band of Chippewa Indians is located on a reservation on the south shore of Lake Superior. The reservation, which has a land area of 497.477 km² (192.077 sq mi), is in northern Wisconsin straddling Ashland and Iron counties.
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Lac Vieux Desert Indian Reservation is an Indian reservation located in Watersmeet Township of southeastern Gogebic County, in the western part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It is the landbase for the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
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The L'Anse Indian Reservation is the land base of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community of the Lake Superior Bands of Chippewa Indians (successor of the L’Anse and Ontonagon Bands).
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The Ontonagon Indian Reservation is the homeland of a branch of the Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe. It is located in northeastern Ontonagon Township, in northeastern Ontonagon County, on the south shore of Lake Superior, about 20 km northeast of the village of Ontonagon, Michigan,
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The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa are an Ojibwa Native American tribe, with an Indian reservation lying mostly in the Town of Lac du Flambeau in southwestern Vilas County, and in the Town of Sherman in southeastern Iron County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin.
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The Leech Lake Indian Reservation or Gaa-zagaskwaajimekaag in the Ojibwe language, is located in the north-central Minnesota counties of Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, and Itasca. It is the land-base for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
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The Leech Lake Indian Reservation or Gaa-zagaskwaajimekaag in the Ojibwe language, is located in the north-central Minnesota counties of Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, and Itasca. It is the land-base for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
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