Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Mikwendaagoziwag – They Are Remembered

The annual Sandy Lake Memorial Ceremony will be held this year virtually on Wednesday, July 28th from 9:00 to 11:00 am.

The Sandy Lake Memorial Ceremony allows us to remember the tragedy that took place in 1850, when 12 Ojibwe Tribes from Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin were falsely lured to Sandy Lake in Minnesota with promises of receiving their annual annuity distribution. The taxing journey, harsh winter conditions, and lack of adequate food and shelter ravaged Ojibwe families.

More than 150 people died waiting. Following a partial payment, many left to return home, and 250 people died on the trip. “The Ojibwe vowed never to abandon their villages in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan for Sandy Lake. Driven by the events at Sandy Lake and a love for the homeland and the graves of their forefathers, these Ojibwe were resolved to stay in their traditional villages,” reads the Great Lakes Indian Fish Wildlife Commission’s Sandy Lake Tragedy Memorial brochure.

Their resolve led to the creation of reservations in Upper Michigan and Wisconsin, and the Ojibwe were one of the few American Indian Tribes to successfully reserve hunting, fishing and gathering rights on ceded land.

View Elder and Hereditary Chief Robert Buffalo of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians as he shares some history of the Sandy Lake Tragedy, including how the rescission of a removal order came about, a treaty signing at Madeline Island, and more.

“By walking back, the winter was hard; Elders, youth, and a lot of the adults perished on the way back… When they got back and told the community that was waiting for them; they were quite upset. The young leaders wanted to start war with the federal government,” Buffalo said.

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