Menomonie, Wisconsin History/Laltoy

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Dunn county's history begins with the Dakota (Sioux) and Ojibwe (Chippewa) tribes, along with their conflict and interactions with Europeans. Originally Dunn County was inhabited by the Sioux; however, when the Europeans began to push west they pushed the Chippewa towards the Sioux and created a war between tribes. There were many battles such as the battle of Mole Lake, Rice Lake, battle of the Brule, and the battle in between the red and Chippewa rivers. There were many treaties between tribes, in attempt to end their feud.These tribes also aided the flourishing lumber industry and brought wealth through the fur trade.

Important Battles[edit | edit source]

Battle of Rice Lake[edit | edit source]

The Battle of Rice Lake[1] was fought between the Chippewa and Sioux, just south of the village of Prairie Farm in the early fall of 1855. The Chippewa were traveling south when they came upon a camp of Sioux, who were large enemies at the time. There were many more Sioux than Chippewa and so Na-Non-Gabe: a chief of the Chippewa, signaled to retreat. While retreating they got ambushed by the Sioux and who killed and scalped Na-Non-Gabe, dealing a large blow to the Chippewa tribe. Na-Non-Gabe was also a large influence in the signing of many treaties with the white settlers that gave them land “which were later logged by Knapp, Stout & Co. and other big lumber companies”.[1] Losing him was not only a big blow to the Chippewa but also to the lumber barons within Menomonie.

Battle of the Brule[edit | edit source]

The Battle of the Brule[2] was fought between the Chippewa and Sioux in 1842. Old Crow (Sioux chief) lead his men to take advantage of the scattered Chippewa along the river; however, the Chippewa had gotten notice of the attack beforehand. Chief Buffalo (Chippewa chief) positioned his troops behind a river bank, and had a few of them fake a retreat to get the Sioux to chase after them, which they did. The Sioux fell right into the trap and got mauled down, losing 101 men compared to the 13 that the Chippewa lost. This was a huge win for the Chippewa and raised his status within the tribe. Chief Buffalo had a large part in the treaty between the Chippewa and the United States.

Treaties Between Nations[edit | edit source]

Treaty of La Pointe[edit | edit source]

The Treaty of La Pointe was a treaty between the Chippewa and the United States, it was actually two different treaties, one made in 1842 and another made in 1854. The first treaty in 1842 was to clear up a border dispute between the United States and Great Britain; the United States allowed the native Chippewa to continue to hunt, fish, and gather there. This cleared up the dispute as it was made part of the United States. The other one, made in 1852 was lead by Chief Buffalo: the Chippewa chief who resided in the Dunn County area and won the Battle of the Brule. This treaty gave all lands in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota to the United States but allowed all Chippewa to continue to hunt, fish, and gather. Many reservations were established for the bands of Chippewa that were not included within the treaty.

Treaty of Prairie Du Chien[edit | edit source]

The Prairie du Chien Line. This figure illustrates the borders between the respective tribes.
The Prairie du Chien Line. This figure illustrates the borders between the respective tribes.

Due to the Americans pushing the natives west there had been a lot of conflict between tribes. In an attempt to end this conflict the United States negotiated with the natives to work out the ownership of lands. They aimed to create formal boundaries between all of the tribes. This line was then used in treaties after this to help create reservations and clear up ownership feuds between tribal nations.

The Treaty to settle the Ojibwe-Dakota War[edit | edit source]

The Treaty to Settle the Ojibwe-Dakota War was initially spurred by the United States Government, saying that the Chippewa and Sioux need to end the feud so that white settlers would feel safe if they lived there.[3] The Chippewa and Sioux agreed to this, and many white opportunists took towards the area to try to make money off of indians. There were some that got permission from the nations to open up lumber mills in the area, including the lumber barons that founded Menomonie. Even though the Chippewa and Sioux at the time had land they could hunt, fish, and gather on; the land was not very bountiful. Many Chippewa had to join the lumber industry to survive. Although this treaty ended a majority of conflict between the Chippewa and Sioux it opened up the area to be easily taken over by white settlers and the lumber industry.

Interactions with Settlers[edit | edit source]

Early French and British Colonialism[edit | edit source]

The earliest known interaction in northwestern Wisconsin was with a fur trader Pierre La Sueur in September of 1700. He recorded that there was a “great number of buffalo, stags, bears and deer found there” and told many settlers about how bountiful the area was for fur. The expansion from settlers in the East pushed the Chippewa further north-west and they encroached on Sioux’s territory. Due to the competition within the fur trade and other resources, a conflict begun between tribes. The Chippewa signed a treaty with the French in 1736  and they were allowed to build villages in Sioux territory. While they had many conflicts with each other, the interactions with settlers was “generally cordial and often warm”[4]. The Chippewa sided with the French in the wars against the British, but the British eventually won and took over the Midwest, along with Canada. They were not liked by the Chippewa because unlike the French, they treated the Chippewa disrespectfully. There was a declaration of war against the British by the Chippewa in Michigan, however; the Chippewa in northern Wisconsin did not join in the battle. They eventually established a better relationship with the tribe and had positive interactions resulting in an alliance with the Chippewa.

Late British Colonialism and the United States[edit | edit source]

The British owned northern Wisconsin but “The United States gained all lands south of the Great Lakes after the American Revolution ended in 1783 with the Treaty of Paris. However, British fur trading companies in Canada, particularly the mighty North West Company, continued to operated trading posts in the Ojibwe lands of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota until 1815.”[5] The Chippewa backed Britain in their conflicts with the United States, but only those in Michigan actually fought against the United States,  those in northern Wisconsin did not. After the United States won and was established in northern Wisconsin they attempted to get a peace treaty signed between the Sioux and Chippewa, this was the Treaty of Prairie Du Chien. There was another treaty in 1854 that gave away the last of the Chippewa’s land to the United States and created the reservations in Wisconsin that are present today: Bad River, Red Cliff, Lac du Flambeau, and Lac Courte Oreilles. The Chippewa weren’t able to sustain in these reservations and many had to work at lumber mills owned by whites. Their land just continued to be taken and Congress passed the Dawes act in 1884, this was “designed to help Indians live more like Whites by dividing up reservation lands so they could all own individual farms.”[5] But this did basically the opposite because “The land in northern Wisconsin was not good for farming, and many Ojibwe sold their land to lumber companies to supplement their wages. On some reservations, over 90% of the land passed into White hands.”[5]

20th Century - Present Day[edit | edit source]

In 1937 and 1983 the Ojibwe of northeastern Wisconsin that did not receive reservation lands in the 1854 treaty received 3430 acres of land. One of the biggest wins for the Chippewa was in 1983 when they were granted their ability to hunt and fish on their lands as promised by the United States in the treaties of 1837 and 1842. These were previously not allowed as the United States government prohibited the fishing and hunting off of the reservation. The state of Wisconsin attempted to take the land back and prohibit the hunting and fishing of these lands but they lost and the Chippewa were officially allowed to hunt and fish on their territory. After this ordeal “things did not go smoothly when the Ojibwe tried to assert their rights. Ojibwe fishermen were harassed at boat landings throughout northern Wisconsin and often had to withstand racial slurs and physical assaults by non-Indians. The state of Wisconsin attempted unsuccessfully to fight the federal court's decision. It even offered the Wisconsin Ojibwe millions of dollars if they would relinquish their treaty rights, but they refused to enter into any such agreement.”[5] They were fought by the State of Wisconsin even they they stocked lakes and took out a very tiny amount of fish compared to the non-natives who hunt for sport.

External Links[edit | edit source]

Dunn County News

Ojibwe Culture

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Chippewa Chief Tells Story of Indian Battle Fought Near Prairie Farm, 1855. (1925, April 2). Dunn County News.
  2. Severud, T. (2003, April 3). Battle of the Brule. Canku Ota. Retrieved November 9, 2015, from
  3. Russell, J. (2013, August 26). Scenes of Yesteryear: The 1825 Treaty's Wisconsin results. The Dunn County News. Retrieved November 9, 2015, from
  4. Lynch, L., & Russell, J. (1996). Where the Wild Rice Grows. Menomonie, Wisconsin.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Ojibwe History. (n.d.). Retrieved November 9, 2015, from