Menomonie, Wisconsin History/j marx

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This Mural depicts some of the Ojibwe people that helped build the Mable Tainter Theater in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
This Mural depicts some of the Ojibwe people that helped build the Mable Tainter Theater in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

This is a project under construction for my English 101 class.

The Ojibwe are an Algonquian-speaking nation of native people in the northern region of North America. They are the second largest group of natives in Canada, as well as the fourth largest group of people in the United States. They are known for their use of birch bark to make useful items such as canoes and scrolls, as well as their growth of wild rice and use of copper for various tools. When white traders arrived they also made use of the guns that were brought with to defeat their enemies, the Sioux. The Ojibwe are also noted for being the first nation of native people to make detailed treaties with the United States' Government before allowing settlers onto their land.[1]

The Ojibwe People[edit | edit source]

The Ojibwe nation is a large Native American people that had a dominance around the area of Menomonie. The Ojibwe were not only native in the Menomonie area, but also lived in other large areas in Wisconsin and large parts of Canada, centrally located around Lake Superior. Not only are they the fourth largest nation of native people in North America, but they are also the second largest nation of native people in Canada. Because of the many Birch trees in the areas that they lived in, the Ojibwe used the bark from these trees to make the commodities they needed, such as birch bark canoes for sailing on the many rivers and lakes, and birch bark scrolls that they used as paper to write and draw on. They also used the wood from the trees to make the bows and arrows that they used to hunt wildlife and provide food for the tribe. The Ojibwe were not only hunters, but also gathers. They harvested crops that they would grow themselves. The land around Menomonie was used by them to grow different foods, but the main one was rice. At one time, they farmed large crops of rice right here on the grounds that we now call Menomonie.[2]

Ojibwe-European interactions[edit | edit source]

The first contact that the Ojibwe had with Europeans was with the French explorers. The Ojibwe welcomed the French traders when they came because they did not come to settle the land, but brought goods in order to trade for fur pelts which the French used to make various clothing items that were very fashionable and expensive at the time.  There were two main goods the Ojibwe received from the French. The first was copper arrow heads that were substantially more effective at hunting than the flint they had been using. The other main good that they received from the French was firearms and ammunition. This changed everything for the Ojibwe. The guns made it easier for them to hunt animals and was much more effective than the traditional bow and arrow. It also gave them a big advantage when fighting their enemies, the Sioux. The British came soon after the French, also looking for trade. The British were more invasive to the Ojibwe, settling the land as they came.

European Pressure[edit | edit source]

The British were more invasive to the Ojibwe, settling the land as they came. This was very upsetting to the natives because to them, this was their land and other people, outsiders, were coming onto the land where they had lived for decades and claiming it for their own land. The British treated the Ojibwe as a lesser person, feeling like the natives were less advanced and did not deserve to be respected. This led to tension between the two groups and conflict was inevitable.[3]

Wars, Feuds, and Treaties[edit | edit source]

Chief Tecumseh, advocate for peace between the U.S. and the Ojibwe.
Chief Tecumseh, advocate for peace between the U.S. and the Ojibwe.

Because of the mistreatment of the Ojibwe by the British, some parts of the Ojibwe tribe sided with the French in the Seven Years' war against Britain to maintain some control of their homeland. The resistance against Britain was not very successful, and Britain gained control over parts of Canada and the Midwest territory. The mistreatment of the natives led some of the eastern groups to start rebelling against the invaders. Chief Pontiac was one of the leaders of the rebellion near Lake Michigan. The rebels managed to destroy a garrison in the area; however, the rebellion was quit ineffective since the British were able to put an end to it in only two short years later. The Ojibwe in our local area did not actually participate in the revolt and took a more passive approach when dealing with the newcomers. Rather than make the situation worse by fighting against them, the Ojibwe in northern Wisconsin managed to create and maintain a better relationship with Britain and would later become allies with them.

The Ojibwe were forerunners of trying to obtain peace with Britain. They would make very detailed treaties that the settlers would have to sign before the Ojibwe would allow them to settle and live on their land. At this point, the American Revolution had ended and America was now a free country. The Americans were progressively trying to expand their control and move westward. Tecumseh was one of the leaders that stressed how important it was to try and prevent the Americans from taking over, as it would most likely result in them losing their homeland and way of life. Tecumseh led the eastern groups of Ojibwe alongside the British in the War of 1812 against the Americans. Contrary to their eastern tribes, the western and northern groups of Ojibwe in Wisconsin still believed that maintaining peace with America was still the best thing to do, even though they were on Britain’s side. After the war with America ended, the Ojibwe still distrusted the Americans and still traded with the British in Canada. During the time that Britain and America were at war with the American Revolution, the Ojibwe were at constant war with the Sioux who were also trying to gain control over northern Wisconsin for the land and animal resources. The Historical Society documented a little of the feuds between the two tribes. In his article about the fighting, William Bartlett tells us that the warfare between the Ojibwe and Sioux was especially gruesome in the Chippewa basin. Bartlett also tells us that “There was scarcely a bend or place of ambush along the Chippewa or its tributary, the Red Cedar, which had not been the scene of bloody encounters.” The place was quite aptly named the “Road of War.”[4]

Since the Ojibwe were one of the more peaceful tribes at the time, they signed many treaties over the years. The first two major treaties were peace treaties signed between them and the rival Sioux tribe in Prairie Du Chien and Fond du Lac. After they became more peaceful with the Sioux, the Americans started to settle more of their land. In order to keep their land, the Ojibwe leaders made treaties with the American government to sell some of their land to loggers in the area.[5] Even after these treaties were signed, the American government still wanted to move the remaining Ojibwe out of Wisconsin. The Ojibwe leaders went and talked with President Taylor to discuss the situation. Taylor did not want to listen to them and sent them away. A couple years after Taylor’s death, the Ojibwe leaders went to Washington to discuss the matter again with President Fillmore. Fillmore was much more eager to comply with the Chiefs and agreed to have another treaty with them. The treaty signed in 1854 ceded the rest of the Ojibwe lands in Minnesota to the United States and in return the Ojibwe obtained reservations of land in northern Wisconsin. The lands they received were as follows: Bad River, Red Cliff, Lac du Flambeau, and Lac Courte Oreilles.

Ojibwe Today[edit | edit source]

The Ojibwe could not support themselves on the land they had received form the treaty and some of the men had begun working for the lumber companies in the area. This lead to even more land loss to the natives because they would sell their land for money because they could not farm it. Things became a lot better once President Theodore Roosevelt took office. He gave both the Ojibwe and other tribes which didn’t get reservations in the treaty of 1854 more land for their reservations.[5] To this day, the Ojibwe still live and thrive on these same lands

[1] To main site

[2] Ojibwe History

[3] Dunn Counties first people

[4] HIstory of the Ojibwe

[5] Ojibwe Indians

[6] Brief history and language description

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Lynch, Larry, and John M. Russell. Where the Wild Rice Grows: A Sesquicentennial Portrait of Menomonie, 1846-1996. Menomonie, WI: Menomonie Sesquicentennial Commission, 1996. Print
  2. (Lynch, Larry, and John M. Russell. Where the Wild Rice Grows: A Sesquicentennial Portrait of Menomonie, 1996)
  3. (William Bartlett, President of the Chippewa Valley Historical Society).
  4. (William Bartlett, President of the Chippewa Valley Historical Society)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Indian Country Wisconsin. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2015