TOPICS – Module 4: Appropriation of Anishinaabe Agricultural Lands

The US government never claimed to hold or control Anishinaabeg land “by right of conquest”, rather, it claims to have legally acquired Anishinaabeg and other Native lands by mutual agreement. Between 1785 and 1923, the US, England, and Canada entered into more than 40 treaties with the Anishinaabeg, the basis for some of the largest land transactions in world history. Some of the first incursions onto Anishinaabeg land were to secure access to iron and copper deposits. By 1800, representatives of both the Queen of England and the emerging United States had “discovered” a 2,500 pound boulder of naturally occurring copper called the “Ontonogan Boulder” resting on the south shore of Lake Superior in Anishinaabeg territory − in what is now known as the Keewanaw Peninsula. By the 1820s, the federal government had tried to do a comprehensive study of “mineral assets” of the Lake Superior area, and a study of Indian title to the land therein. Within a very short period, four treaties were signed by the United States − each providing for mining in Anishinaabeg territory. These treaties covered both the Kewanee Penininsula and the Mesabe “Sleeping Giant” iron-ore belt in northern Minnesota. By mid-century, more than 100 copper companies had been incorporated in (M W and M) Territories. As early as 1849, copper production at Keewenaw Peninsula in Anishinaabe territory led the world. Similarly, beginning in 1890, mining at northern Minnesota’s Mesabe accounted for 75 % of all US iron ore production. Many of today's US-based transnational mining companies were founded on this era and the wealth of the Anishinaabeg. This includes, for instance, Kennecott and Anaconda Copper, and 3M. After the Miskwaabik (the copper), the iron ore emerged, and in the time of Thunderbings the wild rice was also here. Called manoomin by the Anishinaabe, or a seed of the Creator, manoomin is the only grain endemic to North America, and is one of the greatest gifts imaginable to the land and waters. Indeed, it was a part of the

Anishinaabeg migration story, and set of prophecies, in which the people were instructed to “go to the place where the food grows upon the water”. There are few other places in the world where such a bountiful gift is delivered to those who live there, whether they have wings or hands. The lakes and rivers, owing to the unique nature and adaptability of the manoomin, each year offer a wild rice crop at some place in the region. That is an amazing food security for a people, and the waterfowl who nest and eat in these same waters. To the south of the US/Canadian Border’s Anishinaabeg territory, this is what transpired: a set of treaties aimed at getting access to the mineral resources of the region, and later the trees. Great empires emerged, and they moved worldwide. For many decades, however, the Anishinaabe were central to the fur trade, and the lands were not viewed in a traditional pastoralist eye, and as such, did not become prey to larger Industrial American society. It was the water itself, however, which has become the foundation of the destruction of Anishinaabe Agricultural lands -- these lands were taken for dam projects, in most of our region. Sabaskong, Rainy River, and Ontario and Manitoba Northern Sites “The Ojibwe did not build ridged fields in Manitoba or southwestern Ontario. Yet the Ojibwe who lived at the Garden Island, Lake St. Martin, and Mossy River sites deserve special mention as sophisticated agriculturalists. Each of these sites is located at about 5l.45 N latitude. And…they remain the northernmost sites for native maize agriculture in North America” (203).1 Maize de Ocho (northern flint) was found in an archaeological dig at the Lockport Site, south of Winnipeg.. along with bison scapula hoes, and storage pits. This site was dated at l450-l500, at the onset of the Little Ice age.2 Although principally known as hunters and gatherers, they became the northernmost maize agriculturalists in North America. During the early l9th century the Ojibwe practiced agriculture at a scale that affected timber leases, as improved lands were tantamount to ownership in late l9th century Canada. Sadly the Canadian government actively discouraged Native agriculture in the decades following permanent EuroCanadian settlement there, reported Waisberg and Holzkahham (203).3 On the appropriation of the land and the Indian Agent Policies… Two major practices of colonization effected Native agriculture in the north country: the dams and the government policies, and they went hand-in-hand. The first set of policies, enacted well in Manitoba, was that of denying Native farmers markets. The Canadian government wanted European settlers to engage in agriculture and not rely on Native people, thus a set of laws was enacted to make it very difficult to purchase food from Native people. As historian Tim Holzkamm explains in an interview: “The question is the beginning of Native Agriculture here in the north, and then how it was sabotaged by the Canadian government. So an independent people were forced into a peasant agricultural model, and then lost the rights to sell. It was illegal for people to buy produce from
1

Gartner, Gustav William. Raised Field Landscapes of Native North America Thesis (Ph. D.). Madison: The University of Wisconsin, 2003. 2 Gartner, Gustav William. Raised Field Landscapes of Native North America Thesis (Ph. D.). Madison: The University of Wisconsin, 2003. 3 Gartner, Gustav William. Raised Field Landscapes of Native North America Thesis (Ph. D.). Madison: The University of Wisconsin, 2003.

Indians without a permit from around l882-l950…Anyone who bought it could be arrested…This was coupled with the flooding of the lakes and the taking of the lands.4” Navigation and power dams further decreased Anishinaabeg ability to secure a living. In 1887 a dam at the outlet of Lake of the Woods flooded traditional lands. Wild rice beds, hay meadows, graves, and homes were also destroyed, despite protests from the Grand Council. Nothing was done to relieve the situation. Investors in one of the companies which built the dam were Canada’s business and political elite, including a Prime Minister…”5 As Holzkamm, Joan A. Lovisek, and Leo G. Waisberg would write in Deprived of their Living (a paper prepared for Treaty and Aboriginal Rights Research (TARR) Grand Council Treaty #3): “…During the late 19th century, dams were constructed in northwestern Ontario to facilitate navigation and production of lumber, most destined for the Prairies. Before the arrival of anthropologists, dams caused immense damage to the Ojibwa economy, inducing shifts in settlement and subsistence. Shoreline adaptations based on agriculture and wild rice were disrupted, fields flooded, and villages dispersed inland. Benefits accrued to non-Indian businesses and governments, while Ojibwa fields, in the words of one official, were ‘submerged...several feet under water so that boats could sail over them.’"6 In terms of policy, Holzkamm would write, “…The first impact was agriculture. Modernization of farming had been an important inducement to signing a treaty. A large amount of arable land had been selected and set aside as reserves. The first decade after 1873 saw substantial growth of agricultural infrastructure on the reserves, but development ceased after 1882. The federal government legislated control over commercial Indian agriculture by prohibiting sales to consumers without a license. Cultivated lands declined. Commercial farming was replaced by small subsistence and medicine gardens.”7 White Earth- the Alienation of a Homeland In l867, the White Earth reservation was created by treaty between the Mississippi Band of Anishinaabeg and the US government, reserving what had then been demarcated as 36 townships. White Earth was soon to become the homeland of the Pillager and some Pembina band members, and was intended for other members of the Gull lake and Sandy Lake bands. They never came, and remained as the non-removable Mille Lacs band of Anishinaabeg. The homeland was chosen for it’s biodiversity and wealth -- a land covered with white pines, maple basswood forests, and the eastern terrain of the great buffalo herds (a set of biologically diverse prairies).
4

Holzkamm, Tim. Personal Interview. August 4, 2012. Lovisek, Joan A., Leo G. Waisberg, & Tim E. Holzkamm. 1995. “Deprived of part of their living:” Colonialism and nineteenth-century flooding of Ojibwa lands. Papers of the 26th Algonquian Conference, ed. by David H. Pentland. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba. 6 Lovisek, Joan A., Leo G. Waisberg, & Tim E. Holzkamm. 1995. “Deprived of part of their living:” Colonialism and nineteenth-century flooding of Ojibwa lands. Papers of the 26th Algonquian Conference, ed. by David H. Pentland. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba. 7 Lovisek, Joan A., Leo G. Waisberg, & Tim E. Holzkamm. 1995. “Deprived of part of their living:” Colonialism and nineteenth-century flooding of Ojibwa lands. Papers of the 26th Algonquian Conference, ed. by David H. Pentland. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba.
5

There is a saying that wealth becomes poverty. That which is coveted, is taken. So it was that the vast agricultural lands of the Anishinaabeg, along with our forests became a centerpiece of the making of a Minnesota logging and agriculture empire. The l889 Nelson Act opened up the White Earth reservation to allotment (an act mirrored by the General Allotment Act). “The Nelson Act also annexed four townships with the greatest white pine stands for the state of Minnesota. This was matched by the Steenerson Act, which opened the reservation to clear-cutting. In l889, Minnesota ranked second in the country in logging, with the northwestern portion of the state leading the state’s production. In l889-90 11 million board feet of timber was taken from the reservation. In the next year, 15 million more feet were cut, followed by another l8 million in the l89l92 season. Not content to take just the forests, the lumber companies and land speculators set their eyes on the land itself. Mechanisms were set in place to pry land from children at boarding school. Soldiers at war, veterans, and those who could not read or write English. A common saying describing what happened in nearby Detroit lakes was ‘fleecing the Indian’. A quarter million acres of the White Earth reservation was taken, in addition to lands taken by speculators, by the State of Minnesota as tax payments. By l904 ninety-five percent of the remaining reservation lands were allotted and ten years later some l4 percent of the original and base was still in Indian hands.”8 -All Our Relations, Winona LaDuke (ll8-ll9). Near the Narrows of Red Lake… “This largest village of the Ojibways in Minnesota consists of thirty or forty permanent bark lodges, scattered on an area which reaches a half a mile from the northwest to the southeast, and is 40 to 60 rods wide. Adjoining the village were fields of ripening maize or Indian corn, amounting to about 50 acres. Besides about 5 acres of potatoes and probably an acre or more of squashes. These crops show luxuriant growth and abundant yield and the weeds among them has been held in check by hoeing....” (611)9 Observed by Upham in l885. The significance of native agriculture in on the reserves was widely noted. Gardner notes, that the Anishinaabeg were practicing poly culture not inter-copping.10 Father Joseph Gilfillian, a missionary, also observed that there were “many fields of corn” around Red Lake in l876.11 Henry Schoolcraft described the corn at “...Cass lake, on the sources of the Mississippi River in l832, and it was the current tradition of the red and white men, that it had been raised and came to perfection so as to preserve the seed from the every early period at Red Lake near the latitude 49 and in the Red Valley of the North.”12 “Upham also reported a 5 acre agricultural field devoted solely to tubers belonging to the Ojibwe of northern Minnesota (211).13
8 9

LaDuke, Winona. All Our Relations. Cambridge: South End Press, 1999. Gartner, Gustav William. Raised Field Landscapes of Native North America Thesis (Ph. D.). Madison: The University of Wisconsin, 2003. 10 Gartner, Gustav William. Raised Field Landscapes of Native North America Thesis (Ph. D.). Madison: The University of Wisconsin, 2003. 11 Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the Year 1883. District of Columbia. Washington Government Printing Office: 1883. 12 Gartner, Gustav William. Raised Field Landscapes of Native North America Thesis (Ph. D.). Madison: The University of Wisconsin, 2003. 13 Gartner, Gustav William. Raised Field Landscapes of Native North America Thesis (Ph. D.). Madison: The University of Wisconsin, 2003.

What happened to this land and these people? Floods. Inundated by waters, much of the prime agricultural land of the Anishinaabeg of the north, particularly their island gardens, and lowlands upon the rivers’ edge, became inundated by dam projects. This is the case throughout the region particularly well documented in the case of the Rainy River Ojibwe, and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people of the Missouri River Basin. Chequamegon Bay and nearby Madeline Island were dynamic areas in the latter half of the l7th century... A Memoire by Nicholas Perrots reports on Radison and Grosseilliers, who returned to Chequamegon during the spring of l660, where they found Odawa and Huron peoples applying themselves “…to the cultivation of Indian corn and squashes on which with the fish they catch, they subsist” (222).14 Jesuit missionary Jean-Claude Allouez also noted the dynamic agriculture of the region: “It is a beautiful bay, at the head of which is situated the great Village of the Savages, who there cultivate fields of Indian corn and lead a settled life. They number eight hundred men bearing arms, but are gathered together from seven different nations, living in peace, mingled with one another.”15 Archeological investigations show that the Ojibwe grew maize at the l8th century Marina site, a village located on the southwestern shores of Madeline Island near a contemporary French fort. Approximately l00 maize cobs plus numerous kernels and charred husks were recovered. 95% of the specimens are an Eastern 8 row Northern Flint, with the remaining samples belonging to a small popcorn variety. A single squash seed was also recovered, and at other marina sites woodland strawberry, pin cherry, chokechery, blackberry hazelnut, goose foot seeds were found. Ojibwe myths collected by Kol and Schoolcraft suggest that Native peoples covered young crops with leaves and mulched planting surfaces during frosts, using pots to water plants during droughts (212).16

Discussion Questions:

14

Adventures of Nicolas Perrot, 1665-1670. in Kellogg, Louise P., ed. Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917). 15 Allouez, Claude Jean; Kellogg, Louis (editor). 'Father Allouez's Journey to Lake Superior, 1665-1667' in 'Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699' . New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917. 16 Gartner, Gustav William. Raised Field Landscapes of Native North America Thesis (Ph. D.). Madison: The University of Wisconsin, 2003.

Readings
Session 4:
Appropriation of Anishinaabe Agricultural Lands

Topics

Readings

Module From the text: LaDuke, Winona. All our Relations, l996 South End Press

Meyer, L. Melissa. "We Can Not Get a Living as We Used To": Dispossession and the White Earth Anishinaabeg, 1889-1920. Oxfo University Press. The American Historical Review. Vol. 96, No. 2: 1991.
Appropriation of Anishinaabe Agricultural Lands

4

Lovisek, Joan A., Leo G. Waisberg, & Tim E. Holzkamm. 1995. “Deprived of part of their living:” Colonialism and nineteenth-century flooding of Ojibwa lands. Papers of the 26th Algonquian Conference, ed. by David H. Pentland. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba. Madeline Island, Giitiganning.

Assignments TOPICS – Module 4: ???

DAY 1: DAY 2: DAY 3:

Bibliography: Adventures of Nicolas Perrot, 1665-1670. in Kellogg, Louise P., ed. Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917). Allouez, Claude Jean; Kellogg, Louis (editor). 'Father Allouez's Journey to Lake Superior, 1665-1667' in 'Early Narratives of the Northwest, 1634-1699' . New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the Year 1883. District of Columbia. Washington Government Printing Office: 1883. Gartner, Gustav William. Raised Field Landscapes of Native North America Thesis (Ph. D.). Madison: The University of Wisconsin, 2003. Lovisek, Joan A., Leo G. Waisberg, & Tim E. Holzkamm. 1995. “Deprived of part of their living:” Colonialism and nineteenth-century flooding of Ojibwa lands. Papers of the 26th Algonquian Conference, ed. by David H. Pentland. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.