Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Historic photo of Ojibwe at Bad River
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States ( Wisconsin|
|Catholicism, Methodism, Midewiwin|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Ojibwe people, Odawa and Potwatomi|
The Bad River Lapointe Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians are a federally recognized tribe of Ojibwe people. The Bad River Reservation is located on the south shore of Lake Superior and has a land area of 156000 acres(243.75 sq mi) in northern Wisconsin straddling Ashland and Iron counties. The tribe has approximately 7,000 members, of whom about 1,800 lived on the reservation during the 2000 census. Most people live in one of four communities: Odanah, Diaperville (which was also called Old Odanah), Birch Hill, or Frank's Field/Aspen Estates. Odanah, the administrative and cultural center, is located five miles (8 km) east of the town of Ashland on U.S. Highway 2. New Odanah is also located on the reservation. Over 90% of the reservation is wilderness.
According to Anishinaabe prophecy, Gichi Manidoo, the Great Spirit, told the Anishinaabe people to move west from the Atlantic coast until they found the "food that grows on water." After a series of stops and divisions, the branch of Anishinaabe known as the Lake Superior Chippewa found the food that grows on water, wild rice, near the Chequamegon Bay on the south shore of Lake Superior at the site of the present day Bad River Lapointe Reservation, and found their final stopping place at nearby Madeline Island.
After the 17th century, Anishinaabe people settled throughout northern Wisconsin into lands formerly disputed with the Dakota Sioux and the Meskwaki. Those that remained near the trading post of La Pointe on Madeline Island were known collectively as the La Pointe Band and engaged in the fur trade with neighboring French settlers. They also pursued other seasonal occupations such as berry-picking, harvesting maple sugar, fishing, ricing, hunting, and gathering medicinal plants. After a disastrous attempt at removing the Lake Superior Bands, resulting in the Sandy Lake Tragedy, the U.S. government agreed to set up permanent reservations in Wisconsin. At this point, the La Pointe band split with Roman Catholic members under the leadership of Kechewaishke (Chief Buffalo), taking a reservation at Red Cliff. Those who maintained traditional Midewiwin beliefs settled at Bad River. The two bands, however, maintain close relations to this day.
The reservation land was set aside for the Bad River Lapointe Band in the Treaty of La Pointe, made with the United States and signed on Madeline Island on 30 September 1854. The treaty land included almost 2000 acres ) on Madeline Island, which is the center of the Ojibwe Nation. The band is one of six in Wisconsin that are federally recognized.
During the late 19th century, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration set up St. Mary's School in Odanah, an Indian boarding school used to convert and assimilate tribal members. During this period, timber companies on the reservation cheated and destroyed the land the tribe cherished. During the Allotment period, the tribe leased almost half its land base, which originally covered all the area of modern-day Ashland, Wisconsin.
As Lake Superior Ojibwe, the Bad River Lapointe Band retains its rights to hunt, fish, gather wild rice, and medicinal plants over the ceded territory of northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. The tribe pressed these claims throughout the 20th century, and after the tribal members from Bad River and the other Lake Superior bands resumed their traditional practice of spear fishing, resulting in the Wisconsin Walleye War.
In 1996, a group of Ojibwe activists known as the Anishinaabe Ogitchida blocked a railroad shipment of sulfuric acid from crossing the reservation. Destined for a mine in Michigan, the protestors complained the acid posed a danger to the reservation and the Lake Superior watershed. The national attention brought by the protests forced the EPA to stop the use of acid in the mine.
Sixteen thousand acres (65 km²) of the reservation are high quality wetlands due the Kakagon River and Bad River sloughs. The wetlands are ideal for the cultivation of wild rice, the historical occupation of the Ojibwe. The sloughs constitute the only remaining extensive coastal wild rice marsh in the Great Lakes region. The headquarters of the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) is on the Bad River Reservation. The tribe also owns and operates a fish hatchery that stocks local rivers and lakes with 15 million walleye annually.
Due to its landscape and proximity to Madeline Island, Bad River is a major key to the Ojibwe Nation. People from all over Ojibwe Country come for the annual August Celebration of the manoomin or wild rice harvest.
Bad River has also made many beneficial changes to its communities. The Bad River Band Of Lapoint Ojibwe own and operate a casino, as well as the Moccasin Trail gas station and grocery store complex. The Tribe also runs a clinic, local transit, tribal school, daycare, and Head Start, as well as a police and volunteer fire department.
Some key buildings that help the tribe run are as follows: a tribal fire hall and youth center on the Birch Hill community, and a utility garage in the Franks Field community.
Bad River Reservation is nearly entirely covered by a forest and swamps. In Anishinabe, they called Anishinabe people who lived around swamps Maskigowok. Maskigo means swamp. Ma-ski-go-wok means swampy people. It also goes by Ma-ski-go-na-bek which means swampy men. Nabe is the word for male and man in Anishinabe. On the northern border of the Reservation, the elevation tends to be between 600 and 700 feet above sea level. Southwards the elevation increases to between 700 and over 1,100 feet above sea level. Scattered across the Reservation are many small lakes.
Bad River Reservation has extreme climate conditions. Winters are long and cold, while summers are short and warm. The climate is largely affected by Lake Superior. Low temperatures during the cold winter months tend to average slightly above zero. High temperatures during the cold winter months average above 20. Average low temperatures during the summer months are near 50 and 55. Average high temperatures during the summer months are between 74 and 80. Precipitation is significant as a result of the extensive forest and Lake Superior. Average yearly precipitation is around 30 inches.
- Bad River Reservation, Wisconsin United States Census Bureau
- Tribal Members: A Surprising Diverse Group, Elizabeth Arbuckle Watindato, PH.D, Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin–Madison, March 12, 2007, pg. 6
- History of Bad River Band of the Lake Superior of Chippewa Indians
- Tigerman, 95
- Grossman, Zoltan. "Chippewa block acid shipments - the Anishinaabe Ogitchida group, protectors of the people, fight against transport of 550 mil gal of sulphuric acid for a copper mining recovery project." The Progessive, via CBS Interactive Business Network. Oct 1996 (retrieved 31 July 2010)
- Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2001.
- Tigerman, Kathleen. Wisconsin Indian Literature: Anthology of Native Voices. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-299-22064-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bad River Indian Reservation.|
- Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, official website
- Great Lakes Intertribal Council description
- A Brief Bad River History/Description
- Current news in Bad River
- Oklevueha Seminole