Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe are one of seven federally recognized Wisconsin bands of Ojibwe. The band is based at the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation, at in northwestern Wisconsin, which surrounds Lac Courte Oreilles (Odaawaa-zaaga'igan in the Ojibwe language, meaning "Ottawa Lake"). The main reservation's land is in west-central Sawyer County, but two small plots of off-reservation trust land are located in Rusk, Burnett County, and in Evergreen, Washburn County. The Reservation was established by the second Treaty of La Pointe in 1854.
The Lac Courte Oreilles were signatories to a treaty with the United States signed in 1837, the 1842 Treaty of La Pointe, and the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe. The tribal reservation has a land area of 107.912 sq mi (279.492 km²), including the trust lands, and a population of 2,900 persons as of the 2000 census. The most populous community is Little Round Lake, at the reservation's northwest corner, south of the non-reservation city of Hayward, the county seat of Sawyer County.
The reservation hosts an "Honor the Earth" Pow Wow every summer. Rock drummer Mickey Hart's recording of some of the performers, Honor The Earth Powwow--Songs Of The Great Lake Indians, became a minor national hit in 1991.
The band is federally recognized as a tribe and has its own government. It owns and operates a tribal college, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College, in Hayward. The band also operates the LCO Casino and a community radio station, WOJB-FM.
Lac Courte Oreilles is a land which is almost entirely covered by a forest and several lakes. To the northeast and east of Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, is Chequamegon National Forest which was established in 1933. White lumber companies had cleared the land of the trees and the Civilian Conservation Corps planted new trees starting in the 1930s. Today, both the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation and Chequamegon National Forest, are recovering from the onslaught brought on by the lumber companies. Of the lakes that are in the borders of Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation or border the Reservation, are Ashegon Lake, Blueberry Lake, Chief Lake, Cristner Lake, Devils Lake, Green Lake, Grindstone Lake, Gurno Lake, Lac Courte Oreilles, Lake Chippewa, Little Round Lake, Little Lac Courte Oreilles, Pokegama Lake, Rice Lake, Scott Lake, Squaw Lake, Spring Lake, Summit Lake, and Tyner Lake. Within the Reservations borders is the Grindstone Creek State Wildlife Management Area. Wild Rice called manoomin in Ojibwe language, grows on many of the waterways on the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation and is still harvested in the traditional way by the citizens of the Reservation.
Anishinabe people have lived in northern Wisconsin for a long time. According to William W. Warren, Anishinabe people were living in northern Wisconsin before 1492. The Dakota Indians named them Ra-ra-to-oans, which means "People of the Falls." The French adopted the name. Following the Seven Fires Prophecy, Anishinabe leaders ordered their warriors to expand to the west after they learned that the people mentioned in the prophecy had invaded. They also sent their soldiers as far east as Maine and as far south as Florida, to defend Indian land from the white invaders.
Anishinabe warriors from the north of Wisconsin were constantly fighting the white invaders and their Indian allies in the 17th century. Between 1630 and 1665, 10,000s of Indians who lived along the east coast were driven from their homes by the whites and their Indian allies. Nearly all of them fled up to the north of Wisconsin, seeking the safety of Lake Michigan and Anishinabe soldiers. The whites and their Indian allies actually invaded the eastern end of the Lake Superior region but were driven off. Their defeats were serious enough they requested for a truce, to which Anishinabe leaders agreed.
The whites and their Indian allies were in control of the land east of Lake Michigan, New York, southern Ontario, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. That changed in 1680 after Anishinabe warriors were sent to the east to war on the white invaders and their Indian allies. By 1700, Anishinabe soldiers had driven the whites back to the eastern coast where they had large fortified settlements. Anishinabe soldiers subjugated the Indian allies of the whites, who are known historically as the Iroquois Tribe. Anishinabe people absorbed them into their population in New York and southern Ontario.
Later on in the 18th century, more wars were fought between the Anishinabe Nation and the whites. The War of 1812 was the last major attempt by the Great Lakes Anishinabek to defend their land. After the war, they signed treaties with the United States which were not honored by the United States. In 1854, the Treaty of La Pointe established what is now the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation.
In the late 19th century, the United States wanted to relocate all Indians from Michigan and Wisconsin to the White Earth Reservation. The proposed relocation plan proved futile. In fact, it led to a minor rebellion in 1898, on the Leech Lake Reservation of northern Minnesota.
Lac Courte Oreilles has several communities within its borders. Little Round Lake is the largest community within the reservation. Native Americans make up 88% of the community's population. Chief Lake is a predominantly Indian community with a white population that makes up 20% of the community's population. New Post is also a predominantly Indian settlement with a white population that makes up 28% of its population. Reserve is also a predominantly Indian settlement. Native Americans make up 88% of the population of Reserve. North Woods Beach is located on the Reservations west end, between Grindstone Lake and Lac Courte Oreilles.
None of the Lac Courte Oreilles communities is a true city or town. Only Reserve has any resemblance to a town. However, most of the population of Reserve is scattered. The community's housing units are located in the woods.
Lac Courte Orellies is a Reservation which has a large white population. Anishinabe leaders did not intend for that to happen. That was the last thought on their minds when they negotiated with the United States in the 19th century about the issue of land. Broken treaty promises is why the Reservation has a large white population. Last census count put the population of the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation at 3,013. Native Americans made up 2,306 of the population. Non Indians made up the remainder of the Reservation's population.
Notable natives and residents
- Jim Denomie, artist
- Ozaawindib (recorded as O-za-win-dib)(Yellow Head) was an eighteenth-century Ojibwa chief of the Prairie Rice Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. The Band was originally located near Rice Lake, Wisconsin and later consolidated with the Lac Courte Oreilles Band. He was of the Niibinaabe-doodem (Merman Clan). He fought in the Battle of Prairie Rice Lake in 1798. He and Wolf's Father were killed by a Dakota while they were hunting at the mouth of Hay River. Ozaawindib had twin sons: Nenaa'angebi (Beautifying Bird) and Chief Shák'pí (Six).
- Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation and Off-Reservation Trust Land, Wisconsin, United States Census Bureau
- Bill Miller (October 1, 1993). "Native Tongues". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-09-10.
- Mashkode-manoominikaani-zaaga'igan (Prairie Rice Lake) is Prairie Lake of Chetek, Wisconsin.
- History, p. 320