It was an ancestral fishing station to the Anishenabek Anishinaabe peoples of the Great Lakes region for over 2,000 years. It was reserved for the use of Chief `Joe Sayer' Nebenaigoching and his band in a treaty in 1850 with the British Crown.
After it was taken in a series of expropriations from 1902-1913 for railway purposes, it became a park in the Parks Canada national inventory. The island was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981.
A land claim was filed in 1982 by the Batchewana Indian Band, of the Batchewana First Nation of Ojibways, for the 22-acre (89,000 m2) island. After years of unsuccessful negotiations, hereditary Chief Edward James Sayers Nebenaigoching occupied the island from 1989 until the claim was settled in 1992. 3.5 million dollars in damages were paid to the tribe, and the island was returned to Indian reserve status in 1997.