Donna Ennis: Fond du Lac Band seeks to acquire burial grounds

A view of Wisconsin Point. Photo by Randen Pederson / Flickr

Donna Ennis says the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin is looking to acquire a historic burial site that her ancestors fought to protect:
Wisconsin Point is a peninsula off the shore of Superior, Wisconsin. It is here that my ancestors, the Ojibway people, have made their home. Chief Joseph Osaugie was born in April of 1802 at Lac Vieux Desert, Michigan. He moved to Wisconsin Point as a young man and was made a Chief by President Franklin Pierce. As a headman of the Fond du Lac Band, Chief Osaugie was a signer of the 1854 Treaty. The Treaty conveyed the land on Wisconsin Point to the government.

In 1915, the United States Steel Corporation, through subsidiaries, planned to create loading docks for the Lake Freighters or Lakers as they are currently called on 300 acres of land the federal government obtained through an 1842 Treaty. The descendants of Chief Osaugie refused to give up occupation of a portion of the peninsula. Litigation was launched on behalf of the Indian litigants by the attorney, John A. Cadigan, who related the story as told above.

On October 8, 1918 the United States Steel Company found it necessary to move the graveyard of my ancestors even in the face of strong opposition by the family members still entrenched on the land.

Cadigan describes the process of removal “An undertaker was given $2,500 as an advance payment under a contract and with a force of men went out to the Point and started to move the graveyard.” It was further described as “two hundred Indians were dug up from their graves from Lake Superior’s Wisconsin Point, put on a garbage scow, and relocated to St Francis Cemetery then reburied near the edge of a hill.”

Get the Story:
Donna Ennis: 'The Heavens Became Black': The Curse of Wisconsin Point (Indian Country Today 10/25)

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