Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of the Lac du Flambeau Reservation of Wisconsin

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The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians is primarily associated with the Lac du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin. The Lake Superior Chippewa (Anishinaabe: Gichigamiwininiwag) were a large historical band of Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) Indians living around Lake Superior in what is now the northern parts of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Official Tribal Name: Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians of the Lac du Flambeau Reservation of Wisconsin

Address:  Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, 2932 Highway 47 N., P.O. Box 67, Lac du Flambeau, WI 54538
Phone: 715-588-3303
Fax: 715-588-7930
Email: [email protected]

Official Website:

Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:

Waaswaaganing in Ojibwe, meaning “Torch Lake Men.” This referred to their practice of fishing at night with torches.

Common Name / Meaning of Common Name: The band acquired the name Lac du Flambeau from its gathering practice of harvesting fish at night by torchlight. The name Lac du Flambeau or Lake of the Torches refers to this practice and was given to the band by the French traders and trappers who visited the area.

Alternate names / Alternate spellings / Mispellings:  Chipewa, Chipawa, Anishinaabe, Anishinababe, Anishinabeg, Ojibway, Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, Algonquin,  More names for Ojibwe

Ojibwe / Chippewa in other languages:

Aoechisaeronon or Eskiaeronnon (Huron)
Assisagigroone (Iroquois)
Axshissayerunu (Wyandot)
Bawichtigouek or Paouichtigouin (French)
Bedzaqetcha (Tsattine)
Bedzietcho (Kawchodinne)
Dewakanha (Mohawk)
Dshipowehaga (Caughnawaga)
Dwakanen (Onondaga)
Hahatonwan (Dakota)
Hahatonway (Hidatsa)
Jumper, Kutaki (Fox)
Leaper, Neayaog (Cree)
Nwaka (Tuscarora)
Ostiagahoroone (Iroquois)
Rabbit People (Plains Cree)
Regatci or Negatce (Winnebago)
Saulteur (Saulteaux)
Sore Face (Hunkpapa Lakota)
Sotoe (British)
Wahkahtowah (Assiniboine)

Region: Northeast (Eastern Woodland) –> Ojibwa, Chippewa and Potawatomi

State(s) Today: Wisconsin

Traditional Territory:

They migrated into the area by the seventeenth century, encroaching on the Eastern Dakota people who historically occupied the area. The Ojibwe defeated the Eastern Dakota and had their last battle in 1745, after which the Dakota Sioux migrated west into the Great Plains. While sharing a common culture, this group of Ojibwe had many independent bands. 

Confederacy: Ojibwe (Chippewa)

Treaties:

In the nineteenth century, the leaders of these Ojibwe bands negotiated together as the Lake Superior Chippewa with the United States government under a variety of treaties to protect their historic territories against encroachment by European-American settlers. The United States set up several reservations for bands in this area under the treaties of 1854. This enabled the people to stay in this territory rather than remove west of the Mississippi River, as most indian tribes were forced to do.

As part of the Lake Superior Chippewa and signatories to the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe, the bands at Pelican Lake, Turtle Portage, Trout Lake and Wisconsin River were consolidated into the Lac du Flambeau Band (Waaswaaganing in Ojibwe). As signatories to the Treaty of St. Peters of 1837, and the Treaties of La Pointe of 1842 and 1854, members of the Lac du Flambeau Band enjoy the traditional hunting, fishing and gathering practices guaranteed in these treaties.

Reservations: Lac du Flambeau Reservation
Land Area:  The reservation is 86,630 acres (or 144 square miles). It is a checkerboard reservation with land status consisting of Tribal (45.4%), Tribal Allotted (21.4%), and Alienated(33.1%) land.The reservation consists of 260 lakes, 17,897 surface acres of water, 64 miles of creeks, rivers, and streams, 2,400 acres of wetlands, and 41,733 acres of forested upland.

Tribal Headquarters:  
Time Zone:  
The Lac du Flambeau Reservation was officially established by treaties in 1837 and 1842. The area was continually logged in the following years and became a tourist destination for families from southern Wisconsin and Illinois around the turn of the century.

To increase economic activity and foster self-reliance among the various Native American communities, the tribe began bingo and casino operations. Revenues generated by the casino operations would go to the tribe and directly benefit the economic and social development of the community. The casino has enhanced both the economy of the Lakeland area and provides public services to residents in Lac du Flambeau.

Population at Contact:

Registered Population Today: There are currently 3415 Lac du Flambeau tribal members in 2015.

Tribal Enrollment Requirements:

Genealogy Resources:

Government:

Charter:  
Name of Governing Body:  Tribal Council
Number of Council members:  12 council members, including executive officers.
Dates of Constitutional amendments: 
Number of Executive Officers:  

Elections:

Elections are held every October for two officer positions and four members of the council. Two-year terms are staggered.

Language Classification: Ojibwe 

Language Dialects:

The tribe has a Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Language Program.

Number of fluent Speakers:

Dictionary:

Origins:

Sometime earlier than 1650, the Ojibwe split into two groups near present-day Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. This is believed to have been one of the stops which their prophets predicted in their migration; it was part of the path of the Anishinaabe, which they had traveled for centuries, in their passage west from the Atlantic Coast.

The Ojibwe who followed the south shore of Lake Superior found the final prophesied stopping place and “the food that grows on water” (wild rice) at Madeline Island. During the late 17th century, the Ojibwe at Madeline Island began to expand to other territory: they had population pressures, a desire for furs to trade, and increased factionalism caused by divisions over relations with French Jesuit missions.

The Ojibwe successfully spread throughout the Great Lakes region, with colonizing bands settling along lakes and rivers throughout what would become northern Wisconsin and Minnesota in the United States.

The band has inhabited the Lac du Flambeau area since 1745 when Chief Keeshkemun led the band to the area.

Bands, Gens, and Clans

The Lake Superior Chippewa were numerous and contained many bands.

A separate sub-nation, known as the Biitan-akiing-enabijig (Border Sitters), were located between the Ojibwe of the Lake Superior watershed and other nations. The Biitan-akiing-enabijig were divided into three principal Bands:

Related Tribes:

Today the bands are politically independent and are federally recognized as independent tribes with their own governments. They remain culturally closely connected to each other and have engaged in common legal actions concerning treaty rights, such as fishing for walleye. Many bands include “Lake Superior Chippewa” in their official tribal names (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, etc.)

Historical bands and political successors apparent are the following:

  • Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, merged from Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

    • L’Anse Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (historical)
    • Ontonagon Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (historical)

 

  • Fond du Lac Band  (one of the six bands that make up the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe)

  • Grand Portage Band  (one of the six bands of Minnesota Chippewa Tribe)

  • Bois Forte Band  of Chippewa, (one of the six bands of Minnesota Chippewa Tribe), merged from

    • Lake Vermilion Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (historical)
    • Little Forks Band of Rainy River Saulteaux (historical)
    • Nett Lake Band of Rainy River Saulteaux (historical)

In addition to the full political Successors Apparent, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe (via the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Minnesota), Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe (via Removable Fond du Lac Band of the Chippewa Indian Reservation), and the White Earth Band of Chippewa (via the Removable St. Croix Chippewa of Wisconsin of the Gull Lake Indian Reservation) in present-day Minnesota retain minor Successorship to the Lake Superior Chippewa. They do not exercise the Aboriginal Sovereign Powers derived from the Lake Superior Chippewa. These three bands are, however, now represented by the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

Traditional Allies:

 For a while they were allied with the Eastern Dakota. The Chippewa, Potawatomie and Ottawa were once one tribe and split around 1550. They continued to be strong allies even after each branch went their own ways.

Traditional Enemies:

Beginning about 1737, the Chippewa competed for nearly 100 years with the Eastern Dakota and the Fox tribes in the interior of Wisconsin west and south of Lake Superior. The Ojibwe were technologically more advanced, having acquired guns through trading with the French, which for a time gave them an advantage. They eventually drove the Dakota Sioux out of most of northern Wisconsin and northeastern Minnesota into the western plains. 

Ceremonies / Dances:

Modern Day Events & Tourism:

Legends / Oral Stories:

Art & Crafts:

Animals:

Clothing:

Housing:

Subsistance:

Economy Today: 

It has developed a number of businesses: LDF Industries (pallet manufacturing), Ojibwa Mall, Campground, Fish Hatchery, gas station, and cigarettes and tobacco shop. Together with the resort described below, it is working to develop enterprises that preserve and build on the natural resources of the reservation.

The Tribe established the Lake of the Torches Economic Development Corporation to develop and operate the Lake of the Torches resort and casino, intended to generate revenue and also provide employment to members of the tribe. When the Casino did not yield expected profits, the Tribe encountered repayment difficulties with the creditors it had engaged to help finance the casino. A dispute with the Casino’s creditors ensued, as they tried to take control of its assets by receivership, under the terms of the bond indenture. When the case went to court, “the district court denied the motion to appoint a receiver and dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the trust indenture was a “management contract” under the IGRA [Indian Gaming Regulatory Act] which lacked the required approval of the NIGC Chairman.” The creditors appealed the decision.

In Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Lake of the Torches Economic Development Corporation (2011), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed that the bond indenture constituted a management contract and was invalid. It contained provisions that permitted lenders to influence the management of a tribal casino, for instance, preventing the Tribe from changing operating officials without bondholder approval, and others that encroached on Tribal authority, without having gained required approval of the indenture/contract by the National Indian Gaming Commission. The provisions together gave a “great deal of authority in an entity other than the Tribe to control the Casino’s operations,” which was not in keeping with the law on Indian gaming. The Seventh Circuit decision requested additional guidance from the United States Congress and /or the National Indian Gaming Commission regarding the “rules of the road” for tribal casino financing.

Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:

The Lac du Flambeau Band consider Strawberry Island sacred, and call it “the place of the little people” or spirits according to tribal tradition. They consider it the heart of their reservation.

In 1745, the island was the last battle site between these Ojibwe and the Lakota Sioux. The Band believes that warriors were buried there. In 1966, an archaeological survey by a professor at Beloit College revealed that the island has human remains, and layers of artifacts dating to 200 BC. As the island was used by indigenous cultures for more than 2,000 years, the Tribe want to keep it undeveloped for its historical, cultural and spiritual significance.

Burial Customs:

Wedding Customs

Radio:  

Newspapers:  

Ojibwe / Chippewa People of Note

Renae Morriseau 

Catastrophic Events:

Sandy Lake Tragedy – The Sandy Lake Tragedy was the culmination of a series of events centered in Sandy Lake, Minnesota, that resulted in the deaths in 1850 of about 400 Lake Superior Chippewa when officials of the Zachary Taylor Administration and Minnesota Territory tried to relocate several bands of the tribe to areas west of the Mississippi River.

Tribe History:

The band has inhabited the Lac du Flambeau area since 1745 when Chief Keeshkemun led the band to the area. The band acquired the name Lac du Flambeau from its gathering practice of harvesting fish at night by torchlight. The name Lac du Flambeau or Lake of the Torches refers to this practice and was given to the band by the French traders and trappers who visited the area.

The Lac du Flambeau Reservation was officially established by treaties in 1837 and 1842. The area was continually logged in the following years and became a tourist destination for families from southern Wisconsin and Illinois around the turn of the century.

To increase economic activity and foster self-reliance among the various Native American communities, the tribe began bingo and casino operations. Revenues generated by the casino operations would go to the tribe and directly benefit the economic and social development of the community. The casino has enhanced both the economy of the Lakeland area and provides public services to residents in Lac du Flambeau.

In the News:

Further Reading: