Red Lake Holds Full Day of Events at Old Crossing Near Huot, MN
Acknowledges Red Lake's Only Treaty with the US
November 8, 2021
"The state has a history, we do as well. Red Lake wants to tell the story from our perspective. We need to raise the level of discourse on this subject. We want to educate our people but also the citizens of Minnesota and the United States on what was given often under high duress." - Red Lake Tribal Council on 150th Anniversary of Old Crossing Treaty, October 2, 2013. A Tribal holiday was established the month before.
On October 2, 2021, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians recognized the 1863 Old Crossing Treaty with a celebration of several events at Old Crossing Treaty Memorial Park at Huot, MN.
Back in the September 2013, the Red Lake Tribal Council established a Tribal holiday to acknowledge Red Lake's only treaty with the US in which it gave up millions of acres of what is arguably the finest agricultural land on the planet, the Red River Valley. The first holiday would occur that same year on the 150th anniversary, October 2, 2013.
The holiday not only recognizes the contributions of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians to the United States, at Old Crossing, but also promotes awareness of the history of Red Lake Nation including other lands ceded in 1889 and 1902. The Nation's educational institutions are encouraged to participate in activities of their own choice.
This year the tribe would sponsor a full day's events from 10 am to 4 pm that included a flag raising, a welcome and introductions of special invited guests, a community feed, a mini powwow with a half dozen drums, and a game of Lacrosse. The day closed out with teachings and history by Red Lake Officers and members Elder and First Speaker, Delores Cloud Hammitt of Ponemah; Bob Shimek, Environmentalist, Activist and Historian; and Marty Cobenais Treaty Activist.
Many tribal members from Pembina and Red Lake traveled to Huot, Minnesota, (near Red Lake Falls) the historic treaty signing site, Old Crossing Treaty Memorial Park.
Driving into the well-maintained park, there were scores of people gathered, their vehicles spread out much like the Red Lake village of their ancestors may have been 150 years before. Entering the park from the West, an impressive display of old photos of signatories of the treaty were displayed by Hereditary Chief Darwin Sumner. Further to the east was where MC Wesley Jourdan would direct the activities and make introductions.
Old Crossing got its name from the many Oxcarts that crossed the Red River of the North at this point. As many as 1500 ox carts, loaded down with as much as 500 pounds of goods, crossed here yearly.
Now 158 years later, Red Lake tribal councilors, chiefs and members gathered to raise the Red Lake Nation flag for a day replacing the US flag. Representatives from Red Lake, Turtle Mountain, Little Shell, and others joined in the commemoration.
The day began around 10 am, with an opening prayer by Spiritual Leader, Kelly Iceman. After emcee Wesley Jourdain introduced the Red Lake Honor Guard, the Three Star Warrior Society lowered the US flag and solemnly raised the Colors of Red Lake Nation to the beat of a flag song.
"One hundred fifty-eight years ago today, the Pembina and Red Lake Bands of Ojibwe signed a treaty ceding 11 million acres of land to the federal government," said emcee Jourdain. "It's a bitter pill to swallow, looking back at our own history, but it is also a healing process. We not only want to educate our people, but also the citizens of Minnesota and the United States on what we contributed."
Welcome and Introductions
Jourdain then introduced Hereditary Chief Darwin Sumner, followed by Les Lafountaine, former Turtle Mountain Tribal Councilman and current professor at Turtle Mountain Community College. Chris Latray, from Little Shell Tribe Tribal Historian, and Kim McKeehan, Little Shell Tribal Councilwoman, then spoke to those gathered.
Red Lake Treasurer Annette Johnson then spoke followed by Little Rock Representatives Adrian Beaulieu and Michelle Barrett Cobenais. Ponemah Elder Delores Cloud Hammitt, was followed by Red Lake Tribal Secretary Samuel Strong. The final speakers were Red Lake Hereditary Chief James Loud, Nate Taylor Director of the immersion school and new Charter School, and Mary Holz-Clause, Ph. D., chancellor of University of Minnesota Crookston. Many of the speakers spoke of the history of the represented bands.
About 1 pm came the Community Feed with prepared meal of either ham or beef.
After all were filled, a mini-powwow took place with many spot dances and give-a-ways. Simultaneously, several people moved to an open space toward the west and played lacrosse, also known as the Creator's Game.
Jourdain requested a veteran's song to accompany the lowering of Red Lake Nation's flag and the raising of the US flag at the end of the day.
On this day, Red Lake Nation paid tribute to their chiefs and leaders, who under great duress, negotiated Red Lake's only treaty with the United States. The Chief spokesperson for Red Lake was Essiniwub Ogwissun (Little Rock).
In 1862 things were not going well for Minnesota's Dakota who were not receiving commodities as promised. This situation escalated to the now infamous Dakota Conflict which led to 300 Dakota men being sentenced to die by military tribunals. All but 38 were eventually pardoned by President Lincoln, but the 38 were executed at Mankato the day after Christmas in 1862, (the largest mass execution in US history) only nine months before the Old Crossing Treaty. Worse, there was a bounty on Dakota scalps, but most Whites knew not the difference between Dakota and Ojibwe, they were just Indians further adding to the duress.
The settlers flowing into Red Lake lands were of a new and foreign culture uninterested in the culture of the land and its Indigenous peoples. This was much different from the French who essentially assimilated with First Nation peoples forming a new culture, the Metis. The French recognized that all Indigenous peoples have something in common, and that is...they owned the North American Continent.
Former (the second) Governor of Minnesota and serving as GOP US Senator Alexander Ramsey, met with the Red Lake and Pembina Bands at Old Crossing on October 2, 1863, to sign a treaty ceding their rights to the Red River Valley, a total of 127 miles wide by 188 miles long or 11,000,000 acres (45,000 km2) of rich prairie land and forests.
The Ferris Brochure
It should be noted that Kade Ferris, (Turtle Mountain) Archaeologist Red Lake Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) put together and made available a very impressive 53-page brochure about the Old Crossing Treaty. (I'll be sending out copies or write me if you'd like a copy and I miss you in the next week)
Ferris Brochure Highlights
• PARTICIPATING 1863 TREATY BANDS & DESCENDANTS Red Lake Nation, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Little Shell Chippewa Tribe, Manitoba Metis Federation Inc.
• OLD CROSSING TREATY & SUPPLEMENTARY
• LIST OF SIGNATORIES (all tribes under Pembina) 1863 and 1864 supplemental to 1863 treaty. Included the original handwritten treaty of both 1863 and 1864
• Narrative of the negotiations
• 12 Impressive photos of Red Lake and Turtle Mountain delegation to Washington DC in 1874
• 12 photos of the 1896 delegation from Red Lake and Turtle Mountain to DC
• List of 1850 PEMBINA METIS CHIEF COUNCIL HEADMAN & COUNSELORS
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Tribal Council, Red Lake Nation Hereditary Chiefs and the Red Lake Nation Historic Preservation Office - Dean Branchaud, Director; Kade Ferris, Archaeologist/THPO; Nicole Desjarlait, Secretary
Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation is in northern North Dakota. It is the land base for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. The population of the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation consists of Plains Ojibwe and Metis peoples; the reservation was established in 1882.
Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana is a federally recognized tribe of Ojibwe people in Montana. Due to conflicts with federal authorities in the 19th century, the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe went without an Indian reservation for most of its history. The tribe has been state recognized in Montana. The National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law on December 20, 2019, granted the Tribe Federal recognition.
The Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians are part of the historical Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians first recorded by European settlers in documents of the Hudson's Bay Company. The Ojibwe held approximately 63 million acres of land throughout what is now SD, ND and Canada. By the early 19th century, many French-Canadian men, mostly fur trappers, had married into Ojibwe families.
The Pembina Band entered a treaty with the United States in the 1863 Treaty of Old Crossing together with the Red Lake Band of Chippewa. In the 1892 McCumber Agreement between the Turtle Mountain Indians and the Commission, the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation was established, but the Little Shell Band of Chippewa Indians refused settlement there. Some of the Little Shell Band members did eventually settle at Turtle Mountain. Others migrated north and west into Saskatchewan and Alberta, and then later made their way back south into Montana.
Red Lake allied with the Pembina band, as they broke up Pembina many escaped to the untouched Indian land of Red Lake which has never left tribal control.
Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians are a historical band of Ojibwe originally living along the Red River of the Northland and its tributaries. Through the treaty process with the US the Pembina Band were settled on reservations in Minnesota and North Dakota. Some tribal members refusing settlement in North Dakota relocated northward and westward, some eventually settling in Montana.
The successors apparent of the Pembina Band are:
• Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boys Indian Reservation (Montana) (in part);
• Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana (in full).
• Red Lake Band of Chippewa (Minnesota) (in part).
• Roseau River Anishinaabe First Nation (Manitoba) (in full);
• Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians (North Dakota) (in full); and
• White Earth Band of Ojibwe (Minnesota) (in part).