Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

New map restores Native names to northern Minnesota


November 29, 2022

An excerpt of a new map showing Ojibwe place names and meanings on the eastern end of Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. The final map is a collaboration of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, the Ely Folk School and volunteer artists and is set to be unveiled on Wednesday. Courtesy of Bois Forte Band of Chippewa

The names of many lakes, rivers and cities across northern Minnesota have roots in the Ojibwe language - Bemidji, for example, is derived from the word bemijigamaag meaning "Lake with crossing waters" - a reference to how the Mississippi River flows across Lake Bemidji.

But the names of many more places have been lost to history.

Now, a partnership between the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, the nonprofit Ely Folk School, and several volunteer artists is seeking to change that. This week they're unveiling a map that features more than 100 Ojibwe place names from across the Band's territory, including names uncovered in diaries stored in the Smithsonian dating back to the 1800s.

Ely Folk School Board members Rick Anderson (far right) and Paul Schurke (second from left), along with Bois Forte Tribal Council District II Representative Robert Moyer Jr. (far left) and Bois Forte Heritage Center & Cultural Museum Executive Director Jaylen Strong (second from right) look over a rough draft of a map that will be unveiled Wednesday. Courtesy of Bois Forte Band of Chippewa


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