Chief Bemidji Statue
Chief Bemidji is known by Ojibwe people as "Shaynowishkung" which "...means 'he who rattles,' according to Ojibwe culture, a rattle is used to shake away negativity." The City of Bemidji, MN and nearby Lake Bemidji were named for this Anishinaabe or Ojibwe Chief. He lived from 1834-1904 during a period of great turmoil when the partitioning of Indian Lands and the last of the Indian Wars were taking place. He was a respected leader and diplomat between the Anishinaabe or Ojibwe and white settlers. A Bronze statue has recently replaced two previous wooden carvings which have now been placed in the Beltrami County Historical Museum in Bemidji, MN. Bemidji, MN on the shores of Lake Bemidji is known for it's many year round outdoor activities and family activities. Summer activity includes the Dragon Boat Races and fishing and sailing on the lake. When the Winter snow and ice cover the area a city of ice fishing houses dot the lake front. Cross country skiing, curling and other competitive events take place through out the season. This is the land of tall timber and tall tales from "Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox" prominently displayed in the park along Bemidji Avenue. The Bemidji Woolen Mill is locate here as is the U.S.A Olympic Curling Center. Sanford Center is also the local venue where a variety major family and entertainment events are held throughout the year. Bemidji State University men's and women's hockey teams play here during the season.
Backstory and Context
When the settlers did reach the lands where the Ojibwe were settled a scheme was devised to force their removal to lands west of the Mississippi River by changing the place where their entitled allotment and food distribution was located and distributed. Winter weather conditions during relocation, late payment of allotment and late arrival of food and supplies resulted in over 400 deaths by disease, starvation and freezing. This became known as the Sandy Lake Tragedy. It was through President Millard Fillmore's administration and many Ojibwe leaders who worked to establish a peaceful resolution to this situation and to establish new reservations for the Ojibwe people.
In 1892 further incursions and corruptions occurred on Indian Lands near Leech Lake. There were frequent arrest of tribal member by Indian Service officials for minor offenses. They and the witnesses would be transported several hundred miles for trail and afterwards left to return to their reservations at their own expense. In addition logging companies were often caught stealing timbers from the reservations and starting disruptive fires. On one occasion a confrontation arose with the results that military assistance was requested from Fort Snelling Shots were fired, both sides claiming it was not their fault. During the skirmish none of the local village people were killed but there were six soldiers killed and ten wounded.
There were fears of more attacks taking place in Bemidji,Cass Lake, Grand Rapids,Deer River and Walker, Minnesota. The National Guard was activated and additional troops sent from Fort Snelling. the Ojibwe went back to their reservations and later a letter signed by a number of Ojibwe Chiefs was published requesting a"..a commission, consisting of honest men..." be sent to help solve this unfair treatment. The U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs worked to resolve these issues and bring peace along with the Chiefs of the various Ojibwe People.
The part of the Indian Wars was known as the Battle of Sugar Point or the Battle of Leech Lake. It was one of the last battles of the Native Americans and the U. S. Army.