Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

The Lake Mille Lacs region of Minnesota has been the home of both the Dakota and the Ojibwe. The Dakota inhabited the region from prehistoric times until the 1740s. After a battle with the Ojibwe at Cormorant Point, Lake Mille Lacs, the Dakota were forced to relocate to southern and western territory. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric Indian people occupied the site as early as 3000 BCE. Before 1000 BCE, Indians were making copper tools.

The first known European contact occurred in 1679 when Daniel Greysolon, Sieur Du Luth, explored the region. He traded with the Dakota at their thriving community located at Mille Lacs Lake and claimed the land for France. At that time the Ojibwe lived along the shores of Lake Superior, to the northeast of the Dakota. Du Luth visited the region again in 1680 to rescue Father Hennepin, who together with two other explorers, had been captured by the Dakota and held at Mille Lacs. By the early 1700s, Ojibwe hunters moved west in search of new fur-trapping territory. They fought intermittently with the Dakota and eventually gained control of the Mille Lacs Lake region in 1745.

For the next 110 years they lived in the region hunting and fishing, maple-sugaring, and gathering wild rice. The US government made treaties with the Ojibwe in 1854 and 1855. At that time, much of the Ojibwe land in northern Minnesota was ceded to the United States. The Mille Lacs Band of the Ojibwe continued to live in the region on a reservation granted to them by the US government. This reservation was one of nine granted to the Ojibwe in 1855. The Mille Lacs Band came under pressure to give up its reservation and move to the White Earth reservation but resisted and were allowed to stay at Lake Mille Lacs. Much of the land originally granted to them for their reservation was taken away.