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Sandra Scott Travels: Walk In The Footsteps Of The Elders

Lac du Flambeau

Lac du Flambeau

Last week I asked: Where can you “Walk in the footsteps of the Elders?”

The Lac du Flambeau Reservation, Wisconsin.

A big muskie
A big muskie

The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has inhabited Lac du Flambeau since 1745.

The word Chippewa and Ojibway are one and the same.

The Band was given the name “Lac du Flambeau” (Lake of the Torches) by the French traders and trappers who visited the area and saw them harvesting fish at night by torchlight.

The reservation is checker-boarded with parts in three counties.

The world's largest sturgeon
The world’s largest sturgeon

On a recent trip to Wisconsin I took the self-guided “Walk in the Footsteps of the Elders” tour.

They have a guided tour, too.

My first stop was at their tribal fish hatchery.

Fishing is and has been an integral part of their culture.

Jingle Dress
Jingle Dress

Working with the state of Wisconsin, the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa study the fish population and restock reservation waters.

The Lac du Flambeau Reservation has 260 lakes, 65 miles of streams, lakes and rivers, and 24,000 acres of wetlands including a 10-lake chain.

The world’s largest sturgeon to be speared was hauled in on the shores of Lac du Flambeau’s Pokegama Lake.

It measured a whopping 7 feet and 1 inch, weighed 195 pounds and was 40 inches around.

Lac du Flambeau
Lac du Flambeau

This world record fish is located in the George W. Brown Jr. Ojibwe Museum & Cultural Center.

My next stop was the George W. Brown Jr. Ojibwe Museum & Cultural Center to see the giant fish and to learn more about the Ojibwe.

They are Eastern Woodland Indians similar to the Iroquois of New York State.

In fact, many have Oneida ancestry.

Home, sweet home
Home, sweet home

The museum shows how they lived during the four seasons.

I like the one that showed them ice fishing.

The beautiful “Jingle Dress” was decorated with small pieces of metal.

I would love to see and hear a dance with someone wearing the dress.

There are also displays of a French fur trading post, Ojibwe arts and crafts, and more.

Lac du Flambeau school
Lac du Flambeau school

There is a birch bark canoe and a 24-foot dugout canoe recently recovered from the waters.

I think that a canoe that large would have been a war canoe.

We should all live by the Ojibwe Seven Teachings – Honesty, Humility, Truth, Wisdom, Love, Respect and Bravery.

I have read about and seen pictures dealing with the schools the US government built to house Native American children.

Lesson time
Lesson time

But The Mikwendaagoziwag (“They will be remembered”) Heritage Center, once the boys’ dormitory for the BIA/Government-run boarding school, is the first one I have visited.

The girls’ dormitory was located next door but has been torn down.

It is where children were taken from their families without permission and then immersed in European-American culture thus losing their culture.

They were all taught English and while the boys were taught a trade the girls were taught housekeeping skills.

While I think the intentions were good, the biggest problem is that after the schooling was completed the students had a foot in two worlds – the Native American and American-European world but didn’t really belong to either.

Class photo
Class photo

The Indian Bowl is where pow wows have been held for more than 60 years; it is now undergoing an upgrade and expansion.

I would love to attend an event there.

Often there are reports about violations of personal liberties and the like that are taking place in foreign countries.

We often choose to ignore the awful treatment the Native Americans suffered under the hands of the European-Americas.

Travel Trivia Tease™: Where can you attend a tea academy?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!