Red Cliff recovers historic peace pipeA 162 year old peace pipe smoked by Chippewa Chief Buffalo and President Fillmore has been found and returned this week to the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwa.
By: Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A 162 year old peace pipe smoked by Chippewa Chief Buffalo and President Fillmore has been found and returned this week to the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwa.
Rumors of the existence of this treasured piece of history circulated for years. Then a few weeks ago, Red Cliff Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Larry Balber got the call from descendants of the pipe’s keepers.
“I was absolutely floored. I said ‘I can’t talk for the tribe but I’ll be back to you immediately.’”
This peace pipe was made around 1848 when the federal government and mineral speculators tried to force tribes from Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Balber says chiefs sent out messengers to see if they had violated earlier treaties with Washington.
“Has there been problems between our nation and the Chemakeman? Wherever those messengers went they came back saying ‘No. There’s been no problems. We don’t know what this means but yes, we’re being told we’re going to be moved.’ The chiefs at that point decided they were not going to be moved. If that’s the situation, then they’re going to fight,” Balber said
By 1852, Ojibwa Chief Buffalo lead a delegation that canoed, walked and took trains to smoke this pipe with President Millard Fillmore. The meeting lead to the Treaty of 1854, guaranteeing reservation land for American Indians. But even today, Balber says pressure to extract minerals or develop land continues.
“A lot of my dealings have to do with those locations of ancestors who are inconveniently buried in a location of prime development,” he said.
Balber says that makes this peace pipe a symbol of not just the past but also the future.
Eventually this pipe will be shared with U.S and Canadian tribes and unveiled at a community feast.