Indian tribe close to reclaiming landAfter almost a century, a Lake Superior band of Chippewa is just weeks away from getting part of their tribal home back.
By: Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
After almost a century, a Lake Superior band of Chippewa is just weeks away from getting part of their tribal home back.
The U.S. Department of Interior has agreed to return 15 acres of land on Wisconsin Point in Superior, land taken from the Fond du Lac Band in 1918.
That’s when tribal members were evicted from their village, treated as trespassers. Documents filed with the Department of the Interior say U.S. Steel wanted to build ore docks there, and the village was in their way. So were graves of ancestors dating back three centuries. Many of those graves were moved, but many remain.
So Fond du Lac Tribal chairwoman Karen Diver says in addition to using the land to educate and preserve, they’ll honor their ancestors.
“Right now, we’d actually just like to care for the gravesites and the markers down there,” she says.
Diver says after a decade of bureaucratic snarl, only paperwork from the General Services Administration is left to make it a done deal.
“It’s certainly cause for celebration, because it did seem that it did get bogged down within the Department of Interior,” Diver says. “If I had a hope, it would be that the land transfer would take place before the Osaugie reunion in August.”
Wisconsin Point Chief Joseph Osaugie was a signer of the La Pointe Treaty of 1854 with other chiefs and President Fillmore. Ironically, the treaty was supposed to stop forced removal of Indians from their reservations. Last summer, 60 of his descendants gathered at Wisconsin Point, hoping the land would be back to them by this summer.