Home > The Bonds of Unity (1917-1925) > A Sad Chapter in Ojibwe History

A Sad Chapter in Ojibwe History



For all the effort that was expended toward bringing the people of Allouez and Itasca together, it’s uncertain whether Fr. Bertram (or any priest in 1919) could have helped the Ojibwe who had a village on Wisconsin Point.

Today, not far from St. Anthony on the northern edge of the parish near the Superior entry lighthouse at Wisconsin Point, a stone marker states:

“Here was the burial ground
of the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa people dating from the 17th century.
It was removed in 1919
to St. Francis cemetery, Superior.”

Actually, only about 180 remains from the most identifiable graves were moved (including at least one chief– Chief Joseph Osaugie (1802-1876). Sadly though, once placed in a mass grave at St. Francis Xavier cemetery, they were improperly cared for over the years. For example, when the slope of land on which they were reburied had been undercut by construction of a road, bones and decayed clothing could be seen spilling toward the river. As far as what happened to the 100 unidentified graves that were left on Wisconsin point? Some say Chief Osaugie’s descendants know their location, but they are not about to give up their dead.

“The bones of our ancestors have lain in peace for hundreds of years. Why should they now be dug up and removed to some other place? How can it be that others own this land? I was born here and have lived here all my life. Before me my father lived here and before him his father, and his father and so on back for hundreds of years. This has always been the Indian’s home. Now they tell us our dead must be moved, and that we must also move. Tell me, where are we to go?”—Frank Sky Superior Telegram ( June 5, 1914)

Ironically, the reason why the remains were transferred from their original burial place (in fact, an entire village of Ojibwe evicted) was that in 1918 U.S. Steel wanted to build a huge ore dock on the land separating Lake Superior from Allouez Bay. However, it was determined that the sandbar was too sandy construct an ore dock, so it was never built.

The first remains to be removed from Wisconsin Point were of a Franciscan missionary, Father Elphonsus Chror. Chror was buried at Wisconsin Point in 1882. His remains were removed in 1910.

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