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Profile of Erik Redix: McKnight Land Grant Professor

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Historic postcard of the Chippewa Flowage
Historic postcard of Chippewa Flowage.

"These Indians state that officials of the Water Power Company told them last winter that the water level would never rise to the height of the graves. As the water level approached the top of these graves, these Indians claim that they repeatedly asked the Power Company to move the graves but no relief was afforded."

Father Philip Gordon, Mission Priest, Reserve, Wisc., in a letter to Byron A. Sharpe, superintendent of Hayward Indian School, June 30, 1923

UMD professor Erik Redix
McKnight Land-Grant Professor Erik Redix

The Hayward Lakes Area was created in 1923 by the Chippewa Flowage, a 23,000-acre body of water designed for power generation and flood control. The dam’s floodwaters wiped out the community of Bakweyawaa, its cemeteries, roads, and wild rice beds and directly resulted in decades of poverty for the Ojibwe that were living there.

“The Chippewa Flowage had a devastating impact,” explains Dr. Erik Redix, an assistant professor in American Indian Studies. “There are many in the community who are eager to have this story more well known."

They don't have to wait much longer. Redix is working on a book examining the creation of the Chippewa Flowage, built despite the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe repeatedly voting against it. His research was boosted last month when he was awarded a University of Minnesota McKnight Land-Grant Professorship, a two-year award designed to advance the careers of exceptional junior faculty.

This will be Redix’s second book. His first, “The Murder of Joe White,” was published last fall and recounted the 1894 murder of an Ojibwe chief by Wisconsin state game wardens. Redix says the McKnight Land-Grant Professorship removes obstacles for writing, as it includes a research grant for two years and a research leave. “This makes it so much easier to publish a second book. I have the time and resources to make this possible.”

Redix became a member of UMD’s faculty after earning his doctorate in history at the University of Minnesota in 2012. He teaches first-year Ojibwe language, Ojibwe culture, and Native American history and hosts Ojibwe Stories: Gaganoonididaa on KUMD.

1923 photo of Chippewa Flowage
March 1923 photo of the Winter Dam's construction.

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Written by Lori C. Melton. February, 2014.

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