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Flying Bird Image

When Everybody Called Me Gabe-bines,

Teachings from Paul Buffalo

Timothy G. Roufs (Ed.)
University of Minnesota Duluth

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a note on tenses
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"This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society."

"This publication was made  possible in  part by the  people of  Minnesota  through  a grant funded by an appropriation  to  the  Minnesota  Historical Society  from the  Minnesota  Arts and Cultural  Heritage  Fund. Any views,  findings,  opinions,  conclusions  or recommendations expressed in this publication  are those  of  the authors  and  do not necessarily represent those of the State of  Minnesota, the  Minnesota  Historical Society, or the  Minnesota  Historic Resources Advisory Committee."

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Chiefs and Councils

Na-bah-nay-aush (One Sided Winner), 1865

Na-bah-nay-aush (Chief One-Sided Winner), Leech Lake, ca. 1865.

Joel Emmons Whitney
Photographer: Whitney's Gallery
Photograph Collection, Carte-de-visite, ca. 1865
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.1N r19 Negative No. 33401 Access Number: YR1924.3693

When my mother was just a little girl and a chief died he had a right to pass his authority on to those who were his next close relation.(1) But that's never happened too much in my time because they were always changing the customs or the constitution of the Tribe.(2)

We had heroes in my early days, and they became our chiefs. We had different kinds of chiefs. We had family group field chiefs, and division band chiefs. Beyond that we had high-rank area chiefs, and the ogimaag great chiefs. These were all great men who lived a true life. They were men that had experience, lots of experience, and who had talked with other experienced men that went through hardships. These great men became our chiefs because they were not afraid to speak out and tell what's right! That's why in our language we called a family group chief giigidowinini, "spokesman."

Our chiefs would talk and tell you the right(3) of their life. They were not afraid to talk because they went outward. They earned what they said by going out into the world. They were not afraid to talk because they learned through experience what they were saying. When they'd go out into the world they'd understand the world, understand the people, understand the hardship others went through, and that would give them the ability to talk. Then too, they lived the life they talked about.

O-ge-mah-o-cha-wub (Mountain Chief), chief of Leech Lake Ojibways, ca. 1860.

O-ge-mah-o-cha-wub (Mountain Chief), Chief of Leech Lake Ojibways, ca. 1860.

Photograph Collection, Stereograph, ca. 1860
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.1O r6 Negative No. 34187

Most generally the family chiefs were selected from the older class that lived a life. Each had become gakiikimaa, a good "advisory-Indian," and all had proven themselves as advisors when they were scouts.(4)

We evaluated them by their life, and we regularly exercised their views by asking them questions.(5) And when we asked them a question, they told their experience. More than one person their ages we asked these same questions, so when they told their answers we knew if they sounded good. If their answers were good they agreed with those of the other older people. Finally you'd find that they've proven themselves by their answers and by their background. You'd realize, "That's truly a great man. He's clean, and true." When enough people realized that, a man more or less automatically became our family field chief.

Maw-je-ke-jik (Flying Sky), Chief of Cass Lake Chippewas, 1865

Maw-je-ke-jik (Flying Sky), Chief of Cass Lake Chippewas, ca. 1865.

Creator: Whitney & Zimmerman
Photograph Collection, Carte-de-visite, ca. 1865
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.1M r13 Negative No. 49719

There was a field chief to every family group. In a travelling group of relationship, a group of Chippewas, there always was a chief. Different groups here and there had a chief and each chief was responsible for his own group. From time to time, during maple sugaring, wild rice harvesting, or during the winter, many family groups would meet and camp together.(6) It was at these times that the family chiefs would meet in a general council.

In these councils a chief is the same as the leader or a spokesman for his family group. He's their business man. A chief is a group's stand point in the field. He's selected from the tribe and he'll stand for what's right. He's trusted. And he has the power to go ahead and make decisions for the family group, providing that he reports back to them.

And if he's not able to be at the general council, he has a second chief -- a second assistant, a second spokesman -- to act in his place. But the second spokesman can't go ahead and settle a deal. The family chief has to be seen when decisions are made for his group. And if the chief sees anything that he thinks should be done, he tells his people, "We'll have to call a special meeting." So they have a meeting and all go in on that. In Indian we called that little meeting of our family group a "smoke-meeting," zagaswe’idiwin. Later on, when I learned English, we called all of our meetings a "council."

Chippewa Indians smoking in council, ca. 1900.

Chippewa Indians smoking in council, ca. 1900.

Photograph Collection, ca. 1900
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.37 p18 Negative No. 21123

In every council they'd get tobacco out and give you a little pipefull of tobacco. You'd light that, and then you'd have a good meeting. That relaxed you, if you were in the habit form of smoking.

Elderly Indian man holding pipe, ca. 1910.

Elderly Indian man holding pipe, ca. 1910.

Photograph Collection, Postcard, ca. 1910
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E99.1 r84 Negative No.

In a local family council we talked about the point the chief brought in for discussion, or whatever we were interested in at the time. The old men used to get together and have council every day. They would plan powwows,(7) and council on a feast. They would discuss our group's plans for travel, and talk about the animals and wild crops.

Chippewa Indians at White Earth; Chief Wadena seated center, 1885

Chippewa Indians at White Earth;
Chief Wadena seated center, ca. 1895.

Photograph Collection, Snapshot, ca. 1895
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.1W r21 Negative No. 70113

Anyone who wants to talk up can speak in council. And if the facts are there, they know he's experienced of life. Young people can get up and talk too, providing they don't get nervous. But when they get nervous they find it hard to talk. They're always told by the leader, "Don't get nervous before you get up. And look above, and move around a little bit. Then your nerves are gone."

But some of those speakers still got too nervous underneath their skin, and when they got up to speak they hesitated a little bit. That hesitation disturbs the minds of the group, and that disturbs what they wanted to put out to the council indirect. When your mind is easily affected by that, your pronunciation of the points you're talking about in the meeting is disturbed. It's difficult to speak before a council, and that's one of the reasons our good speakers became our leaders.

Indian council, White Earth, ca. 1873.

Indian council, White Earth, ca. 1873.

Creator: Hoard & Tenney
Photograph Collection, Stereograph, ca. 1873
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.5 r6 Negative No. 34859

In any council not everybody talked -- but everybody listened. Sometimes it seemed like only some had a voice, but that was all right, because if you'd just go and listen, you were still learning. Some people only listened all of the time. Good listeners became good advisors to the group. When a man listened to what the action was in all of the councils we called him obizindaan. That was the same as calling him an advisor in our language. If he listened to what they were discussing, and it all was clear, very well. But if he saw something wrong, or some danger, and was puzzled, he'd speak up and ask the group what they meant.

I wasn't afraid to ask questions to the older class. Many, many things I've seen in my time, and I understood them.


I think I understood them because I asked questions and it was explained to me. I wasn't stuck very often, but a lot of times I asked what something meant. When we kids went to a meeting we usually just listened, but if we had a question or thought we had a good point, we'd bring it out.(8)

By doing this we learned and had a voice in these meetings. If we didn't do it right the people at the meeting just bypassed us. They probably had better points, but that was all right because we were learning.

Councils calling the others in for their words were always a big thing in this Indian country of ours. A meeting, a gathering, is a great thing. When you get through with a meeting you feel good. And when you go out into the field after a meeting's over you begin to see things differently because you heard something. You learned something by others talking. Their points meant a lot to you. It's a great thing to get together -- an important thing -- so when you say anything, be careful, always. I was always glad to join any meeting. That's the way we all joined hands to work together.

I liked to sit and listen to the others make their points.


Because that's where I was learning by the experience of others' lives. They have experience just as well as I have. Maybe they have problems, and maybe these problems could be threshed out in the meeting. Maybe the problems could be clearified for a better way of life.

That's what the meeting was for -- to understand one another, to listen to one another. A meeting was not held to say that a person was wrong or right. Sure, we helped one another by pointing out problems, but at the meetings we worked hard just to understand others' points. That's what I noticed as a boy, and that's pretty much what I've seen happen at councils all my life.

In my canoe days(9) our chiefs would come to a general council from Leech Lake, Mud and Goose Lakes, White Oak-Mississippi-Ball Club, and sometimes from Boy River, and Winnibigosh. There were usually a couple chiefs that would come from Leech Lake. These places were the main divisions of my area at that time. In Indian we called these divisions endanakiid, "that's-where-he-works." In English these divisions were called "bands." We went by bands in those days. We had bands, but whites didn't recognize these bands as legal.

Each band -- like my Mississippi Band of the Mississippi River -- had its own district. What we called the Mississippi Band had the area around White Oak, Bena, Ball Club, Inger, and Squaw Lake; that's the area of the Mississippi Band. There were other bands at places like Leech Lake, Cass Lake, and Mille Lacs.

Leech Lake Map.
Leech Lake.
Source: Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Chief Little White Cloud (also known as George B. Selkirk), Cass Lake, ca. 1936.

  Chief Little White Cloud (also known as George B. Selkirk), Cass Lake, ca. 1936.

Photograph Collection, ca. 1936
Leech Lake Reservation
Photographer: C. N. Christiansen 
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. E97.1L r9 Negative no. 53619

Then there was also a band enrolled at White Earth. They took a treaty settlement at White Earth. "Removable Indians," we used to call them, because their old timers moved to White Earth. As part of their treaty settlement they took horses; they took farm implements. They were always looking for a final settlement, and I remember they fought for final settlement with the U.S. government. But for some reason the U.S. government never did give them a final settlement on account of the treaties of old time, the treaties of a fifty-eight year period.(10)

Mille Lacs removals with their chief at Big Elbow Lake, ca. 1905.

Mille Lacs removals with their chief at Big Elbow Lake, ca. 1905.

Creator: Robert G. Beaulieu
Photograph Collection, ca. 1905
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.5 r4 Negative No. 32977

In our old original way each band got together with one another and that made a ring within our tribe. And that was our government. The old tribal government considered that each band had its own district, and each district or division had its own chief.

The division or band chiefs were most generally the oldest and most respected family chiefs of the districts. When the Indians had large gatherings in their seasonal camps, they'd discuss who were the family chiefs. The locals discussed them. "There is a good man," they'd say. They knew their men. Some men didn't have any faults in their backgrounds. These men were clear. They were known for their honesty. They showed their ability by their background. The families they raised proved what they had done, and it was great. So they just naturally became the band chiefs. They just naturally became the spokesmen for the bands and we called them a giigidowinini, just the same as we called a spokesman in a family group. These band chiefs were the ones that most often spoke up at a general area council.

Chippewa chief White Cloud (Wa-bon-o-quot), ca. 1895.

Chippewa chief White Cloud (Waabaanakwad),
Gull Lake, Leech Lake (after 1862), and White Earth (after 1868), ca. 1895.

Photograph Collection, Cabinet photograph, ca. 1895
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.1W r19 Negative No. 4721

When the family and band chiefs of our area met in a general council we called that a "big smoke-meeting," chí-zagaswe’idiwin. They didn't meet very often like that, but when they did it was a big affair and all were welcome. They'd do the same kind of business there as in the smaller meetings, and all the chiefs wanted to be heard. If in the points they heard there the others found a weak point, they didn't say it out to the one speaking, but clarified it in the secret of history. As time went on they indirectly clarified the weak point. We all got along pretty good that way.

Quite naturally, from these general councils, certain band chiefs got to be well-known as good speakers and leaders. They became what we called chi-giigidowinini, a "spokesman in a high rank." These high-rank spokesmen became the main leaders for our areas. That's how we picked our chiefs. I was there. I know that. I've seen that.

Chief Flatmouth, the second, ca. 1898.
Bay-me-ge-maug (Chief Bemidji), ca. 1900.

Ne-gon-e-bin-ais (Chief Flatmouth, the Second), ca. 1898.

Photograph Collection, Postcard, 1904
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.1N r13 Negative No. 13625
cf., Location no. E97.1N p10 Negative no. 60712


Bay-me-ge-maug (Chief Bemidji), ca. 1900.

Creator: Niels Larson Hakkerup
Photograph Collection, ca. 1900
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.1B p5 Negative No. 12256

I remember Gebejiwan -- "River-Flowing-All-The-Way" -- and Bezhigogaabaw -- "Standing-Alone" -- and Chief Greenhill. These high-rank chiefs didn't take all the responsibility for their areas themselves. They had councils with the locals and the band chiefs, and by their Indian words they'd more or less vote. When all band chiefs got together and some chiefs found a weakness, the high-rank chief always explained it with very good points. Other chiefs went along with him.

Chief Jim Greenhill, ca. 1940.

Chief Jim Greenhill, ca. 1940.

Photograph Collection ca. 1940
Red Lake Indian Reservation  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society
Location no. E97.1G r13 Negative no. 53617

Our area chief represented the Winnibigosh, Mississippi, and Leech Lake Bands. He was generally stationed at Leech Lake and you were free to go there and see him. Leech Lake is our reservation and our high-rank chief was there. If you wanted to find out something, he'd tell you the truth. He was glad to show you where to camp, and where the best place was for fishing and for berries. I don't remember too much about our high-rank chiefs. I only remember who they were and how they got to be chiefs. I do remember my mother talking a lot about Chief Hole-in-the-Day,(11) and, of course, about my grandpa Chief Buffalo.

Po-go-nay-ke-shick (Hole in the Day, the Younger), ca. 1865.

(Chief Hole in the Day, the Younger), ca. 1865.

Photograph Collection, carte-de-visite, ca. 1865
Photographer: Whitney's Gallery
  Collections Online
Minnesota Historical Society

Accession No.: YR1941.5098 Negative No. 10543 Identifiers: E97.1P r17

Chief Buffalo was what we call ogimaa, a great chief. He was a well-known leader and spokesman of the Chippewa nation from Wisconsin.(12) Most Indian people knew him as Bizhiki. As one of the great chiefs of the Great Lakes, my grandpa signed a lot of the treaties of the 1880s. He signed the Rice Treaty and everything. My mom told me, and my grandpa and my uncles from Wisconsin told me, "He was a great chief. He was a great chief of all. He kept the Indians together with peace, and he was respected. He kept the state clean. He was a chief that the other chiefs respected, and as a chief they give him authority to take a tract of land of a hundred and sixty acres for his own private ownership."

In Chief Buffalo's times the Indians were having a little trouble. They were having some problems, one family to another, once in a great while! Chief Buffalo went through northern Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota, around Duluth, with ministers, to see the Indians. He'd peace-talk with them, and settle with them. He'd talk with them and give them lands through the U.S. government's allotment program. He walked through that area and did that, and they quieted down. When they got their allotments each family had their own place. That's how they calmed down.

Chief Buffalo made peace among the Indian people by arranging for land ownership through allotments and by speaking out as a great chief. I know too that he took land in Wisconsin for the group reservation area, and for his own land he took Duluth and some property in Ashland. He took Duluth for his private family, for his private family enterprise. The way I feel is that the chief was supposed to have from the tribe one mile square of land for his people, for his relatives. That's how he got the property in Ashland and the property where the Glass Block department store now is in downtown Duluth.(13)

Chief Buffalo adopted a white man named Armstrong(14) and it reads in the book at the Indian office that he signed his land over to his adopted son. Chief Buffalo thought a lot of the white people and that might be one of the reasons he adopted Armstrong. He thought a lot of the sailors(15) especially. He thought that the white people were showing us a better way of life. Some thought we weren't ready to handle our own affairs at that time because there was so much pressure from the people who were coming in to our area. So maybe that's why he adopted that boy into the tribe. Well, maybe he had a reason. Maybe that was his own boy. You can't tell, you know. I can't tell you that, but maybe it was his own boy. In that matter I couldn't explain how Armstrong was adopted either, but Chief Buffalo did adopt him.

 Benjamin Armstrong.

Benjamin G. Armstrong.

Source: "The Incredible Journey of Benjamin Armstrong and Chief Buffalo"
  National Park Service

Armstrong was a white man so he probably got a chance to take most of Chief Buffalo's land, and did, which he shouldn't have done. If he was adopted he shouldn't get any land, or he shouldn't have taken it all. Armstrong should have divided it up. There were a lot of claims and claimants with Chief Buffalo from the Indians of our people, for he left twenty-three children and grandchildren behind him.

Land problems aside, all of Chief Buffalo's relatives I met spoke of him as a great leader of our people. So has everyone else. That's why he was an ogimaa chief.

The great chiefs of the Chippewa nation met together and talked things over too, usually at treaty-making or treaty-payment time. They held council the same way others did, giving speeches and exchanging views by talking with one another.

My mother and my aunt Betsy from Wisconsin always told about the great speech Chief Buffalo made at a gathering of Great Lakes Indians. It was about 1826, somewhere in there, and I think it was in Duluth. Chief Buffalo called all the chiefs in beside him. There was an ogimaa chief of the tribe in every area along the Great Lakes and along the Mississippi in those days. Chief Buffalo spoke to six or seven ogimaa chiefs and the people who came with them, and to the government officials who were there. He spoke:

"We want peace on earth for the people of my country. We want peace, providing you will do right with us. We shall do right. We already have done right, and now we're waiting for an act of Congress to make peace for all. Years ago the Congress had societies who wanted to lead the Tribe. We trust the Federal government. We trust the officials! I want an agreement for peace so that we may live and raise our families in this country."

"I don't want wars in this great state we live in, and in this great United States we live in. As a chief I do not care for wars. Look across the ocean; for far and wide you cannot see anything. Just imagine, sooner or later they'll be coming abreast across that ocean into this country of ours. We shall gladly meet the newcomers and have a feast on that occasion."

"Our white friends are already coming in and learning us a better way of life. They're learning us how to use the metal, how to use the tools, how to get a better home. I think we are learning from the experience and practice they have. We learn from the farmers. They show us how to plant corn(16); they show us how to plant the garden. They show us a better way of life, and how to keep neat. This is something that we can use sooner or later, because now our Indians are living out in the fields with wild life. We gotta have fruit; we gotta have balanced food to improve indigestion, the same as the doctors of the Indians tell us. We got to balance our diet. We gotta balance everything."

"I think we're gonna learn lots more too. Education will be slow coming in, but it will be here someday. I know that some of your young people may see it. And I hope that there will be peace on the earth of this state then."

"So we shall keep our earth neat, clean, and with no pollution. We must be watching so we don't destroy our natural resources. And there'll be peace where we live. We shall appoint officials to safeguard the area. Some of these officials are showing up now."

"So speaking as one of the chiefs I wish the other chiefs would take this message home and tell their local people that it's a great move to lay down their weapons and lay down their hard feelings towards our newcomers, our strangers. I don't want blood to be shed out of my people, and your people. It's unnecessary. Look across the ocean to their lands and see their people; that's how many people are going to come across. That's how many who are gonna join us, to help us learn a better way of life. Lay down your guns. Lay down your weapons. You have no chance. They're showing up already. We have a lot of room on this land for everyone, providing we work, all work."

"Please hear me."

There was one, as I understand, one chief who said, "How are we going to live in this country? How are the children going to live without education? The white men are coming in this country. And there's going to be a development. Are our children going to understand the development? Are they gonna be trained?"

One chief said, "Yes! We're going to have schools. We're going to have teachers. We're going to have representatives that will work with us. They're going to give us that."

Another chief jumped up. He said, the other chief said, "Is it so that we could go along without school?"

The last chief said, "It's proven right now that across the ocean they have big boats coming across. And they can build those big boats with their own skill, and they'll be here. As far as you can see across the ocean there'll be a white man coming into this country! That's how many white people are coming. Should we pick up our arms? I don't think it's right." That's what he said. "So we shouldn't fight. Maybe they're coming to learn us a better way of life."

So that great Chief Buffalo said,

"Let's take an offer of peace. We agree that as far as you can see across the ocean there will be white men coming. That's a lot of people. That's a lot of people coming across. We can never stop them. They'll be here, but the Indian will learn more when they're here. Years ago we had stones for axes. We had clubs for axes to break our wood so we could build a fire in the camp. Now, we can have metal axes. Axe! -- when you have an axe in the wigwam you are a rich man!! And that helps you keep your family warm. And there's more of that coming for a betterment all the time. Later on you won't have to live in a wigwam; you'll live in a nice house. That's what they're gonna learn us."

They all went home and told that big speech to others. They looked forward to that what Chief Buffalo predicted, and before long, there it was. Pretty soon they felt what Chief Buffalo was talking about and predicting as the white people started moving into the area. East, and west, and south came in. Chief Buffalo was a predictor, a commentator on what was going to happen. The Indians respected his words, and the others began to realize that this is Indian country. The history of that chief is great. He predicted that stuff and that's how he got to be a chief. That's why he was a great man, and that's why they all called him Ogimaa Bizhiki.

I was always sorry that I never knew my grandfather Bizhiki because I thought of him and his predictions a lot as I watched and listened on our family travels.

Grave of Bez Hike - Chief of the Chippewas, Madeline Island.

Chief Buffalo's Grave, La Pointe, Madeline Island, Wisconsin.

b. ca. 1759 - d. September 2, 1855

Source: "Kechewaishke" -- Wikimedia


1. Chieftainship was inherited in the old days, but a chief's power and influence was, in effect, based on his personal characteristics and his ability to engender consensus among his group(s), including the women.

2. Later on leadership became elected. See League of Women Voters of Minnesota, Indians in Minnesota (North Central Publishing Co., 1974); Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Curriculum Development Staff, Minnesota Chippewa Tribal Government -- Student Handbook (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, 1978); Bruce White, We are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwa People. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Press, 2007, Ch. 2, "Ogimaag / Leaders"; and cf. James G. E. Smith, "Leadership Among the Southwestern Ojibwa," National Museums of Canada, Publications in Ethnology, 7 (Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, 1971).

3. Where they went right in life, and did the right things.

4. See Ch. 4, "Siouxs and Scouts."

5. For a discussion on asking elders questions, see Ch. 40, "John Smith 'Wrinkle Meat,'" and Ch. 11, "Campfire Talks."

6. See Ch. 6, "Spring Move to the Sugar Bush," Ch. 7, "Skigamizigewin, Maple Sugar Time," Ch. 11, "Campfire Talks," Ch. 13, "Manoominike-Giizis, 'Wild Ricing Moon,'" and Ch. 18, "Late-Autumn Winter Camp."

7. See Ch. 23, "Niimi'idiwin: 'Come and Dance, Come and Sing -- Living and Spirit Alike.'"

8. See Ch. 40, "John Smith 'Wrinkle Meat'" for details on the customs involving young people asking questions in a group situation.

9. See Ch. 3, "Canoe Days."

10. For a list of the "Major Federal Treaties, Laws and Other Actions" affecting the Minnesota Chippewa peoples beginning in 1825, see League of Women Voters of Minnesota, Indians in Minnesota (North Central Publishing Co., 1974), "Appendix," pp. 181-196. See Also Ojibwe > Ojibwe Treaties (Wikipedia) for a list of treaties, organized by treaty partners.

11. See Julius T. Clark, "Reminiscences of Hole-in-the-Day," Wisconsin Historical Collections, 5 (1868), 378-401; Mark Diedrich, The Chiefs Hole-in-the-day of the Mississippi Chippewa (Coyote Books, 1986); Stephen P. Hall, "The Hole-In-The-Day encounter," The Minnesota Archaeologist 36:2 (1977), 77-96; G. W. Sweet, "Incidents of the Threatened Outbreak of Hole-in-the-Day," Minnesota Historical Society, Collections, 6 (1894), 401-408; and Pauline Wold, "Some Recollections of the Leech Lake Uprising," Minnesota History, 24 (1943), 142-148.

12. There are three notable individuals called "Chief Buffalo" among the Anishinabe/Chippewa/Ojibwa peoples: Chief Buffalo or Kechewaishke [Gichi-waishke] (1759–1855), Ojibwa chief of the La Pointe Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Buffalo, an Ojibwa chief of the St. Croix Band; and, Beshekee (Buffalo), an Ojibwa chief of the Leech Lake Band. ("Chief Buffalo," Wikepedia.)

"Chief Buffalo, known as Bichiki and Gichi-waishke, was a revered figure in the history of Ojibwe people in the western Lake Superior region. Born around 1759 at La Pointe on Madeline Island along the south shore of the lake, he was a member of the Loon clan. He became an eloquent leader for his people in dealings with the British and American governments."

"In addition to the Treaty of 1854, which contained a provision setting aside a reserve of land for the chief in the future site of Duluth, Buffalo also signed the treaties of 1837, 1842, and 1847, which ceded land across what would become the territories and later states of Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 1852 Buffalo and others made a long journey to Washington, D.C. to protest the policies of Minnesota territorial officials who sought to remove all Ojibwe people from Wisconsin into Minnesota, centered on a government Indian agency at Sandy Lake. In part through Buffalo's actions policies were changed, resulting in the 1854 treaty, which created permanent homes in reservations throughout the region."

"After his death in September 1855 Chief Buffalo was honored by federal officials by being buried in a tomb constructed at government expense at La Pointe." [See illustration at the end of the chapter.]

"Two busts in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., were long thought to be of Chief Buffalo of La Pointe, however recent research has shown that they are more likely to be of another Chief Buffalo from Leech Lake, Minnesota. The busts were based on a clay model by the Italian sculptor Francis Vincenti, done in the presence of the subject in February 1855. The date is what makes clear that the chief could not be Chief Buffalo of La Pointe, since the chief was not in Washington at that time. The only Chief Buffalo there then was the chief from Leech Lake, who came to negotiate the Treaty of February 22, 1855. For more information on the busts, see the U.S. Senate website at <>."

"A thorough discussion of the problems of identifying the chief on whom the busts were modeled can be found at <>." -- "Chief Buffalo," Onigamiinsing Dibaajimowinan-Duluth's Stories, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Accessed 25 May 2018. See also "Chief Buffalo's Reservation," and . . .


 Chief Buffalo Document.

"After signing the Treaty of 1854, under which he received his reservation, Chief Buffalo left his mark on a document describing the boundaries of the reservation, as shown in this document in the National Archives in Washington, D.C." -- "Chief Buffalo"

See also J. O. Holzhueter, "Chief Buffalo and Other Wisconsin-related Art in the National Capitol," Wisconsin Magazine of Art, 56:4 (1973), pp. 284-289.; Paul Negri, "The Treaty of La Pointe and the Chief Buffalo Grant," (unpublished MS., University of Minnesota, Duluth Library, n.d., E99 .C6 N44X); and Amorin Mello. "Chief Buffalo Picture Search." Chequamegon History: Primary Research about the Chequameon Region before 1860. 12 March 2016. Accessed 27 June 2018.

13. The old Glass Block department store in downtown Duluth, which closed in 1981, not the Glass Block formerly at Miller Hill Mall, which closed in 1998.

Glass Block Department Store, Downtown Duluth, MN.

14. Benjamin G. Armstrong. See John O. Holzhueter, Madeline Island and the Chequamegon Region, (State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1974), and National Park Service, "The Incredible Journey of Benjamin Armstrong and Chief Buffalo." Accessed 27 June 2018.

15. People who worked and traveled on the Great Lakes.

16. I.e., new ways to plant corn; better ways to plant corn.

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