Chippewa or Ojibwe?

As we began planning for this stop we were both excited about the possibility of visiting the Madeline Island Museum in La Pointe, Wisconsin knowing that this location has been/is a spiritual center for the Ojibwe. With our cruise scheduled on Wednesday morning we had planned to visit on Monday or Tuesday, but learned too late that for this season, they’ve modified their schedule and are closed those two days. Oops! So yesterday after our return to dock, we scurried over to the Madeline Island Ferry dock and took the short ride over to the largest of the Apostle Islands. Hoping to enjoy lunch before a museum visit, we were dismayed to learn that of at least a dozen eateries on the island that none were open for business on Wednesday afternoon. So we grabbed a couple of items from the Madeline Island Market for a quick repast at the picnic tables outside before walking to the museum. Established in 1958, this museum seeks to tell the history of the peoples who have called Madeline Island home, from the Chippewa who’d been here for hundreds of years and the earliest Europeans, fur traders and missionaries, to well into the Twentieth Century. We first watched an excellent movie about the history of La Pointe, the community of the southern point of the island. We paid particular attention to information and artifacts related to the native peoples who lived here and learned that they called themselves the Anishinaabe but other native people called them Ojibwe, and Europeans referred to them as Chippewa. We’d known that because of a prophecy that they had migrated from the east but today we learned that here at Madeline that they believed that all the gifts the creator had given them were here and that when they were forced to move that they had hidden birchbark scrolls in the caves because of a prophecy that their people would regain their lands. We were fascinated with the artifacts but disappointed that we didn’t get a chance to chat with one of the very knowledgable docents but we with did leave more knowledge, a curiosity of the relationship of the appearance of Halley’s Comet to the migration of the Anishinaabe, a greater thirst to learn about these peoples, and a book, Great Lakes Indians by William J. Kubiak. This morning over coffee we perused Chapter Four and did a Wikipedia search for “Chippewa” which yielded a monograph on the “Ojibwe”. We’re fascinated and can’t wait to learn even more.

  1. Susan O'Gara

    OH Karen & Steve, you could be the best tour guides ever!!!! Continue to “Live! Live! Live!” (line from the musical “Mame”) With love to you both, Susan

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