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The word Minnesota comes from a Dakota Indian word meaning "sky-tinted water"
Two major Native American tribes—the Dakota (or Sioux) and the Ojibwa (Anishinabe or Chippewa)—lived in the area that is now Minnesota. Small groups from other tribes now also reside in the state, including the Winnebago, who once had reservation land there. By the late 1860s treaties had pushed the Indians off lands they had occupied and moved them onto reservations.
Many American Indians still live on reservations in Minnesota. Seven Ojibwa reservations are located in the northern part of the state, and four Dakota communities occupy lands in the southern part. Other American Indians reside in urban areas. More than 9,000 people of Ojibwa ancestry live in Minneapolis, and about 3,000 Ojibwa, Dakota, and Winnebago are in St. Paul. There are smaller groups of American Indian people in Duluth and Bemidji.
Tribes and Bands of Minnesota
The following list of American Indians who have lived in Minnesota has been compiled from Hodge's Handbook of American Indians... and from Swanton's The Indian Tribes of North America. Some may simply be variant spellings for the same tribe.
Chippewa Bands: Bois Fort, Fond Du Lac, Grand Portage, Cass Lake, Pitlager, Lake Winnibigoshish, Mille Lac, Snake River, Pembina, White Oak
Many of the reservations in Washington are small, with one agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs having responsibilities for the tribes residing on several reservations. Most of the records kept by the federal government about the tribes will be found in the appropriate agency.
From the mid-1800s, the official policy of the United States government toward the American Indian was to confine each tribe to a specific parcel of land called a reservation. Agencies were established on or near each reservation. A government representative, usually called an agent (or superintendent) was assigned to each agency. Their duties included maintaining the peace, making payments to the Native Americans based on the stipulations of the treaties with each tribe, and providing a means of communication between the native population and the federal government.
Sometimes, a single agency had jurisdiction over more than one reservation. And sometimes, if the tribal population and land area required it, an agency may have included sub-agencies.
The boundaries of reservations, over time, have changed. Usually, that means the reservations have been reduced in size. Sometimes, especially during the later policy of "termination," the official status of reservations was ended altogether.
The following list of reservations has been compiled from the National Atlas of the United States of America, the Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America, and other sources. Those reservations named in bold are current federally-recognized reservations, with their associated agency and tribe(s). Others have historically been associated with the state or are not currently recognized by the federal government.
- Bois Forte: 1866 (Chippewa)
- Chippewa Reservation: 1867
- Dakota or Sioux Reservation: 1851-58 / 1851-62
- Deer Creek Reservation:
- Fond De Lac (Bois Forte) Reservation: Federal, under jurisdiction of Minnesota Agency, Tribe: Mississippi Band of Chippewa
- Grand Portage Reservation: Federal, under jurisdiction of Minnesota Agency, Tribe: Chippewa
- Leech Lake Reservation 1855 Federal, under jurisdiction of Minnesota Agency, Tribe: Chippewa
- Lower Sioux Reservation: Federal, under jurisdiction of Minnesota Agency, Tribe: Eastern or Mississippi Sioux
- Mdawakonton Reservation: 1884
- Menominee Reservation: 1845-1845
- Mille Lacs Reservation: 1855-1889 Federal, under jurisdiction of Minnesota Agency, Tribe: Chippewa
- Nett Lake Reservation: Federal, under jurisdiction of Minnesota Agency, Tribe: Chippewa
- Lower Sioux Community: (Sioux)
- Ojibwa or Chippewa Reservation: 1855-1864
- Pipestone Reservation:
- Prairie Island Reservation: Federal, under jurisdiction of Minnesota Sioux, Tribe: Eastern or Mississippi Sioux
- Prior Lake Reservation: Federal, under jurisdiction..........Tribe: Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux
- Red Lake Reservation: 1863-1889 Federal, under jurisdiction of Red Lake Agency, Tribe: Chippewa
- Shakopee Mdewakanton: State, under jurisdiction of Minnesota Agency, Tribe: Shakopee Sioux
- Sioux Reservation: 1851-1858
- Vermillion Lake Reservation: 1881
- Upper Sioux Reservation: Federal, under jurisdiction of Minnesota Sioux, Tribe: Eastern or Mississippi Sioux
- Wabasha Reservation:
- White Earth Reservation: .........., under jurisdiction of Minnesota Agency, Tribe: Chippewa
- White Oak Point Reservation:
- Winnebago Reservation: 1846-1855 (Houston County)
Agencies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Agencies were created as an administrative division of the federal government to manage Indian affairs with the tribes, to enforce policies, and to assist in maintaining the peace. The names and location of these agencies may have changed, but their purpose remained basically the same. Many of the records of genealogical value were created by these offices.
- Birch Cooley Agency
- Consolidated Chippewa Agency
- Crow Wing Subagency
- Fond du Lac Agency
- Grand Portage Agency
- Great Lakes Agency
- La Pointe Agency
- Leech Lake Agency
- Lower Sioux Agency -- part of St. Peters Agency
- Milk River Agency
- Minnesota Agency, Route 3, P.O. Box 112, Cass Lake, MN 56633
- Nett Lake Agency
- Pipestone Agency
- Red Lake Agency, Red Lake, MN 56671
- Sandy Lake Subagency
- St. Peters Agency 1824-1879
- Upper Sioux Agency -- part of St. Peters Agency
- Vermillion Lake Agency
- White Earth Agency
- Winnebago Agency
Minnesota Superintendency 1849-1856
- Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs. 1824-1880: Historical Sketches, Clearwater Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.
The Office of Indian Affairs (now the Bureau of Indian Affairs) established a network of schools throughout the United States, beginning with Carlisle Indian School, established in 1879. Some of these schools were day schools, usually focusing on Indian children of a single tribe or reservation. Some were boarding schools which served Indian children from a number of tribes and reservations.
In addition, other groups such as various church denominations established schools specifically focusing on American Indian children. (read more...)
The following list of Indian Schools in Minnesota has been compiled from Hill's Office of Indian Affairs..., Hill's Guide to Records in the National Archives Relating to American Indians, and others.
- Bena School
- Bishop Whipple Indian School - Norton, MN
- Birch Coulee Day School
- Cass Lake School
- Grand Portage School
- Leech Lake Boarding School
- Minnesota Agency School census 1912-1917, 1946-1947 and permanent school census cards Family History Library 1st film 1266710
- Morris Industrial School
- Nett Lake School
- Pipestone Indian Boarding School
- Pleasant Nook-Granite Falls,MN
- Prairie Island - Egglston, MN
- Red Lake Agency school census 1922-1927 Family History Library film 1204883 item 2
- Squaw Point Day School
- Vermillion Lake School
- Minnesota Historical Society, 690 Cedar Street, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101
Family History Library
The Family History Library has many American Indian records from the National Archives - Central Plains Region (Kansas City, Missouri). For the Ojibwa, for instance, microfilms of census, vital, land, and family records are available from 1876 to 1955. Additional sources are at the Minnesota Historical Society Library, including:
- Powell, Ransom Judd. Papers, Undated and 1843, 1896–1938. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society, 1987. (Family History Library microfilms 1550598–612.) No circulation to Family History Centers. Papers include genealogies, censuses, correspondence, and other records collected by the lawyer for lumber companies that bought White Earth Reservation land.
A research study of one Ojibwa family from Minnesota’s White Earth reservation is in:
- Byers, Paula K., ed. Native American Genealogical Sourcebook. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research, 1995. (Family History Library book 970.1 B991n.) It includes chapters on historical background, research methods and sources, and libraries and archives holding genealogical information on American Indians. The case study reported on pages 54–64 uses records mostly dating between 1885 and 1915 to trace ancestors and descendants of one Ojibwa family. Records used include Indian censuses, United States censuses, Chippewa Commission and Chippewa Agency records, and the Ransom Judd Powell papers. A bibliography of sources for further study on Minnesota Indians is provided.
Other books include:
- Ebbott, Elizabeth. Indians in Minnesota. 4th ed. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1985. (Family History Library book 970.1 Eb17i.) Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Minnesota, this book deals mainly with social strengths and economic problems of American Indians in modern-day Minnesota. Preliminary chapters give histories of major Indian groups in the state and shifting government policies toward them. Includes maps and tables showing the locations of Indian groups on and off reservations in 1980.
Minnesota Historical Society (St. Paul, Minnesota). Chippewa and Dakota Indians: A Subject Catalog of Books, Pamphlets, Periodical Articles, and Manuscripts in the Minnesota Historical Society. St. Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society, 1969. (Family History Library book 970.3 D149c .) A list of printed and manuscript sources on Minnesota’s two major tribes. Much new material has been added to the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society since this book was published.
See also the chapter on "The Dakota and Ojibwa" in They Chose Minnesota, described in the "Minorities" article. For sources on the Sioux War of 1862, see the "Military Records" article. Steps to effective research are listed in the "United States Native Races" article.
Records of the various tribes can be found by looking under the name of the tribe in the Subject Search of the Family History Library Catalog and under "Indians of North America – Minnesota." Many of the records are also listed in the Place Search of the catalog under:
MINNESOTA – NATIVE RACES
- Records of the United States attorneys and marshal for the District of Minnesota, 1889-1917 which include land allotments for the White Earth Chippewas and genealogical charts connected with those allotments. There are 7 microfilms starting with film 1294074. (NARA record group 118 roll 22)
- Records of the Minnesota Superintendency of Indian Affairs, 1849-1856 There are 9 microfilms in the Family History Library starting with 1618093.
Minnesota - History for a calendar that includes dates of importance to the Indians of Minnesota
Minnesota - Military for a list of forts
- ↑ Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30 1907. Available online.
- ↑ Swanton John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #145 Available online.
- ↑ National Atlas of the United States of America -- Federal Lands and Indian Reservations Available online.
- ↑ Isaacs. Katherine M., editor. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservations, Appendix E, Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics, Inc., 1991.
- ↑ Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches, Clearwater Publishing Co., Inc. 1974. (Family History Library book 970.1 H551o.)
- ↑ Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981. (FHL book 970.1 H551g.)
- "Accompanying Pamphlet for Microcopy 1011", National Archives Microfilm Publications, Appendix.
- American Indians: A Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications. Washington DC: National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives and Records Administration, 1998.
- Hill, Edward E. (comp.). Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration, 1981.
- Hill, Edward E. The Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880: Historical Sketches. New York, New York: Clearwater Publishing Company, Inc., 1974.
- Historical Sketches for Jurisdictional and Subject Headings Used for the Letters Received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-1880. National Archives Microcopy T1105.
- Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Washington D.C.:Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #30 1907. Available online.
- Isaacs. Katherine M., editor. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America. U.S. Data Sourcebook, Volume 11 Appendices, Bureau of Indian Affairs List of American Indian Reservations, Appendix E, Indian Reservations. Omnigraphics, Inc., 1991.
- National Atlas of the United States of America -- Federal Lands and Indian Reservations Available online.
- Preliminary Inventory No. 163: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Washington DC: National Archives and Records Services. Available online
- Swanton John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin #145 Available online.