White Earth Indian Reservation (Minnesota)

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The White Earth Reservation is a federally-recognized reservation in Minnesota. 

Established -- 19 March 1867 
Agency (BIA) -- 
Principal tribes -- Chippewa of the Mississippi, Pembina, Pilager Chippewa, and Dakota
Population -- 9,192 - 2000 census


The White Earth Reservation was established by Treaty of Mar. 19, 1867 (XVI, 719); Executive orders, Mar. 18, 1879, and July 13, 1883; act of Jan. 14, 1889 (XXV, 642). See agreement of July 29, 1889 (H. R. Ex. Doc. 247. 51st Cong., 1st less., 34, 36). After the Reservation was established, the United States increased the effort to have all Minnesota Chippewa Reservations eradicated. They originally wanted to relocate all Chippewa's and Dakota's from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to the White Earth Reservation.The Reservation originally covered over 1,300 sq. mi. It now covers 1,093 sq. mi. In 1887, the United States passed the Dawes Act.

Then in 1889 they passed the Nelson Act. It was the Nelson Act which brought ruin to the promised Reservation. The Nelson Act forced many of Minnesota's Chippewa's and Dakota's to relocate to the White Earth Reservation. Though the Dakota did not originally sign the treaty to live on this Reservation, years later they were forced to relocate to the White Earth Reservation. After the forced relocation, the United States then eradicated nearly all of the White Earth Reservation, except a tiny part of the northeast portion of the promised Reservation.

In 1898, chief Bugonaygishig led a rebellion in northern Minnesota which eventually led to the United States returning the promised Reservations. However, the damage had already been done. At the White Earth Reservation, the whites had torn down the vast forest and forced the Chippewa's and Dakota's to accept land allotments which were eventually sold to non Indians. After the 1898 Rebellion, the whites replanted trees across the central and eastern part of this Reservation. The White Earth Reservation is not entirely owned by the whites however. State forests cover much of the Reservation, and countless lakes are also found within the Reservations borders. The western part of the Reservation has a larger white population than Indian. The central and eastern part of the Reservation is where the Chippewa's and Dakota's primarily live.

About half of the Reservation has land not suitable for agriculture. The State of Minnesota and Federal Government of the United States, own much of the Reservations forests and certain other areas. However, that land is actually owned by the Reservation through treaty agreements. [1].


Throughout the White Earth Reservation are numerous settlements. Some are predominantly non Indian. The most important Chippewa-Dakota community is White Earth. The predominantly Chippewa-Dakota communities are mainly found in the central and eastern part of the Reservation. They are the following:

  1. Naytauwaush
  2. White Earth
  3. Elbow Lake
  4. North Twin Lake
  5. Pine Point
  6. Rice Lake
  7. Ogema


Allotment,Hinton Roll, Case files and Indian faffidavits of the Linnen and Moorhead investigations, 1909. FHL film: 1294074 first film. *Gilfillan, J. A., et al. Joseph A. Gilfillan and Family Papers. 1872. WorldCat 313831728 Correspondence, articles, translations, and miscellany concerning Gilfillan's work as a Protestant Episcopal missionary on the White Earth Indian Reservation (1872-1898) and his study of Ojibwe language and culture.


  1. "Minnesota Indian Reservations," Handbook of Indians North of Mexico, by Frederick Webb Hodge Available online.