Mille Lacs Indian Museum, 43411 Oodena Drive, Onamia, Minnesota

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Mille Lacs Indian Museum

Address: 43411 Oodena Drive
Onamia, Minnesota
Mille Lacs County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Historic Function: Historic site
Historic Function: Trading post on Mille Lacs Indian Reservation

Onamia Mille Lacs

The Mille Lacs Indian Museum site includes a modern building with exhibits which tell the story of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians. The building's arching window wall reflects the shoreline of Lake Mille Lacs. Fashioned in cedar, the exterior is highlighted with a copper dome and an inset tile band designed by Mille Lacs elder Batiste Sam.

Adjacent to the museum, a restored trading post, once operated by Harry D. Ayer, retains its 1930s appearance.Trace the history of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and discover how they have preserved their culture.

The museum features videos, computer interactives, listening stations and objects from traditional and contemporary Ojibwe culture, showcasing traditions of language, music, dance and art. A large collection of Ojibwe objects illuminates the lives of Band members, past and present. The Four Seasons Room, a stunning life-size diorama, depicts traditional Ojibwe activities in each season: hunting and spearfishing in winter, maple sugaring in spring, gardening and berry picking in summer, and wild rice harvesting in fall.

The museum's crafts room serves as a demonstration area for traditional cooking, birch-bark basketry and beadwork.

Mille Lacs Indian Museum, 43411 Oodena Drive, Onamia, Minnesota
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Treaty of 1837

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe — like all Indian tribes — is a sovereign Indian nation with its own laws and its own system of government.

A treaty is an agreement between two or more sovereign nations. It is like a contract.

The federal government can make treaties with tribal governments without state approval.

In 1837, even before Minnesota was a state, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and several other tribes signed a treaty that ceded — or sold — land to the United States government. The tribes signed the Treaty of 1837 on the condition that they would still have the right to hunt, fish and gather in the ceded territory.

The Treaty of 1837 was not properly upheld. In 1990, the Mille Lacs Band was ready to sue the state of Minnesota because too many Band members were being wrongly arrested for hunting and fishing in the ceded territory. But to avoid unnecessary and unpleasant confrontations, the Band tried to settle the issue out of court.

After a challenging negotiation process, the Band and the Minnesota executive branch of government reached a settlement. That settlement was later voted down by the Minnesota Legislature, which felt that the case should be settled in court.

In June 1994, the case went to court. In the first phase of the two-part trial, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Mille Lacs Band, saying Band members still had rights to hunt, fish and gather on the ceded land. For the second phase, six other tribes that had also signed the treaty joined the Mille Lacs Band in their suit. In August 1997, a three-judge panel from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed the 1994 ruling.

The case finally went to the U.S. Supreme Court. On March 24, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Treaty of 1837, saying that Mille Lacs Band members and members of the other tribes that signed the treaty can hunt, fish and gather on the ceded land under tribal regulations.

Today’s Mille Lacs Band members, like their ancestors, are committed to protecting and preserving natural resources. That is why the Mille Lacs Band worked with the state of Minnesota to develop and implement a Conservation Code for the 1837 ceded territory.

The Conservation Code requires Mille Lacs Band members to purchase licenses from the Band’s Department of Natural Resources before they can hunt and fish on public lands in the ceded territory. It also prohibits hunting on private land in the ceded territory unless it is forest crop land. Tribal members must obtain daily permits for all spearing and netting, and these activities are closely monitored by a conservation warden and/or a biologist.

Enforcement of the Conservation Code is coordinated by tribal officials, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and conservation officers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Marge Anderson obituary

Marge Anderson will be remembered for leading the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe during landmark efforts to reclaim tribal hunting and fishing rights and for steering casino profits to social programs for the common good, instead of to individuals.

As the band's chief executive from 1991 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012, she was the first woman to lead an American Indian tribe in Minnesota. Anderson, who died June 29 at age 81, also was an authority on the history, traditions and culture of the Ojibwe and was fluent in the language.

She is credited with leading the tribe into the modern era of American Indian gaming, using the profits from the band's Hinckley and Mille Lacs casinos to fund social programs, schools and clinics for the band's members, instead of handing out payments to individual members, according to reports.

The band has 4,300 members, about half living on the reservation about 75 miles north of the Twin Cities.

"Marge Anderson was a great tribal leader for the band and a trailblazer for all of Indian Country," Melanie Benjamin, the tribe's current chief executive, said in a statement. "This is an extraordinary loss."

The band sued to reassert its fishing and hunting rights on Mille Lacs Lake and in other parts of east-central

Minnesota that were granted under an 1837 treaty. In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the treaty remained valid. "This case is about more than hunting deer and catching fish," Anderson said at the time. "It is about preserving and passing along the traditional ways that make us who we are -- Ojibwe people."

Her words should live on with all Minnesotans: The high court kept a promise, she said, "a promise that our rights are not just words on paper. A promise that agreements are made to be honored, not broken."

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Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe | 43408 Oodena Drive | Onamia, MN 56359 Government Center Phone: (320) 532-4181


Mille Lacs Indian Museum

Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

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