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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 5, 2003 - Issue 84


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Indians Are Very Bitter

credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)
editor's note:

Here is a collection of four articles from Superior, WI and Duluth, MN newspapers from 1914. As you will see, they report an issue that continues to cause concern. Sadly, we suspect we know the outcome in this case.


Indians Are Very Bitter
From: Superior News Telegram - August 28, 1914

Oppose Removal of Bodies From Indian Cemetery on Wisconsin Point
Says Steel Company Should Pay for Work and Not the Indian Funds

"The white men have stolen the Indian land from them. Now, not satisfied, they would tear up the bodies of the Indian dead in order that they may have even the last resting place of our ancestors," said Frank Drew, one of the speakers at the conference held at the St Francis Xavier parish hall last night to consider the removal of the remains from the Indian Cemetery on Wisconsin Point to some cemetery in the city of Superior.

The Indians were a unit in opposing the removal of the bodies from the point, they claiming that the land on, which the cemetery is located belongs to one Joe Leviash, a Chippewa, who has lived there for nearly forty years. This, they assert, gives him title to the property by virtue of adverse possession.

Another point over which the Indians were very bitter was the fact that the $5,000 appropriated for the removal of the bodies was taken from the tribal fund.

They consider that if the removal of the bodies was made necessary by the construction of the steel company's terminals and docks, the steel company should pay for the removal, and not the Indians who were perfectly satisfied to have the remains stay where they were.

Improper activities in the campaign to secure the removal of bodies was charged by some of the speakers who questioned whether the government at Washington really knew anything about this matter. A committee is to be selected to investigate the matter and report at a meeting of the Indians on September 6th.

Indian Agent George W. Cross, in charge of the Cloquet District, presided at the meeting.

It is possible that the Indians will employ an attorney to fight the removal of the bodies in the courts.

Cemetery to Be Removed
From: Superior News Telegram - September 4, 1914

Indian Agent George W. Cross Gives Notice That Bodies Will Be Moved
Asks That Persons Having Relatives in Cemetery Notify Him

George W. Cross, Indian Agent at Cloquet, in a letter to the Telegram asks that all persons having relatives buried in the cemetery on Wisconsin Point notify him of that fact and that they express their preference as to what cemetery the bodies shall be buried in.

Mr. Cross' letter is as follows:

"I wish to notify the Indians interested that I have been directed by the commissioner of Indian Affairs to take steps looking to the removal of the bodies from Wisconsin Point Cemetery to an established cemetery in the city of Superior."

"For the information of the Indians will say that Wisconsin Point was ceded by the Indians to the United States government by the Treaty of 1854 and that the title to the land where the Indians are now buried passed from the United States government several years ago. This land is now owned by the Interstate Railroad Company, notice has been served on the government that the company wishes to use the land for commercial purposes and the government has been requested to remove the bodies at as early a date as possible."

"Those Indians who have relatives buried on Wisconsin Point are requested to write me giving the number of their relatives buried there and also stating their choice of the cemetery in Superior. We wish to be guided by the wishes of the Indians in the removal of these bodies so far as it is possible. If any the Indians wish to remove the bodies of their relatives themselves, they may have the privilege of doing so."

"It is proposed to remove the bodies to a permanent cemetery in the city of Superior where the graves will be properly cared for, the grounds properly kept up and looked after. This will be a great deal more satisfactory than to allow the bodies to remain where they are."

Indians to Hold Council
From: Superior News Telegram - September 5, 1914

Chippewas from Wisconsin and Minnesota will Gather At Sawyer Thursday
Charles Drew Says Redskins Will Fight Attempt to Remove Graveyard

A 'council of war' of Indians belonging to Chippewa Tribe will be held at Sawyer, Minnesota, next Thursday to protest against the removal of Indian graveyards in Superior and at Cloquet, according to Charles Drew, who is leading the local fight to prevent the removal of the graveyard from Wisconsin Point. Mr. Drew returned last night from Cloquet where he conferred with Indians stationed at the Fond du Lac Reservation.

According to Drew the Indians at the Fond du Lac Reservation are opposed to the removal of the graveyard from Wisconsin Point and will assist the local red men in an attempt to prevent the proposed action. Attorney Frank Withrow of La Crosse after conferring with Drew and others here. According to Mr. Withrow, who has won many cases for the Indians, the graveyard on Wisconsin Point cannot be removed without the consent of the Indians.

"The Indians will also fight to make the 40 Indians now living on the point vacate the premises according to Drew. "The Indians have never given that point up," say Drew, "and cannot be forced to move if they don't want to."

"An attempt is being made to move the graveyard at the Fond du Lac Reservation at Cloquet and also to transfer Indians living in the Indian village."

Drew will go to Sawyer to attend Thursday's meeting. Other Chippewas from Superior and other Wisconsin points will also attend.

Indians to Hold Council
From: The Duluth News Tribune  - September 7, 1914

Aged Pair, for 40 Years Keepers of Indian Cemetery on Point,
Will Fight Plan to Expel Them From Their Home

View of Graveyard, with Charles Drew, Mrs. & Mr. Joe Levearsh.
View of Graveyard, with Charles Drew, Mrs. & Mr. Joe Levearsh.

After living in a little hut locate near the old Indian Graveyard on Wisconsin Point for more than 40 years, Mr. & Mrs. Joe Levearsh, an Indian couple, are now called upon to leave their home on account of the advance of commercialism.

Officials of the Interstate Railroad Company claim title to the land and wish to use it for business purposes. Besides forcing the old Indian couple off of the land, all of the graves must be removed.

Levearsh, who is 70 years old, has acted as guardian of the graveyard ever since he built his home on the point. Being an Indian and superstitious, he considers this a bad omen and claims he will never leave the place.

Nine sons have been born in the little house and now provide for their aged parents. Besides owning the lot near the graveyard, which he clams by 'squatter's rights,' Levearsh owns 80 acres of timberland near Cloquet.

Considerable opposition to the plan of removing the bodies and forcing the Levearsh from his old home has been raised by Superior Indians. Led by Charles Drew, a nephew of Levearsh, they have organized and intend to fight the proposition to the last ditch.

"I will die fighting," says Drew. "All of the Indians believe as I do and I don't think that Cross, the Indian Agent, can produce the papers to show where the land was given to the railroad company."

Drew is of hardy stock and looks like he is able to follow up his claim. He has never touched liquor or tobacco in his life. Recently the Indians have met in the St. Francis parish hall. Last night they called a meeting to hear Solon Perrin, attorney for the Interstate Railroad Company, who was going to present the papers.

The hall was locked and Perrin failed to make an appearance. The 40 redskins present called a meeting on the street corner and discussed the matter.

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