Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 5, 2003 - Issue 84


pictograph divider


Indian Experiences in Superior Fifty Years Ago

From: The Superior Evening Telegram - April 23, 1904
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

Charles Lord Sr. who came here in 1854 to take charge of Indian Trading Post, recalls experiences which he underwent and in which figured some of the noted chiefs of the Chippewas.

Fifty years ago Charles Lord Sr. now of Solon Springs, was in charge of the Indian trading post on Minnesota Point. He took charge there on March 26, 1854, and has ever since been a resident of Superior or Douglas County. Mr. Lord's memory of the old days is full of thrilling and interesting incidents. Among the Indians with whom he came in contact were some well known in the history of this section of the country. To an Evening Telegram reporter Mr. Lord relates the following anecdotes by way of semi-centennial reminiscences:

"I was at the Crow Wing Indian agency when in early 1854 Major Herman said he wanted to get a man to go to the head of Lake Superior to take charge of an Indian agency there. I told him I would go and with two comrades and an Indian pony set off toward the end of winter on the long journey over land.

"We went up the Mississippi a ways and then struck off through a rough country toward the Mt. Louis River. This we finally struck at Fond du Lac where there was an Indian trading post conducted by Frank Rousant. There was still ice in the bay and most of the way down from there to Minnesota point we made it on the ice.
First Look at Superior

"I well remember how the harbor and the present town site of Superior looked as we made our down Superior bay for the first time. There was no sign of life or civilization there. Looking to the banks on the west we could see only thick woods with underbrush. That was on the 26th day of March 1854, and at that time we would not have known from the look that there was any intention of building a town in the vicinity. Later on an inspection showed that there were a few shanties in the course of construction and that in a few spots the woods had been cleared out. But there was no dock nor anything to indicate that boats had or could effect a landing there.

"On our left however, we could see signs of life. The two points, Minnesota and Wisconsin, were inhabited by the Indians. Most of them were at that time on the Minnesota point, however, as all of that including Duluth was Indian land at that time. My companions went on to Wisconsin point but my destination was Minnesota point and I stopped there.

"This post consisted of a couple of little shanties located about where the ruins of the old lighthouse now stand. The Indians were living in their wigwams but a few hundred yards distant. "The agents for these posts on Indian land were appointed by government officials and in order to live on the Indian land it was necessary to have a permit. As agent at the post it was one of my duties to see if that no liquor was brought there so that the Indians could get hold of it.

"Upon going to the post shanty I found George R. Stunts awaiting me. He was the government surveyor who was in charge of the crew and was anxious to have someone to come and take charge of the post. He made me very welcome and showed me the layout. I did not consist of a very large stock.

First Clash With Indians
"Well, I had some interesting experiences during the couple of years that I was agent there and they started in the very first night. I had in the shanty with me John Buffalo, a half-breed young man whom I had engaged as assistant there. Buffalo was quite a clever young fellow and is now chief of a tribe on the reservation near Bayfield. It was just growing dusk when I saw the form of an Indian approaching the shanty. He knocked and I called out to him to come in. It was Na-ga-nup, chief of the tribe living close to the post. "I saw at once that he had obtained liquor somewhere and was bent on trouble. He said to me: "you must go from here before 9 o'clock tomorrow morning."

"'Why, what's the matter, Na-ga-nup?' I said.

"' You must go before 9 o'clock tomorrow morning or I will come with my warriors and burn and destroy everything you have,' he answered.

"Then I tried to reason with him, told him he was in liquor and that he would think better of it in the morning, that he had warriors but our government had many more and that our soldiers could come and drive all his people away. But he would give no answer excepting that I must go or he would come with his soldiers to drive me out.

Shows Fight
"Then I determined to show fight. I told him to go and get his warriors but that he would never get me out until I was dead. I had a revolver in my pocket and he had never seen one. I took it and pointed it quickly at a board. I sent a bullet whizzing through it and sent another. Then I told him again to bring his warriors, that the first one to move against me would drop dead: that I had another gun like that and would be ready for him. He wanted to look at it but I refused to trust him. I told him to go and dream about that and he would feel different then.

"Old Na-ga-nup went away still determined to come and drive me out. Naturally I felt worried. I had a double-barreled shotgun and I loaded that up for John Buffalo and then got my revolvers ready. We watched all night expecting the old chief would come to wreak vengeance. He did not come at night but early in the morning we saw him come out from the pinewoods leading his band. We stood ready to fight to the finish and when the chief knocked at the door I said: "'come in Na-ga-nup.'

"He pushed open the door and came in but instead of showing fight he extended his hand. I shook it and did likewise with all his braves.

Indian apologizes
"Then Na-ga-nup apologized and said he was in liquor the night before or he never would have done that. I asked him where he got it. At first he would not tell but finally he said that Kischejoni (the name they called George Nettleton) had given him a jug besides flour and other stuff if he would scare me off. I understood that someone else wanted the agency. Na-ga-nup and I didn't have any more trouble after that.

"Another of my Indian experiences along in the '60's was brought to mind a few weeks ago when I saw in a newspaper the picture of old chief Wa-ge-ma-waub who just died near Tower, Minn. He was a guide for me on a trading journey I took through that country.

"At the time Lars Lenroot of upper-town was Indian blacksmith. The government did not allow the blacksmith to trade with the Indians. Mr. Lenroot had bought a large amount of supplies, not knowing this, and just before going up to Vermillion Lake on one of his regular winter trips to do the blacksmithing for the Indians he came to me and told me the situation, offering to take me there and sell to me the supplies he had there to trade with the Indians.

Silver At a Premium
"In those days silver was scarce but I needed a certain amount so as to trade with the Indians. I hurried around to get some in exchange for greenbacks. It was hard to get enough and old Mr. Snyder who lived on Bay street had more than anyone else in town. He charged me a premium of 40 cents on the dollar for it. "Well, we tramped off with a dog train through the wild country to the Vermillion range. When we got there the blacksmith shop had been burned by the Indians but Mr. Lenroot's brother-in-law was in their shanty all right and the supplies were all right.

Almost Drowns in Mud
"I arranged to take a pack and set off on snowshoes to visit camps where the Indians were trapping furs and to do my trading with them. As a guide I employed Wa-ge-ma-waub. One day after a long tramp we stopped at the bank of a running stream and I went to get a drink. The snow was quite high around the bank and I tramped it down a little and then leaned over to lip up a handful of water. I slipped and went almost headfirst into the stream. It was shallow but the bottom was a kind of muddy quicksand. My snowshoes got crossed and stuck up in the air and there I was wallowing in the water and mud. I actually believed that I would have drowned in that puddle if We-ga ma-waub had not hurried up to me and pulled me out. With my snowshoes tangled up I was almost helpless.

"It was a cold day and there was no place to warm and dry. My guide thought I could not walk two miles across Nell Lake to where the Indians were camping but it was do that or freeze and we started. My clothes froze still and I had a hard time getting across.

Fun For the Indians
"When I finally did, the Indians had great fun with me. They could not imagine what happened to me as I presented such a sight, bedaubed with mud from head to foot and clothes frozen stiff. I finally got dried out but had to stay two or three days before continuing my journey. Old We-ga-waub was a good guide and a smart Indian also a good friend to me and other white men."

Besides his Indian anecdotes Mr. Lord has an almost endless repertoire of others concerning the happenings of early days and the excitement of pioneer life. He lived for a few years up the St. Louis River on a farm but moved back to Superior and for years was in business there, being among the first of those to go into the fishing business extensively there. He remembers all the settlers of the early days, the stirring times of '55' and the hard times, which followed. He was for eight years clerk of the courts for the county. Mr. Lord was always a great friend of the Indians about Superior. One of his particular friends was O-sa-gue, a chief owning much land on Wisconsin point, but who lived much of the time near the mouth of the Amnicon River, O-sa-gue had a large family of estimable and capable daughters and one of these became Mr. Lord's wife.

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!