Leech Lake Indian Reservation (Minnesota)

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The Leech Lake Reservation is a federally-recognized reservation in Minnesota.

Established -- May 7, 1864
Agency (BIA) -- Leech Lake Agency (1874-1879) - White Earth Agency (1879-1899) - Leech Lake Agency (1899-1921) - Consolidated Chippewa Agency (1922-)
Principal tribes -- Cass Lake, Pillager, and Lake Winnibigoshish (Winnebago) Bands of Chippewa
Population -- 2010 census is 4,682 (when including mixed bloods it's 5,157) - Does not include non Indians

History[edit | edit source]

Leech Lake Reservation was created on May 7, 1864. It is connected to Red Lake Reservation and White Earth Reservation. Nearly a decade earlier, the first (it was rejected by Pembina and Pillager Chippewa leaders) Leech Lake Reservation was established by Treaty of Feb. 22, 1855 (X, 1165); Executive orders, Nov. 4, 1873, and May 26, 1874 and an act of Jan. 14, 1889 (XXV, 642). Included also with the February 22, 1855 Treaty, were Mille Lac, Rabbit Lake, Gull Lake (adjacent to the old Menominee and Winnebago Chippewa Reservation), Pokagomin Lake, Sandy Lake,  and Rice Lake Reservations. Three Pillager Chippewa Reservations were established (rejected by Pembina and Pillager Chippewa leaders). They were Cass Lake, Leech Lake, and Winnebagoshish (Winnebago Chippewa's) Reservations.

On May 7, 1864, the United States eradicated Mille Lac, Rabbit Lake, Gull Lake, Pokagomin Lake, Sandy Lake, and Rice Lake Reservations. As a result of the 1862 Minnesota Indian War, the United States created the new Pillager Chippewa Leech Lake Reservation. They actually enlarged the Leech Lake Reservation. Click this link http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/S?ammem/hlaw:@filreq%28@band%28@field%28DATE+18640507%29+@field%28FLD003+@band%28llss+c56%29%29%29+@field%28COLLID+llss%29%29 to read the May 7, 1864 Treaty.

Red Lake Reservation and White Earth Reservation, are Pembina Chippewa Reservations closely related to the Pillager Chippewas of Leech Lake Reservation. Click this link RedLake.jpg, to see the correct map of the Red Lake Reservation. Click this link White_Earth.jpg, to see a map of the correct White Earth Reservation.

To the east, south, and southeast, Leech Lake Reservation borders the Red Lake Reservation and White Earth Reservation. Click this link http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/map_item.pl?style=law&data=/gmd370m/g3701m/g3701em/gct00002/ca000034.sid&title=Minnesota+2&itemLink=r?ammem/hlaw:@field%28DOCID+@lit%28llss/4015/934/673%29%29 to see a map that proves Leech Lake Reservation is connected to both Red Lake Reservation and White Earth Reservation. It's the large Reservation the United States wanted to deport the Montana Little Shell Pembina Chippewas to. They actually conspired to deport the Montana Chippewas in the 1840s or 1850s.

In 1851, the Chippewa Agency was established. Then in 1872, White Earth Agency (it still went by the name Chippewa Agency) was established at White Earth Reservation. It served all Minnesota Chippewas. In 1873 (the same year the Little Shell Pembina Chippewa Reservation was created within White Earth Reservation), Red Lake Agency was established which indicates Red Lake Agency was the actual agency for the Little Shell Pembina Chippewa Reservation. A year later (1874), Leech Lake Agency was established. In 1878, the United States changed the name of Chippewa Agency to White Earth Agency.

In 1879, the United States consolidated Leech Lake Agency and Red Lake Agency, with White Earth Agency. Location may have been a factor in placing the Little Shell Pembina Chippewa Reservation agency at White Earth. Population was probably a factor as well. Most of the Chippewas who were relocated, moved to the White Earth District. After the 1898 Rebellion, a new Leech Lake Agency was established.

Leech Lake Chippewas are descended primarily from the military and police totem of the Algonquin's. They are also known as the Pillagers. Nearly all of northern Minnesota was vacant of white settlements until after the 1887 Dawes Act and 1889 Nelson Act.

In 1889, the United States passed the Nelson Act which was passed to specifically eradicate the Minnesota Chippewa Reservations except Red Lake and White Earth Reservation. Actually, it was the large Little Shell Pembina Chippewa Reservation. It led to serious problems among the Minnesota Chippewas, especially the Leech Lake Chippewas. In the mid 1890's, the Chippewas were planning some sort of secret military uprising. The United States found out and had the Leech Lake leader assassinated. However, chief Bugonaygishig took over and the short 1898 rebellion followed.

After the short war, the United States returned the Minnesota Chippewa Reservations and actually established the Chippewa National Forest which makes up almost the entire land area of the Leech Lake Reservation. Leech Lake Reservation is, thus, Restricted or Protected. Except the extreme western part of the Reservation.

In 1900, the population of Leech Lake Reservation was 1,913. In 1930, the population of Leech Lake Reservation was 2,076. During that 30 year time period, the population of Leech Lake Reservation increased by only 166 or around 8%. It can be attributed to the 1898 Rebellion and forced relocation of the most war like Pillager Chippewas, to White Earth Reservation. As of the 2010 census, the Indian population of Leech Lake Reservation is 4,682. When including mixed bloods it is 5,157.

Relocations[edit | edit source]

In 1934, the Indian Reorganization Act was voted on by all Reservations, except Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. It was supposedly accepted at Leech Lake Reservation. One of the main goals of the IRA, was to relocate Reservation Indians off Reservation. That is exactly what happened at Leech Lake Reservation and all other Minnesota Chippewa Reservations. In the 1930s, Minnesota's Chippewa Reservations had a population of around 15,000, with over 8,000 living at White Earth Reservation. Since the 1930s, the Minnesota Chippewa Reservations Indian population has increased to a little over 17,000, which is an indication of what the IRA really caused

Today, the Chippewa population in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan area is around 18,000. Including the rest of the Chippewa population living off Reservation in Minnesota and the adjacent cities of Fargo, North Dakota and Grand Forks, North Dakota, it is close to 30,000. Many of the Chippewas who moved off Reservation were paid to move off of Reservation.

There should be a much larger Chippewa population at Leech Lake Reservation and all other Minnesota Chippewa Reservations but the IRA actually initiated a forced relocation off Reservation. That is why the white population is either the same or higher than the Chippewa population at Leech Lake Reservation and all other Minnesota Chippewa Reservations. Chippewas should outnumber the non Indian population at Leech Lake Reservation, by at least 10 to 1. The IRA made certain it wouldn't.

Records[edit | edit source]

Land Records: Allotted land: 37,683 acres. Most of the land is not suited for agriculture. The forest the Reservation now has is a regrowth. In the 1890s, the United States nearly used the entire forest of the Reservation for construction and other purposes. The Reservation originally covered 677,099 acres. Nearly all remaining land is within Chippewa National Forest. Over 212,000 acres is waterways. Over 120,000 acres are wetlands. Compared with Red Lake Reservation, Leech Lake Reservation is probably a bit the worse off but overall Leech Lake Reservation is quite similar to Red Lake Reservation. They claim the United States government owns that portion of Chippewa National Forest within the boundaries of Leech Lake Reservation.

Treaty agreements tell otherwise. Then again, if you research the treaties you will discover discrepancies. In all, the government of Leech Lake Reservation owns over 630,000 acres of the 677,099 acres. Though it is thought the government of the United States owns most of the land area of Leech Lake Reservation, by treaty, the United States is suppose to recognize the government of Leech Lake Reservation as being in ownership. That means the United States is not following treaty guidelines. Control of the portion of Chippewa National Forest within Leech Lake Reservation, is actually controlled by the government of Leech Lake Reservation. Read treaty and learn about the Chippewas National Forest. Leech Lake Reservation is Restricted or off limits.

Communities[edit | edit source]

Throughout Leech Lake Reservation are as many as 40 to 45 very small settlements. Nearly all have less than 20 housing units. And many of those have 10 or fewer housing units. At least 11 have official names. The remaining communities are located from just north of Cass Lake, south to near Walker, Minnesota. They are categorized as being parts of townships rather than a distinct community. However, nearly all have at least one area of a cluster of housing units which number from 10 to over 50. Leaders of the Reservation have to eventually follow their own rules and deal with each of these communities as a distinct community, instead of white counties having control over them.

They must issue a name for each of the communities and manage to financially support each one so they can accept jurisdiction over their communities borders or city limits. Sooner or later, these scattered Chippewa communities are going to have to come to the attention of the leaders of Leech Lake Reservation. Future housing units must be built in a circle or C shaped street design. It will help to use as little land as possible for community growth. Place hydroponic farms (greenhouse farming) within each community so employment is availble and safe food (even tropical food) is grown. Form fishing and hunting society's which follow Federal and State laws, which will function as new employment opportunities.

Those Leech Lake Reservation communities which are cdp's, cities, towns and recognized settlement areas (their populations are not known and included under townships) by the government of Leech Lake Reservation and predominantly Indian, include:

  1. Cass Lake (city) 2010 population - 770
  2. Ball Club (cdp) 2010 population - 342
  3. Inger (cdp) 2010 population - 212
  4. Bena (city) 2010 population - 116
  5. Squaw Lake (city) 2010 population - 107
  6. Buck Lake
  7. Kego Lake
  8. Mission
  9. Oak Point
  10. Onigum
  11. Pennington
  12. Portage Lake
  13. Prescott
  14. Smokey Point
  15. Sugar Bush
  16. Sugar Point
  17. Winnie Dam

References[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

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