Contract for Grade #1 : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread

Sue A. Lalama Cohort 3 Contract for Grade Assignment #1

Historical Tour of Area

On May 22, 1999, I entered a time capsule in the form of a yellow school bus, and travelled back in time to the early and mid 1880s sometimes jumping back to 600-800 AD. Many of the names of the families I met on this journey are the same as the students Ive had in my classes. Many of the families have been in this area for over 200 years. With Thomas Peacock, editor of the book A Forever Story: The People and Community of the Fond du Lac Reservation, Betty Dahl, a local historian, Len Anderson, a local biologist/environmentalist, several residents of the Fond du Lac Reservation and several teachers K-12; I spent a whole day exploring the rich history of this area. We began with a visit to Wisonsin Point, the sacred burial grounds of the Anishinabe. Potsherds from 600-800 AD have been found there. I learned that the Anishinabe can trace their heritage to the West Coast and that their ancestors moved from west to east over many centuries only to begin moving west again after the Europeans landed on the East Coast in the 1700s. The Apostle Islands were the home of a community of 10,000 Anishinabe people and Wisconsin Point has been a sacred place to the Anishinabe for several centuries. In 1915, the last 100 people were moved from Wisconsin Point and the ancient grave site there was dug up. Two hundred bodies were relocated to the St. Francis Catholic Cemetary where they were dumped inrto a trenched mass grave. Markers are there; however, the graves are currently washing into the Nemadji River. Mr. Peacock explained that when he first saw athe condition of the grave site he was very upset. However, now he believes that it may be his ancestors attempt to get back to where they belong since the Nemadji River empties into Lake Superior near Wisconsin Point. Visiting these sacred places with people whose grandparents remains are being treated in such a way was a very poignant experience. From Wisconsin Point, we went to West Duluth passing Onesta or the hills from which people sprang. The Ojibwe would hide people in caves in the rocks behind West Duluth to survive the attacks from their enemies. We also passed Indian Point where potsherds have been found which date from 1500 to 2000 years ago. The land was used as a summer village area. Passing Spirit Mountain, we heard the tale of a Dakota boy and Ojibwe girl who had fallen in love. Their tribes were enemies. When their families found out about them, they were chased onto Spirit Island where the spirits then whisked them away. Bartons Peak, also nearby, is a place where Ojibwe boys would go to visit and ponder their futures as part of their passage from adolescence to adulthood. At Fond du Lac, which means the bottom of the lake, we saw the site of the first fur trading post and a large Ojibwe village. Another grave site is nestled up in the base of the hill behind Mission Creek. Near a sign warning people to limit their intake of fish from these waters, a discussion with Len Anderson taught me about the toxicity of the water. According to Mr. Anderson, while emissions of mercury from industry has decreased, the levels of mercury in the river and in Lake Superior continue to rise. The bottom of Lake Thomson ( where I live) has six feet of mercury contaminated sludge. Any attempt at cleaning or dredging the lake would result in releasing the high levels of mercury into the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. Mr. Anderson described some of the theories that are being investigated in an attempt to deal with this situation. Mr. Anderson believes that there is no safe level of mercury for the human body. Our next stop was at Dead Fish Lake on the reservation. We walked a long 1/3 mile back to the lake where Mr. Peacock explained about wild rice gathering. Our last stop was on a hillside west of Cloquet on the banks on the St. Louis River. We hiked to a rock on the river where several people huddled for shelter from the 1918 fire. We visited the site of the Fond du Lac village which is now a meadow bordered by an old wagon track and dotted by old foundations. At each of these stops stories from A Forever Story:... were read. It was especially important to me to take this journey, on this day, with people from the reservation whose ancestors and family names were included in the forever story. Somehow, by being there with that group, I became a part of the story.

-- Anonymous, June 17, 1999

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