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From Wild Rice to Dream Catchers - The Rich Heritage of the Ojibwe Natives of Lac du Flambeau, Wisco

Lac du Flambeau or "Lake of the Torches" has, for many centuries, been a central location for the Ojibwe Band (Cultural Group) of Native Americans residing in Northern Wisconsin. Since their ancestral migration from the East Coast, the Ojibwe have found a home among the Northern Pine Trees and wild rice patties. With deep roots in a variety of cultural values, practices and ceremonies, these Natives offer us a look into the ways of America's ancient lifestyle and a glimpse into a past where nature and integrity were held in highest regard.

Ojibwe history image in lac du flambeau

(Image by Childs, B. F. -- Photographer - This image is available from the New York Public Library's Digital Library under the digital ID G90F397_024F: →, Public Domain, )

"According to Ojibwe oral history and from recordings in birch bark scrolls, the Ojibwe originated from the mouth of the St. Lawrence River on the Atlantic coast of what is now Quebec." (source) It has been said that during a spiritual ritual, the spirit ancestors of the original tribe from the East Coast prophesied of the pale-skinned people that would bring harm to their way of life. They spoke of traveling westward, following along waterways, to find a new location to resume their community inland.

As the Ojibwe have always respected and followed the messages of spirit, they soon-after made the trek, splitting off into separate groups (or bands) along the way. Once the band of people came to the area south of Lake Superior (encompassing the Lac du Flambeau area), they found wild rice growing on the water (a tell-tale sign from the spirits as to where to settle). They then set up a semi-permanent settlement in the area and traveled seasonally north to south of the region in rhythm with their food sources.

tribal dance northern wisconsin

(Image courtesy of Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians: )

Today, many Ojibwe Natives still practice old cultural traditions and speak the language of their ancestors called (Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwemowin), "although the number of fluent speakers has declined sharply." (source) Their has more recently been a strong push to revive and strengthen the Ojibwe traditions once again, especially in the Lac du Flambeau area. Pow wows held by the community annually are a great way to experience the taste, sound and visual display of Ojibwe cultural heritage.

Fun Fact: Did you know that a dream catcher isn't exactly a dream catcher? According to Ojibwe oral history, a Spider Woman used to watch over the children of the original east coast tribe. As the tribe spread across the northern half of the nation, separating into many subgroups, the woman of the groups worried that the Spider Woman wouldn't be able to watch over all the children at all locations. They began making spider webs out of string and/or sinew to hang above the infant's and children's beds to ward off evil spirits that could have come to harm the children.

dream catcher sin northern wisconsin

Fun Fact: The name "Lake of the Torches" was given to the area by the French traders who traveled through the area. They saw the Natives spear fishing at night by holding a lit torch just above the water to draw in the fish. Amazed by the ingenuity, one can imagine, they declared the area Lac du Flambeau meaning "Lake of the Torches" in French.

Birch Trail Resort Bed & Breakfast is just a few miles down the road from Lac du Flambeau, near to the famous Island City, Minocqua, Wisconsin. With tons of natural light, modern amenities, plush bedding, and perfect proximity to the rich heritage of the Ojibwe Natives, this lakeside resort is perfect for your next get-a-way. Call 715-588-1962 today to book your stay!


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