June 30, 2014

Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation


Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation



The Anishinaabeg (an Ojibwe/Chippewa word meaning “The People”) of the Fond du Lac Reservation are primarily members of the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa, who in turn are one band of the federally recognized Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The Chippewa Nation is the second largest ethnic group of Indians in the United States.


Reservation Map:

Fond du Lac Indian Reservation Map and Seal 

Fond du Lac Reservation Logo:

Everything in nature is a part of a circle, the smallest atom, the earth, the sun, the moon, even the universe. Everything natural comes in a circle.

We, the Anishinaabe, know this, we understand this, and we respect this. Look at the waters of the earth. The rain comes down to become small pools of water. These smaller pools merge to become a part of a bigger pool. These bigger pools come together to eventually form a stream that flows into a bigger stream. These bigger streams flow together, to eventually become a river, which will flow into the sea. The heat from the sun will evaporate the water, and…eventually the evaporated water falls back to earth as rain or snow.

This process is repeated over and over again. The Anishinaabe know this, and realize that everything in nature is a part of the circle of life. Thus, the logo is enclosed in a circle.

But, if you look closer at the circle in the logo, you’ll notice that it forms a war shield. This war shield symbolizes the continuing fight our ancestors fought ever since we began our migration away from “the moon shaped island, in the fresh water river that flowed into the Great Salt Waters” to where we are today, in the land where the food grows on top of the water.

Inside the outer circle is another circle divided into four equal pieces. These are colored black, white, red and yellow. White is for the north, for the white snow that cleans the earth, and in turn gives us strength. Red is the east, for the sun. Yellow is for the south, for the heat that ripens our staff of life, the corn. And, Black is for the west, towards where we walk when we die.

These colors also stand for the four races of man. Surrounding the inner circle is an outer circle of blue on top, and green on the bottom. Originally, the border circle was supposed to be green and the rest of the background was supposed to be sky blue. These blue and green colors also represent the Mide’ wiwin, the Grand Medicine Society.

The four eagle feathers are symbolic of the four winds, and…the four directions. The eagle feathers are a very symbolic in Indian Country, because the eagle carries our prayers to the Creator. The two hair-ties stand for Mother Earth and Father Sky, because without their help, this world would not be as we know it.

On top of the inner circle is an arrowhead. This arrowhead (projectile point) symbolizes the hundred-year war that our ancestors fought against the Dakota (Sioux) and their allies, the Fox, for control of this region. This is the region that was talked about in the Prophecies of the Seven Fires as the place where food grows on top of the water. This area was the end of our journey. Also, this area is known today as the Arrowhead Region.

I would like to say that I envisioned the arrowhead as being colored a deep blood red to symbolize the blood that was bled, and spilled, along the trail to where the food grows on top of the waters. If you look inside the arrowhead, you’ll see an eight. If you look around the arrowhead, you’ll see flames. This is a symbolic way of saying the Eighth Fire.

It was said that out of the ashes of the Seventh Fire, the Eighth and final Fire will be lit and a new people will emerge. I don’t know if we are those new people yet, but sometime soon, we will be.

Inside the arrowhead is a rough map of the Fond du Lac Reservation, with each star representing the three Districts, Cloquet being District I, Sawyer being District II, and Brookston being District III.

Established by the Treaty of 1854 is pretty well self-explanatory. The Fond du Lac Reservation, as well as the Grand Portage Reservation and Bois Forte (Net lake) Reservations in Minnesota were established by the Treaty of 1854. The 1854 Treaty laid the ground work that led to the establishment of many of the Chippewa Reservations in Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

According to an old, old letter, the Fond du Lac Reservation was referred to as Nah-gah-chi-wa-nong. In the Ojibwe Dictionary the word Nagajiwanaag referred to historic, old Fond du Lac. This word Nagajiwanaag was talking about the old Fond du Lac Village area, located beside the St. Louis River (Gitchie gami zibi), below the end of the Grand Portage, at the end of the Lake. But, of course, this could be just the same name in different dialects? Our language dialects are a little different from Rez to Rez. Anyway, the Archive letter was from someone that lived in western Minnesota, sent to someone that lived here on the Fond du Lac Reservation.

Fond du Lac Reservation is pretty much self explanatory. Fond du Lac, in French, means the end of the lake.

Fond du Lac Flag:

Click Here to Buy This Fond du Lac Band Flag
Buy this Fond du Lac Tribal Flag


The three districts are Cloquet, where tribal headquarters are located, and the communities of Brookston and Sawyer.

A new building to house tribal government, community sports, and social activities was opened in 1997 in Cloquet. There are also community centers at Sawyer and Brookston.

Tribal Agency Headquarters:

Cloquet, Minnesota 


Languages Spoken:

They are members of the Algonquin linguistic family, which also includes the Ottawa, Potowatomi, Fox, Cree, Menominee, and many other smaller tribes.


The Fond du Lac Reservation is located in Carlton and St. Louis counties about adjacent to the City of Cloquet on the east, and 15 miles west of Duluth, Minnesota. The tribal headquarters are in Cloquet, Minnesota.


Date Created:

Original Area:

Archaeologists maintain that ancestors of the present day Chippewa have resided in the Great Lakes region since at least 800 A.D. 

At one time, the Algonquin territory extended from the Atlantic Coast to the Rocky Mountains, and from Hudson Bay south to the Cumberland River. Control over some of this vast area passed gradually to other groups of Indians such as the Iroquois, and was ultimately seized by Europeans. 


Present Day Size:

Administrative Divisions:

The Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee is the Tribal Governing body. The Chairman and secretary-treasurer are elected at large.

Criminal and some civil jurisdiction on the reservation were transferred to the State of Minnesota under Federal Law (PL-280). Other civil jurisdiction remains with the Tribe.

In 1997, the Tribe was engaged in negotiations with the Federal Government to assume control of BIA programs under the Self-Governance Law.

Conservation codes are enforced for the reservation and the 1854 Treaty area, by tribal game wardens and courts.

The Tribe is a participant in the 1837 Treaty case. The Tribe has its own automobile license plates. Fond du Lac negotiated the first general revenue bond issued to an Indian tribe for funds to expand their clinic. The Tribe charges a license tax on major businesses located on the reservation.

The Tribe purchased a resort on the reservation with plans to develop a tribal recreation area. The Tribes natural resource management division has a building located in Cloquet.

The human service and health clinic programs operate from the Min-No-Aya-Win Health Clinic, which underwent major expansion in 1996. The health program is tribally-run and services are contracted from Indian Health Service. The Tribe also operates a similar Indian health program in Duluth, through the Center for American Indian Resources (CAIR).

The Tribally run Fond du Lac Group Home for juveniles is located between Duluth and Cloquet. Sawyer is the location of Mash-Ka-Wisen, the nation’s first Indian-owned and operated residential, primary treatment facility for chemical dependency.


The Fond du Lac Tribe operates two casinos. The Tribe and the City of Duluth cooperated in building and sharing in the profits of the Fond du Luth Casino. It is the only casino in Minnesota built on land originally not part of a reservation.

A deserted block in downtown Duluth was purchased by the Tribe and placed into trust by the BIA. After the passage of the National Indian Gaming Act, the State was given a voice in this type of transaction. Fond du Luth Casino is on East Superior St., in Duluth.

The Black Bear Casino, located at the junction of Highway 210 and Interstate Highway 35, offers food service, entertainment, and a gift shop.

The adjacent 158 room Black Bear Hotel, opened September 1, 1995, has a swimming pool, childcare center, and meeting rooms and connects to the casino by a skywalk. The Black Bear Casino and Hotel make the Tribe the second largest employer in Carlton County. 

The tribe also operates Black Bear Golf Course, a propane company, a construction company, and a gas station/ convenience store. There is also a tribal transit system, Head Start program, and a cultural museum.


The reservation is divided among four Minnesota public schools districts. The Tribe has a Head Start program and operates the Ojibwe School, K-12. Transportation to the school is provided for Duluth students. The unique Fond du Lac Tribal/Community College with a 150-bed dormitory is both a tribal college and a state community college. 

Celebrations on the Reservation:


Recreation On/Near the Reservation:




Further Reading:

Prophecies of the Seven Fires
The History of the Ojibwe Nation by William Warren 

American Indian Reservations D to G
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