This is a desk study of indigenous history of the Grand Portage tribal lands over the past 10,000 years. Notes that fisheries were a major resource until the Terminal Woodland sub stage (approx. 700 AD) when subsistence practices became highly specialized and centered on wild rice and pottery making. Discussion centers primarily on previous literature documenting pottery types and burial practices, although there is some mention of use of water and water routes (e.g. cultural exchange through pottery traded along water routes). "Other factors influencing the formation of the archeological record include issues of settlement and seasonality that undoubtedly conditioned the best time of year to visit a site, and the number of people that could reasonably camp there. In a "good place to camp," such as a logistically important river mouth or sheltered bay, at a place of resource abundance, or at a place of spiritual significance, the likelihood of many visits over a long period of time is high...In this regard, Grand Portage, which lacks any significant evidence of a terminal Woodland occupation, was likely not the primary point of departure for groups traveling to and from Isle Royale, nor the destination of groups coming from the east or west. Although Grand Portage is one of the best sheltered bays south of the Canadian border, the mouth of the Pigeon River/Pigeon Bay, Pigeon Point and Waswagoning Bay probably were the focus of occupation prior to the advent of the fur trade as the only nearby locations for spawning whitefish and lake sturgeon. Unfortunately we have no archeological evidence to support this. Mobility and food security depended on large part to water resources. The basic pattern of subsistence followed the seasonal round of resource availability. Spring was a time of coming together for the spawning runs of suckers and sturgeon at river mouths on Lake Superior and the larger inland lakes. It was also a time for harvesting the incoming flight of passenger pigeons arriving from the south. Summer was a period of resource abundance with many options, including beaver, moose, caribou and deer hunting. Group size could vary widely and mobility was at its peak as canoe travel made all the islands, rivers, and lakes the highway of the people. Another major fish run occurred in fall as trout and whitefish sought out their spawning groups and large numbers of people gathered at the river mouths on Lake Superior for the last time of the year for this harvest. Fall brought the harvest of wild rice for those with access to this important crop. The western portion of the Grand Portage Band territory touches upon the "rice district" and provided a storable resource that would, along with preserved fish, meat and berries, provide a savings account for winter survival when the availability of food was least secure. As game fattened and coats thickened in anticipation of winter, attention returned to hunting, and the hunters and their families dispersed to their interior camps. Winter was a period of relative isolation and limited mobility, occasionally ending in a lean period..." Provides an interesting narrative of the fur trade and interactions between French traders and Native communities, noting that Grand Portage was the deport where the great cargo canoes and bateau of the Great Lakes exchanged their westbound loads of trade goods for eastbound bales of castor gras, arriving in the lighter and smaller canoes of the inland waterways of the west. A substantial post was built on the shores of Grand Portage Bay. In the 1790s the depot consisted of 16 buildings surrounded by a log stockade. The waterfront included wharves and a dock capable of accommodating the 75 ton schooner Otter. In 1834 the American Fur Company hired about twenty Grand Portage resident to fish between Grand Portage and Grand Marais, but the fishery closed in 1842 due to lack of markets. In 1836 the American Fur Company expanded its operations to include commercial fishing. Grand Portage Ojibwe were sought after for their knowledge and expertise in the local fishery. Ojibwe men and women were employed by the company at Grand Portage and on Isle Royale. The men were engaged in fishing and the women in processing the catch. Noted is an important spirit associated with water by The Grand Portage and other regional Ojibwe, 'variously called the Underwater Manitou, Underwater Panther, Long-Tailed Underwater Panther, Mishebeshu, or Michi-Pichoux, the Great Lynx. This spirit reflected the abundance and availability of land and sea animals. With its numerous underwater allies it controlled all game, withholding animals and fish from its enemies. The early Lake Superior Ojibwe offered it sacrifices to obtain good fishing, and in the Creation Myth Nanbezho fought it to secure the right to hunt for future Indians. The Underwater Manitou possessed great and dangerous powers. It could cause rapids and stormy waters, and often sank canoes and drowned Indians, especially children. The Ojibwe associated it with the sudden squall waters of the Great Lakes which prevented fishing...' "
Late Prehistoric Cultural Affiliation Study, Grand Portage National Monument, Minnesota.
Retrieved from the University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy,
Content distributed via the University of Minnesota's Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
This very comprehensive document was reviewed and is felt to have significant content and analysis relevant to Minnesota’s coastal area and water resources. It also contains biophysical and watershed-related content directly ...
We used paired 2‐block street sections in the Amity Creek watershed (Duluth, MN) to demonstrate the effectiveness of homeowner BMPs to reduce residential stormwater flow to storm sewers in an older neighborhood in a cold ...
Arnott, Sigrid; Birk, Douglas A; Maki, David (Archaeo-Physics, LLC, 2013)
This study assessed 31 historic mill dam sites in Minnesota. Of these, one was located in the Sea Grant coastal area. The study discusses broader impacts of dams on tribal, cultural and environmental resources generally, ...