Indian land documents can be informative and can provide a glimpse into your family's past. One of the most valuable tools online for searching Indian land is the Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office records website.
This website provides live access to Federal land conveyance records for the Public Land States, including image access to more than five million Federal land title records issued between 1788 and the present. We also have images of survey plats and field notes, land status records, and control document index records. Due to organization of documents in the GLO collection, this site does not currently contain every Federal title record issued for the Public Land States.
So let's start a quick search... [note that any of the images below can be clicked for an expanded view]
First, we open the Search by Documents Type search menu. We enter location.
The selected state is Minnesota. Next, we enter the name of the person we are searching for.
Then, we can limit our search to specific land information (by query). We will use Indian Allotment as our Authority.
We get our results after the system does its search.
The search shows that John B Charette indeed had land under this authority. It was issued in 1874 in Marshall County, Minnesota and has an Accession # tied to the 1863 Red Lake & Pembina Band Treaty at the Old Crossing. If we click the blue link, more information will open up.
When opened, the following information is revealed: that it is a Chippewa treaty patent, issued in the State of Minnesota on January 20, 1874 and it was not canceled. It shows the land office that issued the patent and what tribe the patent was issued to (Chippewa) and how many acres and where the land is at. If you click the location link at the bottom, a map will open up.
This map shows where the land was in relation to the surrounding area. In this case it is near the Red River Valley at the junction with the Park River - the location of a popular trading post at the time. It is just south of the modern-day community of Drayton, North Dakota.
If you click the patent image link above a copy of the original treaty patent will open.
This document can be printed or downloaded as a PDF. It shows the information related to the Pembina/Red Lake treaty and lists the name of the individual and the certificate number.
If you click the related documents link, the original USGS survey of the land will be made available.
To do your own search, visit the BLM GLO Website at https://glorecords.blm.gov/
One of the most vivid and detailed descriptions of a Metis buffalo hunt that I have found recently was written about in great detail in the Appleton’s Journal of Literature, Science, and Arts, for July of 1870. The Description speaks of “brigades” and hunting strategy, with a unique mention of Metis women driving the carts at the end of the great hunt. The description is as follows:
The most picturesque and exciting buffalo-hunts are those of the half-breeds in the northern Red-River country, where annually almost the entire population proceed in brigades to the great buffalo-ranges. From the earliest spring the preparations for these hunts begin. Rude carts, on two wheels, built entirely of wood, with large hubs and wide felloes, are constructed in great numbers. These are drawn by oxen, with harnesses of raw-hides. With as many carts as he can afford, for the transportation homeward of the buffalo hides and meat, and at least one fast buffalo-horse, with a gun, plenty of powder and balls, the hunter is prepared for the plains. The hunters go in "brigades", as they are called, of several hundreds, and often the entire town departs on the excursion—men, women, children, oxen, horses, dogs, with full supply of tents and housekeeping utensils. Women and boys drive the carts, while the hunters, mounted on their horses, guard the train, or ride off in search of buffalo-signs. At night they gather in a circle, called a corral, where the carts are ranged side by side, with the shafts turned inward. Within this circle the tents are raised and the lodge-fires made. A large camp of half-breeds is a striking sight. The dress of both men and women is exceedingly picturesque. They wear moccasins worked with beads. The men's trousers are usually of corduroy, their coats of common blue, adorned with hoods between their shoulders, and large brass buttons, a gay sash around the waist, and a jaunty cap of otter or badger skin, complete their toilet. Mr. Manton Marble gives, in a description of a visit to the Red-River country in an early number of Harper’s Magazines, a stirring account of an attack by a half-breed brigade upon a herd of buffalo, which we in part transcribe:
Just as the leader was sounding the horn, which was the order to catch up the horses, a rider was seen galloping at full speed down the hither side of a hill by which he had been hid from sight on the rolling prairie. All knew the message he had to bring, before hearing it from his lips. He had seen a herd of hundreds steadily pushing their way over the prairie toward the northeast, just beyond a high ridge which was the limit of sight in the direction the brigade was then travelling—nearly due south. The oxen that had been harnessed were again loosed, all the buffalo-runners saddled, and every hunter eagerly examined his gun and ammunition. The horses, too, knew what was in the wind; and the more high-spirited ones among them, which had been trained to the hunt, stood shivering with excitement, snuffing the air, and pawing the ground with their hoofs, needing a man's strength to hold them in. All the able-bodied men were speedily armed and accoutered, their superfluous clothing thrown off, sashes tied tighter, and girths buckled a hole or two higher, and, in less than five minutes from the time the rider had got to camp, the leader had given the order to advance, and more than three hundred horsemen were steadily trotting southward in the direction of the herd. In a few moments, they had reached a point where the ground began to rise gently to the height of the low ridge, on the top of which they would be visible to the herd. Here all drew rein, while the leader, with one or two of the older hunters, dismounted and crept along up the slope to reconnoiter, observe the progress of the herd and the lay of the land, in order to determine from which direction the charge had better be made. There was little time to be lost; the buffalo were already opposite the hunters, and the old bulls ahead might, at any moment, take a trail leading over the ridge and in full-sight of the train. A moment's glance told experienced eyes, peering through the tops of the long green grass, that the ground toward which they were moving was a rolling prairie with abrupt ascents and descents, and therefore full of badger-holes, dangerous able to the horse and his rider, while the ground which they had just passed over was very nearly level, with here and there a marsh, and fenced in, so to speak, by the stream which ran hither and thither, and wound around by the dinner camp-ground. Hastening down the slope and remounting their horses, a few quick, low words from the leader explained the order of the charge. A dozen or more of the fleetest runners were sent to the westward around the ridge, to head the herd and start them bock. The rest of the hunters gathered under its edge with ears pricked up.
The ruse was successful. The dozen hunters coming boldly into sight directly in their path, and spreading out slowly to the right and left without chasing them, and the favorable nature of the ground, making it harder for them to go to the one side or the other than backward, turned them almost in their tracks. The herd was not so large, but that very many of the buffaloes could see the hunters. The sage and long-bearded veterans who had led them stopped, were crowded ahead a few yards by the pressure of those behind, and then all were huddling together, cows and calves in the center, and the bulls crowding around, until the leaders broke through and led off at a steady gallop on the back track. This was the critical moment. The dozen hunters shouted at the tops of their lungs, and settled into a steady gallop on their trail. The three hundred and fifty horsemen came flying over the ridge and down its slope in full pursuit, and in front of them all, not a quarter of a mile away, a herd of nearly a thousand buffaloes in headlong flight, tails out, heads down, and nostrils red and flaring. For the first few hundred yards the chase was nip and tuck. The buffaloes were doing their best possible, as they always can at the beginning of a chase, and the horses had not so good ground, and were hardly settled down to their work. But soon the tremendous strides of the buffalo-runners began to tell in the chase and the heavy head long and forehanded leap of the buffalo to grow just perceptibly slack.
One after another the swiftest of the runners caught up to the herd, and over the plain. The green sward is torn up, clouds of dust arise, swift shots like volleys of musketry buffet the air, the hunters fly along with loosened rein, trusting to their horses to clear the badger-holes that here and there break the ground, and to keep their own flanks and the riders' legs from the horns of the buffaloes by whom they must pass to fit alongside the fat and swifter cow singled out for prey. And still they keep up this tremendous gait, flying buffalo and pursuing horse men. As fast as one fires he draws the plug of his powder-horn with his teeth, pours in a hasty charge, takes one from his mouthful of wet bullets and drops it without wadding or rammer upon the powder, settles it with a blow against the saddle, keeps the muzzle lifted till he is close to his game, then lowers and fires in the same instant without an aim, the muzzle of the gun often grazing the shaggy monster's side; then leaning off, his horse wheels away, and, loading as he flies, he spurs on in chase of another, and another, and another; and in like manner the three hundred of them. One after one the buffaloes lagged behind, staggered, and fell, at first singly and then by scores, till in a few moments the whole herd was slain, save only a few old bulls not worth the killing, which were suffered to gallop safely away. One after one the hunters drew rein, and, dismounting from their drenched horses, walked back through the heaps of dead buffalo and the puddles of blood, singling out of the hundreds dead with unerring certainty the ones they had shot. Not a dispute arose among the hunters as to the ownership of any buffalo killed. To a novice in the hunt they all looked alike, differenced only by size and sex, and the plain on which all were lying as is each square rod the facsimile of every other square. The novices had thrown on their killed a sash or coat or knife-sheath; but the best hunters had no need of this. To their keen eyes no two rods were alike, and they could trace their course as easily as if only four and not thousands of hoofs had torn the plain.
The carts driven by the women come up, knives are drawn, and with marvelous dexterity the shaggy skins are stripped off, the great, bloody frame divided, huge bones and quivering flesh, all cut into pieces of portable size, the carts loaded, and by sunset all are on their way to camp.
Reference: Appleton’s Journal of Literature, Science, and Arts, No. 66 Vol. IV. Saturday, July 2, 1870.
While it is natural for people to try to separate Métis from Indian – especially here and now when we try to identify who is what for purposes of things like hunting rights, educational benefit, and enrollment or citizenship in Indigenous communities – during the early 1800s, ethnicity and ethnic identity was a very fluid thing for those people who would later become the nucleus of the Métis Nation during the 1870s.
In July of 1832 Father George A. Belcourt, a priest from Québec who was familiar working with Indian people was assigned to work with the local Saulteaux community surrounding Red River. His assignment was desired because there was a growing concern that the Anglicans were having influence on the native population which could lead to a shift in alliance of the Indian population. Belcourt selected a site for his mission along the Assiniboine River at a location where a large number of Saulteaux Indians and Métis gathered and camped during the spring. The exact location of the first mission, known as St. Paul des Saulteaux, was somewhere on the left bank of the Assiniboine River, somewhere near Portage La Prairie or St. Eustache. Once the Mission was established, St-Paul des Saulteaux was inhabited primarily by Saulteaux Indians, or Métis who were affiliated with the Saulteaux bands.
During the 1840 census of the Red River, St-Paul des Saulteaux (Saulteaux Village) listed ninety-eight people residing in the village grouped into twenty-three households. Only 13 “homes” were enumerated with most people residing in tents and tipis. The surnames of most heads of household were apparently Métis (i.e. French or Scottish derived), but it cannot be assumed that these individuals were ethnically or cultural different than the full-blood Saulteaux of the region. The settlement was quite well known and drew annual visits from many of the surrounding Saulteaux bands. Visits from Red Lake Chippewa (from Minnesota) were also recorded.
The Mission, although serving as a winter and spring camp for the Saulteaux/ Métis, was not a permanent settlement by any means. Most residents were prone to travel across their territory hunting for most of the year and sometimes returned to the location infrequently (e.g. every few years, or so). Despite the efforts of Father Belcourt, most of the Saulteaux were unwilling to settle permanently.
By the 1860s the Mission was moved to the location of Baie St-Paul and had become a “Métis” rather than Saulteaux settlement. Nonetheless, this community shows that at least until the 1860s or 1870, ethnic identity of the Métis was a relatively fluid thing. While the Métis culture was developing and solidifying as a distinct phenomenon, for much of the early part of the century most (eventual) Métis could assume the identity of their Indian bands (such as the Saulteaux) and could pass between identities without problems – a truly unique truth that speaks to the indigenous, rather than white/settler, basis of the Métis Nation.
In 1870, after the Red River Métis under Louis Riel failed in their attempt to maintain an independent government, the people of the Red River settlement entered Confederation as the tiny province of Manitoba, the first province created under the new Dominion government. For a time Manitoba was often called the postage stamp province because at first it only covered an area of 11,000 square miles, its northern boundary traversing the lower part of Lake Winnipeg. Its population comprised approximately 12.000 persons, only 13 percent of whom were white; 5 percent were Indians, and 82 percent were of mixed blood. To the north and west lay the vast reaches of the North-West Territories, with their sparse, nomadic, Indian population and scattered white traders.
Hallowell, A. Irving (Alfred Irving), and Jennifer S. H. Brown. 1991. “Ojibwa Of Berens River, Manitoba: Ethnography Into History.” Case Studies In Cultural Anthropology. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.
Under authority of an act of Congress approved June 19, 1860 (12 Stat. 44, 59), a means was set forth providing for negotiations with the Red Lake and Red River (Pembina) Bands of Ojibwe for the extinguishment of their title to lands in the Red River valley. As a result, territorial governor Alexander Ramsey arranged for a treaty between the United States and the Red Lake and Pembina Bands of Chippewa Indians. The treaty (aka “the Old Crossing Treaty”) was concluded on October 2, 1863, and was ratified with amendments on March 1, 1863. This treaty was subsequently altered to arrange various monetary issues and to warrant the issuance of scrip (in certain cases) on April 12, 1864. It was finally ratified on April 21, 1864, and proclaimed by Congress on April 25, 1864, and signed by the President on May 6, 1864 (13 Stat. 667 and 13 Stat. 689).
Under the cession terms of the treaty, the Pembina and Red Lake bands ceded much of the Red River Valley. The total land area ceded included roughly 127 miles (204 km) east to west and 188 miles (303 km) north to south; comprising nearly 11,000,000 acres (45,000 km2) of rich prairie lands and forests. On the Minnesota side, the ceded territory included all lands lying west of a line running generally southwest from the Lake of the Woods to Thief Lake, then angling southeast to the headwaters of the Wild Rice River. On the North Dakota side, the ceded territory included all of the Red River Valley north of the Sheyenne River to Stump Lake, to the headwaters of the Salt River to the US/Canadian border.
In addition to various allowances for annuities and other compensation, Article 8 of the treaty made a provision for the half-breed members of the bands, allowing them to take 160 acre “homesteads” within the ceded area.
Article 8 states:
“ARTICLE VIII. In further consideration of the foregoing cession, it is hereby agreed that the United States shall grant to each male adult half-breed or mixed-blood who is related by blood to the said Chippewas of the said Red Lake or Pembina bands, who has adopted the habits and customs of civilized life, and who is a citizen of the United States, a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres of land, to be selected at his option, within the limits of the tract of country hereby ceded to the United States, on any land not previously occupied by actual settlers or covered by prior grants, the boundaries thereof to be adjusted in conformity with the lines of the official surveys when the same shall be made, and with the laws and regulations of the United States affecting the location and entry of the same.”
On March 1, 1864, during an executive session of the Senate, Article 8 was amended to add a provision that stated that no scrip, or patent, would issue until such 160 acre selections were “proved up” with residence and cultivation of the land:
“In further consideration of the foregoing cession, it is hereby agreed that the United States shall grant to each male adult half-breed or mixed-blood who is related by blood to the said Chippewas of the said Red Lake or Pembina bands who has adopted the habits and customs of civilized life, and who is a citizen of the United States, a homestead of one hundred and sixty acres of land, to be selected at his option, within the limits of the tract of country hereby ceded to the United States, on any land not previously occupied by actual settlers or covered by prior grants, the boundaries thereof to be adjusted in conformity with the lines of the official surveys when the same shall be made, and with the laws and regulations of the United States affecting the location and entry of the same: Provided, That no scrip shall be issued under the provisions of this article, and no assignments shall be made of any right, title, or interest at law or in equity until a patent shall issue, and no patent shall be issued until due proof of five years' actual residence and cultivation, as required by the act entitled “An act to secure homesteads on the public domain.”
On April 21, 1864, this article was again amended to allow for the issuance of scrip in certain cases. It was established under Article 7 as follows:
“ARTICLE VII. It is further agreed by the parties hereto, that, in lieu of the lands provided for the mixed-bloods by article eight of said treaty, concluded at the Old Crossing of Red Lake River, scrip shall be issued to such of said mixed-bloods as shall so elect, which shall entitle the holder to a like amount of land, and may be located upon any of the lands ceded by said treaty, but not elsewhere, and shall be accepted by said mixed-bloods in lieu of all future claims for annuities.”
In total, over 400 patents were perfected and issued to mixed-blood Pembina and Red Lake Chippewa members. These lands were selected in seven (7) Counties in North Dakota and seven (7) Counties in Minnesota, mostly along several major travel and hunting routes such as the Red Lake River, Maple River, Pembina River, and the Red River itself. Land tended to be concentrated in 5 specific areas: the Pembina River area of North Dakota, the Red River (both Minnesota and North Dakota), the Red Lake River (Minnesota), and the Grandin and Cassleton areas of North Dakota, with some isolated selections (or small groupings of selections) elsewhere in the ceded area.
A list of those half-breeds who received patents and scrip under the 1863/64 Old Crossing Treaty are provided below.
During a debate in the House of Commons, July 20, 1886, Min. Joseph Royal, Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories and M.P. of the Canadian Parliament for Provencher, argued on behalf of the Metis and outlined the injustice that they faced from 1869 until the 1885 uprisings. He admonished the house for the theft of half-breed lands and scrip, the ignoring of the Metis as a distinct people with distinct rights, and the general exodus of many Metis to places such as Turtle Mountain (in North Dakota), Duck Lake, Qu'Appelle, Battleford and St. Albert, and the disappearance of the population at Wood Mountain who fled into Montana following the defeat at Batoche.
A portion of his speech is as follows:
I believe those immediate causes were aggravated to a large extent by the shameful speculation that was carried on at the expense of the half-breeds in the years following 1870. By the Manitoba Act a certain reserve had been set out for the extinguishment of the Indian title in favor of the people of that part of the country. In fact, the half-breeds under that Act were recognized as a distinct people, having distinct privileges and rights, which the Government of Canada had to deal with and settle. And let me here say that with respect of North-West grievances, there are three causes of the grievances in connection with the North-West affairs. There are letters and petitions addressed to the Government by the people, both of Manitoba and the North West Territories. Those letters and petitions have been read and commented upon at great length by some hon. gentlemen opposite, more especially by the leader of the Opposition. Then we have the resolutions and Bills of Rights proposed by Riel and his white Grit followers at Prince Albert and elsewhere; and the resolutions proposed at the Moosomin and Calgary meetings, and they form a distinct part of the grievances.
The third class of grievances is composed of the grievances of the Opposition, and I believe they are the only grievances with which to deal in the settlement of this question. Under the Manitoba Act as stated the half-breeds wore entitled to have a certain lot of land for the extinguishment of the Indian title. A reserve, comprising 1,400,000 acres of land, was set apart for the purpose. But long were the delays. It is not my intention to make more of those details than should be made of them. And so long were the delays in the apportionment of those reserves, and so protracted the issue of letters patent, that the people became doubtful of the good faith of the Government, and were easily induced by speculators to sell their rights to the land. They were canvassed by those speculators, who informed them that it would take many years to get possession of their 240 acres; that the Government did not desire that they should get possession of them; and other arguments of that kind were used.
I suppose hon. gentlemen opposite know something about that, for I believe that some of them and some of their friends own several thousand acres of these reserves. I presume that at one time 240 acres of half-breed claims were actually purchased for 5, 6, 7 and 8 pounds, and those prices prevailed during the Administration of hon. gentlemen opposite. The result was that the half-breeds lost confidence in Canadian laws and Canadian promises, and were easily induced to part with their reservations for a mere trifle. In fact, at the present day, I do not suppose that one-twentieth of these reserves remain in the hands of the original owners, and that is the reason why we see so many of these reserves in certain parishes lying waste. The result was, that in 1880, 1881 and 1883, a large number of these half-breeds left the Province, some going towards the Turtle Mountain district, in Dakota, and were thus lost to us entirely, others going westward to increase materially the half-breed settlements at Duck Lake, Qu'Appelle, Battleford and St. Albert. It is stated that, of a strong colony which formerly existed at Wood Mountain, only a few remain, the others having gone to the United States. Only a few thousand half-breeds now remain in Manitoba, although their population at the time of the transfer, in 1870, was 12,000 or 13,000.
House of Commons debates (Vol. 4). (1886). Ottawa: Queens Printer.
Here, in 2018, we listen to politicians and media discussions about immigration often taking place using less than flattering words. This is nothing new, as racist points of view about immigration have been part of the American discourse for centuries. However, the discussion rarely includes indigenous people from Canada, such as the Metis, who made their homeland on the prairies of what is now Manitoba, North Dakota, Minnesota, and other border states and provinces before Canada and the United States had developed the international boundary.
This 1953 article discusses the historical Metis disregard for the boundary in the framework of the (then) present-day discussion on border security, using racist terms and a colonial disregard for Indigenous rights.
Minneapolis Star (September 1, 1953. p. 12)
Upper Midwest Had ‘Wetbacks’ Too
Red River half-breeds came down from Canada to hunt the buffalo more than a century ago.
By Jay Edgerton of the Star editorial page staff
Illegal entry of the United States, dramatized today in the "wetback" border troubles, of the southwestern states, is nothing new in the nation's history. More than 100 years ago the part of the, Upper Midwest that became Minnesota, North and South Dakota was having pioneer "wetback" trouble from Canada. Troops were sent to the border several times but then, as now, officialdom was none too successful in stopping the illicit traffic. Minnesota's original "wetbacks" were the Bois Brules, or Red River half-breeds, who swarmed down out of Canada twice each year in the early part of the nineteenth century to hunt the buffalo on the teeming prairies of what is now Minnesota and the Dakotas. Although the country was unsettled and still beyond the frontier the United States had many reasons for opposing the Canadian half-breed forays, chief among them being that it brought trouble with the Indians, particularly the Sioux.
In the summer of 1844 a large party of Red River Metis ran into a war party of Yankton Sioux. One half-breed was killed. The Canadians fought back, killing eight Indians. This brought on "Indian trouble." The Sioux went on the warpath and promptly attacked an American party they met near Otter Tail Lake. All through the I840s the Red River half breeds were a major frontier problem. Their buffalo hunts were the biggest ever seen. In 1840 more than 1,600 half-breeds went out to hunt on the Red River prairies. More than 20,000 buffalo were killed.
To the half-breeds and to the buffalo there was no such thing as an international boundary. The, buffalo wandered where they willed and the Red River men saw no reason why they couldn't kill them where they found them. To the Red River men, and also to the Indians, the buffalo was a way of life. The buffalo was food, clothing and shelter. Anything that interfered with good buffalo hunting was a matter of life and death, both to the tribes and to the half-breeds.
In those days there were no elaborate immigration restrictions such as those governing the Mexican “wetbacks”' today. But the military authorities at Fort Snelling did have laws they could work with such as the one John Jacob Astor, head of the American Fur Company, had gotten through congress in 1816.
This prohibited trading with American Indians by anyone not an American citizen. As most of the Canadian forays involved some contact with the American tribes frequently with “swaps” and sales of Canadian goods the army had legal authority to go after the half-breeds. The first military expedition against the Red River raiders came in 1845. Two companies of the First Dragoons (mounted infantry) were sent north from Fort Atkinson, Iowa territory. They discovered they were able to get promises from Canadians to stay off American soil, but once the troops were withdrawn the Red River me went speedily back to the buffalo chase.
In 1849, the war department ordered another military expedition to the Red River country. This was organized at Fort Snelling, and was commanded Brevet Major Samuel Woods, a captain of the sixth infantry, and included a company of dragoons. It marched all the way to Pembina, then a fur trading post and a motley collection of Indian lodges.
Despite all threats and shows of force, the “wetback” buffalo-hunters continued invading the United States annually until the extinction of the buffalo. Even today legal red-tape at the boundary is largely meaningless to the Indians and half-breeds of the Minnesota and North Dakota boundary country. They know it as “the line”, but to them—as Joseph Kinsey Howard reported in his book on the Metis, “Strange Empire”—it is merely a nuisance.
Source: Minneapolis Star. September 1, 1953 (page 12 of 42). (1953, Sep 01). Minneapolis Star (1947-1982)
In 1906, Congress passed an Act (amended in 1907), authorizing mixed-blood Indians on White Earth Reservation, Minnesota, to sell the lands which the Government had previously allotted to them. Many of the mixed-bloods sold all or part of their allotments since the passage of the act. However, in time, the Government suspected that in the sale of certain lands fraud had been committed intentionally by the original white purchaser, the mixed-blood seller, or both.
In 1910, the US Justice Department began to bring suits against the present white owners of more than 1,300 pieces of such land—whether or not the present owners were the original purchasers who bought the land from the mixed-blood allottees.
Both the Government and the defendants in these suits spent significant time and resources trying to ascertain the facts as to the blood status of the original White Earth members who sold their land as mixed-bloods. The method that was normally used was to take testimony from the mixed-bloods, incorporating such “evidence” as physical appearance, genealogy, and family ‘reputation’ as it related to their genealogy and blood status. Despite the evidence collected, which usually weighed in favor of the mixed-blood and against the defendants, additional information was sought to protect the claims of the white men who bought the land. Thus, the defendants then sought to determine the blood status of the mixed-bloods by using atavistic anthropometric methods.
In 1914, Albert Jenks of the University of Minnesota, was called upon to provide an “expert” opinion on behalf of the defendants. His work sought to try to determine blood status/blood degree using eugenic and atavistic “scientific” methods that were popularized by Samuel Morton (and others) to try to determine the face-breadth head-breadth index of a sampling of mixed-bloods from Red Lake, Bois Fort/Nett Lake, Mille Lacs, Cass Lake, Leech Lake, Lake Winnibegoshish, and Bowstring Lake, Minnesota, and from the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota, to see if this index could be introduced as a means of determining the blood status, or blood-quantum of mixed-blood Indians.
Jenks conducted his research at White Earth in 1914, before moving on to Bois Fort and Nett Lake over the winter of 1914-1915, Minnesota. The remainder of his work was performed over 1915-1916. His work included measuring the head breadth and length, face breadth and height, nasal breadth and length, color of eyes, skin and hair, texture and quantity of hair, and nature of incisor teeth.
His work is typical of the various methods used by the Government and others to try to separate, classify, and eventually destroy tribal communities in America and was one of the many tools used to justify the use of blood quantum as a means of restricting, erasing and eliminating Indigenous people in America.
Jenks, A. (1916) Indian-white Amalgamation: an Anthropometric Study by Albert Ernest jenks, Ph.D. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.
WALHALLA (ST. JOSEPH)
A beautifully situated community located in the wooded river valley at the slope of Second Pembina Mountain, Walhalla (or Old St. Joseph) got its start when trader Norman Kittson built a trading post here in 1843 to take advantage of the many Ojibwe and Metis who camped here throughout the year.
Antoine B. Gingras, a half-breed trader, also started a post here in 1843. Later, in 1848, Father George Belcourt established a mission here which was called St. Joseph to work with the 50+ families who made this their regular home. In 1851, additional missionaries arrived, and in 1853 the Pembina Belfry, known as the “Angelus Bell”, was relocated to St. Joseph to officially sanctify the mission. The bell is believed to have been brought from Pembina to St. Joseph by Red River cart.
By 1860 the settlement had become an important fur trading post, with a population of 1,800—mostly Metis half-breeds and Plains Ojibwe. In 1862 a post office was established and it was a burgeoning town with a strong community. However, by 1870, the good furs became scarce in the rivers and streams of the Pembina hills, and the buffalo had virtually disappeared. By 1871, Walhalla was inhabited only by a priest, the U. S. customs inspector, and some 50 Metis people who had settled here (more or less) permanently.
The town revived and was platted in 1877. It was renamed Walhalla by the Icelandic people who were settling in the region. Although most of the Metis inhabitants left the area, some families still remain in the area until today, and each year a festival is held at the Gingras Trading Post State Park.
Originally known as Leroy’s Trading Post, Leroy was established as a Metis community during the 1850s. This post, on the Pembina River, consisted of several households of Metis log cabins scattered in the timber along the river. In 1873, Father LaFlock transferred the Saint Joseph Mission from Walhalla to Leroy to serve the Metis living here, and a post office was established in 1887.
Over the decades, the town lost most of its inhabitants to out-migration and old age. The town is now a ghost town, with no census returns during the 2010 census. However, an interesting legend, or ghost story, does persist for Leroy. A road, known as White Lady Lane, goes through the Tetrault Woods between Leroy and Walahalla. Local legend tells of a young girl who became pregnant out of wedlock. Her religious parents forced her to marry the man against her will, and after the wedding, the baby died. The distraught girl hanged herself from a bridge, and her ghost has been seen hanging from the bridge in her wedding dress. The bridge is located down a narrow road off County 9.
This small town, now nearly a ghost town, Olga was originally known as St. Pierre, due to the mission established by Catholic priest, Cyrille Saint Pierre, who was assigned as postmaster in 1882, but it was shortly thereafter renamed Olga in 1883.
A small Metis community lived at this location, and it was a favorite camping ground for the Plains Ojibwe and Metis. During the 1800s, and a famous battle between the Ojibwe/Metis and Dakota Sioux—the Battle of O’Brien’s Coulee—took place about a mile from Olga in 1848.
WPA Federal Writers Project (1935). North Dakota: A Guide to the Northern Prairie State. Washington: USGPO
Barnes-Williams, Mary Ann (1966). Origins of North Dakota Place Names. Bismarck: Tribune Publishing
The name Pembina comes from the Michif word “lii paabinaan” (drawn from the Ojibwe word “aniibimin”) for the highbush cranberries that lend their flaming color to the nearby woods in autumn.
The community traces its beginnings to about 1797 when Charles Chaboillez, of the North West Fur Company, established a temporary wintering fur trading post at the confluence of the Pembina and Red Rivers. Shortly afterward the Hudson's Bay Company opened a post here, under the operation of Alexander Henry, in 1800, and the X Y Company also established several posts in this area. The three companies competed heavily for the majority of trade with the half-breed Metis and the Ojibwe who frequented the area, providing cheap trade goods and rum.
In 1812, about 227 Scotch and Swiss colonists were brought to Pembina by William Douglas, the Earl of Selkirk, under an agreement with Hudson's Bay Company to settle and farm the area, as Pembina was under British control until 1818, when the international boundary placed it under the control of the United States.
Throughout the early and middle part of the nineteenth century Pembina was the one of the main rendezvous for Metis and Plains Ojibwe hunters, and the town was the starting point for the great Pembina buffalo hunts. Stories abound about the massive hunts that left Pembina, often taking in millions of pounds of pemmican and furs in a single season before returning to trade them back. Hundreds of Metis maintained residence at Pembina, and the surrounding area, using it as their main wintering place.
Although a church and a school were started at Pembina early in the 1800s, the community made little progress until 1843 when Norman Kittson, of the American Fur Company, established a large trading store that he kept stocked with goods of all kinds, brought up from St. Paul. His business thrived as it served as a middle-man hub where he would buy furs in bulk and have them shipped to St. Paul by Red River cart. The carts would, in turn, haul valuable goods back to Pembina for trade with the half-breeds and Indians. Kittson also served as postmaster, creating an avenue for communication with the outside world.
As the fur trade dwindled down during the 1860s, the place became less important and many of the half-breeds and Ojibwe began to filter west towards Turtle Mountain and the western Plains. After the signing of the 1863 Old Crossing Treaty, white farmers began to stake claims in the region. Pembina was finally incorporated as a city in 1885, and the traditional indigenous owners of the land eventually abandoned the area, with the exception of a few Metis families who took homesteads and remained. Their descendants can still be found in Pembina and many of the surrounding communities to this day.
WPA Federal Writers Project (1935). North Dakota: A Guide to the Northern Prairie State. Washington: USGPO
Barnes-Williams, Mary Ann (1966). Origins of North Dakota Place Names. Bismarck: Tribune Publishing