A bloody land bought by blood
Before the coming of the white man, the Lake of the Woods and the northern part of Minnesota was the choice hunting ground of the Anishinaabe. The woods were full of game and the lakes were full of fish. It was also valuable to the people because it was within easy striking distance of the buffalo-covered plains of the Red River valley.
The Sioux had long-coveted this area and devised a strategy to seize the Lake of the Woods from the Anishinaabe, so that they could enjoy the bounty of the lake and the rich streams of the Rainy River.
The Anishinaabe caught wind that the Sioux were planning an invasion and decided to fight the impending battle on their own ground. They selected a position on a river that flowed into the southwest portion of the Lake—directly across from the trail which the Sioux must take. When the Sioux finally arrived, a battle took place for six days. When the smoke had cleared, the Sioux were defeated and 500 scalps were taken. After this battle, the Anishinaabe were left in peace as the undisputed owners of the lake and the lands around it. The trail along the river became known as the “war road”, which later became Warroad.
It is told that one of the old men of the Anishinaabe village at Warroad would make an annual pilgrimage to the battle ground. He would fast for six days, where he would dream about the great battle that he and his brothers fought and won against the Sioux.