Mickinock and Maypuck Save the Day following a local panic
When the pioneers arrived they found the Indians of the valley peaceful and friendly. The settlers traded with the Indians and the two peoples were mutually helpful in many ways. Both J. W. Durham and Jacob Nelson, the valley's pioneer historians, dwell upon the marked honesty of the Indians. Nevertheless, things weren't always perfect.
In the fall of 1890 the Sioux at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, became tired of reservation life and made a break for the open. Although the revolt was easily put down, the incident caused widespread uneasiness among the settlers. Rumors spread throughout northern Minnesota that the Sioux chief had visited the Chippewa of the Red Lake Reservation to incite them to revolt, and that the Chippewa had purchased all the powder and lead available in Thief River Falls. Other terrifying stories also were current. One writer asserts that the scare in the Roseau Valley was precipitated by the "machinations of several ill-intentioned whites”. Louis Enstrom and Ole Holm, two early settlers, testify that a Mrs. Marshall, living in what is now Stafford Township, played a large part in fomenting the scare. She was a half-breed who resented the intrusion of the whites. Panic, however, was in the air. Many of the rumors probably were generated spontaneously. It was reported that three hundred Indians in full war paint had passed Sprague's lumber camp, just across the line in Manitoba. The number quickly grew to three thousand. Later investigation revealed that three Indians actually had passed the camp!
In January, 1891, fear of impending massacre swept the valley. The Chippewa of the Warroad village, twenty-two miles east on Lake of the Woods, were said to be dancing the ghost dance with visitors from Red Lake and other places in the vicinity. The climax of a series of wild stories was a Revere-like arousal of the valley settlers by two men who bore the terrifying information that Indians in war paint were descending upon the settlement. In confusion and panic, settlers loaded their household goods on carts and headed precipitately, in the dead of winter, out of the valley. Those who were determined to remain grimly prepared to defend themselves. Among those who held their ground were some who doubted the story of an uprising. They sent scouts to Warroad to see what the Indians actually were doing.
In the meantime the evacuation of the valley continued. Erick Holm, who was dispatched to Hallock to report to the authorities, "met about sixty teams of refugees on the sand ridge in a most miserable plight." Upon returning from Warroad, the scouts reported that the Chippewa there were friendly and were only indulging in social dancing. Moreover, when Chief Maypuck and his band learned of the scare, they were almost as frightened as the settlers. Apprehensive of repercussions, Maypuck and a companion journeyed to Roseau to learn more about the matter.
Ironically enough, the friendly aid of the Indians helped to prevent the settlers who had abandoned their homes from suffering big losses. To Roseau one day went the good Indian Mickinock. He found that all the whites had left. Their stock was almost perishing for lack of food and water, so he watered and fed all abandoned cattle on his way from his camp to town. Upon hearing that the whites believed the rumors of an uprising, Mickinock was incredulous. He told the people to send word to those who had fled to return, as he could not take care of their stock all winter. So quickly did the scare resolve itself and so slowly did the refugees travel in ox carts, that emissaries soon overtook them and persuaded most of them to return. February saw smoke once again rising above the housetops, proclaiming that all was well in the Roseau Valley.
From The Early History of the Roseau Valley Earl V. Chapin (1943) MNHS
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities