The “Lost Tribe”

Little Crow’s Village – 1848 – Confluence of St. Croix and Mississippi – National Park Service Publication

An tragic incident on the banks of the Apple River

In two earlier posts I passed on what I’d learned about the Native Peoples who moved to, shared and often disputed the territory along the St. Croix/Brule/Lake Superior/Madeline Island canoe trail. For decades there was a struggle for dominance between Sioux and Chippewa bands over this land. On April 3rd, 1850 near where the Apple River and St. Croix meet, one of the last recorded skirmishes between Chippewa and Sioux tribesmen took place. As reported in St. Paul newspapers, it was more of a bloody rout with a superior force of Sioux warriors decimating a group of Chippewa at their sugar camp collecting sap from maple trees. The details aren’t too pretty – and were contested regarding what events triggered the violence. The incident is significant historically as the last of the armed territorial disputes between these two nations along the St. Croix River Valley ( read Dunn’s account at  –  Dunn – The St. Croix – Midwest Border River). Another ten years and most of the Chippewa had moved north to the far reaches of the upper St. Croix River. The 1854 Treaty of La Pointe established reservations and rights of Chippewa Nation throughout most all of the Superior Basin bands. Excluded though were the Mole Lake and St. Croix bands. Wiki folks summarize a complicated division that separated Minnesota bands and Wisconsin bands to established reservations although many Native people opted out and continued to live along the St. Croix

Chippewa women gather wild rice – 1857 NPS publication


The St. Croix Band are signatories to the Treaty of St. Peters (1837), also known as the “White Pine Treaty” that paved the way for lumbermen to access the great number of White pine growing along the St. Croix River watershed. This treaty assured the signatory Tribes would be able to continue to enjoy traditional hunting, fishing and gathering practices. After the Sandy Lake Tragedy in the autumn and winter of 1850, the St. Croix Band and other Ojibwe bands, with public support and outcry through-out the United States, were spared from the Indian removal policy. Instead, the St. Croix Band and other bands again went into treaty negotiations for establishing a reservation for each of the Ojibwe bands. Confident that the Tribe could maintain exercising their hunting, fishing and gathering rights in the area ceded to the United States in 1837, St. Croix Band did not agree to being located onto a reservation. Instead, the St. Croix Band found themselves losing their federal recognition in 1854 when omitted from the Treaty of La Pointe. As a non-recognized tribe, the St. Croix Band was not allowed to exercise the rights protected under the Treaty of St. Peters.

In order to be paid annuities, the St. Croix Band members of Wisconsin were strongly urged to relocate to the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian Reservation; though many did relocate, just as many remained in the St. Croix valley. With the establishment of the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation in 1855, the remaining St. Croix Band members in Minnesota were also urged to relocate, and many did, but just as many remained.

With tensions between the lumbermen and the St. Croix Band, several St. Croix Band villages were removed to the Gull Lake Reservation near Brainerd, Minnesota. The Rice River Band of the St. Croix Band was then absorbed by the Rice Lake Band of Mississippi Chippewa.

The “Lost Tribe” didn’t receive federal recognition until the 1930s. They remained in legal limbo all those years but are no longer. Visit their website if you wish and learn more from their perspective and in their own words. \”The Lost Tribe\” Here’s the front page

Boo-zho! Welcome to the official website of the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin! We hope you will find the information on the following pages helpful and insightful. 

The St. Croix people were known as “The Lost Tribe” after the Treaty of LaPointe in 1854. St. Croix was not a federally recognized Tribe until the passing of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, when federal lands were finally established for St. Croix. The St. Croix people had endured over 200 years of struggle to reclaim their original homelands.Today, St. Croix is a strong sovereign nation and flourishing economic center. The Tribe is one of the largest employers in Northwest Wisconsin with over 2,000 employees in its Government center, casinos and enterprises. St. Croix is also a major contributor to the area’s economy.

There are over 1,200 enrolled members in the St. Croix Chippewa Tribe. Several Tribal Members reside in one of the Tribe’s communities: Big Sand Lake, Danbury, Round Lake, Maple Plain, Gaslyn, Bashaw, Clam Lake, Balsam Lake

However, just as many Tribal Members live in surrounding towns and villages. Other Members choose to reside in nearby major metropolitan areas. Still others live as far away as the Pacific Coast.

Come and learn about our Tribe and join us as we journey into the future.

St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
Behold Our Heritage. Share Our Future.

St. Croix Tribal Center
24663 Angeline Ave
Webster, WI 54893

To purchase “The Lost Tribe,” and educational DVD about the St. Croix Chippewa, send a check or money order in the amount of $15.00 to:
The Vision, DVD Sales 24663 Angeline Avenue, Webster, WI 54893

Folks, that’s it for today. Check out Friday’s post of photos and movies of the Brule/St.Croix portage as well as some Brule river hot-dogging. Best wishes, Corey

This entry was posted in Music and Video, Native Americans, St. Croix River and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The “Lost Tribe”

  1. Geezer says:

    Hey Corey, such a loaded entry. The Dunn book, The St. Croix: The Border River, is on my list for exploration. You have included many great references. Thanks a bunch! J. G.

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