September 30, 1854: The Second Treaty of LaPointe opens the “Minnesota side” of Lake Superior for settlement

On this day in 1854, the future creation of Duluth was set in motion with the signing of the Second Treaty of LaPointe on Madeline Island, which opened  the Minnesota Territory north and west of Lake Superior to settlement by U. S. citizens of European descent. Representatives of the U.S. government met on the island of La Pointe in the Apostle Islands with over five thousand Ojibwe who had lost their livelihood with the demise of the fur trade. Together they negotiated a treaty that gave native lands north and west of Lake Superior to the United States. The agreement also created the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage reservations, and the Ojibwe received cash and goods—including furniture, kitchen utensils, household furniture, clothes, and hunting and trapping gear—and were provided with a blacksmith. (The first Treaty of LaPointe, signed in 1842, ceded Ojibwe land in what is now Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula; an 1844 agreement gave Isle Royale to Michigan.) Signatories of the 1854 treaty included Chief Buffalo of the La Pointe Band and Chief Osawgee of the Fond du Lac Band. In subsequent years even more Ojibwe land would be claimed by both private sales and the General Allotment Act of 1887, which reduced Ojibwe property in some areas by nearly sixty percent.

A painting depicting the gathering on Madeline Island that negotiated the 1854 Treaty of La Pointe, artist unknown. (Image: Duluth Public Library)