Chief Buffalo, Point of Rocks and “The Mayor of Duluth”

I was reading this month’s new FDL Band Newspaper (PDF) and about halfway through I found a breezy little history piece on Chief Buffalo: Hero of the Lake Superior Ojibwe by historian Christine Carlson. The article was already interesting, then I notice mention of Duluth’s Point of Rocks which has been discussed extensively here on PDD. It sounds like the area surrounding Point of Rocks was selected by Chief Buffalo as part of one of the articles of the Treaty of 1854. The area would have also included Wisconsin Point and much of what is now considered Downtown Duluth and West End/Lincoln Park.

From the article, West Duluth pioneer Alfred Merritt’s reminiscences of early days at the head of the lakes:

There the rocks came out to the bay and made a lee on either side of this point of rocks, so that when the wind was from the northeast or northwest you could lay with your small boat or canoe in perfect safety. I am sure that this is the land mark chosen by Chief Buffalo at the Indian treaty at LaPoint in the fall of 1854, as the starting point, the line to run one mile north, one mile east, one mile south and one mile west back to the point of starting. This would have taken in the old burial ground at the foot of Rice’s Point.

They had this large burial ground there and as you know, the Indians are more particular than the white people about these things. The treaty was tampered with, unquestionably, by interested parties. In fact, when this land was looked up, according to the treaty papers, it was found to be located six miles out in Lake Superior.

Then I dug a little deeper and found out that 30 years ago one of the Chief’s descendants, Richard Lee Armstrong, RE-claimed his ownership of his land, and even wrote a song about it, “Landlord of Duluth.”



about 13 years ago

Interesting.  Thanks Wild Goose.  Lived in an apartment in the Point of Rocks area.  It was an interesting neighborhood.


about 13 years ago

And thus we have the casino downtown.


about 13 years ago

Also, I've always thought that the Story of Chief Buffalo's trip to Washington D.C. would make a great movie.


about 13 years ago

I like it.  Chief Buffalo goes to Washington

Those times ... one of the greatest leaders in American history, they paid him $5 to sit for that sculpture.  And they made people pay an extra nickel to ride the train with him.  Rather, he could NOT ride the train unless he allowed them to charge extra for people to ride with an authentic "Indian Chief."


about 13 years ago

I like this idea..

E. Dahl

about 13 years ago

Read the actual government description and find that Chief Buffalo's selection of 1 mi sq in Duluth began at rocks on the bay shore at about 1st Ave W, then w 1 mi, n 1 mi, e 1m, and s 1 mi to the beginning point.

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