Duluth – Onigamiinsing

[This post originally included an embedded video that no longer exists at its source.]

I’ve since moved away, but I love coming back to visit my hometown of Duluth. I made this little video one evening this summer at Leif Erikson Park, I thought some of you might enjoy.

When I look out across the lake to the lift bridge and the city, I imagine what a beautiful place Duluth must have been just a few hundred years ago.

I’d like to learn more about Duluth’s pre-European, Ojibwe inhabitants and their written/oral histories related to the area. For example, I grew up near Point of Rocks. What is/was the significance of this area?

I’m far from the DPL, so can anyone recommend reading/viewing material I could access online to learn more about this?



about 13 years ago

I would recommend checking out Sheldon Aubut's Duluth History website.  There's a number of credible stories, and he is a local historian and author.  

Tony D.

about 13 years ago


The history of Point of Rocks (aka "The Glenn" and the lower portion of "Little Italy") will be part of "Lost Duluth," due out next may. Email me and I will send you a preview: tonyd [at] zenithcity.com. Much of the book's content will also be available at zenithcity.com early next year.


about 13 years ago

Tony D:  Are you going to include Chief Buffalo's claim in the Point of Rocks section?  That's an important part of Duluth history that I never learned until PDD came along.  

J-Buck:  Here are a few books that can get you started. 

The Mishomis Book by Edward Benton-Banai was written for middle-school-aged kids, but it happens to be just about at my level.  Seriously I learned a lot from it.  

Indian Givers, by Jack Weatherford and its companion "Native Roots" discuss Native American people generally but include sections on the Ojibwe fur trade and how it transformed the world's economy. Ever heard of John Jacob Astor?  He did a lot more than go down with the Titanic and he couldn't have done any of it without Native American people from our region.  

The Four Hills of Life, by Thomas Peacock and Marlene Wisuru is another book designed for kids but adults can get a lot out of it.  Thom Peacock is a Fond du Lacker who has written several books. He also edited and wrote a few of the oral histories in A forever story: the people and community of the Fond du Lac Reservation. Those few books should be a start for you.


about 13 years ago

Before the Ojibwa, this area was part of the Sioux nation. Wars over hunting grounds between the tribes forced the Sioux westward. The Ojibwa people migrated here from the east coast over a period of time. Look for their oral histories about the great migration west before the whites began populating the east coast.  The head of lakes, along with the Apostle Islands was a gathering/trading place for indian nations all across the east and midwest and Canada.


about 13 years ago

Great video Jbuck! 
When I started reading Duluth history, I started with a book about the explorers. The writings are biased, somewhat inaccurate, and a little clumsy; however, they are the first hand accounts of what MN and Duluth were like before any other Europeans hit the North Shore of Lac Superior. 

See Radisson's journals (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Esprit_Radisson), Sir Duluth's writings, and Father Hennepin's journals (although only portions are relevant). There's nothing like reading the primary source. 

But from the title, Lost Duluth sounds fantastic!!!! Excited to see more Tony D!


about 13 years ago

Thanks everyone for your insight and links. I appreciate it (with a big thanks to Wildgoose)!


about 13 years ago

Sometimes books which focus on a specific subject offer some good history in the context. One book that fits this description is Daniel Lancaster's book, John Beargrease: Legend of Minnesota's North Shore. The book is published by Duluth's own Holy Cow! Press (www.holycowpress.org/).  If you can't find it at our local bookstores, Amazon will be happy to help: 

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