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History Of Leech Lake

Host: Elaine Fleming

Elaine is an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Nation who lives in Cass Lake, Minnesota. Her parents are Simon and Dorothy Howard. Raised in Cass Lake, Elaine followed the annual rounds of the Ojibwe with her family. As a child, she was introduced to the spring’s sugar bush, summer’s berry picking and gardening, fall’s wild ricing, and winter’s storytelling. In addition, her family has always followed the powwow trail, and made their own regalia.

Elaine spent ten years in the U.S. Army where she completed her baccalaureate degree with a major in history. She attained her Master of Fine Arts degree in 2003 and a Master of Education degree in 1998. She currently chairs the Arts and Humanities Department and teaches at Leech Lake Tribal College.

In her personal life, Elaine is an Ojibwe storyteller and jingle dress dancer. She is also known as the first female, Native American mayor in the state of Minnesota. Her most important role in life is as a mother of three children and grandmother of two. Elaine loves the outdoors and walks regularly. This past winter, she learned how to snow shoe.

Picture: Elaine Fleming, Snow Shoeing.



The History of Leech Lake is a 10 minute program designed to educate listeners about the History of Leech Lake Reservation. This program provides a historical prospective to American Indian life and how it relates today. This history also gives more knowledge and awareness of the way history affects people's lives. History of Leech Lake gives insight into the culture and history of a people that is not often told. This program will help listeners discover things about Leech Lake that they did not know and may discover a history not described in any textbook.

Introduction to History of Leech Lake

Elaine Fleming; A storyteller and historian.

 Mn congressional party investigating proposed forest

Demography A

The numbers of people that originally inhabited this Turtle Island in the 1500's.

Image: Mn congressional party investigating proposed forest

Small Pox Narrative

Decimation By Disease

One of the hardest things that hit the indiginous people of Turtle Island was the disease of the newcomers creating the first pandemic on Turtle island where 75% of our people died.

Image: Small Pox Narrative



The story of how disease effected our people and the legend of Wiindigo.

Image: Wiindigo

Ojibwe Woman Bear Island

How We Got The Name Pillager

William W. Warren's story of how the Leech Lake Band Members got the name Pillager.

Image: Ojibwe Woman, Bear Island, 1900

General & Peoples History - Sandy Lake

General history as compared to peoples history. Peoples history of Leech Lake with focus on the Sandy Lake Tragedy. These are some of our stories not known by the general public but should be known to all

Sandy Lake Tragedy with Flatmouth Speech

The Sandy Lake Tragedy of 1850 with Flatmouth speech.

Isabelle Taylor, great grandmother and Marie Johnson (sitting), great great grandmother

Isabelle Taylor, great grandmother and Marie Johnson (sitting), great-great grandmother

Traditional Roles of Women

Ojibwe women, ikwewag, fulfulled important rolls for our people and worked in seasonal rounds. Women were respected and necessary to hold together the world of the Ojibwe people.

Image: Isabelle Taylor, great grandmother and Marie Johnson (sitting), great-great grandmother.

Image 2: Isabelle Taylor, great grandmother. She didnt smoke and always wore her hair in a braid down her back. Image staged by photographer.

Ojibwe Women & Trading Era Respect & Marriage

Slowly, trading era goods would change the way the Ojibwe looked and worked. Womens rolls changed during the trading era. Traders and Ojibwe women.

Ojibwe Women Gender, Socio-Economic changes With Fur Trade & Densmore Narrative of Small Pox

Elaine Fleming; A storyteller and historian.

Dorothy Howard

Elaine tells us about her mother, Dorothy Howard.

Dorothy Howard and Storytelling

Elaine continues to talk about her mother and what she learned from her about storytelling.

Land Loss, NW Commission, Dawes & Nelson Act @ Cass Lake

Elaine talks about the roles of Ojibwe men with special emphasis on her uncle, James Drouillard, Jr.

Land Flooding from Dams, Nelson Act @ Cass Lake (con’t)

1889 Nelson Act and three Council meetings that happened at the Cass Lake Reservation.

Nelson Act, Land Loss on Cass Lake Reservation

1889 MN Chippewa Commission; Loss of land base; 1889 Nelson Act and what leads up to the loss of our land.

Nelson Act, Council 3

1889 Nelson Act at Cass Lake Reservation and the first three Council meeting.

Nelson Act, Leadership, Promises and Annuities – 3 Council Mtg

Elaine Fleming; A storyteller and historian.

Go on to History of Leech Lake Page 2 >

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Supported by funds from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.