Ferries, Madeline Island Revisit, Burial Sites, Frank Montano


  Back in the office, tired and socks filled with Madeline Island sand. Please give me a break if you find a typo, ok?

island queen ferry.jpgBack on the Ferry. We are headed back to the island today with the weather cooperating with us. We want to revisit a few sites that we either just drove by or was getting rained on. The ride on the ferry to and from Bayfield is always a pleasure as it is a tremendous water view of both the island and the mainland and being surrounded by water seems to be relaxing. Our guests enjoy the trip and its twenty minutes when we can just chat, or scan the horizon. I always like to check out the variety of people on board from the rich to the those headed to the island just to check it out by foot or bicycle. Those who have even more money had a small airfield built during the 1950's so they could fly their private family planes off and on the island. and not be seen by somebody as nobody as me.



We find Michel Cadotte's burial Site at the old Indian and Catholic Church burial site. The burial headstone, now lying on the ground reads "To The Memory of Michel Cadott, who departed on July 8, 1837, Age 72 Years, 11 months, 10 days." Cadotte was the grandson of Cadeau and his father, Jean Baptiste Cadotte Sr., and an Ojibwe woman and Michel established several trading posts in the region, fluent and related to the Ojibwe himself, Cadotte carried a great deal of influence over important political and social matters. One of Michel Cadotte's grandson, William Whipple Warren has recently been featured in a book called William W. Warren and Warren himself once published a book called The History of the Ojibwe People.

We have traveled back to the LaPointe Marina area. At one time, what is now called the marina and golf course water warming pond, there was also a burial ground for many Ojibwe. If you have discussed Madeline Island, you will hear stories about 2,000-4,000 Ojibwe being on the Island at times, and then adding a couple of centuries of inhabitation. You don't end up with a quarter of an acre burial ground under those circumstances. Everybody now seems to except the fact that twenty or more years ago, some members of the Nelson family, one of the major developers of Madeline Island removed truckload after truckload of burial material while building a government grant funded marina, even though some members of the family would still vehemently deny it. Wayne Nelson once told me that the only thing excavated from site was a Frenchman because they found a musket with him, but burying muskets was not a tradition of the French, but very much in keeping with Ojibwe customs.

The other thing I kept thinking was, ok, so he was only a Frenchman. If somebody from France had pointed out that it was still a burial, the poor guy would have been called a Scandinavian and on, and on. I think he was just one more Ojibwe moved for financial gain reasons.

Some say that the remains were taken to the dump and then splashed with gasoline to try to eliminate the clothing, boards and bones of our ancestors. If it were not for some Red Cliff Ojibwe descendant who had a hard time living with driving a truck full of burial remains, less of the story might have been told. The story lives on as another testimony to how our ancient sites are defiled, but another part of the story says that a 28 foot canoe with somebody buried inside of it brought the excavation of the warming pond to an end because the truckers didn't think they could get it out without people finding out about it.

By word of mouth, people starting coming over to look at what the hold-up was, and at some point, the project stopped there. A monument now sits there on a small peninsula that juts out into the warming pond, a reminder that some times nature intervenes when the conscience does not. About a decade ago, a women from out west came back to Madeline Island to get somebody to hold a ceremony to those who cried out to be remembered. We hope it won't ever happen again.

protestand church site.jpgThe old Protestant Church and Burial Ground. Several years ago while researching some maps of the Island, I came across some pictures of the old Protestant Church from the 1930s. You could see that the site was overgrown with trees but the building was still there. Also located in the picture where some headstones not far from the site. I located the burials headstones not far from where the old church site was just by gaging the location against other maps of the general area. From any of the roads going by the area, you would not be able to see anything, unless you looked closely and there in the tall grass and weeds a headstone would appear. There are probably 50-60 burials at the site including settling pioneers and Indigenous people who converted -- we had our choice as every year or so it seemed some new mission, or denomination would show up claiming to be the last savior and teaching to get into heaven. I suspect before long, several Native people decided that with so many choices, it might just as be what they had already believed in before the preachers started preaching against each other.

michael cadotte homestead.jpgMichel Cadotte's Homestead. We find Michel Cadotte's homestead on our way to the south part of the Island, not far from Grant's Point which looks south to Ashland, but more closely to Long Island. The entire region of several acres are well groomed and signs don't say no trespassing but things like "please respect the privacy of the owners of this property." Otherwise there is wood-chip walking trails that have been created in the last few years. We also hunt for the site of the French Fort LaPointe which was build in the 17th century about 500 feet behind the marker. As we all think we are experts, we find a flat and grassy, nice looking place that fits our idea of where the fort would sit. Examining the site, you can see the topographical changes made by human beings to the area, and I think we are not far off.

Grants Point and the Beloit College excavation. Looking off of Grans Point you can easily see Long island, perhaps a mile across. The Island is part of a peninsula that juts out north from the Bad River Reservation. Tom Vennum tells us a story that he heard about some Dakota warriors trying to walk or swim across the channel to get to the island to attach some Ojibwe. He did not say if they made it. You can see a sand bar leading out in the direction very easily for this year the lake is perhaps a foot or more lower than it has been in the last decade. Grants Point was once a very large village, and the land base extended several hundred, if not thousand feet into the lake from where the shore now is according to old maps. Several decades ago, some college students from Beloit, Wisconsin were found excavating the site of human remains and artifacts, but were politely told by a local Ojibwe relative that all that were buried there were victims of Smallpox which brought the dig to a rapid end.

Big Bay State Park - A Council Grounds?

Back to Aminicon Point.



frank montana.jpg

Frank Montano, the Red Cliff Musician . Frank Montano demonstrates how to make music from a double side flute and makes me wonder why I can't create even a simple toon from anything I have ever tried to flute around with. Frank is know as a gifted musician whether it is with his guitar or any number of flutes that he has collected over the years.

As he leads us into a small basement studio, Frank can tell you story about each one of the flutes that hangs on the wall, or is on display, each one coming along with a story. The Hmong flutes that even he had a hard time making much music with, but felt that somehow the Hmong would make them sing with joy. There is a really big one, apparently made by a big guy, who wanted to thank Frank for his encouragement. Frank led us through the entire process of showing how his flutes are made, from the block of wood to the secrets of a good reed and why you have to be aware of the moisture that will collect as you play, and hence, the change in tones as the night moves on.