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Chief Buffalo: A Leader's Legacy in Preserving Ojibwe Rights

Kechewaishke, known as Chief Buffalo, was the tribal leader of the Lake Superior Ojibwe people. He lived in La Pointe, which today is known as Madeline Island. Kechwaishke was born in 1759 and died in 1855.

Kechewaishke played a major role in signing treaties between the U.S. government and the Ojibwe tribe. He was well known for his work to conserve lands for Native Americans in Wisconsin, resisting attempts by the U.S. government to take away territories. Kechewaishke and the tribe peacefully protested against the U.S. government. His people valued and recognized his ability to speak publicly, and other Ojibwe tribes in the area began to recruit him as a spokesperson to negotiate treaties with the government.

Kechewaishke served as an authority figure who represented Ojibwe tribes in the Lake Superior region for the treaties of 1837 and 1842. In these treaties, he wrote letters describing his discontent with the United States government and its actions to gain control of native land to access lumber and other natural resources. At 93 years old, Kechewaishke even went to Washington, D.C., with other tribal leaders to speak about the injustices they faced by the government with President Millard Filmore.

As a response, President Millard Filmore revoked the Indian Removal Act. Further negotiations, such as the La Pointe Treaty of 1854, led to Native Americans ceding their land to the U.S. government, and in return, the government set up an annual payment to the tribe. Additionally, the Ojibwe people got to keep their usufructuary rights to hunt and fish all year compared to non-Native U.S. citizens.

Kechewaishke’s leadership for the Ojibwe people will be remembered. He served as a respected leader who fought for the rights and lands of the Ojibwe people in northern Wisconsin.

[Source: Wisconsin 101]

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