On August 5th, 2009 the Mille Lacs Messenger, a MN county newspaper, published the
following letter of mine.
By Thomas Ivan Dahleimer
I support the effort to restore Ogechie Lake.
I am working to influence the U.S. government and
the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to give Ogechie Lake
back to the Dakota Indians in a restored condition.
In a column published in last week's Messenger, titled,
Restoring Ogechie Lake, Curt Kalk, the Commissioner
of Natural Resources for the Mille Lacs Band of
Ojibwe Indians, wrote: "Mille Lacs Band members
had harvested wild rice on this lake for
generations, long before settlers arrived."
In the column, Mr. Kalk failed to mention that
before the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe used the white
settlers' gun power bombs to violently force the
Dakota Indians from their Ogechie Lake and
surrounding area, the Dakota Indians had harvested
wild rice on this lake for several hundred years.
In 1656, the Dakotas were living near Mille Lacs in
five villages numbering about 5,000 people. One of
these villages was on Ogechie Lake.
On Leonard Wabasha's Mille Lacs Kathio State Park
interpretive sign, located on the south shore of
Ogechie Lake, there is a picture of Mr. Wabasha
overlooking Ogechie Lake. On the sign, Wabasha
is quoted as saying: "My people are the Mdewakanton
Oyate. Mdewakanton means the People of Spirit Lake.
Today that lake is known as Mille Lacs. This
landscape is sacred to the Mdewakanton Oyate
because one Otokaheys Woyakapi (creation story)
says we were created here. It is especially
pleasing for me to come here and walk these
trails, because about 1718 the first Chief
Wapahasa was born here, at the headwaters
of the Spirit River. I am the eighth in this
line of hereditary chiefs." In the quote,
Wabasha referred to the badly named Rum River
as "Spirit River" and he also referred to
his Dakota band as the "Mdewakanton Oyate."
LeMoine LaPointe, director of the Healthy Nations Program
at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, is quoted in a
2008 Isanti County News article: "The Rum, known for
centuries as Wakan Wakpa (Holy River), is an important
spiritual and cultural artery to the Dakota who,
until 1745, lived at Mille Lacs (Mde Wakan) and
considered it the center of their world."
LaPointe was also quoted as saying: "Reclaiming
the Rum River is important to the health of the
In a recorded radio broadcast, Waziyatawin (Angela Wilson),
historian and a leading Minnesota Dakota Indian activist,
says that she hopes that her Dakota people will regain
some of their traditional and ancestral Mille Lacs
homeland wild rice grounds.