“I blame him for the children we have lost.”

“I blame him for the children we have lost.”

Bust of Aysh-ke-bah-ke-ko-zhay by Francis Vincenti, 1855

In November and December, 1850, more than 150 Ojibwe lost their lives at Sandy Lake, Minnesota, because Territorial Governor Alexander Ramsey misled them to believe they would receive their annuity payment there.  In response, Eshkibagikoonzh (Flat Mouth) of the Leech Lake band of Ojibwe had this to say to the Governor.

“We have been called here, and made to suffer by sickness, by death, by hunger and cold.  I lay it all to him.  I charge it all to our Great Father the Governor.  It is because we listened to his words that we have now suffered so much.  We were poor before but we are poorer now . . . We have been taken from our country at the most valuable season of the year for hunting and fishing, and if we had remained at home we should have been far better off . . . Tell him I blame him for the children we have lost, for the sickness we have suffered and for the hunger we have endured . . . The Governor promised to feed us while here.  He has not done it . . . It makes our hearts sore to look at the losses we have sustained while at Sandy Lake.  You call us children, but I do no think we are your children . . . You are not our Father and I think you call us your children only in mockery.  The earth is our Father and I will never call you so . . . We did not sell the ground to our Great Father.  We gave it to him in order that he might follow our example and be liberal to us.”

Source:  Anton Treuer, The Assassination of Hole in the Day, (St. Paul:  Minnesota Historical Society, 2011), 102.

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