Resisting Removal: Oshoga
In the years following the Sandy Lake Tragedy, Chief Oshoga of La Pointe emerged as a charismatic and capable leader second only to Chief Buffalo. During that time he signed numerous petitions against removal, he traveled with a delegation to St. Paul to meet with Governor Alexander Ramsey in 1851, and he traveled with a delegation to Washington DC to meet with President Millard Fillmore in 1852. During the meeting with the president, according to the memoir of Benjamin Armstrong, Oshoga gave a long speech explaining the Ojibwe understanding of the treaties of 1837 and 1842, while expressing their grievances over the conduct of their agent and the removal efforts.
Unfortunately, Oshoga died in February 1854 during a smallpox epidemic. According to Richard E. Morse, who was present at the La Pointe annuity payment of 1855, Oshoga “was a young chief, of rare promise and merit; he also stood high in the affections of his people” (Oshogay, Chequamegon History). Morse also recorded a speech by a young Ojibwe named “Hole in the Sky” who said, “We had but one man among us capable of doing business for the Ojibwe nation; that man was Oshoga, now dead and our nation mourns. Since his death we have lost all our faith in the balance of our chiefs” (Morse, 361).
Oshoga, who may or may not have been originally from La Pointe, spoke out adamantly against the conduct of their agent John Watrous, and he stood firm for the rights of his people to remain living upon their homeland at La Pointe. It appears Chief Buffalo, who was over ninety years old by 1850, was grooming him to be the next great leader of the Lake Superior Ojibwe. Sadly, he did not get that chance and, after the death of Chief Buffalo in 1855, it left a leadership vacuum during the reservation period that followed (Oshogay, Chequamegon History).
Read “The Chippewas of Lake Superior” by Richard F. Morse.
See this blog post on YouTube.
“Oshogay,” Chequamegon History (blog), Published August 12, 2013, https://chequamegonhistory.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/oshogay/.
Richard E. Morse, “The Chippewas of Lake Superior,” in Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 3, (Madison, Calkens and Webb, Printers, 1857),p. 338–369.
Bruce White, “The Regional Context of the Removal Order of 1850,” in Fish in the Lakes, Wild Rice, and Game in Abundance: Testimony on Behalf of Mille Lacs Ojibwe Hunting and Fishing Rights,” Compiled by James M. McClurken, (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2000), 141–328.