Rivers of Lake Superior’s North Shore: Historical Methodology and Ojibwe Dialects

Highway 61 at the mouth of the Onion River east of Tofte. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.
Highway 61 at the mouth of the Onion River east of Tofte. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

By Erik Martin Redix

The drive along the North Shore of Lake Superior between Duluth and the international border on Highway 61 is an iconic Minnesota experience. At just over three hours long, the trip offers unparalleled scenery in the upper Midwest. Visitors pass through a handful of small towns and over two dozen short scenic rivers along the shore of Lake Superior. These rivers are narrow and relatively short, descending anywhere from 20 to 40 miles down the rugged landscape of Minnesota’s North Shore into Lake Superior. For example, Brule Lake, the source of the Temperance River (and the South Brule River as well) sits 1,851 feet above sea level and, over 39 miles of North Shore terrain, it descends to 697 feet above sea level at its mouth. These steep descents result in dozens of waterfalls that beckon visitors from across Minnesota and North America.

The North Shore lies within the traditional historical territory of two modern tribal nations: the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Fort William First Nation. Historically, these two nations shared common geography, history, and kinship. For all intents and purposes, these two tribal nations functioned as one Band prior to being divided by the U.S.-Canadian border in the nineteenth century. In my work as the Ojibwe Language Coordinator for the Grand Portage Band, I served as editor for a map documenting the Ojibwe names for the rivers within the traditional territory of the Grand Portage Band.[1] This map is the first step in promoting the use of these Ojibwe names. The Band worked with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to install bilingual signs along Highway 61 to Grand Marais. The first bilingual sign at Manidoo-bimaadagaakowinii-ziibi (Devil Track River) was installed May 16, 2024. Later phases may include signage down the shore all the way to Beaver Bay. The Band also started collaboration with the Superior National Forest and Cook County for bilingual signage on forest and county roads that cross these rivers further upstream. Six bilingual signs on Cook County roads were installed in May 2024.

Rivers of the North Shore. Compiled by Erik Martin Redix, Tim Cochrane, historical consultant, Dr. Gordon Jourdain and Michael Zimmerman Jr., Ojibwemowin consultants. Map designed by Morgan Swingen (1854 Treaty Authority) in 2023. Geographic data used were obtained from MnGeo and Ontario GeoHub. This project was supported by Grant Number 90XN0058 from Administration for Native Americans. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Rivers of the North Shore. Compiled by Erik Martin Redix, Tim Cochrane, historical consultant, Dr. Gordon Jourdain and Michael Zimmerman Jr., Ojibwemowin consultants. Map designed by Morgan Swingen (1854 Treaty Authority) in 2023. Geographic data used were obtained from MnGeo and Ontario GeoHub. This project was supported by Grant Number 90XN0058 from Administration for Native Americans. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Download a higher-resolution copy of the map here.

While creating the map, I found that there were many complicated issues and interesting stories surrounding the names of the rivers. The purpose of this article is to present these sometimes complex historical issues and the stories behind the names. Some of the names illustrate dialect differences that reflect the Ojibwe spoken at Grand Portage, while others show contrasts with other dialects in Minnesota. There are also contradictions and gaps in the historical record that warrant a longer discussion than was possible on the map.

The Onion River descending to Lake Superior. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

The Onion River descending to Lake Superior. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

Format of the Ojibwe Names

Almost all of the names except one describe attributes of an area around the river, not attributes of the river itself. Accordingly, common to many Ojibwe river names is the prefix Gaa-, which refers to place. Another common word part is the final -kaa, which means “an abundance.” Interestingly, only one name here, Gaa-ministigweyaa (Kaministiquia River), includes the medial -tigwe- which indicates a river.[2] This is the only name that describes the river itself and not the area surrounding it. Ojibwe names recorded in the nineteenth century were captured phonetically, as Ojibwe speakers historically did not write using a standardized alphabet. Widespread standardization of Ojibwe writing did not occur until the mid-twentieth century with the Fiero or double vowel orthography, so named for Charles Fiero, the linguist who devised it. I am presenting the names using that orthography in this text, while the original phonetic renderings are provided in footnotes.

Border Lakes Ojibwe Dialect

Ojibwe speakers on the North Shore speak Border Lakes Ojibwe, a subdialect of what linguists call Southwestern Ojibwe, spoken in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and southwest Ontario. Border Lakes Ojibwe is a dialect spoken at Grand Portage, Fort William, Bois Forte, Lac La Croix, and other Ojibwe communities along the Minnesota and Ontario border.[3] Dialect difference is often overstated by beginning learners and others who do not fully understand Ojibwe. Despite dialects, Ojibwe spoken across Ojibwe country from Quebec to the Great Plains is mutually intelligible. For example, one of the language consultants on this project is a fluent second speaker of eastern Ojibwe dialect of Lower Michigan and instantly recognized and interpreted all the word parts based on the renderings except for two rivers which featured a word part unique to Border Lakes Ojibwe. I have noted the few names that reflect the distinct Border Lakes Ojibwe dialect.

Sources & Methodology

There are a handful of archival sources that provide documentation of Ojibwe names for the rivers of the North Shore. Not every source includes the Ojibwe names of every river, but used together, these sources provide fairly conclusive evidence of the Ojibwe names for most of the rivers on the North Shore. There was no standardized system of writing Ojibwe in the nineteenth century so in the archival sources, all the Ojibwe river names were written phonetically, according to how they sounded to the person recording them. As a result, the phonetic renderings vary in quality in archival sources depending on the transcriptionists’ attention to detail with a language with which they may or may not have had strong abilities.

The more reliable sources come from people who worked directly with North Shore Ojibwe people. The earliest in-depth survey of Lake Superior was by British naval officer Henry Bayfield, for whom Bayfield, Wisconsin is named. Bayfield’s survey in 1823–25 produced a map with some detail of the North Shore.[4] A much more detailed and thorough recording of Ojibwe names came two decades later when Congress authorized the first geological survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. In the summer of 1847, a group of scientists arrived at Minnesota’s North Shore, a region that was, for all intents and purposes, Ojibwe territory at the time. While it was claimed as part of the United States, it had not legally become part of the U.S. until the Treaty of 1854. The region had practically no white settlers; the few non-Ojibwe people were fur traders. There was no other industry or corporate presence other than the American Fur Company. The results of the geological expedition were published in 1852 and became known as the David Owen Report, after its lead scientist.[5] The Owen Report produced remarkably accurate phonetic renderings of Ojibwe words, but some of the smaller bodies of water and rivers were not documented.

Another important set of sources for this study are the Trygg Historical Maps. In 1956, J. William Trygg began a project that created maps that included notes from the original surveys of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa. The project was part of the litigation for the Indian Claims Commission, which attempted to determine the value of the timber harvested in these states compared to what tribes were paid at the time of treaties.[6] The original survey of most areas of the North Shore occurred from 1857 to 1859, with the Hovland Township survey occurring twenty years later in 1879, and the Grand Portage Reservation survey not until 1893.[7] The Trygg Historical Maps also produced accurate phonetic renderings of North Shore river names. However, the original surveyors did not document every Ojibwe name of the geography they encountered. Despite that, having two independently produced historical sources that support each other was invaluable to this current project.

Less reliable are the works of missionaries Chrysostom Verwyst and Joseph Gilfillan. Both men were dedicated scholars of the Ojibwe language who published works on Ojibwe place names in Minnesota and Wisconsin.[8] However, both lived hundreds of miles from the North Shore and accordingly, their renderings were hampered by not working directly with speakers living in the region. Gilfillan was an Episcopal missionary working on the White Earth Reservation from 1873 to 1908.[9] The vast majority of Gillfillan’s names for North Shore Rivers and other landscapes were accurate, but a few occur nowhere else and directly contradict multiple other sources. Chrysostom Verwyst was a Franciscan missionary who came to the Chequomegon Bay region of Wisconsin in the 1870s and remained there until his death in 1925.[10] Verwyst sometimes provided interpretations that were based on Ojibwe spoken in Wisconsin and did not reflect the Border Lakes Ojibwe that is captured in the Owens and Trygg renderings.

Finally, Warren Upham’s Minnesota’s Geographic Names: Their Origin and Historic Significance, published in 1920, is a review of historical sources with no original research done regarding Ojibwe names. In his discussion of Ojibwe names of North Shore rivers, Upham relied almost solely on Gilfillan’s work and did not critically discuss inconsistencies in the archival record.[11]

Rivers of the North Shore: Thunder Bay to Duluth

Beginning in Thunder Bay and moving southwest to Duluth, I will present the Ojibwe name for each river written in modern orthography with the literal translation in parentheses, followed by its official name today. I will then discuss the historical background of each Ojibwe name, as well as explain how it came to be known by its English name.

Gaa-ministigweyaa-ziibi (Place That Flows to Islands River): Kaministiquia River

The Kaministiquia River is an Ojibwe word meaning “a place where a river flows to islands.” Furthermore, there are two islands at the mouth of Gaa-ministigweyaa. However, there is historical evidence it was once known as Gaa-manitigweyaag, and that the name changed over time in a process of misunderstanding by non-Ojibwe speakers. In the archival record, there are a variety of translations, most of which do not make sense in Ojibwe. The most grammatically viable of these translations is “place of a wide river.”[12] This would be unique among geographic names with an Ojibwe origin in that the “corrupted” form makes sense in Ojibwe and also makes sense geographically.

Omiimii-ziibi (Pigeon River): Pigeon River

The name Pigeon River is remarkably consistent across historical documentation. The name relates to the historical abundance of pigeons along the river. According to Grand Portage elder Billy Blackwell: “At one time, seasonally thousands of pigeons lived on the river.” Likewise, omiimii is “pigeon” across Ojibwe dialects. Dakota presence on the North Shore was much earlier than in central Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. However, there is less documentation in archival records and oral tradition about Dakota names for places on the North Shore or records of interactions there between Ojibwe and Dakota peoples. One exception is a story told by Billy Blackwell about a battle at Pigeon River prior to the nineteenth century, where an old man was awakened by a bird telling him the Dakota were near. He warned the warriors and they hid on the shore and ambushed the Dakota. Only two canoes escaped, and on their retreat they were spotted by Ojibwe women picking berries near what is today Paradise Beach, 15 miles east of Grand Marais. From where the women hid themselves, they watched as the Dakota stopped at an island to defecate before continuing to paddle west. Through the years, Grand Portage Ojibwe speakers continued to jokingly refer to that island as where the Dakota stopped to defecate.[13]

Mashkiigwagamaa-ziibi (Cranberry Marsh Lake River): Reservation River

The Treaty of 1854 established the Grand Portage Reservation, identifying this river as the southern boundary, although that was modified in later acts of Congress. The English name, Reservation River, was applied after the establishment of the Reservation. In the Treaty of 1854, the river is identified as Mashkiigwagamaa, which describes the habitat where low-bush cranberries grow, even though the cranberry itself (mashkiigimin) is not included in the word. Gilfillan mistranslated the river as Gaa-miskwaataawangag, or “place of abundant red sand.” Verwyst identified Red Rock beach, a few miles north (where George Morrison lived in his later years and painted his famous works inspired by the Lake Superior horizon) as Gaa-miskwaataawangag, which is more fitting to that area, with its stunning beach comprised of small red pebbles.[14]

Gaa-bibigwewanashkokaag-ziibi (Place of Abundant Flute Reeds River): Flute Reed River

Bibigwewanashk is the Ojibwe word for elderberry. It is unknown exactly how or why elderberry was translated to flute reed, but Bibigwe means “she or he plays the flute,” and -ashk- is a medial indicating grass. Elderberry wood has inner bark that can be easily hollowed out and can be used for as taps for maple sugaring. This trait may have lent itself to use in flute construction.[15]

Wiisaakode-ziibi (Burnt Wood River): Brule River

The Brule River through Judge C.R. Magney State Park is one of a handful of rivers on the North Shore that is well documented in the historical record and directly translated (albeit into French) from its Ojibwe name (both meaning “burnt wood river”).[16] One of the sources of the Brule River is 40 miles upstream at Brule Lake, one of the largest lakes in northeastern Minnesota at 4,272 acres and eight miles wide. However, Wiisakode-zaaga’igan is not the name of Brule Lake. Instead, in Ojibwe it is called Gaa-edawi-ojijiwan zaaga’igan, “place where the water flows on both sides,” due to its being the source of the Brule River on its east end, and the source of the Temperance River on its west end.[17]

Manidoo-bimaadagaakowinii-ziibi (Spirits Going Along on the Ice River): Devil Track River

Northeast of Grand Marais, Devil Track River is an example of the effects of colonization on place names. In Ojibwe, the word “manidoo” means spirit, but Christian missionaries consistently translated words that meant “spirit” in Native languages as “devil” throughout Indian country, reflecting their views that traditional Native spirituality was devil worship. For example, the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota was known as the Devil’s Lake Sioux Tribe prior to changing its name in 1996.[18] Bimaadagaako means “she or he goes along on the ice,” with the final -aadagaako referring specifically to action occurring on ice. The source of the river is just over eight miles upstream at Manidoo-bimaadagaakowinii-zaaga’igan (Spirits Going Along on the Ice Lake), today known as Devil Track Lake, a long, narrow lake (roughly five miles long by half a mile wide), a few miles north of Grand Marais.[19]

Oginiikaan-ziibi (Abundant Rose Hips River): Fall River

Southwest of Grand Marais is the Fall River, which was consistently identified as Oginiikaan-ziibi in historical documents. It is unclear when it became known as Fall River, and when the creek a mile west became known as Rosebush Creek. The name Fall River likely refers to a waterfall very close to the mouth of the river. In 2003, a petition with 80 signatures was presented to the Cook County Board of Commissioners asking the county to officially change the name of the Fall River back to Rosebush River. After hearing testimony, the County Board tabled the issue.[20]

Gaa-giishkingwe–ziiibi (Place of Cut Face River): Cascade River

The Cascade River has a story similar to that of the Fall River: it was known as something else in Ojibwe, and then the nearby creek took on that name in English. It is unclear when or why it became known as the Cascade River and when or why the creek just to the east became known as Cutface Creek.[21]

Gaa-maanazaadikaa-ziibi (Place of Abundant Balsam Poplar River): Poplar River

The name for the Poplar River in Lutsen is well documented and consistent across historical sources.[22]

Zhigaagomizhiikaani-ziibi (Abundant Wild Onions or Leeks River): Onion River

There are wild onions or leeks near the Onion River on the Superior Hiking Trail, which comprises the northern extent of the range of wild onions on the North Shore today. The zhigaag in zhigaagomizh shares its initial with zhigaag or “a skunk.” However, contrary to popular belief, the commonality refers not to the pungent smell that onions and skunks share, but instead to the commonality of the point of a skunk’s tail and the leaf of the wild onion. The role of pointiness in defining zhigaag and zhigaagomizh is illustrated by the word for porcupine, “gaag.”[23]

Gaa-wiimbashk-ziibi (Place of Hollow Reeds River): Temperance River

The name Gaa-wiimbashk-ziibi is well documented and consistent in historical sources. However, its meaning is a bit of a mystery. One source talks about how the Ojibwe name referred to a deep hollow—it could be that this refers to reeds being hollow and not a geographic term meaning “a valley.” The English name Temperance River is the result of a long-standing joke among early setters: most of the rivers on the North Shore have a gravel bar at the mouth of the river, which, except during spring runoff, nearly closes off the mouth. The Temperance River has no gravel bar, so early settlers called the river “no bar river” which humorously evolved into Temperance River after the Temperance Movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century to abolish alcohol sales in the United States.[24]

The mouth of the Temperance River. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

The mouth of the Temperance River. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

The mouth of the Beaver River. Note the presence of a large sand bar across the mouth typical of most of the rivers of the North Shore, even in spring when this photo was taken. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

The mouth of the Beaver River. Note the presence of a large sand bar across the mouth typical of most of the rivers of the North Shore even in spring when this photo was taken. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

Ina’oonaani-ziibi (Bestowing River): Cross River

The name Ina’oonaani-ziibi is very consistent and well documented across historical sources as well. The exact reason it has that name, however, is lost to time. According to Lac La Croix elder Gordon Jourdain, the verb “ina’oozh” refers to one person bestowing or distributing something spiritual on another. The verb “maada’oozh” describes a similar action, but according to Jourdain, ina’oozh communicates bestowing in a more spiritual context.[25] This may indicate that the area was a significant ceremonial place at one time. In 1843, Father Frederick Baraga ventured from his mission at La Pointe to travel to Grand Portage in his birch bark canoe. A dangerous storm came up and after more than 30 miles on open water, he landed at the mouth of the Cross River, 65 miles to the southwest. Grateful that he survived, Baraga planted a cross there and the river became known as Jiibayaatigo-ziibi, the Ojibwe word for “a cross.” Jiibay is a ghost and the -aatig final indicates it is made of wood.[26] It is significant that both of these names reflect spiritual traditions and, regardless of the exact origin of Ina’oonaani-ziibi, may suggest that the area was consistently associated with spirituality.

Niizhwagwindeg-ziibi (Two Islands Floating River): Two Island River

The historical record is mostly consistent for Niizhwagwindeg-ziibi. The Ojibwe word for island, “minis,” is not explicitly in the word, but the name instead describes two things floating near the mouth of the river in what today is called Taconite Harbor. There are two islands (Bear and Gull Island) directly across from its mouth. Agwinde is the Border Lakes dialect way of saying “it floats,” and illustrates how Ojibwe speakers of the North Shore shared common dialect with speakers from Lac La Croix and Bois Forte. In contrast, Verwyst rendered it “nijogondeg,” but again, this reflects Verwyst’s understanding of the Ojibwe spoken on the south shore of Lake Superior. The way Ojibwe speakers in Wisconsin and central Minnesota say “it floats” is agonde.[27]

Adiko-ziibi (Caribou River): Caribou River

The northernmost river in Lake County on the North Shore, Caribou River, like the Pigeon River, is a direct translation of its Ojibwe name.[28] According to Grand Portage Band member and local historian Alta Mcquatters, it was named in honor of Swamper Caribou, who lived in the area in the late nineteenth century. Caribou was the grandson of Adikoons, who signed the Treaty of 1854 and was arguably the most influential Grand Portage chief of the mid-nineteenth century.[29]

Gaa-gichiwaaniniwangaag-ziibi (Place of a Great Round Sandy Shore River): Little Manitou River

Today, the name of the Little Manitou River is derived from the Manitou River just west of it. Historically, it was known by the same name as the bay it empties into, which today is known as Pork Bay, but was known historically as Gaa-gichiwaaniniwangaag for its round shoreline.[30]

Gaa-gichiwaaniniwangaag-ziibi (Pork Bay). Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

Gaa-gichiwaaniniwangaag-ziibi (Pork Bay). Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

Manidoowiishiwi-ziibi (Spirit Lair River): Manitou River

Manidoowiishiwi-ziibi is another example of dialect difference in river names. Owen and the Trygg land maps identify it as Manidoowiishiwi-ziibi, “wiish” being a lodge in Border Lakes Ojibwe. Verwyst rendered it Manidoowaazhiwi-ziibi, reflecting the Ojibwe word for lodge, “waazh,” used in the community he was working in. Gilfillan inaccurately identified it as Manidoo-bimaadagaakowinii-ziibi, erroneously stating “there being two rivers of that name on the north shore of Lake Superior.”[31] The mouth of the Manitou River is a dramatic waterfall into Lake Superior, the only river on the North Shore with that feature.

Waaginokaming-ziibi (Domed Earth River): Little Marais River

Waaginokaming-ziibi is consistent in the historical record and may refer to the round, dome-like rock formations along Lake Superior near the mouth of the river. The Trygg Historical Maps document sugar camps a few miles upstream.[32]

Asin-badakide-ziibi (Standing Rock River): Baptism River

Asin-badakide-ziibi describes the tall perpendicular rocks at the mouth of the river. The Trygg Historical Maps document the presence of an old Ojibwe village a few miles to the southwest of the mouth.[33]

Tall rocks at the mouth of the Baptism River from which the river gets its Ojibwe name. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

Tall rocks at the mouth of the Baptism River from which the river gets its Ojibwe name. Image courtesy of M. Baxley, Bear Witness Media.

Gaa-giizhikensikaag-ziibi (Place of Abundant Little Cedars River): Beaver River

The Beaver River is consistently identified as Gaa-giizhikensikaag-ziibi across sources, including Grand Portage elder Billy Blackwell. Historian John Fritzen points to the abundance of beaver colonies on the Beaver River, but it is unclear when and why Beaver River (and Beaver Bay) became associated with beavers and not with cedars.[34]

Gaa-nookikobag (Place of Soft Leaves): Unknown

This is an example of a documented Ojibwe name whose meaning is lost to time. Both the Bayfield Expedition and the Owen Report document a river between the Beaver and Split Rock Rivers known as Gaa-nookikobag. In the 1950’s, historian John Fritzen wrote: “Early maps show a creek between Split Rock River and Beaver Bay with the Indian name of Kanekikopeg or Low Bush River. This is probably the creek that flows into Little Two Harbors Bay.”[35] The meaning of Nookikobag is also unclear. The initial nook- refers to being soft and the final -bag refers to a leaf.[36] No plants are known to have this name in modern Ojibwe.

No Ojibwe name: Split Rock River

Gilfillan identifies the Split Rock River as Giniwaabik-ziibi: “the war eagle iron river.” However, the Bayfield Expedition, Owens Report, and the Trygg Historical Maps all identify Giniwaabik-ziibi as what is today known as Silver Creek and identify the Split Rock River by its English name. Verwyst identifies Split Rock as Gaa-nookikobag, but the Bayfield Expedition, Owens Report, and the Trygg Historical Maps identify the Split Rock River and Gaa-nookikobag-ziibi as two distinct rivers. Perhaps deep in an archive somewhere there is a map or letter or something that provides an Ojibwe name for Split Rock, but for now it is lost to time.[37]

Zhaaboominikaani-ziibi (Abundant Gooseberries River): Gooseberry River

The Gooseberry River is consistently documented as a direct translation of the Ojibwe. Zhaaboominikaani-ziibi means Abundant Gooseberries River and is repeatedly identified as such in the historical record.[38]

Gaa-gaagaagiwaabiko-ziibi (Place of the Iron Raven River): Crow Creek

Crow Creek is a watered-down translation of Gaa-gaagaagiwaabiko-ziibi. Gaagaagi is a raven, not a crow (aandeg is a crow), and the iron or metal part is completely missing from the English name.[39]

Minising-ziibi (Island River): Encampment River

For Minising-ziibi, the Ojibwe is actually much simpler than the English. Minising is simply “on the island,” and historical sources imply that the said island was used for camping. The Trygg Historical Map documents an early English translation as “Encampment Island River.”[40]

Giniwaabiko-ziibi (Iron Golden Eagle River): Silver Creek

As mentioned before, Gilfillan erroneously identified the Split Rock River as Giniwaabik-ziibi: “the war eagle iron river.” He identified Silver Creek as Zhooniyaa-ziibiwesh. However, it is clear this is a direct translation of the English name (using the older diminutive ziibiwesh for creek, not the more modern term for creek, “ziibiins”). The Bayfield Expedition, Owen Report, and the Trygg Historical Maps identify Giniwaabik-ziibi as Silver Creek. Gilfillan’s English translation may very well be wrong also. Giniw is “a Golden Eagle,” but there is nothing in the historical record indicating an “Iron Golden Eagle” in the vicinity of Silver Creek. Neither the Bayfield Expedition, Owen Report, nor Trygg Historical Maps provide a direct English translation of their phonetic Ojibwe renderings. Therefore, it is entirely possible (if not more likely) that the name “Kinewabik” as rendered in the Owen Report is actually Ginoowaabik, or “a long rock,” and was mistranslated by Gilfillan. While these two words look distinct in the modern Fiero orthography, ginoo-, “long” and ginew, “golden eagle,” sound almost identical. Many of the rivers are identified by rock formations, while very few are identified by animals, to say nothing of the rarity of Golden Eagles in northeast Minnesota.[41]

Biitoobiigo-ziibi (Parallel River): Stewart River

Gilfillan translated this name as “Parallel river, or Double river, no doubt from its flowing parallel to Silver Creek.” Biitoobiigo-ziibi includes the intial biitoo- or “layer,” which refers to the land between, followed by -bii- indicating a liquid, meaning “the two rivers.”[42] This same concept is behind the name for Grand Marais, Gichi-Biitoobiig, which refers to the two nearly identical bays intersected by a very narrow strip of land between them, a striking feature noticeable as one descends the Gunflint Trail into Grand Marais.[43]

Mookomaani-ziibi (Knife River): Knife River

The Ojibwe people historically utilizing the area south of Two Harbors were likely affiliated with the Fond du Lac Band, thus the place-names reflect the Ojibwe spoken along the south shore of Lake Superior and central Minnesota. That being said, the remaining river names on the North Shore consist of words such as “sucker” and “knife” that are the same across Ojibwe country. Knife River is a direct translation of Mookomaani-ziibi and is consistently referred to as such in the historical record. Historian John Fritzen claimed the name derived from sharp rocks on the riverbed.[44]

Namebini-ziibi (Sucker River): Sucker River

Namebini-ziibi is a direct translation and consistent in the historical record. It was named for an abundance of namebinag, or suckers.[45]

Manisisag-ziibi (Dry Wood River): French River

The Ojibwe name for French River refers to a piece of wood, with the final -sag indicating wood that has been dried and processed. Gilfillan identified it as Aangwasago-ziibi, or Floodwood River, but that is the only such reference in the historical record.[46]

Basaabikaa-ziibi (Low Rock River): Lester River

Gilfillan identified the Lester River as “Basaabikaa” and translated it as “the river that comes through a worn hollow place in the rock.” The initial Bas- refers to a lowering or depression, and the medial -aabik- indicates the mineral or rock. However, it is possible that the name is Baasaabikaa, from the initial baas-, which indicates something that is cracked or shattered. The transcriptions of both the Owen Report and the Trygg Historical Maps do not explicitly indicate if it is the initial Bas-, or Baas-, as both are transcribed as phonetically with an “a,” which could mean either “a” or “aa” in the Fiero orthography. The translation given on the Trygg Historical Maps is Gap Rock River. Whether the name refers to a rock in a depression or a cracked rock is unclear. The English name derives from an early settler.[47]

Connecting to Places and Place-Names

Recovering lost place-names can be challenging and even tedious at times. Historical sources sometimes contradict each other. The lack of a standardized orthography adds an additional challenge. However, the reward for this effort is that almost all of the Ojibwe names reflect a richer understanding of the land than the English names, even in instances where the English name derives in some form from the Ojibwe. This is a key aspect of cultural revitalization that benefits not just Indigenous communities but non-native folks as well who live on or visit these lands. In doing so, we are giving voice to centuries of Indigenous knowledge and history from whom we lack firsthand accounts and whose voices were intentionally erased. Furthermore, recovery of these names and increasing their usage advance tribal sovereignty by connecting Native people to lands off the reservation that were historically Indigenous territory. In 2023, Governor Tim Walz signed a law making “Indigenous Education for All” the law in Minnesota schools.[48] While we can move toward a historically grounded curriculum in schools that better teaches treaty rights, it is important for a new generation of tribal youth to see Ojibwe language off the reservation, so that they can better understand Ojibwe lands as the entirety of the ceded territory.

 Acknowledgements

This project has its origins in 2017 when Rick Novitsky, retired park manager at Grand Portage State Park, introduced me to the Owen map. Miigwech niijii. Miigwech also to Kurt Mead, interpretive naturalist at Tettegouche State Park, who researched extensively and is a wealth of knowledge on the Owen map and North Shore rivers. Miigwech to Matthew Baxley of Bear Witness Media for your work getting the stunning images of the rivers.

Footnotes

[1] Audio files of Ojibwe names on the map and in this article can be found at: https://ojibwe.net/traditional-territory-of-the-grand-portage-band/.

[2] Ojibwe People’s Dictionary (OPD), s.v. “-tigwe-,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/tigwe-medial, accessed October 24, 2023.

[3] Dialect difference is discussed at length in Michael D. Sullivan, Sr., Relativization in Ojibwe (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2020).

[4] Ruth McKenzie, “Henry Wolsey Bayfield,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. 11 (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1982), http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio.php?id_nbr=5362; and Lieut. Henry Wy. Bayfield R.N.; assisted by Mr. Philip Ed. Collins, Mid., cartographers, Survey of Lake Superior Sheet 1 (London: Hydrographical Office of the Admiralty, 1828), https://recherche-collection-search.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/home/record?app=fonandcol&IdNumber=3672171&q=Henry%20Bayfield,%20chart%20of%20Lake%20Superior,%20sheet%201st.

[5] David Dale Owen, Report of a Geological Survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, and Incidentally of a Portion of Nebraska Territory (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1852). The Owen expedition is detailed in John C. Green, “The Owen-Norwood Survey of 1847-1850: The First Geological Survey of the Northeast Minnesota Region—and Its Context in the Evolution of Geological Science,” Minnesota Geological Survey Open File Report, OFR-22-9, 2022.

[6] Trygg Historical Maps, “About J. William Trygg and the Historical Maps,” https://trygghistoricalmaps.com/about-j-william-trygg/, accessed October 12, 2023.

[7] J. William Trygg, Composite Map of United States Land Surveyors’ Original Plats and Field Notes, Sheet 14, 15, and 16, (Ely, MN: J. William Trygg, 1966).

[8] Joseph A. Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names Derived from the Chippewa Language,” Geological and Natural History Survey of Minnesota, Fifteenth Annual Report of Progress for the Year 1886, N.H. Winchell, ed. (Minneapolis: Minnesota Geological Survey, 1887) 451–77; and Chrysostom Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names of Rivers, Lakes, and Villages, Acta et Dicta 4:2 (1916): 253–74.

[9] Elliot Darr Marston, “The Apostle to the Ojibway: Joseph Alexander Gilfillan, Archdeacon; a Study of the Life, Labors and Writings of the Great Frontier Missionary of Northern Minnesota” (Thesis (B.D.), Nashotah Theological Seminary, 1938).

[10] Wisconsin Historical Society, “Verwyst, Chrysostom Adrian 1841–1925,” https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Article/CS13966, accessed October 12, 2023.

[11] Warren Upham, Minnesota Place Names: A Geographical Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, [1920] 2001). Upham corresponded directly with Gilfillan, although none of that correspondence dealt specifically with geographic names on the North Shore. Source: Joseph A Gilfillan and Family Papers, Ojibway Place Names, 1886–1901, Box 2, Minnesota Historical Society: 620.

[12] This is discussed at length with an excellent overview of the historical sources in Tania L. Saj and Elle Andra-Warner, eds., Life in a Thundering Bay: Voices from Thunder Bay’s Past (Thunder Bay: River Rocks Publishing, 2007), 165. Gaa-manitigweyaag is also the name identified in Lawrence Leonard Moose, et al., Ojibwe Vocabulary Project (St. Paul: Minnesota Humanities Center, 2009), 106, http://www.humanitieslearning.org/resource/uploads/Ojibwe%20Vocabulary%20Project.pdf. OPD, s.v. “Mangitigweyaa,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/mangitigweyaa-vii, accessed October 25, 2023. Lac La Croix elder Maajiigoneyaash (Dr. Gordon Jourdain) says that among his older family in Lac La Croix, it was known as Gaa-maanaatigweyaag, “an ugly or bad river” (Gordon Jourdain, personal interview, April 9, 2023). Another variation is Gaa-manetigweyaag. Verwyst identifies Fort William (on the Kaministiquia River) as “Ga-manetigweiag…a scarcity of rivers” (Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names of Rivers, Lakes, and Villages,” 268). Grand Portage Band Member John Flatte recorded a diary in 1974 that includes two pages of “Names of Places around Gr Portage,” all written phonetically. Flatte included “Kah ma Net ki go yong” (John Flatte Diary, Grand Portage National Monument Archives, 1974–75).

[13] “Omimi,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, xviii; “Omimi-zibi,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 453; and “Omimi sibi,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 268. Blackwell writes Pigeon River phonetically as “Mi mi zibing” (Billy Blackwell, “The Battle of Pigeon River,” Cook County News Herald, April 2, 2021, and personal interview, November 3, 2023). The abundance of pigeons is discussed in John Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names of Minnesota’s North Shore (Duluth: St. Louis County Historical Society, 1974), 29. Upham, Minnesota Place Names, 137.

[14] Gilfillan wrote: “the river marked on the map as Maw-ske-qua-caw-maw is called Mesqua-tawangawi-zibi or Red Sand river,” but this is clearly Red Rock not Reservation River (Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 453). “Maw-ske-gwaw-caw-maw-se-be, or Cranberry Marsh river,” Treaty of La Pointe, September 30, 1854, 10 Stat. 1109; “Mau-ski-guaw-caw-naw,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 16; and “Maskigwagama sibi, swamp lake river, a river coming out of a swamp lake,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names, 269. OPD, s.v. “Maskiigimin,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/mashkiigimin-ni, accessed April 20, 2023. The role of Red Rock in George Morrison’s art can be found in George Morrison with Margot Fortunado Galt, Turning the Feather Around: My Life in Art (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1998).

[15] James E. Meeker, Joan E. Elias, and John A. Heim, Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa (Odanah: Great Lakes Fish & Wildlife Commission, 1993), 258. Verwyst identified what is now Chicago Bay, where the mouth of the Flute Reed River is, as “Ga-pipigwewanashkokag, where there is much flute shaped grass, reeds or elder shrubs” (Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 258). Additionally, John Flatte identified Hovland as “Ka pa Kivi Kway wa nish Kog” (Flatte Diary). OPD, s.vv. “Bibigwe,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/bibigwe-vai, and “-ashk-,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/ashk-medial, accessed April 20, 2023.

[16] “Wisacode,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 394; “Wisacode Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 16; and “Wissakode-zibi or Half-burnt river,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 453.

[17] “Ga-etawiodjidjiwan, where two rivers go out of a lake at opposite directions,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 257.

[18] U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs, “American Indian Tribe Reverts to Ancestral Name Spirit Lake New Name for Devil’s Lake,” August 20, 1996, https://www.bia.gov/as-ia/opa/online-press-release/american-indian-tribe-reverts-ancestral-name-spirit-lake-new-name.

[19] OPD, s.vv. “Bimaadagaako,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/bimaadagaako-vai and “-aadagaako,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/aadagaako-final, accessed April 20, 2023. “Manitoubintagico R.,” Bayfield, Survey of Lake Superior; “Manito-bimitagico,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 16; “Manido-bimadagakowini-zibi meaning, the spirits or God walking-place on the ice river,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 453; and “Manitobimadigakozibing,” Blackwell interview. A story circulated among setters that the English name, Devil Track River, derived from early Cook County settler Sam Zimmerman. Zimmerman was born in Ohio and his family tried farming on the North Shore at Beaver Bay. Not surprisingly, they were unsuccessful, so they moved to New Ulm, where his father and two older brothers were killed in the Dakota War in 1862. The surviving family returned to the North Shore. Zimmerman grew up to be a trapper and lost his right leg to frostbite in 1882. Zimmerman kept trapping, fashioning skis and snowshoes that fit his peg leg and helped with his mobility. Supposedly, the name Devil Track is a tribute to the prints left by the odd shape of Zimmerman’s homemade snowshoes (Blackwell Interview and Willis H. Raff, Pioneers in the Wilderness: Minnesota’s Cook County, Grand Marais, and the Gunflint in the 19th Century [Grand Marais: Cook County Historical Society, 1981], 31–32). Zimmerman’s son George married Grand Portage Band Member Josephine Drouillard, and some of their descendants live at Grand Portage today.

[20] Miigwech to Dennis Waldrop of the Cook County Historical Society for pointing me in this direction and providing documentation of this story (Rhonda Silence, “Fall River Forever,” Cook County Star, June 30, 2003). The change from Oginiikaan-ziibi to Fall River is also referenced in Upham, Minnesota Place Names, 137. “Oginican R.,” Bayfield, Survey of Lake Superior; “Oginekan,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 386; and “Oginekan Sibi, Rose colored earth,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 16.

[21] “Kagishkingwa (Cut Face),” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, xviii; and “Gaa-gishkingineshing, one who has a cut on the side of his head, perhaps so called from the shape of the waterfall,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 257. The Trygg Historical Map identifies it both as the Cut Face River and Cascade River (Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 16). Writing about the Cascade River, historian John Fritzen noted, “In the early days it was known as ‘Cut Face River’” (Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 20).

[22] “Kamanosisatikag,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 382, and “Kamanoisatikag Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 16; “Ga-manazadika-zibi, i.e. place of poplars river,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454; and “Ga-manasadikag, poplar place, from manasad, a kind of poplar tree,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 268.

[23] Miigwech to Michael Zimmerman, Jr. for pointing this out (no pun intended!): “Jigagawanjikani sibi, onion river, from Jigagawanjikan, onion place,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 267. Verwyst identified the Onion River in Wisconsin and on the North Shore as Zhigaagawanzhiikaani-ziibi, but I have used the Border Lakes Ojibwe spelling of Zhigaagomizhiikaani-ziibi. Zhigaagawanzh is how Ojibwe speakers say onion in Wisconsin and central Minnesota, whereas speakers in Grand Portage and the North Shore say Zhigaagomizh. The final -mizh in zhigaagomizh indicates it is a plant (OPD, s.v. “\-mizhy\,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/mizhy-final, accessed October 16, 2023).

[24] Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 19. “Kawimbash,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 377; and ”Kawimbash Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 16. Wiimbashk is not identified in any sources as a specific plant name; if that was the name to identify a specific plant locally on the North Shore, it has been lost.

[25] Gordon Jourdain, personal interview, November 9, 2023. OPD, s.vv. “Ina’oozh,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/ina-oozh-vta-569277ca-1bd0-4eb6-ae14-88afb669464f and  “Maada’oozh,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/maada-oozh-vta, accessed November 9, 2023.

[26] Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 19. “Inondani R.,” Bayfield, Survey of Lake Superior; “Inaonani,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 374; and “Inaonani Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 16. Later sources identify the river as Jiibayaatigo-ziibi. “Tchibaiatigo-zibi, i.e. wood-of-the-soul-or-spirit river; they calling the Cross, wood of the soul, or disembodied spirit,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454; and “Tchibaiatigo sibi,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 259.

[27] Miigwech to Maajiigoneyaash, Dr. Gordon Jourdain, for pointing out to me that agwinde is “it floats” in Border Lakes Ojibwe (Gordon Jourdain, personal interview, February 24, 2023). OPD, s.vv. “Agwinde,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/agwinde-vii, and “Agonde,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/agonde-vii, accessed October 16, 2023. “Nizhwakwindeg (Two Island),” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, xviii; “Nishwakwindig Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 16; and “Minissan-nijogondeg, two islands, floating, as it were, in the lake,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 272.

[28] “Cariboo Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 17, and “Atiko neiashing, caribou point,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 257.

[29] Alta Mcquatters, personal interview, October 30, 2023. In the Treaty of 1854, Adikoons is rendered “Aw-de-konse or The Little Reindeer 2nd Chief: Grand Portage Band.” Adikoons’ influence is discussed in Richard E. Morse, “The Chippewas of Lake Superior,” in Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, vol. 3, ed. Lyman Copeland Draper (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, [1857] 1904).

[30] “Kagitshiwaninawak,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 369; and “Kagitshiwaninawak Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 17. Verwyst transcribes Pork Bay as “Ga-kitchi wanino-wangag, around the large sand point” (Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 269). Historian John Fritzen wrote: “Kagitshiwaninawak, which meant round Sandy Shore or Beach” (Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 18).

[31] OPD, s.vv. “Wiish,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/wiish-ni, and “Waazh,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/waazh-ni, accessed October 16, 2023. “Manidowish R.,” Bayfield, Survey of Lake Superior; “Manitowish,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 367; and “Manidowish Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 17. Verwyst wrote: “Manitowajiwi-sibi, spirit-lair river, from manitowaj, spirit lair” (Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 263). “Manido-bimadagakowini-zibi,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454. The two variations are present in local contemporary place-names: Manitouwadge is a township in the Thunder Bay District in Ontario just north of Lake Superior, and Manitowish Waters is a township in Vilas County in northern Wisconsin.

[32] “Waginokaning R.,” Bayfield, Survey of Lake Superior; “Waginokaning,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 366; and “Waginokaning Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 17.

[33] “Asinpatakitasibi,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 364; and Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 17.

[34] Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 16; “Kagishkensikag,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, xviii; “Beaver Bay is Ga-gijikensikag. The place of the little cedars,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454; and “Ga-gijikensikag, place where many small cedars grow,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 256; “Gagizhigeyskag, Beaver Bay (Place of the Little Cedars),” Blackwell interview.

[35] Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 14; “Kanokikopag,” Bayfield, Survey of Lake Superior; and “Kanokikopag,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 359. This river has been applied multiple places. Verwyst identifies it as the Split Rock River: “Nokikobag, where there are small trees” (Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 256). The Trygg Historical Maps put it at Beaver Bay (“Kanokikopag Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 15).

[36] OPD, s.vv. ”Nook-,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/nook-initial, and ”-bagw,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/bagw-final, accessed October 17, 2023. Gordon Jourdain suggested that the meaning could have to do with the flexibility of the tree (Gordon Jourdain, personal interview, February 24, 2023).

[37] “Giniuwabiko-zibi; the war eagle iron river,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454. Fritzen repeats this mistake: “Split Rock River was known to the Indians as Gininwabiko-zibi or ‘War Eagle Iron River’” (Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 13). Verwyst identifies Split Rock as: “Nokikobag, where there are small trees” (Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 256). Owen discusses rock formations on “Kanokikopag River and Split Rock River and it is clear that Split Rock is the next river southwest of “Kanokikopag” (Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 359). Again, the Trygg Historical Maps identify “Kanokikopag Sibi” as Beaver River (Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 15). Bayfield, Survey of Lake Superior.

[38] “Shabonimikani-zibi; Gooseberry place river,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454; and “Jabomini sibi, gooseberry river,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 260. Both the Owen Report and the Trygg Historical Maps identify it by its English name (Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 358, and Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 15).

[39] OPD, s.v. “-aabikw,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/aabikw-final, accessed October 17, 2023. “Ga-kagagiwabiko sibi, raven rock river, from kagagi a raven, wabiko, rock or metal, and sibi river,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 259.

[40] “Menissingk (Encampment River),” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, xviii; “Menissink Sibi, Encampment Island River,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 15; “Encampment island is called ‘miniss’ or the island, that being the only one along the north shore nearly to Pigeon river,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454; and “Minissing, at the island, from Miniss, an island,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 259.

[41] Miigwech to Michael Zimmerman, Jr. for helping me understand this. “Kinnewabic R.,” Bayfield, Survey of Lake Superior; “Kinewabik River,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 354; “Kinewabik Sibi,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 15; and “Shonia-zibiwishe, Silver creek,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454.

[42] OPD, s.v. “Biitoo-,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/biitoo-pv-lex, accessed October 24, 2023; “Bitobigo-zibi,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454; and “Bitobigo sibi, pond river, from bitobig, pond,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 271. Verwyst’s translation is incorrect: not all ponds would be referred to as “Biitoobiigo,” and any body of water that was intersected by a land mass could be named this way. Henry Bayfield recorded it as “Bitabig R.,” although he also identified a river between Silver Creek and Encampment River as “Stuart R.” (Survey of Lake Superior).

[43] “Kitchi-bitobig, the great duplicate-water,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 453. Verwyst’s translation is incorrect: “Kitchibitobigong, big pond, from bitobig, a pond” (Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 260). Pond is waanzhibiiyaa (OPD, s.v. “waanzhibiiyaa,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/main-entry/waanzhibiiyaa-vii, accessed November 9, 2023).

[44] Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 7; “Mokoman Sibi,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 356; “Mokamon Sibi, Knife River,” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 15; “Mokomani-zibi, Knife River,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454; and “Mokomani sibi, knife river, from Mokoman, a knife,” Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 262.

[45] Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 6; and “Namebini-zibi, Sucker River,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454.

[46] “French river is Angwassago-zibi or Flood-wood river,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454; “Manissisug (Riviere des Francais),” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, xviii; and “Manissisug Sibi (Riviere des Francais),” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 14. Verwyst transcribed it as, “Ga-minissagokang, where there are large dry pine trees standing, from manissag, a dry pine tree.” The difference is the inclusion of the prefix Gaa- indicating a place and the final -kaa, indicating abundance. Pine trees are not explicitly part of the word (Verwyst, “A Glossary of Chippewa Indian Names,” 260). OPD, s.v. “-sagw-,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/sagw-final, accessed October 24, 2023.

[47] Fritzen, Historic Sites and Place Names, 6; “Passabika River,” Owen, Report of a Geological Survey, 345; “Passabika Sibi ‘Gap Rock River,’” Trygg, Composite Map, Sheet 14; and “Busabika zibi, Rocky canon river, or the river that comes through a worn hollow place in the rock,” Gilfillan, “Minnesota Geographical Names,” 454. OPD, s.vv. “Bas-,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/bas-initial; “-aabik-,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/aabik-medial; and “Baas-,” https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/word-part/baas-initial, accessed October 24, 2023.

[48] Cathy Wurzer, Gracie Stockton, and Lukas Levin, “Indigenous history is one of the newest requirements in Minnesota classrooms,” MPR News, August 16, 2023, https://www.mprnews.org/story/2023/08/16/indigenous-history-is-one-of-the-newest-requirements-in-minnesota-classrooms.

Recommended Citation

Redix, Erik Martin. 2024. “Rivers of Lake Superior’s North Shore: Historical Methodology and Ojibwe Dialects.” Open Rivers: Rethinking Water, Place & Community, no. 26. DOI-LINK.

DOI:

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