Pipe holds 160 years of historySt. Paul attorney Henry Buffalo traveled the well-trod 140 miles of Interstate 35 to attend the ceremony at the Duluth Civic Center last month. The pipe he brought with him traveled 162 years.
By: Naomi Yaeger, Duluth Budgeteer News
St. Paul attorney Henry Buffalo traveled the well-trod 140 miles of Interstate 35 to attend the ceremony at the Duluth Civic Center last month.
The pipe he brought with him traveled 162 years.
On Sept. 8, the Duluth American Indian Commission sponsored an event honoring the legacy of Chief Buffalo with a pipe smoked by the Ojibwe leader and President Millard Fillmore in 1852.
Chief Buffalo, Henry Buffalo’s great-great-great-grandfather, was 92 at the time he traveled to Washington, D.C., with the intentions of meeting with the president. Along the way, government officials tried to get them to turn back. The reason he wanted an audience with the president was because Fillmore’s predecessor, Zachary Taylor, had planned to forcibly relocate the Lake Superior Ojibwe under the pretense that they had violated their treaties.
“This pipe was actually used in a meeting that resulted in the Treaty of 1854,” Henry Buffalo told the Budgeteer, adding that he wishes that more of the Chippewa people’s contributions to Duluth were acknowledged in public artwork and park names. “It is a symbol that we’re still here.”
Henry Buffalo, an enrolled member of the Red Cliff Band who specializes in federal Indian law, lived in Duluth from 1985 to 1991 during the construction of I-35, when parks and murals were being designed.
“A disappointment I had was that murals do not depict the presence of the Chippewa. History has repeatedly failed to acknowledge the Chippewa,” he said.
That includes the journey of his ancestor, who traveled with six others; one of them was his son-in-law, Benjamin Armstrong, acting as translator.
Chief Buffalo and the delegation returned with the news that the removal order had been rescinded but that they must also prepare to negotiate another treaty, Henry Buffalo and historical accounts recount.
The treaty of 1854 achieved the objective of the Ojibwe to never be asked to be removed, by establishing reservations for the Lake Superior Ojibwe people in Wisconsin, Northeastern Minnesota and Michigan, and again reserved the right to hunt, fish and gather on the ceded lands forever.
“The city of Duluth is also a part of this history because Chief Buffalo reserved for himself, as a term in the 1854 Treaty, a one-square-mile parcel of land that makes up a large part of the downtown business district in the city,” according to Henry Buffalo. Chief Buffalo gave one-half of this land to his son-in-law Benjamin Armstrong.
“The Chippewa gave the land on which the city of Duluth is located,” Henry Buffalo continued, saying the Chippewa were important to the early economy of Duluth and for supplying food.
Dr. Arne Vainio, an enrolled member in the Mille Lacs Band and a family practice physician on the Fond du Lac reservation in Cloquet, also attended the event.
“There were mostly American Indian people at the ceremony, but also non-Indian people,” he wrote for the website News from Indian Country. “They were welcomed and will always be welcome. We need them and they need us. The journey of Chief Buffalo and this pipe represents faith and hope in times of overwhelming uncertainty.”