Chapter 3: The Chief Buffalo Estate
In the Spring of 1852, Chief Buffalo and several others traveled with Benjamin Armstrong from La Pointe to Washington D.C. by birch bark canoe. The group met with President Millard Fillmore to complain about the many broken promises of prior treaties and about the attempt to remove the tribe from La Pointe to Sandy Lake Minnesota, which had resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Ojibwe by starvation and exposure. Their meeting with the President led to the cancellation of the removal program and commencement of the treaty negotiations of 1854.
Chief Buffalo was in his mid-90’s and in failing health during the Treaty negotiations at La Pointe, which established the Bad River Reservation for the Madeline Island band. As part of the Treaty, four sections of land were set aside for Chief Buffalo and his family on the mainland. Many of the Catholic and mixed-blood members of the La Pointe Band chose to settle on Chief Buffalo land rather than at the Bad River Reservation. In 1855 the boundary of the Buffalo Estate was extended by executive order, and in 1863 an additional 14,000 acres were set aside for the Red Cliff Indian Reservation.
Map published by U.S. Congress (1899), shows main Bad River Reservation (#334) and Madeline Island fishing grounds (#335). The Buffalo Estate (#341) is shown with the rest of the Red Cliff Reservation (#342).
Click image to enlarge.
In 1860 the Federal Government built a sawmill on the Red Cliff Reservation to produce the lumber needed for housing in the community and on other reservations. The mill employed about six men and operated from 1860 to 1872. A two-story house was built by Chief Buffalo’s son Antoine on a portion of the land adjacent to Vincent Roy’s property, where a dock was used by steamers like the “Hunter” until 1898.
The Brickyard Creek History Chronicles are being shared with you by Brickyard Creek community member, Mary E. Carlson.
She explains, “As we look out at Buffalo Bay and Basswood Island, we can’t help but think of those who came before us to this beautiful place.”
She started her historical quest in 2007 and is sharing her finds in this ten-part series below. Her book, On the Streets of Bayfield, is available at the Bayfield Heritage Center