Nov. 15, 2021

Treaty Rights of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Ojibwe nation occupied much of the Lake Superior region, including what is now Ontario in Canada and Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in the United States. In 1850, President Zachary Taylor’s administration, in response to demands from European Americans, planned to force the Ojibwe of Wisconsin west of the Mississippi in violation of signed treaties.

They planned to bring the Ojibwe to Minnesota from Wisconsin in late fall so that they would have to stay for the winter, wearing down their resistance to relocation. Nearly 3000 Ojibwe men made the long journey to Sandy Lake, Minnesota, where they waited for weeks for a government agent to arrive and even longer for what turned out to be spoiled food and only a small portion of the payment and goods they were due. The conditions were so poor that 150 men died of disease, starvation, or freezing. On the treacherous return journey to Wisconsin another 200 men died.

In 1852, Chief Buffalo, the principal chief of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, traveled to Washington, DC, by birchbark canoe with three other men, to press President Millard Fillmore to cancel the removal order. They managed to find an audience with Fillmore, who upon hearing about the broken treaty promises and the tragedy at Sandy Lake, agreed to cancel the removal order and work on a new treaty.

The 1854 Treaty of LaPointe allowed the Ojibwe to stay in their traditional territories and created permanent reservations of land for many of the bands, including the Red Cliff. Under the treaties, the tribes reserved certain rights, including rights to hunt, fish, and gather on the lands that they ceded.

In the more than 150 years since the 1854 Treaty of LaPointe, the sovereignty of the Ojibwe people has been threatened time and time again, and it’s taken Ojibwe activism to protect the rights.

Joining me to help us learn more about the Red Cliff Ojibwe, the importance of treaties, and the Native activism needed to defend them is Dr. Katrina Phillips, an enrolled member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Assistant Professor of Native American History at Macalester College, and author of Staging Indigeneity: Salvage Tourism and the Performance of Native American History.

Our theme song is Frogs Legs Rag, composed by James Scott and performed by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons. The episode image is Mitaawangaa, or Sandy Beach, on the shores of Frog Bay Tribal National Park. Photo by Katrina Phillips.


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Kelly Therese Pollock  0:00  
This is Unsung History, the podcast where we discuss people and events in American history that haven't always received a lot of attention. I'm your host, Kelly Therese Pollock. I'll start each episode with a brief introduction to the topic, and then talk to someone who knows a lot more than I do. Be sure to subscribe to Unsung History on your favorite podcasting app, so you never miss an episode. And please tell your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, maybe even strangers to listen too. Today's story is about the treaty rights of the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Ojibwe. Before the arrival of Europeans, the Ojibwe Nation occupied much of the Lake Superior region, including what is now Ontario in Canada, and Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota in the United States. The spiritual center of the Anishinaabe Nations, which include the Lake Superior Ojibwe is Chequamegon Bay. A prophet told the Anishinaabe that a sacred shell would guide them on a generations long journey west to east that would lead them to the food that grows on the water known as manoomin or wild rice. The final stop on the journey was at the island called Mooningwanekaaning, which means "the place of the yellow flicker bird." It was later renamed Madeline Island. The land that is now the Red Cliff Reservation is located at the extreme northernmost point of Wisconsin, near Madeline Island. In May, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law authorizing the president to grant lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Native lands east of the Mississippi. Many Ojibwe lands were located east of the Mississippi; but because there were few European Americans in the region, there was no pressure then for the removal of the Ojibwe. By 1850, that changed. The Ojibwe in Wisconsin had already signed treaties with the United States in 1837 and in 1842 ceding land to the federal government in exchange for promises of money, food and equipment. President Zachary Taylor's administration, in response to demands from European Americans, planned to force the Ojibwe west of the Mississippi in violation of those treaties. The usual site for the fall payment of annual annuities and provision of supplies from the Bureau of Indian Affairs was LaPoint, Wisconsin, on Madeline Island. In 1850, the site was moved to Sandy Lake, Minnesota. The administration's plan was to bring the Ojibwe to Minnesota in late fall, so that they would have to stay for the winter, wearing down their resistance to relocation. Nearly 3000 Ojibwe men made the long journey to Sandy Lake, Minnesota, where they waited for weeks for a government agent to arrive, and even longer for what turned out to be spoiled food, and only a small portion of the payment and goods they were due. The conditions were so poor, that around 150 men died of disease, starvation or freezing. On their treacherous return journey to Wisconsin, another 200 men died. In 1852, Kechewaishke or Chief Buffalo, the principal chief of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, traveled to Washington, DC by birch bark canoe with three other men to press President Millard Fillmore to cancel the removal order. The Bureau of Indian Affairs tried to turn them away. But they managed to find an audience with Fillmore, who upon hearing about the broken treaty promises and the tragedy at Sandy Lake, agreed to cancel the removal order and work toward a new treaty. The 1854 Treaty of LaPoint allowed the Ojibwe to stay in their traditional territories and created permanent reservations of land for many of the bands, including the Red Cliff.

Under the treaties, the tribes reserved certain rights, including rights to hunt, fish and gather on the lands that they ceded. Despite this, the state of Wisconsin regularly ignored these rights. In 1901, Ojibwe John Blackbird, was arrested for netting fish on the Bad River Reservation. The Federal Court ruled that the state of Wisconsin did not have the right to regulate hunting and fishing on the reservation. But the larger question of hunting and fishing rights on the land of the ceded territories was not addressed. In 1908, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in another fishing case that Wisconsin's 1848 admission to the United States ended the Ojibwe hunting and fishing rights off reservation. Even more shockingly, the court ruled that the state could regulate hunting and fishing on reservations. That ruling was modified in 1933 to include only privately owned reservation lands. In 1934, the United States Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act. In it the main criteria for a tribe to be recognized was that they adopted a representative form of government with a constitution and bylaws. On June 15, 1935, the Red Cliff band passed its original constitution and bylaws, which were then approved by the Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes on June 1, 1936. In the 1960s and 70s, during a larger push among Native Americans for greater self determination, the Ojibwe people of Wisconsin turned to the courts to regain the rights. In 1972, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the Bad River and Red Cliff Ojibwe Bands had a right to fish in Lake Superior without state regulation. The state had only the right to take reasonable and necessary measures to ensure that the lake's fish population was not depleted. In 1983, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago ruled that the 1854 treaty did not end Ojibwe rights to hunt and fish on the territory they ceded. When the US Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal by the state of Wisconsin, Ojibwe rights to hunt and fish anywhere within their ceded territories were upheld. There are currently around 5300 Red Cliff tribal members, about 2500 of whom live on the 14,541 acres of the Red Cliff Reservation. Joining me to help us learn more about the Red Cliff Ojibwe, the importance of treaties, and the Native activism needed to defend those treaties is Dr. Katrina Phillips, an enrolled member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, and Assistant Professor of American Indian History at Macalester College. Welcome, Katie. Thanks so much for speaking with me,

Dr. Katrina Phillips  8:30  
Of course. Thank you for having me. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  8:32  
Yeah, so I have a lot of questions for you. But I want to start with asking just how you got into history, how you got to the point where you were studying for a PhD and now a professor.

Dr. Katrina Phillips  8:45  
So this is a story that I used to not tell very often. But when I was growing up, I wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to be in musicals, like that was, that was my hope. Right? But I am from pretty rural northern Wisconsin. And I honestly, I didn't know that you could be a professor, I didn't know that you could be a historian. Right. And so looking back on it now I kind of laugh that, you know, for a kid from rural Wisconsin, the thought of like being on Broadway was like an attainable goal. Now I'm just like, "Oh, okay." But I always loved history. I always, you know, loved reading books and stories and just like learning all of this information. And my dad was a high school English teacher. And so I got my level of reading from him, my level of writing from him. And when I was in undergrad, I you know, I took some history courses to just fill my schedule. And one of the courses was Civil War History. And we took a field trip to the Minnesota Historical Society, and so we got to see all of these artifacts from, you know, Minnesota's participation in the Civil War. And that, for me was a moment where I was like, "You know, this is something I could do." And so it was, and that was honestly the end of it. I did a history major. And then once I figured out that I could teach and that I could read and write, and you literally do this for a living. Yeah. And then I went to grad school, and also at the University of Minnesota. And now here I am.

Kelly Therese Pollock  10:39  
Love that. So did you as you were growing up, did you hear much about Ojibwe history from your family? Or was that something that you discovered more of later as you were studying?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  10:49  
It was a little bit of both, I would hear, you know, kind of snippets here and there from my mom, or from my uncle and things like that. But it wasn't a huge part of it. I didn't, I didn't grow up on the reservation. I grew up about, you know, an hour and a half-ish away. But it was just where we would go right, you know, we'd go to see my grandparents and I didn't, I didn't quite realize how deep and how rich this history was until I went to grad school and started, you know, learning all of this and started asking questions and doing all of this. And that's, it's not because my family didn't want to tell me or because, you know, they were ashamed or anything like that. It just, it didn't seem like it was something that needed to be a big deal. Right, you know, these are our stories, these are the histories. And you know, folks would share little pieces here and there. But it was never treated like it was something really exceptional or something that, you know, had to really be broadcast out if that makes sense. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  12:02  
Yeah. So you have recently been doing some public history giving talks about treaties. Can you talk some about that, first of all, what it's like to do that public history work, but also, you know, specifically why you have been talking about treaties and the importance of treaties?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  12:20  
The public facing scholarship that I've started to do has been a lot of fun. And it's, you know, I love the work I do at Macalester, and I love you know, the students, my colleagues and things like that, but it's a lot of fun to get a chance to, you know, go down to historic sites and give a talk and just have that engagement, and have that opportunity for engagement. Right, because you get to, to hear what other folks have to say. And, you know, these are places where people ask really great questions. And so it's been, it's been a lot of fun. And it probably sounds a little strange to be like, talking about treaties as really fun. But I think the, I think one of the reasons why it's so important to have these conversations is because on one hand treaties are so foundational to how Native nations exercise their sovereignty. And on the other hand, there are a lot of things about treaties that folks just don't understand.

Kelly Therese Pollock  13:32  
What are some of those things that people don't really understand?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  13:36  
I think the biggest thing that stands out to me is that a lot of folks don't really understand why treaties are so important to Native nations. You know, if people were like, you know, these were, this treaty was signed in like, 1837. We are long past 1837. Why are you talking about a treaty from, you know, almost 200 years ago. But these documents are really foundational pieces that help understand why and how Native nations are exercising their sovereignty. Whether it's thinking about fishing rights, or hunting rights, or just how Native nations function, right, and how they interact with other nations, including the United States. It's really crucial to understand what treaties are and literally why they matter so much to Native nations.

Kelly Therese Pollock  14:36  
There is of course, a long history of the United States not honoring a lot of the terms of these treaties. Are there a lot of treaties that are still have sway like to the, how did the courts treat the treaties? Like what what does that look like now?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  14:53  
That's a fantastic question. And I mean, you're absolutely right. The US government made several hundred treaties with Native nations between about, you know, the late 1770s into the 1870s, but broke at least one facet of every single treaty, which is, of course, another wrinkle in this conversation, right? So it's, it's really tricky to think about, you know, how how they're applied now, how the the courts are either upholding the treaties or or not upholding the treaties. But a lot of what we see as far as when the courts do rule in favor of Native nations, and of upholding the treaties, is often due in large part to continued Native activism and advocacy. You know, you'll have folks going out and drawing attention, right to these treaty violations, and just making a point about the fact that these documents are so critical. Right. And, you know, for a lot of Native nations, these aren't just documents, right? We think about treaties as these, like, old, dusty documents that like nobody can read because it's in like that cursive, right. But it really is critical. Right? You know, a lot of times treaties would be signed, as, you know, a guarantee of peace or a definition of land boundaries. One of the big things we see now with treaties is, you know, the preservation of hunting and fishing rights, and also in a lot of instances, you know, provisions for protection. And so, what I feel like what we tend to see now, and I'm trying not to generalize, right, because there are these hundreds of treaties, but it's it is mostly about, again, you know, upholding the sovereignty of Native nations, on their reservations, right, and sovereignty, you know, you could talk to 10 different scholars of this, and you would get 10 different answers, which is partly why we're so much fun to be around. But, you know, for for Native nations, the way I try to teach my students is that sovereignty is the right and the ability to self govern. And so if we're thinking about a nation being sovereign, right, it has a claim to land. And one misconception that we still have to reckon with when we do this, right, is that Native nations didn't have a concept of land ownership. And that's not true at all, right, because Native nations are different than European and Euro American nations, right? Because, as opposed to this belief, in like individual land ownership, you have the belief that lands are held in common. Right. So therefore, the common good of everyone, instead of just dividing it up and, you know, parceling it out. And so Native people have historically and still continue to use the land for hunting, for fishing for gathering, and for providing for their people, the same way that that they have literally for centuries.

Kelly Therese Pollock  18:35  
Yeah. So you have this recent article in "Native American and Indigenous Studies," where you get to talk about your grandmother, which is so cool. And it's, it's about this more recent, so it's more recent, of course, for historians meaning like, 1967. But this, this plan to try to, and this is just wild, to try to sort of exchange the the land of the the Red Cliff and the Bad River Ojibwa, move them inland so that the United States government can use their land to have like a National Recreation Area. And, you know, we're all of course, hopefully aware of things like the Indian Removal Act and things from much, much earlier, but the idea that the federal government would be trying to do this in 1967. Kind of like I gasped out loud when I read that. Can you talk some about what what this plan would have done and then the role that your grandmother had in this?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  19:40  
Of course, so this is, again, I'm doing that history and thing where I'm trying to figure out how far back in time I have to go to get the context. So I think I'll start, I won't go too far back, but I have to go a little bit back. So in Wisconsin, in the wake of World War II, you have just this huge influx of tourism, right. And so this isn't unique to Wisconsin, this is a post World War II thing. People have cars, they are now able to travel right and do all of the things they couldn't do in the middle of a war. But in Wisconsin, you have all of these parks and recreation areas, and lakes and beaches and everything that are just overflowing. And so one of the major players in this article is Gaylord Nelson, who was, at one point, the governor of Wisconsin and then eventually became a senator from Wisconsin. And he's most well known as the founder of Earth Day. Right, and, you know, did a was a very important factor, right, in a lot of the environmentalism movements and things like that, that came about in, you know, the 50s and 60s and 70s. And so, Gaylord Nelson wanted to turn kind of, you know, the south shore of Lake Superior, what's now the Apostle Islands, into a National Recreation Area. And, by turning it into a recreation area, it's different than turning it into, you know, like a protected area where nobody could go. This was, so people, so tourists, right could hunt, and fish, they could, you know, take boat rides, they could do all of these really cool things, and be outdoors and appreciate nature and everything like that, and

Kelly Therese Pollock  21:33  
and spend money, presumably,

Dr. Katrina Phillips  21:35  
and spend money, that's the big thing. And so he had this grand plan, but you have Red Cliff, and a neighboring nation, the Bad River Ojibwe, who had a lot of the land that Nelson wanted for this. And so Nelson tries a couple different ways to try to get the Red Cliff land and the Bad River Land for this project. And he tries. And I tried to be really careful about this in the article. So there's a federal policy that comes down in the 1950s, called termination, which is quite literally as kind of awful as it sounds, because it was intended to sever the treaty guaranteed relationship between Native nations and the federal government. And so Native nations would no longer be sovereign, they would no longer exist. And so, in essence, Nelson is trying to find a way to take the lands from Red Cliff and Bad River without having to go through the process of termination. Because there's another nation in Wisconsin, the Menominee, who were one of the first nations to be terminated, and it was a really long and expensive and drawn out process. Because the Menominee, as you might expect, fought back very hard against their destruction. What was so surprising to me about this, and this is an article that I've worked on a very long time.I my joke it's that it's actually older than my second child. And it's not a joke, because it's true. And, you know, this was one of those times where I would, you know, I called my mom a lot.

And, you know, she would talk to her brother and to her sister to try to, you know, kind of help me piece some of these together. And, at one point, my mom told me that she had talked to her brother, she talked to my uncle. And my Uncle Joe was like, "Yeah, you know, at one point, you know, Nelson wanted to, he was basically going to, like, exchange the lands, and then tell Red Cliff 'okay, this is where we're going to move you.'" And, and I talked about this in the article, because, you know, like you said, this is the 1960s, we're talking about, you know, when we think about removal, we think about the 1830s, we think about the 19th century, we don't think about the 20th century. And so, you know, as I'm finding these documents, and you know, relying on this knowledge that that my family has,that was when I finally started to see the voice of my grandma, and to start to see these other names pop up.

So my grandma's maiden name was Newago. And so I was looking through, well over like 1000 pages of congressional testimony from like four different hearings, which is exactly how historians spend a summer,right That's super fun.

And I kept seeing a couple other names pop up. And I called my mom and I was like, "Do these names ring a bell?" And she thought about it. And she was like, "Let me get back to you." And so she called her sister, she called my aunt. And, you know, the, she's, you know, they're going back and forth. And then finally my aunt is like, "That's Sis! And it's Aunt Carrie!" And, you know, and then I'm trying to remember how it came back. And then I think one of them was like, "Is there another name in here?" And so then I went back through and I was like, "Yes, I found her." And it was, it was just really incredible, right? Because you know, these women are in this testimony. They're in, in these documents. But they were there under, you know, their given names, their proper names, right. And they weren't there under the names that my mom and aunt knew them. And so, one line that I have in the article that I will never forget, is, you know, when I am talking to my mom about this, and she was like, "Those were the women who would do it." And she's like, "They saw what had to be done. And so they did it." 

Kelly Therese Pollock  26:27  
So you talk about how you you never knew, you know, until later until your uncle sent you these clippings that your grandma had had done this had testified in front of Congress. Did you, did you think of her as an activist? I mean, you know, or is this just like "This is just part of protecting our people?"

Dr. Katrina Phillips  26:47  
That's, that's a great question. And it's, I don't know if my grandma would have called herself an activist. And I'm not saying that because, you know, I think it's, it's a bad word or anything like that, right. Like activist is one of those words that people can kind of have a strong reaction to. But yeah, I didn't, I don't think she would have called herself that. And I don't, and honestly, I think if my grandma were still here, and if she had read this article, she probably might have scolded me for like giving her as much of a voice and like, you know, and giving, giving her all this credit, right? Because when I asked my mom, I was like, "I cannot believe that none of you told me this". And my mom was like, that, she was basically just like, "That's how we are." Right? And I'm like, I feel like this is kind of a big deal. But yeah, and it's, it was just really incredible. And you know, I, you know, thinking back on on my grandma and and who she was and how she carried herself, it doesn't surprise me, I guess that she did this. And it also, honestly, it doesn't surprise me that I never heard about it. 

Kelly Therese Pollock  28:20  
Yeah. So you note that this is happening around the same time as the Red Power Movement? Of course, I'm sure your grandmother didn't think of herself as part of the Red Power Movement. You know, but would it seems like there are sort of similar forces at work that are driving both the kind of testimony that your grandmother is giving, and things like the takeover of Alcatraz, that sort of thing? Can you talk a little bit about sort of that, that moment in Native history and what the the Red Power Movement was all about?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  28:51  
So what we get to in, you know, the 1960s, and the 1970s is, for one of the first times we have national attention on Native issues. You know, we have people talking about, you know, the takeover of Alcatraz. Right, we have people talking about, you know, the creation of the American Indian Movement. Right, you know, these aren't, these aren't things that are happening in isolation, right? You have a lot of people who are coming out of the boarding school system, right, because boarding schools are still a thing well into the 20th century. And you have the creation of a lot of national organizations the continued creation, I should say, right? Like, it's not just like, we don't have any activism or advocacy until the 1960s. And then all of a sudden, hooray, here it is. Right? Like there's a there's a really long history there too. But it's just, it's a really incredible period to be able to study. Right? Because you have folks everywhere that that are doing this work, whether they're, you know, when, when we're thinking about the folks in Menominee, who are fighting for restoration, even before they're terminated. When you have people in these in these bigger cities, right, because of relocation, which is a policy that goes hand in hand with termination, right, and is meant to pull native people to cities away from reservations, under the guise of offering, you know, housing and vocational training and all of this stuff, but in reality, right, it's meant to cut those bonds between Native people and their reservations. And so all of a sudden, you have these huge influxes of Native people into Chicago, into the Bay Area, into Denver, right and in Minneapolis, as well. And so when you start to get people together, right, you have the creation of American Indian centers and gathering spaces, you know, they're holding language tables, they're advocating for survival schools, right, like the chance for their children to have the education they deserve. Right, and for that, those cultural teachings to be a key part of the curriculum. And it's, it was really kind of fascinating to be able to situate what was happening at Red Cliff in this broader moment.

Kelly Therese Pollock  31:50  
Yeah, you know, one of the things as I was reading about the earlier treaty history, and then about this moment in the 1960s, as well, is how important the Department of the Interior is. And we just now finally, in 2021, have the first Native person who is the Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, who I, by the way, have gotten to interview a couple times, and just love. But you know, what, what does that mean, for you, but but, you know, larger than just you, for Native people in this country, to have someone as Secretary of the Interior, making these really, really important decisions, for reservations, for Native rights, who is herself Native, and, you know, proudly openly Native?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  32:44  
This, this is one of those things I love to talk about, both as a historian but also as a Native person. Right, you know, we talk a lot about the importance of representation. Right. And, you know, too, I think, for a lot of us, seeing Deb Haaland, named as Secretary of the Interior, it was just something we never could have imagined. Right to see someone like us in that kind of role. And I think the fact that she was named Secretary of the Interior is also really meaningful. Because you have the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is it's been known by a lot of names over over the years, but by now, it's the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which was created in like 1824, and was initially under the purview of the War Department. And then, when the government creates the Department of the Interior in 1849, Indian Affairs gets moved to the Interior. And so when you have this bureau that has such a long history, that's now within the department that she leads is it's really meaningful on multiple levels, right, both because of the history and because of what it does for us. And, you know, with the the news recently, over the past couple of months, I guess, I should say, with the discovery of these unmarked graves at residential schools in Canada, and then this initiative that's been announced here in the States. You know, that's something I've been asked this question before, and I don't know if that would have happened if she wasn't in that position.

Kelly Therese Pollock  34:47  
So I wanted to ask you too, you started to write kids books. And so you have, I have in right in front of me here "Indigenous Peoples Day," that my son Arthur just loved, and so I got a couple of copies for his school. And I saw that you have another book coming out about "The Disastrous Wrangel Island Expeditions." So I wonder if you could talk just a little bit about that. And, you know, sort of how that's a furthering of this, this public facing work to do these kids books and what what that's like.

Dr. Katrina Phillips  35:17  
It is so much fun. And it's, there are multiple, I guess motivations for me on that front. One is, honestly, it's the fact that I have two little kids. So you know, my husband and I have an eight year old boy, and we have a five year old boy. And I want them, oh, my God, this sounds so corny. But it's like, I want them to have the books that I never had. Right. And, you know, there are so many incredible Native authors that are writing kids books right now. And it's just really incredible, right, you know, that I can go buy "We Are Grateful," that I can buy "Fry Bread," you know, my mother-in-law bought "Johnny's Pheasant" for our younger one, a little while back, right. They've got "Bowwow Powwow" on their bookshelf. And it's, it's just really cool. And, you know, with with the "Indigenous Peoples Day" book, I emailed both of their teachers, you know, in the beginning of October. And I mean, I was like, so this is who I am, this is what I do. You know, do you mind if I send some things with you? And, you know, they said, you know, "That's great." And I sent, you know, both boys to school with a copy of the "Indigenous Peoples Day" book for Indigenous Peoples Day. And I picked them up from school that day, and I was like, trying to play it cool. Okay. And I was like, "So how was your day?" And the eight year old goes, "It was awesome!" He was like, you know, "My teacher read your book. And they asked, you know, some of my classmates asked me questions and things like that." And it was, for him, it was like, a great learning experience, because it wasn't something where he was singled out in a bad way. Right? It was because it was a teaching moment. And the five year old, when I was like, you know, "How, how did it go?" And he goes, "It was so cool that my teacher read the book you wrote about," and there was a long pause, because he's five, and he couldn't remember indigenous people. So after this pause, he goes, "the kind of people that we are." And I was like, we will forever after be known as "the kind of people that we are." But it's just a great chance to, to be part of this conversation on a broader scale. And, and share this history and put it out there, right, like, a bunch of my college friends bought books and sent them to, you know, send them to school with their kids and stuff. And like, it's yeah, it's really cool.

Kelly Therese Pollock  38:16  
Well, Arthur loved "Indigenous Peoples Day," but when I told him that your next book is about an expedition, like his eyes got really big, and he was like, "Really?" So he will very much like that one..

Dr. Katrina Phillips  38:27  
Like, I can't wait for his review.

Kelly Therese Pollock  38:30  
So if people would like to buy your books, how can they do that?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  38:34  
The "Indigenous Peoples Day" book is on Amazon and the Wrangel Island book, I'm pretty sure it's available for preorder, I'd have to double check.

Kelly Therese Pollock  38:42  
I've already ordered it. So yeah.

Dr. Katrina Phillips  38:43  
So the best way for those for those two books are Amazon. And if folks are interested in like, my academic book and things like that, that book is through the University of North Carolina Press. But I will say my husband appreciated the "Indigenous Peoples Day" book a little bit better than the than the full book. He did read it. Right. He's read my book, he's read my article. But the kids book definitely got a a better overall rating in my house based on my husband and our kids. So

Kelly Therese Pollock  39:21  
Well, I will put links in the show notes to all of your work, so that people can find it. Is there anything else that you wanted to make sure we talked about?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  39:29  
You know, I want to make sure that I thank you for inviting me on the podcast just to have a chance to talk about this history. Right. You know, as someone who who does this history and it, it kind of consumes everything I do, but just you know, having the chance to talk about Native history and all of the different facets to it. And yeah, just bringing it to a larger audience and hopefully people have some good takeaways from it.

Kelly Therese Pollock  40:01  
And the other thing I'm doing this month is encouraging people to donate to Native organizations. Is there one in particular that you would like to recommend?

Dr. Katrina Phillips  40:10  
So there are some great organizations here in the Twin Cities. There's Dream of Wild Health. There's the Minneapolis Indian Women Resource Center. There's MIGIZI, which is MIGIZI. And yeah, there's those are the top ones that come to mind that do some really great work here in the cities.

Kelly Therese Pollock  40:32  
Excellent. I'll put links to those in the show notes as well. So Katie, thank you. This was really fun. And it was it was neat to read this history and know that you had this personal connection to the story.

Dr. Katrina Phillips  40:44  
So well, and thank you for reading the article too. That's it took a long time to get to this point. But it was it was a journey that I'm really happy I took.

Teddy  40:54  
Thanks for listening to Unsung History. You can find the sources used for this episode at To the best of our knowledge, all audio and images used by Unsung History are in the public domain or are used with permission. You can find us on Twitter, or Instagram @Unsung__History. Or on Facebook at Unsung History Podcast. To contact us with questions or episode suggestions, please email If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review and tell your friends


Katrina Phillips

Katrina Phillips, an enrolled member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, joins the Macalester faculty as an Assistant Professor of American Indian History. She spent two years as a Consortium for Faculty Diversity fellow here at Macalester before moving to the tenure-track. She earned her BA and Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota, where she served as a co-chair for the University’s interdisciplinary American Indian and Indigenous Studies Workshop. She is a past recipient of the U of M’s prestigious Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship as well as the Graduate Research Partnership Program grant. Professor Phillips teaches courses on American Indian and American history. Her current research focuses on the role of American Indian historical pageants in the development of regional tourist economies in the 20th and 21st century.