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Bear Island

Bear Island: The War at Sugar Point

Gerald Vizenor
Foreword by Jace Weaver
Copyright Date: 2002
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 112
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  • Book Info
    Bear Island
    Book Description:

    Drawing on the traditional ways of Anishinaabe storytelling, acclaimed writer Gerald Vizenor illuminates the 1898 battle at Sugar Point in this epic poem. Fought between the Pillagers of the Leech Lake Reservation and U.S. soldiers, the battle marked a turning point in relations between the government and Native Americans. Bear Island brings back to light a key moment in Minnesota's history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9793-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-2)
    Jace Weaver

    The Third United States Infantry, established in 1784 as the First American Regiment, was the storied veteran of many imperial campaigns. Created by act of Congress, it formed the nucleus of the regular United States Army. William Henry Harrison commanded it on the Canadian border during the War of 1812, after which it was rechristened as the Third Infantry. In 1840 , it was sent to Florida to flight the Second Seminole War. Under Winfield Scott, it stormed the ramparts of Chapultepec. As a result of its hardcharging service in the Mexican War, it was given the rare distinction of...

  4. Introduction: The War at Sugar Point
    (pp. 3-10)

    The Anishinaabe observed themiigis,themidewiwinspiritual shell, or cowrie, as a source of visionary presence in the northern woodland lakes. The Grand Medicine Society,midewiwin,is an association of Native healers and shamans. Themiigisarose from the eastern sea and moved westward with the natural course of the sun. The Anishinaabe origin stories count themiigisfor the last time ingichigami,the great sea, or Lake Superior.

    The Anishinaabe envisioned their associations with the earth by natural reason, by tricky stories, and byodoodemi,to have a totem, an imagic sense of presence in the time...

  5. Overture: Manidoo Creations
    (pp. 11-16)

    the anishinaabe

    natives of the miigis

    fugitive rivers

    canoe birch

    white pine

    face the clouds

    and cedar boughs

    worthy hunters

    cut the barren

    masks of hunger

    boreal shadows

    eternal spirits

    on the ancient stone

    crafty trickster


    created natives

    bears and cranes


    beaver moves

    by sorrow and tease

    arouses stories


    uncertain scenes

    blue and watery october storms

    turn and rush

    across leech lake

    great waves

    break on shore

    at bear island

    native colors heave

    elusive otters

    trace the bay

    ravens bounce

    on the main

    and wolves await

    the sacred rise

    of sandhill cranes

    over the birch

    feathers and...

  6. Bagwana: The Pillagers of Liberty
    (pp. 17-36)

    sugar point

    near bear island

    south of federal dam

    comes to light

    creation stories

    chance and crusade

    memories ashore

    native rights

    of rivers


    cedar stands

    stolen by grafters


    greed and guile

    stately suits

    treaty decadence

    over native liberty

    anishinaabe warriors

    honored forever

    among ravens

    bright leaves

    and chancy shamans


    the third infantry

    that october

    trace of costumes blue shadows

    wounded soldiers

    shiver alone

    at sugar point


    the sandy narrows

    bears the name

    battle point

    on the leech lake

    indian reservation

    six soldiers dead

    bones cracked

    muscles torn

    bloody wounds

    by winchesters

    over the turnips

    cabbage and...

  7. Hole in the Day: Grafters and Warrants
    (pp. 37-50)

    treacherous waves

    break overnight

    on leech lake

    lanterns out

    at the lakeside hotel

    on walker bay

    boats groan

    and beat

    an ominous air

    against the city dock

    natives shiver

    at onigum agency

    hungry children

    bound in blankets

    ait outside

    for late annuities


    by treaty ties

    federal legacies

    overrun by factors

    and shady agents


    bear island pillager

    midewiwin healer

    elusive warrior more than sixty years

    the third native

    honored by the name

    hole in the day

    turns his eyes

    against the wind

    and rides the shadows

    with the ravens

    that cold morning

    at agency bay

    colonel tinker

    and deputy...

  8. Bearwalkers: 5 October 1898
    (pp. 51-74)

    brevet major

    melville wilkinson


    combat commander

    third infantry regiment

    fort snelling

    service in civil

    and colonial wars

    gallant crusader

    plucked the nez perce

    from their homeland

    by military lies

    never imagined

    as he marched

    down the city dock

    at walker bay

    saluted the brigadier

    general john bacon

    department of dakota

    unlucky names

    and military chance

    that cold and miserable

    october morning

    a slow and miserable

    winchester death

    by pillager warriors

    at sugar point general bacon

    charily boarded

    the chief of duluth

    a new steamer

    on leech lake

    owned by the walker

    timber company

    heaved on the rise



  9. Gatling Gun: 6 October 1898
    (pp. 75-82)

    lieutenant colonel

    abram horbach

    returned a salute

    boarded a slow train

    for walker

    and leech lake

    endowed by fidelity

    dominion duty

    two hundred

    soldiers of destiny

    clumsy and rustic

    with empire weapons

    and a gatling gun

    arrived in time

    to honor the dead

    and badly wounded

    mostly immigrants

    never to fight

    hole in the day

    bear island pillagers

    the chance war

    closed overnight

    third infantry

    cold and bloody

    routed by natives

    at sugar point sentries posted

    trenches cut

    across the garden

    scent of cabbage

    bloody blue wool

    dusted with snow

    silent counts

    by wounded soldiers

    newspaper storiers

    side by side...

  10. War Necklace: 9 October 1898
    (pp. 83-94)

    hole in the day

    undaunted warrior

    pillager of liberty

    returned at sunrise

    with the ravens

    to his garden

    cabbage cut

    potatoes plundered


    cabin bloodied

    by soldiers

    traces of dead

    blue savages

    at sugar point

    medicine bundles


    miigis and otter

    eagle feathers

    stolen and stained

    sacred stories

    trickster creations


    by nervy soldiers

    routed at last

    by pillager bears hole in the day

    gathered cucumbers

    and spent shells

    from newly issued

    krag jorgensens

    cast among

    bloody potatoes

    and wounded cabbages

    fashioned a memorial

    war necklace

    native survivance


    a defeated army

    overcome by winchesters

    and fierce irony

    private wicker...

  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 95-95)