Commemoration Held to Recognize 100 Years Since the Flooding of Old Post
Updated: Mar 27
By Joe Morey
A special event was held at the Sevenwinds Convention Center on March 15 to commemorate to the day, 100 years since the closing of the Winter Dam gates causing the flooding that created the Chippewa Flowage, but at the same time, caused the forced removal of the Lac Courte Oreilles people that lived there and the flooding of many graves and sacred sites.
The event was organized by a collaboration between the people of New Post, the LCO Ojibwe University and the LCO Museum and Visitor Center/Kinnamon School. Rick St. Germaine, a tribal historian and former Tribal Chairman, was a consultant in the planning and MC'd the event. He thanked the many in attendance who came to the commemoration stating that this was a big event for the Tribe.
“I remember 50 years ago when we were considering the re-licensing of the hydroelectric dam,” St. Germaine explained. “The Tribal Governing Board (TGB) had a big responsibility and the BIA was really trying to get this through. There were protests at the Winter Dam. Mike Tribble, myself, Marilyn Tribble, Jim White, Mary White, Eddie Benton, we were camped out there and at the same time members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) were camped out at our powwow grounds in Round Lake, and they too were protesting. We had a situation on our hands as a Tribe protesting the re-licensing of the Winter Dam. That time had us look back on this calamity 100 years ago.”
St. Germaine said the event today looks back on how March 15, 1923 when the Winter Dam gates were closed and what that did to start the back up to make the Flowage. He said that it was there where the Wanagan is now on County Hwy G.
“Tonight, we recognize the tragic circumstance of what happened and we have some speakers here to represent the voices of their grandparents, their great-grandparents. They had ancestors who lived in Old Post, and a substantial village on old Chief Lake that had a lot of wild rice. Other settlements were there by Scott Lake and a lot along the Chief River,” St. Germaine said. “Tonight, we reflect and remember our ancestors.”
A blessing of the commemoration was done by Dennis White and the Badger Singers then sang an honor song.
Tribal Elder Julie Snow then spoke, stating, “We recognize the courage and strength of the original people of Post who stood up to the corporate interests of the Northern States Power (NSP) company and the federal government.”
Snow said it was a hundred years ago with great sorrow they were forced to leave their land that provided a great resource, food and medicine, and their homes and relatives they left in the ground. She said there are over 700 graves still there. She added they had gardens they had to just leave, pack up and leave.
Mark Thayer also shared about his ancestry there. He said his family comes directly from Old Post.
“It touches me deep the discussion we are having,” Thayer said. He explained how it was his direct descendent Joseph Thayer’s brother, Thaddeus, who had built the Trading Post there in 1865. Joseph was a trapper and hunter there. He also said it was Henry Thayer, a descendent who was the first law officer and was there when the jail was built.
“In 1857, the government sent surveyors into our area and they found our Ojibwe people already encamped there and in 1912 they had already planned to flood the Chippewa River and Chief River. They didn’t find our people right there by the river because they moved with the seasons. We had camps along there from Old Post, Chief Lake, Blueberry and the way up to the Winter Dam. There were giant rice beds by Old Post and that’s where we spent a lot of our time. Our people had been in that area since the early 1700’s,” Thayer said.
He added, “Our people won’t be forgotten. We have a strong history here and that’s why we are here today.”
St. Germaine said he got into LCO history back in the late 1960’s. He said there was a lot of oral history back then because our Tribe didn’t get electricity until 1960, and prior to that our families spent a lot of time together. He explained how he went around back then and interviewed a lot of our people, some of who were born in the 1800’s and the story of Old Post was a giant story for the whole region.
“Electricity came to be in the late 1800’s and the companies were looking for the cheapest way to provide it,” St. Germaine explained. “We had that river and it had a lot of tributaries.”
LCO Police Chief Tim DeBrot shared a bit about the ancestral law enforcement from Post.
“I’d like to name them and pay tribute and thank them for their service,” DeBrot said.
He named them first from the late 1800’s to mid-1900’s. He named Joseph Thayer, Henry Thayer, Frank Thayer, Billy DeBrot, Edwin Tainter, Connie Tainter, Larry Tainter Sr., Dan Gokey Sr.
From about the 1960’s to present he named Louis Gouge Sr., who said had a deputies car back then but was a constable, Roger Diamond, William Morrow, Wayne Corbine, Jim Smith, and myself.
DeBrot stated to the current, some of the law enforcement officers aren’t tribal members but from other tribes, and have Indian blood.
Others named included were Michael Villiard, Dave Aubart, James Tate, Sheryl Tate, Phillip Chuck Martin, George Morrow, Sonya Sunderland, Tiger Gouge, Mark Thayer, Joel Valentine, Janet Quaderer, Jake Bisonette, Darryl Coons Jr., Matt Guibord, Jon Klecan, Kaylee Jefferson, Susie Taylor, Henry Bearhart, Aaron DeBrot, Jim Marucha, Jalina Corbine, Wendell Jefferson, Adam Joel, Jeremy Quagon, and soon to be Victoria Lacapa.
Chief DeBrot shared some writings of his grandmother Phyllis DeBrot. She shared some of the family names that were removed from Old Post to the new village in 1923 as Denasha, DeBrot, Nickence, Thayer, Martin, Tainter, Jockey, Slater, Martell, and Belille.
She shared an old writing that stated, “What the Post Indians must have felt when the flooding happened. To be expelled from their beautiful village where their ancestors were born. Expelled from their hunting grounds which for many generations had supplied them with wildlife. Denied the last consolation that mingled their ashes with the dust of their ancestors meant an outrage they couldn’t accept.”
DeBrot read to the audience more from his grandmother’s writings.
“After the Post Indians were moved to New Post, the Reservation Indians presented them with a sacred drum. They came to Post with the drum and met in the field. The ones who brought the drum lined up on one side and the Post Indians on the opposite side. They started the drum and soon everyone joined in and danced. The drum was given to the safe keeping of two men from Post. The Indians at the time considered the drum sacred and never would leave it. I wonder what became of that drum. I never heard. Probably in some collection of non-Indians in a museum somewhere.”
She also wrote to encourage TGB and traditional leaders to protect Church Island and Pagan Island as sacred places and to mark them as historic.
“These are places where we know have burial grounds,” Phyllis wrote.