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Remembering One of Our Most Respected Elders

Editor’s Note: Tribal member Jan Lynn Richter shared this on her Facebook page this week. The following was taken from her post.

James W "Pipe Omaascoosh" Mustache

Birth: Nov. 18, 1904

Death: Apr. 10, 1992

Sawyer County Record April 15, 1992

LCO elder "Pipe" Mustache Dies

Prominent Lac Courte Oreilles elder James "Pipe" Mustache, Sr. died Saturday, April 11, leaving a legacy as one of the tribe's last true carriers of Ojibway tradition and high ceremonial oratory.

Born in a wigwam on the LCO reservation at the turn of the century, possibly on Nov. 18, 1904, though friends and relatives still debate the precise date, "Pipe" was well-known throughout the Great Lakes Region for his assistance in conducting traditional Ojibway ceremonies.

He was a third-degree member of the Grand Medicine Lodge, served in several positions within the Great Lakes Big Drum Society, and as a young man was officially adopted into the Winnebago Nation, Blackdeer Clan.

Having conducted literally thousands of ceremonies ranging from funerals, Ojibway name-givings, marriages, presentations of Eagle Feathers, feasts, and other traditional activities, he was most well-known by the general public for his role as a conductor of many events at Hayward's Old Historyland, Telemark Lodge, and the Honor the Earth Pow Wow.

His photo, taken with traditional garb and headdress, was featured prominently on many post cards and in informational brochures of the Hayward Lakes region.

He is survived by one son, James Mustache, Jr., Hayward; one sister, Lucy Begay, Hayward; 12 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by three brothers, Edward "Cheetum", Leonard, and John Mustache; two sisters, Maggie DeNasha and Marie Mustache; three nephews; and a niece.

Services and visitation were held late Monday afternoon, April 13, and with an evening feast and traditional wake held at the LCO Tribal Office, Reserve. Funeral rites began at 11 A.M. Tuesday at the LCO Tribal Office and included a noon feast, followed by burial at the Historyland Indian Cemetery in Hayward. Balsam Lake elder Archy Mosay officiated.

Casketbearers included members of the Badger Singers, Bill Cadotte, Paul Demain, Stony Larson, Jim Miller, Jerry Smith, and Donald White.


James "Pipe" Mustache was a well-known spiritual leader of Lac Courte Oreilles. His roots were from Chief Lake although he was born near the Billyboy Dam in 1903. His father was Antoine Mustache, brother of John Scott Mustache, and his mother was Maggie Martin. She died when he was two years old and then lived with his maternal grandparents in Reserve. After his grandfather died, his grandmother remarried John Mink and the family lived in Signor.

In 1983 he wrote "My Early Childhood (Memories)" for the celebration of his 80th birthday. The LCO Tribe and the State of Wisconsin proclaimed the day to be the "James Pipe Mustache Day". In his memoirs he states that his grandmother and "second grandfather" were both strict spiritual teachers who taught him the important ceremonies that he used throughout his life. He died in 1992.

(Source: History Comes Alive! Volume II Published by LCO College Community Library in 2008)

Family links:


Antoine Mustache (1877 - 1934)


James Mustache (1927 - 2002)*


James W Mustache (1904 - 1992)

Edward Mustache (1909 - 1969)*

*Calculated relationship


Historyland Cemetery


Sawyer County

Wisconsin, USA

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