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Superior council OKs transferring burial site to Fond du Lac Band

City officials completed the final step to transfer the deed for the Wisconsin Point burial site to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

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This undated photo shows the undisturbed Wisconsin Point burial site where ancestors of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa were buried before they were disinterred in 1918 and moved to mass graves along the Nemadji River.
Contributed / Dean Hecht
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SUPERIOR — The Superior City Council took the final step Tuesday, July 19, to correct a century-old injustice.

The council approved waiving the land sale process and approving the transfer of the Wisconsin Point burial grounds to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The action will turn the deed to the burial grounds over to the Band.

The Catholic Diocese of Superior has already provided the deed to the mass gravesite adjacent to St. Francis Cemetery to the Band, said Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, who initiated the process more than a year ago.

The council committed to the Wisconsin Point transfer July 20, 2021, launching a yearlong process of working with the Band, surveyors and other interested parties to turn over deeds for both sites.

The land will be returned to the Indigenous people whose ancestors once lived on Wisconsin Point seasonally, more than a century after the U.S. Steel Company exhumed about 198 graves on Wisconsin Point and reburied them in 29 plots south of the St. Francis Cemetery. The graves were moved in 1918 to a site on the northern bank of the Nemadji River to make way for ore docks that were never built.

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“It’s a pretty disturbing story,” said Mayor Jim Paine, who noted that some of the remains have been lost to erosion of the river banks.

A celebration of the transfer is planned for 10 a.m. Aug. 18 at Black Bear Casino, 1785 Highway 210, Carlton. For tickets, visit eventbrite.com and search for “Reclamation Celebration: Returning & Protecting WI Point’s Sacred Sites.”

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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