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The Assassination of Hole in the Day

The Assassination of Hole in the Day

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Author Anton Treuer

Minnesota Historical Society Press (August 1, 2011)

Explores the murder of the controversial Ojibwe chief who led his people through the first difficult years of dispossession by white invaders—and created a new kind of leadership for the Ojibwe.


On June 27, 1868, Hole in the Day (Bagonegiizhig) the Younger left Crow Wing, Minnesota, for Washington, DC, to fight the planned removal of the Mississippi Ojibwe to a reservation at White Earth. Several miles from his home, the self-styled leader of all the Ojibwe was stopped by at least twelve Ojibwe men and fatally shot.

Hole in the Day’s death was national news, and rumors of its cause were many: personal jealousy, retribution for his claiming to be head chief of the Ojibwe, retaliation for the attacks he fomented in 1862, or retribution for his attempts to keep mixed-blood Ojibwe off the White Earth Reservation. Still later, investigators found evidence of a more disturbing plot involving some of his closest colleagues: the business elite at Crow Wing.

While most historians concentrate on the Ojibwe relationship with whites to explain this story, Anton Treuer focuses on interactions with other tribes, the role of Ojibwe culture and tradition, and interviews with more than fifty elders to further explain the events leading up to the death of Hole in the Day. The Assassination of Hole in the Day is not only the biography of a powerful leader but an extraordinarily insightful analysis of a pivotal time in the history of the Ojibwe people.

Author information

Anton Treuer, professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, is the author of Everything You Wanted to Know about Indians but Were Afraid to Ask and fourteen other books on Indigenous history and language.

More MNHS Press books by Anton Treuer

Reviews and news

Headed to Hollywood!
Minnesota Brown

Anishinabek News

Praise for The Assassination of Hole in the Day:

“An essential study of nineteenth-century Ojibwe leadership and an important contribution to the field of American Indian Studies by an author of extraordinary knowledge and talent. Treuer’s work is infused with a powerful command over Ojibwe culture and linguistics.”
Ned Blackhawk, author of Violence Over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West

The Assassination of Hole in the Day is a masterful history, and more. Anton Treuer illuminates the character of a controversial and charismatic Ojibwe leader from within Ojibwe culture, and tells a powerful story of loss that reverberates in the present.”
Louise Erdrich

“This is more than a murder mystery. It provides insights into the evolution of clan structure, tribal governance and relations with the Dakota and other tribes since the time a century and a half ago when white pressure, the declining fur trade and other factors led to the cession of great tracts of land and the people’s removal to reservations.”
Star Tribune

“This highly recommended work provides insights into the challenges faced by native peoples during an era when they were under intense pressure by the federal government to move to reservations.”
Library Journal

“Treuer explores the life and death of this brash young leader, and delves into tribal history and the intricate machinations of Ojibwa politics.”

  • This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
  • 320 pages
  • 20 b&w photographs, notes, index, appendix, bibliography
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • ISBN: 9780873518437

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