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They Would Not Be Moved

They Would Not Be Moved

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The Enduring Struggle of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to Keep Their Reservation

By Bruce White, forward by Melanie Benjamin

Minnesota Historical Society Press (October 2024)

An 1855 treaty set aside thousands of acres to be the permanent home of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, but in order for members to hold this land it required resolute actions and unwavering commitment. This important volume details how an Indigenous community repeatedly stood up for itself and won against overbearing pressures across decades. 

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, known as “the non-removeable band,” remained steadfast in the face of challenges to the Treaty of 1855, which granted them 61,000 acres of land along the south shore of Lake Mille Lacs for their use indefinitely. Soon Euro-American entrepreneurs encroached on these rights and encouraged Ojibwe families to move elsewhere, but Mille Lacs Band members held firm. They Would Not Be Moved traces the history of a people defending their rights through decades of opposition to their sovereignty and their stewardship. Loggers and settlers claimed parcels, taking advantage of lax governmental oversight. Neighbors may have wished away the Mille Lacs Reservation, but historical maps, contemporary newspaper accounts, and congressional declarations make clear the reservation was never dissolved. 

Bruce White opens this essential history with oral traditions of the people at home on the land. He interprets treaty negotiations to outline how each side understood the signed agreements. Local newspapers show that some nearby communities supported the Mille Lacs people, and family narratives relate the challenges and successes of those who stayed to defend their rights. Ultimately, the story of the Mille Lacs Reservation is one of triumph—of courage and survival and successful resistance.

Author Information

Melanie Benjamin is chief executive of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

Bruce White has dedicated more than four decades to researching Native history in Minnesota and North America. His books include We Are at Home: Pictures of the Ojibwe People and, with Gwen Westerman, Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota. He has authored expert reports used in court cases testing treaties and the application of laws relating to Native people. His expert report in the 1994 Mille Lacs hunting and fishing case was quoted by Sandra Day O'Connor in her 1999 majority opinion upholding the rights of the Mille Lacs Band to hunt and fish in the ceded area of the Treaty of 1837. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

  • Paperback
  • 320 pages
  • 20 b&w photos, 25 maps
  • 9 in H | 6 in W
  • ISBN: 9781681342962

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