Lac du Flambeau Tribe History
The Band has inhabited the Lac du Flambeau area since 1745 when Chief Keeshkemun led the Band to the area. The Band acquired the name Lac du Flambeau from its gathering practice of harvesting fish at night by torchlight. The name Lac du Flambeau, or Lake of the Torches, refers to this practice and was given to the Band by the French traders and trappers who visited the area.
The Lac du Flambeau Reservation was officially established by treaties in 1837 and 1842. The area was continually logged in the following years and became a tourist destination for families from southern Wisconsin and Illinois around the turn of the century.
To increase economic activity and foster self-reliance among the various Native American communities, the Tribe began bingo and casino operations. Revenues generated by the casino operations go to the Tribe and directly benefit the economic and social development of the community. The Lake of the Torches Resort Casino has enhanced both the economy of the Lakeland area and provides public services to residents in Lac du Flambeau.
DID YOU KNOW - Lac du Flambeau is the location of the sacred Strawberry Island ("the place of the little people"), a site recognized by the National Register of Historical Places. This island is the place where the last battle between the Sioux and the Ojibwe was fought in 1745. In 1966, the island was identified through an archeological survey as a place with artifacts and remains dating back to 200 B.C.
The Lac du Flambeau Reservation has 260 lakes, 65 miles of streams, lakes and rivers, and 24,000 acres of wetlands. The lakes and other waterways are regularly restocked by the Tribal Fish Hatchery with over 200,000 fish per year. Over the last 30 years the Tribal Fish Hatchery has restocked the lakes with well over 415 million walleye.
The world's largest sturgeon to be speared was hauled in on the shores of Lac du Flambeau's Pokegama Lake. It measured 7 feet and 1 inch, weighed 195 pounds and was 40 inches around. This world record fish is located in the George W. Brown, Jr. Ojibwe Museum & Cultural Center.
Lac du Flambeau's Famous Eagle - A Civil War Legend
The most famous bird in American history came from the Waswagoning area, now known as the Lac du Flambeau Indian Reservation. In 1861, the Lac du Flambeau Indians were on their annual spring expedition into the maple sugar bush of the northern forests. Chief Sky, the son of Chief Thunder-of-Bees, encountered two baby eaglets way up atop the pines and took them down. As the people traveled down river they came upon the home of Dan McCann to whom they gave the baby eaglet who would one day become the famous "Old Abe."
McCann cared for the eagle until it became older and decided to present the special eagle to the Union soldiers of Wisconsin. McCann presented Old Abe to the 8th Wisconsin Regiment at Eau Claire. After accepting the eagle, the company changed their names from the Badgers to the War Eagles, and Old Abe served as their mascot for many years.
As a part of the War Eagle Company, Old Abe became more famous each day and provided a great source of pride to the men of the Wisconsin 8th. Abe was carried into battle on a perch in the same way as the American Flag. He withstood battles in Wisconsin, Illinois, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. After the war ended, Old Abe traveled across the country and attended national conventions, centennial celebrations and many major events. Abe rested in his home in Madison, Wisconsin, at the end of his life and actually resided in the Capitol building.
In recent years, Abe has been awarded honors by the U.S. government and military service. In 1999, 8th Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry re-dedicated the Old Abe statue in Jim's Falls, WI, along with a 20-mile trail in that area in his name. This famous bird, born in the beautiful north country of Lac du Flambeau, an area still abundant in eagles, was found by Chief Sky, and then spent his life with the brave soldiers and historical leaders of the United States.