Who We Are
The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians logo is the symbol of our nation; our sovereign nation.
The design represents many things.
The shape of the upper and lower Red Lake has been our trademark due to its unique shape and what it means to us: fresh water and food (walleye).
The circle represents the powerful “circle of life” for ours and countless other tribes. Unity without end.
The trees mark our dependence on them for shelter, transportation, warmth and many feelings of belonging to the land.
The feather of the eagle is also a powerful symbol to our tribe.
The eagle’s heartbeat is echoed in the drum beat of practically all tribes.
The clan symbols from left to right are the bear, turtle, bullhead (fish), mink, eagle, pine martin (sable) and the kingfisher.
The Red Lake Indian Reservation is located in northern Minnesota counties of Beltrami and Clearwater, approximately 30 miles north of Bemidji.
There are four districts within the reservation which include Red Lake, Redby, Ponemah and Little Rock. Tribal headquarters are located in Red Lake. During the French period of the fur trade, the Dakota had a major village in Red lake. It was around 1796 that the Ojibwa settled along with the British Northwest Co. and a fur trading post was established in 1806.
The Red Lake Band, through treaties and agreements in 1863 (amended in 1864), 1889, 1892, 1904, and 1905, gave up land but never ceded the main reservation surrounding the Lower Red lake and a portion of Upper Red Lake. This unceded land is spoken of as the “diminished” reservation and “aboriginal” land. It is 407,730 acres.
In addition, there are 283,840 acres of surface water area on both the lakes. 236,083 acres are managed by the tribe. Tribal leadership during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s skillfully resisted allotment legislation and held the land intact for the tribe as a whole. Today, the tribe’s Independence Day, July sixth, is in honor of the courage of their chiefs in resisting allotment during the negotiations of the 1889 Nelson Act.
The tribal government has full sovereignty over the reservation, subject only to federal legislation specifically intended to deal with Red Lake, which makes it a “closed” reservation.
Only one other tribe in the United States resisted allotment, the Warm Springs Tribe in Oregon. The Tribe has the right to limit who can live on, or visit the reservation. It has never been subject to state law.
Land that had been ceded but not sold was returned after 1934, this restored land amounted to 156,696 acres, it includes 70% of the Northwest Angle of Minnesota and land scattered between the reservation and the Canadian border.
The reservation completely surrounds Lower Red Lake, the state’s largest lake, and includes a major portion of Upper Red Lake.
The total land area, controlled by the Tribe, 846,538 acres, is about the size of Rhode Island. The land is slightly rolling and heavily wooded with 428,560 acres of commercial forestland under management. There are lakes, swamps, peat bogs and prairies with some land on the western side suitable for farming.