Gidanamikaagoo Omaa Mooningwanekaaning, that means “welcome to Madeline Island” in Anishinaabe (also called Ojibwe), the native language of the Ojibwe Tribes.
According to Jordyn Flaadda, Ojibwe language translator, “Madeline Island is often called the spiritual home of the Ojibwe people, who have lived here since hundreds of years before the first arrival of European fur traders and missionaries. Madeline Island is named in English for Madeleine Cadotte (Ikwesewe), a prominent local nineteenth-century Ojibwe woman whose father was the chief Waabajijaak and whose husband was Michel Cadotte (Gichi-miishen), a fur trader of Ojibwe and French ancestry. In Ojibwe the island’s name is Mooningwanekaaning after mooningwaneg, the birds called flickers in English. Many place names in Wisconsin come from the Ojibwe language because of the Ojibwe people’s long history in the area and the use of Ojibwe as a lingua franca during the time of the fur trade. The Ojibwe language signs on Madeline Island today represent traditional place names as well as modern names for places such as the gas station and the city park, a reflection of the history and future of the Ojibwe language here on Mooningwanekaaning.”
While visiting Madeline Island you can explore Ojibwe history at the Madeline Island Museum. The museum’s American Fur Trading room exhibits beaded objects, clothing and tools used in daily life by the Ojibwe people.
Just a short walk or drive from downtown La Pointe and located off Old Fort Road (near the marina) on Chief Buffalo Lane are the Old Indian Cemetery and the Ojibwe National Prayer Pole and Memorial Park. A historical marker commemorates the site of the Old Indian Cemetery. Established in about 1836, it is the burial site of Chief Buffalo and Michel Cadotte. Please view respectfully from outside the fence. Miigwech (Thank you). The nearby Ojibwe National Prayer Pole and Memorial Park honors the enduring relationship between Ojibwe people and Madeline Island. Sacred cedar and other trees surround a peaceful pond.
Click here to watch the Native Report episode highlighting the signage project and the island’s Ojibwe heritage.