Bilingual Sign Project

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 St. Joseph Mission Cemetery (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.

Watch the Native Report episode highlighting the signage project and the island’s Ojibwe heritage.

For more information on the Lake Superior Band of Chippewa Indians, please visit the following website:
Native American Tourism of Wisconsin

Links of Interest:
Museum of Ojibwa Culture & Father Marquette Mission Park (St. Ignance, MI)

Forts Folle Avoine Historical Park – Ojibwe Village (Danbury, WI)
 George W. Brown Jr. Ojibwe Museum & Cultural Center( Lac du Flambeau, WI)

House Breaks Through Ice

On Wednesday, March 2, 1977 a ten ton truck hauling a 20 ton trailer and townhouse over a freshly plowed ice road broke through 16 inches of ice. It happened only 1 mile from its destination near the Pub on Madeline Island. The story made international news.

The following stories appeared in the Island Gazette:

Eldorado Takes a Plunge

Island Gazette, Madeline Island In Lake Superior
From: Vol. 47 No. 5 June 21 – August 3, 2010 (Reprint from April 1982)

Woody Petersen’s Eldorado Takes A Plunge

Frank Woods “Woody” Petersen of Omaha, Nebraska and the island has placed himself (involuntarily) in the Island “Ice crossing Hall of Fame”, and has done it in the grand manner.  He somehow managed to put his 1978 Custom Eldorado Cadillac Convertible, reportedly valued at about $30,000 through the ice and a long way down to the bottom of Lake Superior –about 170 ft.

On the 29th, the crossing was not at its best (and this year even the best was not good) although there had been some travel. Arnie Nelson and John Prittie had been over and back and then there was Woody, who went over, and “down”.

Woody left Bayfield about 1 A.M., heading for an unusually dark Island, as apparently the lights at both the O’Brien and the Griggs approaches were out. The Griggs approach, about ½ mile further North, had just been opened for use as the more commonly used O’Brien approach had deteriorated badly.

It was pretty much a “pick your own road” situation, and as Woody was traveling somewhat hurriedly and concentrating on evasive action where it became necessary, he veered quite a bit too far North, heading almost directly for Leona’s — which wouldn’t have been open if he’d have made it.

About half-way, the big Caddy met her match and became mired in the death grip of a Lake Superior slush hole.  As water began running in on the floor, Woody decided it was time to get out and call a taxi.  Unfortunately they are pretty scarce out there – so he had to walk about a mile and a half through slush to the Island, and then another quarter mile to his house.

It has been reported that before leaving Bayfield he told someone to send out the Marines if he hadn’t arrived by a certain time, which he hadn’t, and his first question was where were the marines.  His next, by telephone to Arnie Nelson, was what time in the morning could he get the car unstuck.

However, when Arnie and Tommy Nelson went out early next morning in the windsled, all they found was a set of tire tracks ending abruptly, and a very big hole.  They told Woody he was stuck a little deeper than he thought and they would need a very long rope.

Word spread quickly, and pretty much halted all car travel, even tho’ Woody had been North of the road.  He wasn’t quite the last car across, but he was the last one half-way across.

Roy “Cigar” Nelson had quickly marked the spot with an ice buoy, as recovery attempts would have to wait until the ice was gone.  However, it was hoped they could locate the car and get a line on it because the current and the murky bottom might make it more difficult later.

Divers were sent down, but at 130 ft. their regulators were freezing, and they hadn’t reached bottom.  It now appeared that the infamous Caddy was resting much deeper than it was first thought.  When Woody hits bottom he goes all the way.

Attempts were also made to locate the car by grappling, hoping to luck out and catch on some part of the vehicle, with no luck. Now that the ice has gone, they will try again from the Nelson Construction barge, and with the aid of divers, hopefully they will fish out the elusive Eldorado. Woody is not the first to drop a car through, although we try not to make a practice of it. He will, however, probably go down in the records as having sunk the most expensive the deepest.

Island Gazette, Madeline Island In Lake Superior
Evan Erickson, Publisher / Waggie Erickson, Editor
Subscription: $20/year
PO Box 400, La Pointe, WI 54850 or [email protected]