The unwritten history of the country surrounding the present
site of Duluth dating back over 300 years, shows the country in
possession of the Sioux tribe with their leading village located
at the foot of the rapids of the St. Louis river near the mouth
of Mission creek. This spot was then known as Na-ga tche-wa-nang
(no more current) was covered with the tepees of the Sioux braves
and was the abiding place of the women and children of their tribe.
About the last of the sixteenth century found the Chippewa's,
another powerful band making excursions into this territory in search
of game. This roiled the ire of the Sioux and many a battle waged
between the two nations over the fights to these hunting grounds.
Hundreds of skeletons lie buried in the sand along the mouth of
the river or repose at the bottom of the numerous marshes in its
vicinity as evidence of the bitter warfare that raged for many years
in this region. Evidently the Chippewas were successful in dislodging
their enemy and securing comparative peaceful possession of the
territory surrounding the head of the lakes. They at once fixed
upon the present site of Fond du Lac for their central village,
retaining the name given it by the Sioux (Na-ga-tche-wa-nang). Many
a time did the ousted Dakota attempt to regain possession of this
beautiful garden spot of Minnesota and as many times did they fail.
As late as 1850, after this valley had been settled by the whites,
the Sioux made determined effort to regain their old home, but were
successfully checked within five miles of here by the Chippewas
When Na-ga-tche-wa-nang or Fond du Lac, as it was afterward
called, was first inhabited by the Chippewa's they were under the
guidance of Chief Cutche-wau-be-shis (Big Martin) who was believed
by his followers to bear a charmed life, being impervious to the
bullets of his foes. It was farther their belief that should a woman
ever look upon him while engaged in battle this charm would disappear
and it was a custom for the women to hide their heads when he rallied
forth to battle. The demise of this chief was in keeping with the
superstition as the traditions of the tribe show. Here is the story
recited by a descendant of the tribe and could the reader have seen
the flashing eyes, "the rapid play of emotions upon his features,"
with which the tale was told with a mixture of English, French and
Indian, would never have failed to credit the sincerity of the speaker's
"After the Sioux has been effectually routed from their position
at the head of the lakes and driven to the prairie country west
and comparative peace resigned, Cu-tche-wan-be-shish accompanied
by one of his braves and his wife, repaired to Sandy lake near the
Mississippi river in search of game. The chief had been indisposed
for several days and contented himself with reclining in his tepee
while the woman and brave searched for game. Suddenly the chief
was attacked by 300 Sioux braves. Sick though he was, he succeeded
in killing a majority of the attacking party when the woman, attracted
by the noise, suddenly came upon the scene. No sooner did she set
eyes upon the chief than a Sioux lance pierced his side."
This story is religiously believed by the descendants of that
great chief. The next recognized chief was Ne-ne-we (man) who was
soon succeeded by Shing-gub (Balsam).
Information from the Internet
I use Ancestry for my research but rarely browse around looking
for information. Don't know why I did this time but I found some
information on a site called Chevalier Team Van Rens/McGavock.
On page 3 of this site was some information on Big Martin and that
he died at Elk River in 1773. The above legend said he died at Sandy
Lake and two other sources say he died at Elk River.
The Father dies in 1773 and the son has a Similar Name but it
is Spelled Differently The internet information also revealed that
in 1827 there was a Treaty with the Chippewas, Menominees, and Winnebagos
and that Gitshee Waubeshass was a descendant of Ke-chewaub-ish-ashe.
The Book Aborigines of Minnesota
This book shows the name of Ke-che-wa-be-ches, Big Martin,
Chief defeated by the Dakota at a battle at Knife Lake in 1793.
This book shows the name of Ke-che-waub-ish-ash, Big Martin who
signed the Treaty of Fond du Lac, 1847.
The Book Tour of the Lakes by McKenney
It is about the Treaty of 1826 that was signed at the old Village
of Fond du Lac.
This book shows that Gitshee Waubeeshaans from Lac du Flambeau signed
this treaty in 1826. The Great Father in Washington wanted peace
between the Chippewa and Sioux and a boundary line to be set. The
mineral copper was also wanted.
Gitshee Waubeeshans (Big Martin) also spoke to the Commissioners
on August 3, 1826.
This is part of what he said,
"Fathers,--When I heard of your coming, I thought your hands
were not empty. I expected to find something in them for your children.
I live away from the waters. There is no road for my father to travel
on to see me. I hear of him, as he passes my cabin, on the right
hand and the left; but I do not see him. With more reason, therefore,
do my young men think, that now they will not stretch out their
hands in a cold night in vain. They are poor. They are not like
my fathers. You, Fathers, travel in a full canoe. Your young men
always see enough before them. But my canoe, Fathers is empty. Even
my women and children, whom I have left in my cabin, are naked and
The Great Spirit has helped you make for yourselves fire arms.
We ask for some. We have none.
I hope the line, as marked out, will not be altered. The Menomonies
and I smoked together. So shall I be able to give them some of your
tobacco to smoke.
Treaty with the Chippewa 1854
This shows the name of Keche-waw-be-shay-she or The Big Marten
as 2d Chief at Lac Court Oreille.
Ogima Biauswah - Duluth News Tribune of 10-18-1933
He was a mighty warrior. When age crept upon him he became a civil
and peace chief. For his place as war chief he selected Ke-che-waub-ish-ash,
a doughty fighter who fell in battle far down on the Mississippi
at Elk River, covered with the scars of a hundred fights.