ONAMIA, Minn. -- The Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post is located on the shores of Mille Lacs Lake in Onamia, about 100 miles north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The historical landmark sits on the reservation for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
"We're one of the few spots in the state that highlight American Indian history and culture," site manager Travis Zimmerman said.
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Visitors of the Indian Museum can read about tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and discover the Ojibwe Nation's rich history in Minnesota. The highlight is the Four Seasons Room, which is in the time period of a couple hundred years ago. The props are authentic.
"It's really nicely done, it's a life size diorama," Zimmerman said. "Then we have a beautiful airbrush painting in the background which really ties the scene in."
Next door to the museum is the Trading Post, which opened in the 1930's. It still stands and operates today. Inside visitors can purchase an assortment of items including baskets, jewelry and moccasins.
"We buy and sell a lot of handmade American Indian arts and crafts," Zimmerman said.
Harry and Jeannette Ayer originally ran the Trading Post. In 1959, the couple gave the Trading Post to the Minnesota Historical Society.
"The Ayers used to go around the United States and buy arts and crafts, then come back and sell them to customers on the shores," Zimmerman said.
Mille Lacs Lake was a major factor in the Ojibwe tribe's decision to settle in the area in the mid-1700's. There was such an abundance of fish, the tribe felt it was a prime spot to be.
"If you look at a lot of Ojibwe reservations, a lot of them are around lakes," Zimmerman said.
However they had fierce disputes over land with the Dakota Indians. The U.S. Government later stepped in, creating a border between the two tribes.
"A lot of the Mille Lacs band members didn't move, which is why they consider themselves a non-removable band," Zimmerman said.
The Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post is located at 43411 Oodena Drive, Onamia, MN. For more information visit http://www.mnhs.org/places/sites/mlim/ or call (320) 532-3632.
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Known as the "Walleye Capitol," the Mille Lacs area is home to many resorts, launch & guide services for anglers, Kathio State Park and Father Hennepin State Park. There's so much more than fishing --a casino, biking & hiking trails, golf course and a summer of festivals. Click here for more area information
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