Historical Highlights

  • 1730s First Ojibwe group to establish a power base west of the Mississippi River. Major force in Ojibwe conquest of the Dakota Sioux.

  • 1782 The village of Sandy Lake became nearly depopulated by the ravages of smallpox. The Band gradually recovered their former strength and numbers through accessions from the villages of their people located on Lake Superior.

  • 1794 Establishment of British Northwest Company trading post at Sandy Lake.

  • 1800s The ill-fated village of Sandy Lake again received a severe blow due to the implacable hatred of the Dakota which cut off its inhabitants nearly to a man at Cross Lake as they were trekking back to their village in the spring.

  • Treaty of 1825

  • Treaty of 1826

  • 1826 American Fur Company post built at Sandy Lake.

  • 1831 Mission School established at Sandy Lake by Frederick Ayer and wife, the first school in what is now the state of Minnesota.

  • Treaty of 1837

  • Treaty of 1842

  • Treaty of 1847

  • 1850 U.S. Indian Department Established a sub-agency at Sandy Lake.

  • 1850 territorial governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs in Minnesota, Alexander Ramsey, along with other officials pressured U.S. President Zachary Taylor to issue an Executive Order to remove Ojibwe from LaPointe on Madeline Island to Sandy Lake to receive their annuities by early autumn. More than 5,500 Ojibwe journeyed to Sandy Lake and arrived fatigued and hungry after the arduous journey only to find no one there to distribute the supplies. Wild game was scarce, fishing was poor, and high water had wiped out the local wild rice crop for the second consecutive year. For the weary travelers and those Ojibwe who resided at Sandy Lake, living conditions deteriorated rapidly. Over a six-week period 150 died at Sandy Lake from complications caused by dysentery and the measles. A partial annuity payment was made on December 2 with meager three day food supply caused most Ojibwe to break camp and walk back to their villages in Wisconsin. Another 250 Ojibwe died on that bitter trail.

  • 1855 Original Sandy Lake Indian Reservation created by treaty.

  • 1864 Article 12 of the Treaty of 1864 deemed “that those of the tribe residing on the Sandy Lake Reservation shall not be removed until the President shall so direct”.

  • 1886 Northwest Indian Commission came to meet with Sandy Lake Indians.

  • 1889 U.S. Indian Commission and Henry Rice Travelled to Sandy Lake and Kimberly, MN to hold five councils with the Sandy Lake Band.

  • 1915 March 4, 1915, 32.35-acre Sandy Lake Indian Reservation established on Sandy Lake by Executive Order of President Woodrow Wilson upon recommendation of the Interior Secretary.

  • 1934 Post Indian Reorganization Act - Without care for culture and history and apparently for administrative convenience, the U.S. Government included the Sandy Lake Band in the realm of the Mille Lacs Band government. Monroe Skinaway Sr and John Skinaway Jr. are appointed to represent Sandy Lake. Tom Skinaway, is delegated to represent Mille Lacs Band on the newly created Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Executive Committee.


Tom Skinaway was the son of Niizhogahbo of Mille Lacs Band who was listed on the 1889 Nelson Act Rolls at Mille Lacs. They were later removed to White Earth. Tom was later delegated to represent Mille Lacs Band on the newly created Minnesota Chippewa Tribe in 1934 but the day prior to scheduled meeting the Mille Lacs delegation ousted Skinaway stating he was not a Mille Lacs Band member.

Historical Determination

  • 1937 J.S Monk, Acting Superintendent, Consolidated Chippewa Agency, Cass Lake, sends letter to Department of Interior requesting lands for non-enrolled Mille Lacs Indians at Sandy Lake and East Lake stating, ‘Owing to their peculiar situation living by themselves away from the White Earth Reservation on which they are enrolled and not belonging to the Mille Lacs Band they are isolated, and it appears that the funds allotted for purchase of land within the White Earth Reservation and from the Mille Lacs Chippewa do not apply to these people. This office is in sympathy with them and favor acquiring land where they are living and have been living for so many years that they have become attached to this territory where they pickup odd jobs now and then and are acquainted there to the extent that they do not desire to move away.’ Acting Superintendent ends stating, ‘I do not believe these Indians will cease to write about this matter or will be satisfied until some definite plan for them is made or decided upon.’

  • 1940 147-acre Sandy Lake Indian Reservation was established for the Sandy Lake people via purchase by the Interior Department from the fund “Acquisition of Land for Indian Tribes.”

  • 1941 April 10, 1941, Monroe Skinaway, Sandy Lake representative writes F.J Scott, Superintendent, Consolidated Chippewa Agency, Cass Lake, requesting lot surveys to be completed on acquired reservation lands. He also requests road projects and well drilling.

  • 1954 June 14, 1954, Sandy Lake Local Council, chaired by George Skinaway, met to sell timber on the reservation in order to repair community water pump at Sandy Lake.

  • 1979 Clifford Skinaway, Sandy Lake Band community leader began study and work toward restoration of federal recognition status of the historic Sandy Lake Band.

  • 1984 On March 17, 1984, Sandy Lake Local Council was re-established with Clifford Skinaway elected as Chairman, Melvin Skinaway as Executive Director, and Charles Durant as Secretary/Treasurer. A letter was sent to Mille Lacs Chairman Art Gahbow and Mille Lacs Reservation Business Committee. It was due to the need for more representation in the Sandy Lake area, due to the Sandy Lake area being left out of any economic development and housing.

  • 1988 On June 7, 1988, the Bureau of Indian Affairs Branch of Acknowledgement and Research, received a petition requesting “recognition of the Sandy Lake Reservation” under 25 C.F.R. Part 83.

  • 1990 August 13, 1990, Mille Lacs Band files federal lawsuit to exercise treaty rights under the 1837 Treaty.

  • 1990 August 24, 1990, Clifford Skinaway Sr, files intervention on behalf of the Sandy Lake Band to recognized the treaty rights of the Sandy Lake Band in the Mille Lacs Band 1837 Treaty lawsuit.

  • 1991 September 10, 1991, a petition was submitted from the Sandy Lake Band requesting a Secretarial election to accept or reject the application of the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act of June 18, 1934, to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

  • 1992 March 10, 1992, the Aitkin County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution in support of the Sandy Lake Band as a governmental entity to be established as a tribe in a reservation, separate and apart from all other Ojibwe bands in Minnesota.

  • 1992 Minnesota State Department of Natural Resources considers state legislation to settle the 1837 Treaty litigation with the Mille Lacs Band.

1837 Treaty Litigation

On March 2, 1993, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe allowed a tribal vote to approve a settlement offer with the State of Minnesota not to exercise their treaty rights. The vote passed 200 for and 134 against. Sandy Lake Band member and Minnesota Chippewa Tribal members rallied during this time in opposition to the obvious sellout of the 1837 Treaty Rights. The Settlement passed the Minnesota State Senate but failed in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

1837 Treaty Litigation cont.

On March 12, 1993, Chief Clifford Skinaway Sr., aka Chief Hole in the Day VII, testified before the State of Minnesota Senate Environment Natural Resource Committee against the proposed negotiated 1837 treaty settlement S.F 220 to settle the Mille Lacs Band’s hunting and fishing rights lawsuit against the state of Minnesota.

On July 5, 1995 Chief Clifford Skinaway Sr., passed away. Due to the extreme political pressure of the Mille Lacs Band and the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, he was unable to restore federal recognition in his lifetime. Sandy Lake Band members continue these efforts today.

Sandy Lake Band of Mississippi Chippewa

P.O Box , McGregor, MN 55760

218.760.1395.  Email: jmskinaway-lawrence@sandylakeband.com

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