Discover the site of a pre-European Native American settlement and permanent area headquarters where Ojibwe bands congregated. Wooden burial structures protect and mark graves of these ancient bands. When Chief Edwards moved towards Lac Vieux Desert in 1891, he disposed of these lands with their traditional burial grounds. The county purchased the land in 1924 to develop a park on the beautiful shores of Chicaugon Lake and to preserve the burial grounds as a tribute to Native Americans.
The Ojibwe or Anishinaabe, are also called Chippewa. They lived in various places throughout the area according to seasonal food source cycles.
Local Indians were linked by marriage and culture to those at L'Anse, Lac Vieux Desert and nearby Wisconsin.
In Iron County the main village was located at the present park site on the southeastern shore of Gaa-namegosikaag, today known as Chicagon Lake. Chicagon is a corrupted form of the Ojibwe word gichi-zaaga'igan, meaning the big lake.
It was here that the first European settlers met the Ojibwe Headman Meshkawaanagonebi, better known to the area residents as Chief John Edwards. This park is named in honor of his wife, Biindigeyaasinokwe, shortened to Biindige and mispronounced by newcomers as Pentoga.
The local tribesmen were peaceful
in their relations with the settlers and made regular trading visits to the new mining towns to secure provisions and sell their venison, blueberries and moccasins.
With the development of the iron mines, the Indians began to disperse to more isolated areas. In 1891 Chief Edwards disposed of the village lands and eventually settled at Lac Vieux Desert.
There are still descendants of Chief Edwards and Pentoga living in this area.
The Jiibegamigoon, an Ojibwe burial ground is located here at Pentoga Park. In 1924 when the park was purchased, only five of the original wooden huts of the burial ground remained standing. The cemetery was located on the Badwater-Chicagon Lake Trail and was surrounded by a brush fence.
After death the Ojibwe's body was clothed in his finest clothes, wrapped in birch bark together with his earthly belongings and most prized possessions and buried.
A small shelter was built over the grave for protection against the elements and from animals digging up the body. Through the small opening on one end of the shelter, food was placed to sustain the Ojibwe soul on its way to the hereafter. On a small staff near each grave was placed the family totem.
The Ojibwe placed the home of the soul in Bangishimog, in the direction of the west where it meets those who have gone before. Thus, the Anishinaabe
always buried their loved ones facing the setting sun.