*Specific dates, names and occurrences have historical accuracy according to Britannica Encylopedia. However, this piece is a work of creativity, and many of the described events are fictional. The year is 1679.
This land is the stomping ground of the Anishinaabe, a local American Indian tribe that has called this region home for over 500 years. A cool breeze whispers over a vast body of water, creating a steady ripple on its otherwise calm surface. It is late autumn; the pine tree needles are turning brown, the deciduous leaves falling from their branches. In the distance, a loon vanishes underwater. As it surfaces, it lets out an eerie, warnful wail that echoes across the lake, almost immediately met by fellow cries from nearby loons.
The Arrival of Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut
He was determined to arrive before dusk. The men had been traveling for weeks without comfortable rest, only stopping periodically to eat what few rations they had left and to briefly close their exhausted eyes. As with most adventures, this journey had a goal. With strict orders from King Louis XIV of France, the group of men were voyaging from Montreal to the Lake Superior region (natively known as Fon du Lac) in search of a truce between themselves and the surrounding American Indian tribes.
The September breeze chilled the tips of their noses as they walked the final steps of a 1,000-mile long journey. No one spoke as they reached the peak of a rather ominous hill. The men had finally arrived at their destination. They exchanged looks of shock and awe as they scanned the overlooking terrain. Placed perfectly against a jagged horizon line, all the men could see was water. Miles upon miles of shoreline kissed the edges of the massive lake, the wrinkling of tiny waves pushing against the rocky shore. It was total serenity.
Little did they know, this land would soon be named after the leader of their voyage, Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut.
Fallen branches cracked and leaves crunched under the heavy footing of the group of men. Three Native American men had taken the journey with Greysolon and the other Frenchmen, helping them to communicate with the Indian tribes as the foreigners entered into their homeland.
At this time, the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), Dakota, and Cree tribes were all native to the Fon du Lac region. However, the Dakota tribe had long been at war with the others, constantly in competition over ownership and usage of the land.
Greysolon cracked his knuckles as he rubbed his rough hands over the steady flame of campfire. His thoughts were projected aloud, so as to include any of the other men’s opinions about how to approach the Indian tribes. He had heard rumors about the war between them, and needed a strategic plan to unite them in order to help the French.
The following excerpt was taken from Greysolon’s journal:
“On September 15, having arranged for the Assiniboins (Anishinaabe) as well as all the other nations of the north to meet at the head of Lake Superior in order to make peace with the Dakotas, their common enemy, they all did come, and I had the good fortune of gaining their esteem and friendship; and, so that peace among them would last longer, I thought I could not cement it better than by arranging the reciprocal marriages between nations, which I could not accomplish without much expense. The following winter, I had them get together in the woods, where I was staying, so they could hunt and feast together, and thus establish closer bonds of friendship.”
One by one, the chief of each tribe, followed by other prominent members of the people stepped out of the forest. The wind held it’s breath as they marched into the center of a clearing, their eyes scanning the area steadily, their mouths tense with indecision.
The Frenchmen stood unthreateningly in the middle of the clearing – Greysolon slightly ahead of the other men. One of the voyage’s Indian men stood close to Greysolon, ready to interpret the ideas and opinions of the tribal chiefs. They formed a half circle around the Frenchmen, their heads held high as they prepared to listen to the foreigner’s proposition. Greysolon explained his motives; a truce amongst the tribes native in the area, along with a trade agreement between their tribes and France.
The chiefs pondered the pros and cons of each hypothetical instance for many months, as Greysolon periodically entered their lands in a peaceful manner to further establish his trustworthiness. Finally, after much anxiety, they had made their decisions. All of the tribes, including the Dakota, the common enemy of the others, agreed to the terms of the trade agreement and maintaining harmony amongst each other.
As the good news spread, celebration broke out in the Frenchmen’s camp. Songs of triumph and goodwill were bellowed into the night over a raging fire as Greysolon began the next step of the plan.
Within 3 years, the tribes were conducting trades hundreds of miles from the Fon du Lac region. They remained peaceful, in accordance to Greysolon’s agreement, until 1736 when war broke out been the Anishinaabe and Dakota tribes. By this time, the ‘Duluth’ territory was home to many French fur-trading posts, and soon would become a landmark as a booming trade industry town.
As for Greysolon, his legacy is preserved in the city name he had a hand in making successful: Duluth.