Who are you?

The Chequamegon History website was started in March 2013 by Leo Filipczak, then writing under the pseudonym “Phil Liutas.”  Leo has a B.S. in History and Social Studies Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but is a teacher, not a professional historian. He was born, raised, and has lived all but five years of his life within twenty miles of Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Growing up, Leo had a strong interest in history but had little sense of how much history had happened right under his feet.  Once he realized that the written records (and that’s not even including ethnographies and oral history) stretched back 350 years, he was hooked.  Noticing how many mistakes and misconceptions are in many of the books about our area, it became a goal of his to root them out.  In the process, he developed a love of the “treasure hunting” aspect of research into primary sources. Chequamegon History began as hobby and a way for Leo to let out all the stories that constantly crowd his mind and drive him crazy.  All of the articles written in 2013 and 2014 are by Leo, and while his posting has slowed, he is still very much involved.

In January 2015, Amorin Mello, (aka the Iron Mosquito) joined as an author.  Amorin’s research was key to the academic team that uncovered the story of fraudulent land claims in the Gogebic Iron Range after the Treaty of 1854.


What’s a “Chequamegon”

Chequamegon refers to a skinny spit of land called Long Island near Ashland, Wisconsin.  It comes from an Ojibwe word that I’ve seen spelled and translated different ways:  Shaagawaamikong, Jaagiwaamikong, Zaagiwamikong (historically Shag-u-waum-i-kong, etc.).  My favorite translation of it is “soft beaver dam,” referring to a traditional Ojibwe story of its origin.  I don’t know whether this translation is more or less correct than others.

The French called the place La Pointe Cheguamigon, though “La Pointe” later came to refer to the village on nearby Madeline Island.  The Chequamegon spelling is misleading because you don’t pronounce the “Q.”  Most people today say something like shuh-WAH-mih-ginn, which probably isn’t that far off of the original spelling when you consider that spoken Ojibwe frequently drops sounds or whole syllables.

In the 21st Century, the Chequamegon region generally refers to the Chequamegon Bay communities of Red Cliff, Bayfield, La Pointe, Washburn, Ashland and surrounding areas. ~LF

If this is Chequamegon History, why are there so many post about topics outside of the Chequamegon area?

To understand the history of this area before 1860, you have to understand the significance of the Chequamegon region in the geography of North America. This area’s history is closely tied with the history of the Lake Superior and Upper Mississippi country. And this larger area is part of a system that (depending on the time period) stretched from Quebec to Saskatchewan east and west, and from the Ohio River to James Bay north and south. While Chequamegon Bay and the south shore will remain my central focus, it would be silly to not include stories from this larger area.  ~LF

Is this an Ojibwe history website?

Yes and no.  Yes in the sense that almost all my posts will involve Ojibwe people in some way.  No in the sense that this site focuses on written records, which present a skewed and incomplete picture of Native life.  I am not Ojibwe, but I’ve lived and worked in enough Anishinaabe communities enough to know two things:

1) There is an oral tradition (mainly tied up in religious societies) in some Anishinaabe communities that stretches back hundreds if not thousands of years.

2) I don’t know the first thing about it.

These oral traditions will largely remain out of this website not because I think they’re not valid, but because I’m likely to get them wrong.  From time to time, I may include an oral tradition that was written down before 1860, but that doesn’t mean I can make claims about its accuracy.  ~LF

Why before 1860?

It’s hard to put a precise date on it, but in the 1850s, this area underwent a great shift.  Prior to that era, it had been a key location in the world of the Ojibwe, other Indian nations, mix-blooded fur traders, and occasional interlopers from the imperial powers of France, Britain, and the United States. Afterward, it became a sleepy, remote part of the state of Wisconsin.  This was a transition in the historical narrative that might be best understood as colonization. This website focuses on the era before and during that process.  ~LF

Is the material on this site copyrighted?

I claim copyright to my original work.  The images, documents, and primary-source text I post from the pre-1860 era is all in the public domain having been published before 1923 or having an author that died before 1943.  My understanding is that scanning, copying, adding watermarks, or putting forth time or money into distributing public-domain works does not create a new copyright-protected work unless it is substantially altered from the original.  As such, I will put pictures and documents on this site that others have put on the internet when I am confident that they aren’t protected.  I will always try to credit the person or organization that originally put the labor into distributing the works when I can. I am not a lawyer, so I may have some of this wrong.  Let me know through the contact page if you feel you are entitled to copyright for something on this site.   Of course, if you wish to use a public-domain picture or text from this website, go ahead.  Just be sure to realize that I am generally not the one doing the scanning and give credit to the person who deserves it (not me).  ~LF

How do I ask a question, submit an article idea, or yell at you idiots for faulty research?

Check the Contact page.

One Response to “About”

  1. philliutas said

    From Charles Lippert:

    1. zhaagaw- (pv4) oblong-, oval-
    -aamikw (nf) sandbar
    -ing (sf) locative suffix

    2. zhigwaamikong
    zhigw- (pv4) soft-, chewy-, pliable-
    -aa (vif) vai/vii final (be ..)
    -mikw (nf) beaver
    -ing (sf) locative suffix

    3. zhiiwaamikong
    zhii’w- (pv4) channel-
    aamikw- (nf) sandbar
    -ing (sf) locative suffix

    4. zaagiwaamikong
    zaagi- (pv4) out-, exit-
    -w- vowel joining connector
    aamikw- (nf) sandbar
    -ing (sf) locative suffix

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