Silver Bay in 1912 — Ohlyesa, the winner

Maury Thompson
2 min readFeb 11, 2021

Physician and author Charles Alexander Eastman, known by the Native American name Ohlyesa (Oh ee sah), the winner, embarked on a canoe excursion to explore northern Minnesota’s Leech Lake islands that were the home of the Ojibways, historically one of the most fierce enemies of his own Sioux tribe.

“Early in the summer of 1910, the ‘call of the wild’ in one became insistent, and I decided to seek once more in this region the half obliterated and forgotten trails of my forefathers,” he wrote in a narrative essay, published May 11, 1911 in The Ogala Light of Pine Ridge, S.D.

He came to the islands and waterway near International Falls, Minn. as a peacemaker, not a warrior, in hopes of increasing his already in-depth knowledge of Native American culture.

“My hunting on the lake was not to kill, except for necessary food, but to work the camera and for nature study.”

In 1912, Ohlysea came to Silver Bay Association to teach Boy Scout leaders about Native American woodworking and culture at the second annual Scout Master’s School Aug. 15–29.

“He will instruct scout masters in the art of scouting and woodcraft as understood by the Indians,” The Post-Star reported on June 6, 1912. “He will do still more, because of his excellent education, his unusual intellect and his thorough of the viewpoint of the Indian and the white man.”

Ohlyesa was the grandson, on his mother’s side, of Sioux chief Cloud Man, according to the Acta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center of St. Joseph’s Indian School in Minnesota.

Ohlysea was born in the winter of 1858 in a buffalo hide tipi near Redwood Falls, Minn.

When Ohlysea was a teen, his father converted to Christianity and sent the son to a mission school, where he began his study of dual culture.

In his adult years, Ohlysea was a government physician in Native American communities, YMCA field organizer, government lobbyist on Native American issues, and author of more than a half-dozen books about Native American culture and history.

Click here to read my most recent previous Silver Bay history post.

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY