La Pointe, Wisconsin

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La Pointe is a town in Ashland County in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The population was 246 at the 2000 census. Its name in the Anishinaabe language is Mooningwanekaaning, meaning "The Home of the Golden Breasted Woodpecker (see:Yellow-shafted Flicker)."



According to William Whipple Warren's History of the Ojibway People, Moningwunakuaning "is the spot on which the Ojibway tribe first grew, and like a tree it has spread its branches in every direction, in the bands that now [1885] occupy the vast extent of the Ojibway earth; and also that 'it is the root from which all the far scattered villages of the tribe have sprung.'"

Warren, whose mother was French-Ojibwe, learned from maternal tribal elders that the Ojibway originally lived near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. At the time of great sickness and death, the Great Spirit interceded through Manabosho, a common uncle of the Anishinubag (spontaneous people). Through the discovery of the snakeroot they were granted the rite, enabled through their Medawe (religion) 'wherewith life is restored and prolonged.' The great Megis (sea-shell) showed itself as a glossy thing reflecting on the sea. It led them first to a place near Montreal where they stayed for some time. Next it led them to Boweting (Sault St. Marie). Again they stayed for some time. At last it led them to Moningwunakauning (La Pointe, Madeline Island) 'where it has ever since reflected back the rays of the sun, and blessed our ancestors with life, light and wisdom,'says Warren. So the flickering shaft of light is the Megis, and La Pointe is the center of the Earth for the Ojibway.

The town includes all of the Apostle Islands. There is an unincorporated community named La Pointe on Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands and the only one open for commercial development. Although originally the site of a fortified French trading post from 1693-1698, and 1718-1759, the La Pointe of today was founded more directly as an American Fur Company outpost, beginning in the late 18th century under the leadership of Michel Cadotte. Today, the town's history is preserved at Madeline Island Historical Museum. Two Treaties of La Pointe between the United States government and the Ojibwe were signed here in the mid-19th century.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 78.0 square miles (201.9 km²), of which, 77.6 square miles (200.9 km²) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²) of it (0.50%) is water.

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