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Dr. Rick St. Germaine to discuss Lac Courte Oreilles tribal history during Thursdays at the U

| Linda Tollefsrud

Dr. Rick St. Germaine, professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, will be the featured speaker for the next Thursdays at the U lecture at UW-Eau Claire – Barron County.

Dr. Rick St. Germaine

Dr. Rick St. Germaine

St. Germaine will present “Ijidiwashikwe: Heroine of the Northwoods, 1840s” from 12:30-1:30 p.m. April 4 in the Blue Hills Lecture Hall in Ritzinger Hall. The lecture also will be livestreamed at

Rice Lake in the 1850s experienced monumental change, both for the European immigrant invasion that would soon occur into this glaciated territory and for the Native Americans who had occupied this region for centuries. The tribal clan leader Nenaangebi struggled to maintain a level of economic sustenance for his Rice Lake Band of Ojibwe, warding off attacks from enemy Dakota as they hunted and fished the area’s streams and lakes.

Cession treaties negotiated between the Ojibwe and the U.S. government passed the lands in northern Wisconsin from the Indians into the ownership of the U.S. The treaties opened up vast stands of timber to voracious lumber companies that would cut down every tree in sight in the 20-million-acre empire.

Just north of Rice Lake, in the village of Baatawigamaag-zaaga’igan, a young Ojibwe girl, Ijidiwashikwe, grew into a young woman. Her family busied themselves hunting for their survival, traveling to other villages in ceremonial pursuit of the Miigis shell and fending off numerous suitors who sought her hand in marriage. Ijidiwashikwe eventually married a young warrior from the Bizhiw clan in Ontario. Their marriage was troubled and ended in tragedy.

The story of Ijidiwashikwe is one of incredible plight and astonishing resilience in the face of inhuman conditions. This story was transmitted through the many generations of her descendants at Lac Courte Oreilles, from grandparents to grandchildren, and again and again over 170 years.

St. Germaine has served as a professor of history and teacher education at several universities within the U.S. He also has been a school principal and school superintendent in a handful of K-12 schools.

A former tribal chairman of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Tribe during the years the tribe litigated the Voigt Treaty Rights case in federal courts, St. Germaine currently resides on the LCO Reservation and volunteers in the tribal museum and tribal school. He has spent the past eight months giving biweekly Wednesday night LCO history lectures to the public in the LCO Museum. 

The Thursdays at the U weekly series is free and open to the public thanks to support from the UW-Eau Claire – Barron County Foundation. Neither seating reservations nor parking permits are needed for in-person attendees. There also is a livestream option and recordings are archived on the Thursdays at the U webpage.

The next lecture in the series will be April 11, with Steve Ackerman presenting “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: The Ship, the Storm and the Song.”

For more information, call the campus at 715-788-6244 or email Dr. Linda Tollefsrud, the series organizer, at