Prairie Rice Lake History

Donated by Timm Severud


Prairie Lake was originally called Prairie Rice Lake... both Rice Lake (the community) and Prairie Lake are derived from this one name place. Prairie Rice Lake defined the region from the lake uup to Long Lake in Washburn County.  It was the Manfish Clan that controlled the area... in the area we call Rice Lake today is where they tended to be centered... but the real treasure was Prairie Lake.  Here is a direct reference from William W. Warren who was a clerk at a trading post in the Chetek area in 1840/1. Mush-ko-da-mun-o-min-e-kin, the Ojibwa word, literally means "Rice Bed so thick is resembles a Prairie."

from William W. Warren's (1825-1853)
"History of the Ojibway People" pages 308 - 309 (written in 1852, first published in 1885)

In the year 1798, a handful of Ojibway warriors fought a severe battle with a large party of Dakota, at Prairie Rice Lake.  At this lake has been the scene of several engagements between these two tribes; a brief description of its position, size, and advantages will not be considered amiss.  On Mons. Nicollet's map, it is named Mille Lacs, and empties its water into the Red Cedar a tributary of the Chippewa River.  Mr. Nicollet, who has given us a map, which may be considered as generally correct, must, however, have been misinformed in the name, and some what in the position of the lake.  It has been known to the Ojibwe by the name of Mush-ko-da-mun-o-min-e-kin meaning Prairie Rice Lake and to the French as Lac la Folle.  During a two years' residence (in 1840 - 41) in the vicinity of this lake, and especially during a tour, which the writer made through this district of country, in the summer of 1850, circumstances happened, which made him fully acquainted with the lake, and community surrounding it.

It is situated about 40 miles directly north of the lower rapids of the Chippewa River, where the extensive establishment of known as Chippewa Mills is now located.  Its entire length is about 8 miles, but averages less than a quarter mile in width.  A clear, rapid stream connects it with another lake of nearly equal size, known to the Indians as Sha-da-sag-i-e-gan or Pelican Lake and from thence discharges into the their superfluous waters into the Red Cedar, or Me-nom-in-ee River.  A portage of only two miles in length connects Prairie Rice Lake with this river, and the foot of the portage, or the spot where it strikes the river, is twenty miles above it outlet into it.  The lake being miry-bottomed, and shallow, is almost entirely covered with wild rice, and so thick and luxuriant does it grow, that the Indians are often obliged to cut passage ways through it for their bark canoes.  From the manner in which they gather the rice, and the quantity, which a family generally collects during the harvesting season, this lake alone, would supply a body of two thousand Indians.


Last Update Friday, 01-Apr-2011 00:59:33 EDT

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