Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Hayward, WI

Kinnamon School Visitor Center – Ganawendamang Ezhibimaadiziyand (“Keeping Our Way of Life”)

In the fall of 2015, the Lac Courte Oreilles Band (LCO) of Lake Superior Chippewa completed the historical renovation of the old Kinnamon School. In 1932, the Kinnamon School was constructed and centrally located on the reservation, providing public instruction until its closing in 1967, when a new public school was built. The Kinnamon School served as the first integrated public school on the reservation in the post-Indian Boarding School era, educating many Native children without the trauma of forced relocation to regional Indian Boarding Schools.

Over the next fifty years, the building deteriorated from neglect, becoming an embarrassment to the community. HUD funding saving this historic building from inevitable demolition. From the onset, the Tribe held a vision for the renovation of the Kinnamon School, included transforming the building into a visitor center that encapsulated Lac Courte Oreilles history. Fortunately, the Cultural Resources Fund provided the start-up funding needed to acquire cultural displays.

The Phase 1 grant provided the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe with start-up capital for the acquisition of both contemporary and traditional items. These items are now on display at the Kinnamon School Visitor Center. Over 100 items were purchased from local LCO artisans and collectors, including contemporary birch bark basketry, beaded items, fish decoys, wild ricing sticks, moccasins, beaver hide shield displays, hand carved flutes and pipes. Some of our most prominent traditional items were purchased from an LCO Tribal elder, Dr. John Anderson, who was terminally ill and subsequently passed on. These items included a 500-year- old (est.) copper knife that was given to Mr. Anderson by Henry Buffalo in 1955, an eagle feather-butterfly back bustle made in 1975, a rawhide shield, a lacrosse stick that was used in the Veterans’ games at the Honor the Earth Pow Wow in 1985, and a basswood cradleboard that was crafted in the late 60’s by a traditional artist.

Touring the Kinnamon School Visitor Center, visitors visually capture the beautiful handcrafted artwork exhibits that were purchased with Phase 1 funds.  Visitor have commented that the artistic abilities of our local artisans and intricacy of their work is amazing. The renovation of the building and the acquisition of culturally relevant items to place on display have restored a sense of pride within the LCO community. An unexpected occurrence in the project was local artists’ excitement generated by this opportunity.  One of the most amazing benefits that resulted from this funding was the identification of artists who were not previously known as local artisans. We plan to involve these artists in workshops, and to sell their crafts on consignment. Additionally, John Marxhauser Jewelry Design graciously donated casework and display case items that enhanced the aesthetics of the facility tremendously.

We plan to add to our inventory by repatriating culturally affiliated items currently in the collections of various regional museums.

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