Published on March 13, 2013 by Carol
The initial report of the skirmish sparked a panic and fears of a general uprising and attacks on the nearby settlements of Bemidji, Cass Lake, Deer River, Grand Rapids, and Walker, Minnesota. Additional federal troops were sent from Fort Snelling and the Minnesota National Guard mobilized, while local settlers organized into impromptu militias. For their part, the Ojibwe rapidly dispersed from their villages to remote parts of the reservation, fearing reprisals on the part of the army or settlers. However, public fears of another Indian uprising subsided after newspapers began reporting the circumstances of the attack. The day after the battle, the Cass County Pioneer published a letter from the chiefs of the Pillagers:
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We, the undersigned chiefs and headmen of the Pillager band of Chippewa [Ojibwe] Indians of Minnesota… respectfully represent that our people are carrying a heavy burden, and in order that they may not be crushed by it, we humbly petition you to send a commission, consisting of men who are honest and cannot be controlled by lumbermen, to investigate the existing troubles here… We now have only the pine lands of our reservation for our future subsistence and support, but the manner in which we are being defrauded out of these has alarmed us. The lands are now, as heretofore, being underestimated by the appraisers, the pine thereon is being destroyed by fires in order to create the class of timber known as dead or down timber, so as to enable to cut and sell the same for their own benefit.
Several days following the incident, US Commissioner of Indian Affairs William A. Jones negotiated with Pillager leaders in a council held at the Leech Lake Reservation from October 10–5. After the council concluded, Commissioner Jones criticized local and state officials of “the frequent arrests of Indians on trivial causes, often for no cause at all, taking them down to Duluth and Minneapolis for trial, two hundred miles away from their agency, and then turning them adrift without means to return home”. Jones later said in a report to the Secretary of the Interior Cornelius Newton Bliss,
The Indians were prompted to their outbreak by the wrongs committed against them and chafed under unfair treatment. They now will go back to their homes and live peaceably if the whites will treat them fairly, which is very likely, as the whites were thoroughly impressed with the stand taken by the Indians. In this respect the outbreak has taught them a lesson.
The last survivor of the battle, Emma Bear, died at Cass Lake in Cass County, Minnesota on July 13, 2001. At age 103, she was 8-months old at the time of the battle. Her father, Bear (Mahquah), and George White attempted to negotiate a truce with the soldiers but were two of those arrested prior to the battle.
Among the injured survivors were: E. E. Antonello, Richard Boucher, Edward Brown, John Daly, Chas. Francis, Private Godfrey, Charles Jensen, Albert Schuyler, Charles Turner, George R. Wicker, Edward Harris (city marshal of Walker), Joseph Orcar (pilot of steamer Jennie), T. J. Sheenan (deputy US Marshall), __ Tinker (Indian inspector), Henry Waters (engineer of the Jennie)