Voices of Minnesota

Battle of Sugar Point Oral History Project

DATE: August 15, 1985 - July 31, 1987

An account of the Battle of Sugar Point, considered the last armed conflict between American Indians and the U.S. Army, which took place on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in 1898. The tape tells of illegal practices by lumber barons that precipitated problems between Indians and local marshalls and discusses the Indian leader and elder Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, whose arrest and unjust treatment angered members of the Pillager band and led to the battle.

The project began with a plan to record oral history interviews with tribal elders who possessed secondhand information about the battle and to use excerpts from the recordings, along with secondary sources, to produce several short tapes about the battle. As the project progressed, organizers decided instead to write a script based on the interviews and secondary sources, and, with background music and sounds, to use a single narrator to tell the story.

Upon completion, interview tapes, newspaper articles and other secondary sources used in the project were kept by staff of the Leech Lake Reservation Business Committee, to be made available to researchers.