Researching and compiling the 2021 temporary exhibit at Chik-Wauk Museum has been a wonderful journey for everyone involved. Mention the name “Powell” and storytelling begins. “The Powells,” as Marion Powell said in a recorded conversation “you would think we are royalty the way people gush over us”.
The exhibit is the story of the Powell Family, a family with shared connection to the land and water deeply rooted in Anishinaabe tradition. It is recognition of the descendants of the intercultural marriage of Mary Ottertail (Aquayweasheik) and Andrew Jackson “Jack” Powell.
Follow the family tree in the exhibit, meet the descendants from the 1900 union of Mary Ottertail, a young member of the Anishinaabe tribe, whose people lived on the border lakes for several hundred years, and Jack Powell, a lumberjack who made his way to this area from a meager start in Michigan. Listen to the stories from different Powell family members. *View Mary Ottertail and Tempest's beadwork.
Because of the disapproval of Mary’s family, Jack and Mary moved from Basswood Lake to Saganagons Lake. The exhibit maps their journey from Basswood, portages crossed, and lakes traversed arriving at their homestead on Saganagons Lake. The couple’s three sons (Michael “Mike”, Benjamin “Frank”, William “Bill”) and two daughters (Esther, Tempest) learned traditional crafts and a subsistence way of life from their mother. The siblings learned to read and write, and were influenced by their father’s connections to the outside world.
Mary and Jack lived at the homestead on Saganagons until 1960. They then moved to a cabin on Saganaga Lake near their daughter, Tempest and son-in-law, Irv Benson.
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is grateful to the Powell family for sharing stories and images of memorable people, relationships, places, and events. It is an honor to be able to present and preserve these stories and images. We respectfully thank the Powell’s for this gift.
*Regrettably, some items planned for display are on the Canadian side of Saganaga Lake and cannot be retrieved at this time.
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society acknowledges Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is located on traditional and ancestral lands of Indigenous People, the Anishinaabe, Ojibwe people who cared for and continue to be stewards of their homeland.