Chief Namakagon

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Chief Namakagon (AKA Mikwam-migwan, or "Old Ice Feathers") was an Anishinaabe leader and sole resident of Lake Namakagon in Bayfield County, Wisconsin from the early 1830s through 1886. Chief Namakagon became legend due to the Ashland Press articles about him trading shards of silver for supplies.[1] He died in a blizzard in November 1886 without disclosing his secret source of silver. People continue to search for it today. (Treasure hunters should first consult the USFS, WI DNR, and private landowners prior to exploring the region for minerals.)

Chief Namakagon's legendary silver mine [2] is thought to lie on the west end of the Penokee Range, near Marengo, Mellen, and Lake Namakagon. This area saw many mining claims in the late 1800s. Many were successful. Mining remains a controversial subject in the area, rich with lakes, streams, wetlands, and sensitive woodlands.

A novel, The Treasure of Namakagon, by local author and conservationist, James Brakken, explores the rich history of the area. This fact-based fiction takes place in Hayward, Cable, and on Lake Namakagon in 1883 & 1884.[3] A young lumberjack is mentored by Chief Namakagon as he learns the timber trade. This is also the story of the conflict between the small, independent lumber camps and the large timber corporations that tried to overcome them by all means available. The novel has been recommended by Michael Perry, Larry Meiller, and others.


  1. ^ "About the author: James A Brakken". The Treasure of Namakagon. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  2. ^ Herbert Wagner (2007-12-27). "The Legend of Chief Namekagon's Lost Silver Mine (Originally published in Wisconsin Outdoor Journal, 1990)". Aimee DuPre's Journal. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 
  3. ^ "Educator delves into history for fictional tale. James Brakken was just a boy when he first heard stories of Chief Namekagon and his secret silver mine.". Superior Telegram (Superior, Wisconsin). 2012-05-11. Retrieved 2012-12-12. 

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