Duluth has a rich Indigenous history that is still alive and well today. This area has been home to Native people for nearly 14,000 years. A number of tribes lived and continue to call Duluth home, including the Dakota and Northern Cheyenne people as well as the Ojibwe, also known as the Anishinaabe. Duluth land, ceded by the Ojibwe in an 1854 treaty, holds great significance for its original stewards. These tribes’ cultural and spiritual practices are still honored and embedded all over Duluth, from public art to events to the makeup of the city.
How can you celebrate Indigenous culture during your visit to Duluth? There are a number of ways.
Support an Indigenous Organization or Business
AICHO – the American Indian Community Housing Organization – was created in 1993 with the goal of responding to crisis while laying the path for long-term stability and rebuilding the Indigenous community. They offer an American Indian Community Center, 29 units of permanent supportive housing, a domestic violence emergency shelter, local advocacy, social enterprise activities and more.
AICHO also has an onsite store, the Indigenous First Art & Gift Shop, that sells gifts, art and goods with the mission of advancing, promoting and investing in Indigenous artists and entrepreneurs. You can also support AICHO’s mission by visiting one of the Indigenous Food and Art Markets.
View Indigenous Art
AICHO Galleries presents rotating exhibits throughout the year featuring the work of local Indigenous artists. Gallery viewing hours are M-F 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or on weekends by request. (NOTE: the gallery is often used for meeting spaces, so it’s recommended you call 218-722-7225 before visiting.)
The Lake Superior Ojibwe Gallery at the St. Louis County Historical Society in the St. Louis County Depot features original artwork by noted painter Eastman Johnson, as well as Ojibwe artifacts and cultural items.
Be sure to stop by the Tweed Museum of Art to view its sizable array of Indigenous art, including contemporary pieces. You can learn more about the artists on display on the Tweed Museum of Art website.
Duluth is also home to free public murals. Head downtown to see Ganawenjige Onigam at 212 W. 2nd Street. The mural can be interpreted in many different ways; she is seen as a water protector, a healer and as a reminder of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
Gichi Ode’ Akiing Park, the former Lake Place Park, is the sight of the Chief Buffalo Memorial Mural. This mural was created to share the collective history regarding Duluth’s beginnings with and about Chief Buffalo. It was painted by four Ojibwe artists and led by Duluthian Moira Villiard, a muralist and direct descendant from Fond du Lac Ojibwe reservation.
Local Duluth artist and member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe Jonathan Thunder created a mural of a woman and child reading together on an exterior wall of Zenith Bookstore in West Duluth.
Check out the Fond du Lac Band of Superior Chippewa, who own and operate the Fond-Du-Luth Casino in downtown Duluth. They are a great resource for local history as well as upcoming Indigenous events and celebrations.
There are also multiple opportunities to celebrate Indigenous culture all year around – check out our Events Calendar to check what’s coming up. From gallery openings to performances, there are a plethora of ways to immerse yourself.
Indigenous history in Duluth is deep and important to learn. An in-depth look can be found on the Duluth Stories website.
Thanks to the staff at AICHO for their partnership on this blog.