Mille Lacs History

From the earliest settlers—various tribes called “Woodland People”—to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe today, Native Americans have played a crucial part in the Mille Lacs history and culture. The Ojibwe arrived in the 1700s and lived off of the land—they hunted and fished and gathered berries and wild rice. Today, the area is teeming with Ojibwe culture and has become a prime destination for those who enjoy the great outdoors—especially the big lake.

You can learn more about Lake Mille Lacs history at various historical markers, landmarks, and museums that are peppered all along the Byway. An understanding of our history will only deepen your appreciation for this truly beautiful and one-of-kind place.

Kathio National Historic Landmark District

Visit the former sites of American Indian villages that date from between 3000 BC and 1750 AD, and explore the Sioux and Ojibwe Indian culture that shaped the region. Kathio National Historic Landmark District is located in Kathio State Park. While there, hike the one-mile Landmark Trail where you can explore one of the most significant archaeological collections in the state.

Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post

Experience the history of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe at the Minnesota Historical Society’s Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post. See how the Ojibwe people settled here, understand how treaties were formed and broken, and take a look at the issues the people face today. When you’re done at the museum, visit the Trading Post to browse a large selection of authentic, handcrafted Native American items.

Mille Lacs Lake Museum

Explore the history of Mille Lacs Lake, fur trading, logging industry, railroads, pioneer settlements, and farming at the Mille Lacs Lake Museum in Isle.

Malmo Mounds and Village Site

Some of the oldest pottery, Malmo Ware, is named after this archeological site. Discovered in 1893, the Malmo Mounds and Village Site were made up of more than 100 mounds. Some were excavated and studied by the University of Minnesota in 1936. Later, more than half of the mounds were destroyed by housing developments and roads. The Department of Interior placed the site on the National Registry 1975.

Ellen Ruth

Discover the 20th-century fishing and sightseeing launch the Ellen Ruth —once the largest fishing launch on Lake Mille Lacs at 42 feet. She now sits dry-docked at a park on the corner of Main Street and 1st St. E in Wahkon. Park also features a grassy picnic area.

Click through the map to view the cultural and historic points of interest around Lake Mille Lacs. To view the full-page map, click here.