Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post
43411 Oodena Dr.
Onamia, MN 56359


May 25-Sept. 3, 2018:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 10 am-5 pm
Wednesday: 10 am-5 pm
Thursday: 10 am-5 pm
Friday: 10 am-5 pm
Saturday: 10 am-5 pm
Sunday: Closed

Summer holidays:
  • Open Memorial Day Weekend (Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27) and Memorial Day (Monday, May 28).
  • Open July 4.
  • Open Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 3).

Sept. 4-Oct. 31, 2018
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 11 am-4 pm
Thursday: 11 am-4 pm
Friday: 11 am-4 pm
Saturday: 11 am-4 pm
Sunday: Closed

Nov. 1-Dec. 31, 2018
(Trading Post only)
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 11 am-4 pm
Thursday: 11 am-4 pm
Friday: 11 am-4 pm
Saturday: 11 am-4 pm
Sunday: Closed

Call 320-532-3632 for school and group tours.


  • $10 adults
  • $8 seniors
  • $8 college students
  • $8 veterans and active military
  • $6 children ages 5-17
  • Free for children age 4 and under, MNHS members and Mille Lacs Band members w/ID




1750: After a long westward migration, Ojibwe people establish permanent homelands near Lake Mille Lacs.

1825: Naguonabe, a civil chief from Mille Lacs, travels to Prairie du Chien to meet with U.S. government officials and over 1,000 other Ojibwe leaders. This conference set Ojibwe-Dakota boundaries.

1826: Mille Lacs leaders Naguonabe, Moozoomaane and Shaugobay are among the many Ojibwe who sign their names to the treaty of Fond du Lac. The treaty contains a clause giving the U.S. mineral rights to all Ojibwe land.
1837: Leaders from Mille Lacs, Sandy Lake and Gull Lake join with other Ojibwe in signing a treaty ceding their home lands to the U.S. government, but retaining their rights to hunt, fish and gather on the land.
1855: Mille Lacs leaders Biidade(n)s and Shabaushkung are among delegations from all the major Mississippi River Bands that travel to Washington, D.C., for a treaty conference. The treaty establishes reservations near Lake Mille Lacs, Rabbit Lake, Gull Lake, Lake Pokegama, Sandy Lake and Rice Lake.
1858: Minnesota is the 32nd state admitted to the Union.
1862: Warriors from Mille Lacs defend white settlers from aggression by neighboring Ojibwe bands during the U.S.-Dakota War.
1863-64: Mille Lacs leaders sign a treaty ceding most of the land that was reserved in the 1855 treaty to the U.S. government. The people of the Mille Lacs and Sandy Lake Bands are recognized by the U.S. government for “good conduct” during the U.S.-Dakota War; a clause in the 1864 treaty protects the right to keep their homes on their reservations.
1867: Mille Lacs leaders travel to Washington, D.C., for treaty negotiations in which many Mississippi Bands agree to give up their lands and relocate to the newly established White Earth Reservation. Although they have no intention of moving, Mille Lacs leaders sign the treaty—the opening act in a long struggle with the U.S. government over the Mille Lacs homelands.
1879: Mille Lacs Reservation land is put up for sale to timber companies and others by the U.S. Department of the Interior, despite provisions of the 1864 treaty. Congress will soon reverse this decision—but too late to prevent outsiders from making land claims.
1884: Chief Shabaushkung retains title to his 664 acre village, as stated in the 1864 treaty, after the U.S. government cancels all illegal land claims on the Mille Lacs Reservation.
1887:  The Dawes Act, also known as the General Allotment Act, authorized the President of the United States to survey Indian tribal land and divide it into allotments for individual land ownership.
1889: State Representative Knute Nelson introduces a bill seeking to move Ojibwe families to land allotments on the Red Lake and White Earth Reservation. Shabaushkung tells government negotiators sent to Mille Lacs that “we wish to remain here, quiet and in peace.” From this point on, Mille Lacs Band members are split into “removals” and “non-removals.” 
1902: The Mille Lacs Band is offered $40,000 from the U.S. Government in payment for improvements made to reservation lands, if Band members agree to relocate to the White Earth Reservation. Over the next several years many Band members, beginning with Chief Waawiyekamig and his family, relocate to White Earth.
1918: Harry and Jeanette Ayers apply to the White Earth Indian Agency for a trader’s license and request to operate a trading post on property owned by the U.S. government.
1920: The Ayers begin renting cabins at the rate of $2 per day.
1921: The Ayers purchase 63 acres of lakeshore nearby with the intent to expand and build more rental cabins.
1924: American Indians are recognized as citizens of the United States by an act of Congress.
1925: The Ayers are forced off the property by the U.S. government, which plans to use the land for a school for Indian education. The Ayers open a trading post of their own on their newly acquired land on Nov. 12, 1925.
1934: Congress passes the Indian Reorganization Act, which formally recognizes Indian self-government. It was intended to restore Indian self-determination and tribal culture. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe is formed as a political union of six Ojibwe reservations, including the Mille Lacs Band.
1937: The Ayers’ resort business is in full swing with cabins, boats, a dining hall, boat docks, boat factory, maple sugar syrup refinery, gas station, trading post and store.
1939: The Ayers sell the boat factory to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
1959: Harry Ayers donates his collection of Indian artifacts—mainly Ojibwe craft and tool items, the buildings and land—to the Minnesota Historical Society.
1960: MNHS opens an exhibit of artifacts to the public.
1964: The property is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The Ayers work with MNHS to add the "Four Seasons Room" exhibit to the museum.
1966: The Ayers pass away within months of each other.
1969: The Four Seasons Room opens.
1972: Mannequins in the Four Seasons Room are created and molded after actual Mille Lacs Band members. (Band members included were Magie Sam, Cecelia Dorr, Batiste Sam, Debbie Mitchell, Frank Sam, Beatrice Mitchell, Dale Ballinger, Maude Kegg, Jennie Mitchell, Jim Littlewolf and Rose Benjamin.) Art Gahbow is elected Tribal Chairman.
1978: Nay Ah Shing School opens on the reservation, with an emphasis on the Mille Lacs Band history, language and culture.
1988: Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is passed. The stated purposes of the act include providing a legislative basis for the operation/regulation of Indian gaming, protecting gaming as a means of generating revenue for the tribes, encouraging economic development of the tribes, and protecting the enterprises from negative influences (such as organized crime).
1991: Marge Anderson is first woman elected as Tribal Chief Executive of the Mille Lacs Band. Grand Casino Mille Lacs opens.
1992: Grand Casino Hinckley opens. The tribe becomes the first Indian tribe in the nation to use casino revenues to back a development bond issue, which raises $20 million to rebuild reservation infrastructure, including schools, clinic, housing, a water treatment plant and roads.
1996: The new Mille Lacs Indian Museum opens to the public.
1999: The U.S. Supreme Court affirms the Mille Lacs Band’s rights, along with the rights of seven other Ojibwe Bands, to harvest under tribal regulation up to half the fish and game on public land in east-central Minnesota. The nine-year legal battle between the Band and the state of Minnesota is over.