Nahgahnub, Esther OgimaGeshigGwokQuay (FDL Ojibwe)

Sawyer, Minnesota (NFIC)

Esther OgimaGeshigGwokQuay Nahgahnub, 66, (Mukwa o'dode'man), of Sawyer, Minnesota passed away Nov. 29, 2007, in her home.

Her Ojibwe name refers to "Leading Sky Woman."

The matriarch of the Nahgahnub family (Variously translated as He/She who sits and leads in front or Forward Sitter), the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Band elder and descendant of the original Chief Nahgahnub who signed the Chippewa Treaty of 1854, left a legacy of strength, determination and grace.

She devoted much of her life to the battle for tribal sovereignty, Indigenous rights and environmental protection. She was a long time ally of the late Walt Bressette of the Red Cliff Ojibwe Reservation, and many other Native organizations that were on the treaty resource and protection of the environment battle front.

in 1989, Nahgahnub and Walter Bressette were charged with violating federal law by selling migratory bird feathers on spiritual and artistic objects. The case was eventually dismissed by the United States District Court which said that both of them were covered by treaty rights to use and sell bird feathers.

The ruling ws the first time a federal court had extended the use of treaty right resources into northern Minnesota and held that the Chippewa of Minnesota and Wisconsin had a reserved right to hunt, figh and gather resources in those areas.

Soon after, Nahgahnub became a staunch opponent of attempts by the state of Minnesota after those rulings, to purchase the treaty resource rights used by the Ojibwe in return for financial compensation. Several tribal councils, in need of financing seriously considered the proposal by the state, a position both Bressette and Nahgahnub steadfastly fought against.

Traditional burial services were held December 4 in Esther's home.

Burial was in Sawyer, Minnesota. Ojibwe Elder Lee Staples officiated.


See Related Duluth News Tribune article: Ojibwe ‘head woman’ remembered for strength