National Geographic : 1949 Sep
Minnesota Makes Ideas Pay the Winter Carnival in St. Paul. Hither come queens from all about, bent on being the queen of queens (pages 304, 311, 323). In cidentally, BeBe Shopp, Minnesota beauty, won the title of Miss America at Atlantic City last year. Small Wooden Houses over Indian Graves Heading for the cool north again, photog rapher Jack Fletcher and I invaded Indian country on the shores of Red Lake. As guide on our trip through the reservation we enlisted a half-white boy with pure Indian features and hair. "Do they show many wild West movies here?" I asked. "Yes," he said with a sad little grin. "I'm usually pulling for the Indians instead of the cowboys. But we always get beat in the end." Hesitantly he agreed to go with us up a little-traveled road along which are graves topped by small wooden houses about the size of kennels. Here Chippewa who have not accepted the white man's god still bury their dead with ancient Indian rites. Near the end of this road is a town called Ponemah. Long ago the insistent white men urged the Indians to have a school. "Bon-e mah," the Indians replied, meaning "Later on," "Some other time," "Mafiana." The term, slightly altered, became the place name. Later, in winter, I flew over this reservation in a little Conservation Department plane and found myself suddenly in a reserved seat for a moose hunt. Near the lake we saw a cow moose and calf, black against the snow over which they were plodding. Then, about three miles away, we spied two figures on the trail, like blood hounds-Indians with guns. A couple of miles farther on we sighted the father of this moose family, a magnificent bull at bay. An Indian two hundred yards away maneuvered for a shot. Under the law Indians can hunt anything at any time on their own reservations. Usu ally they need any meat they can get. Most of the 17,195 Chippewa live on reser vations in the northern woods and lake coun try. The 993 Sioux are in the southwestern section where Pipestone National Monument preserves their ancient source of the red stone from which ceremonial pipes are still made. Such towns as Bemidji and Sleepy Eye get their names from Indian chiefs. Battle Lake, in the resort country of Otter Tail County, commemorates the last battle between Chip pewa and Sioux, a "naval" engagement be tween braves in war canoes. Reached by the scenic North Shore Drive from Duluth along the greatest of the Great Lakes, Grand Portage with its Chippewa reservation stands at the point of the Arrow head Country, Minnesota's great wedge shaped wilderness area. Lonely Grand Portage was once the front door to Minnesota. Here the French fur traders entered the State, carrying their boats nine miles from Lake Superior to the Pigeon River, which leads into the labyrinth of border lakes. Their old stockade has been restored by the Minnesota Historical Society. Jumping-off places for many plane and canoe trips into the northern Minnesota wilderness are Ely and points on the Gun flint Trail, which shoots out into the lake strewn wilds from the North Shore Drive. Key to this airy north country of trees and iron is Minnesota's third largest city, home of the Duluth Branch of the University of Minnesota. Twenty-six miles long and an average of 2/2 miles wide, Duluth is squeezed between rocky bluffs and the waterfront of Lake Su perior and the St. Louis River. Its streets climb so steeply from the water that some give up and end in stairs. From its Skyline Parkway Drive at dusk I thrilled at the sight of starry city and harbor with its lofty, busy iron docks and varied industry. Three-foot Christmas Trees 73 Years Old Eighteen years ago Roy Halvorson (page 306) gave up a $35-a -week job in a fruit and produce plant to sell Christmas trees. Friends shook their heads. "Crazy kid, quit tingagoodjob. .. ." But the young man had an idea-little Christmas trees, about three feet high, to be sold in large numbers at low cost. With the able help of his wife ("She's a good business woman," he says proudly) he tapped the enormous resources of bog and black spruce growing in mossy old lake beds. Insufficiently nourished, these trees are stunted-only 12 or 15 feet tall-and have no other use. They grow so thickly that their shape is spoiled, but the top three feet is a miniature Christmas tree. Because their natural hue is a grayish green, Roy revolutionized their sale by color ing them green, or silver, or white. Now Halvorson trees sell all over the country, and as far away as Iceland, South America, and China. Last year he sold 1,200,000, bringing three-quarters of a million dollars into Duluth -and getting a letter from the State Con servation Commissioner complimenting him on improving the forest.