Grand Portage National Monument is a United States National Monument located on the north shore of Lake Superior in Grand Portage, MN. It is an Ojibwe monument that forms a bridge between time, people, and culture. You’ll learn about and explore the partnership between Grand Portage Ojibwe and the North West Company during the fur trade. While there you can see historic cooking and baking demonstrations and learn about fur trade history, and area history.
History of the Grand Portage
Known by the Ojibwe as the Gitchi Onigaming or “Great Carrying Place” the 8.5 mile portage trail allowed American Indians and Voyageurs to travel to Canada to trade furs for Eastern trade goods with the North West Company, the largest fur company in the world. Therefore this portage was a very vital part in American Indian and fur trade because of its location. The Grand Portage was the most direct route between the two.
Between the 1730s and early 1800s thousands of men transported goods and furs from one place to the other forging a diverse relationship with the American Indians and non-Indian peoples. The adoption of native technology and the cultural exchange led to pioneering the exploration of the continent. The Historic Portage is the reason for Grand Portage National Monument.
Grand Portage Today
The Grand Portage community is home to the Center of Tribal Government of the Grand Portage Band (The Band) of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe. Approximately half of the land of the national monument was donated by the Grand Portage Band. The Grand Portage still remains to this day an international road under the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842. The use of the trail is free and open to citizens of both the United States and Canada.
In august Grand Portage celebrates and hosts Rendezvous Days, a weekend-long celebration honoring the Anishinabe culture and the area’s historic fur trade. The Great Rendezvous was celebrated each year at the end of the fur trade season. At this time, the Anishinabe and traders would come together to celebrate the year’s success. They would drink, dance, and eat wonderful food.
The Grand Portage Monument is also near Isle Royal Nation Park, which is visible from the heritage center. The national monument supports Isle Royal by providing an embarkation point for boat transportation. They also assist in operational logistics and provide participation in the Tribal Self governance Act agreement with the Grand Portage Band. This has resulted in a close relationship between the two parks.
From downtown Grand Marais Head northwest on Hwy 61 towards Grand Portage and continue for 34 miles. When you see the Grand Portage Trading Post turn right toward Mile Creek Rd. and then turn left onto Mile Creek rd. Continue for about a mile and the Grand Portage National Monument will be on your right.