First question…how does one pronounce “Bemidji”?
Works for me.
Okay, here we go:
As a central city for three Indian reservations, Bemidji is the site of many Native American services, including the Indian Health Service. Near Bemidji are the Red Lake Indian Reservation, White Earth Indian Reservation, and the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. Bemidji lies on the southwest shore of Lake Bemidji, the northernmost lake feeding the Mississippi River; it is nicknamed “The First City on the Mississippi”. Bemidji is also the self-proclaimed “curling capital” of the U.S. and the alleged birthplace of legendary Paul Bunyan….
Its name derives from the OjibweBuh-mid-ji-ga-maug (Double-Vowel orthography: bemijigamaag), meaning “a lake with crossing waters”. On occasion, in Ojibwe, Bemidji is called Wabigamaang (“at the lake channel/narrows”), because part of the city is situated on the Lakes Bemidji/Irving narrows, on the south end of Lake Bemidji, and extends to the eastern shore of Lake Irving. Some sources say that Chief Bemidji, an Ojibwe leader, is the namesake.
Bemidji Township was surveyed by European Americans in 1874. It was organized in 1896, 24 days after the village of Bemidji was chartered, and is the oldest township in the county. In 1897, the county attorney declared the original Bemidji township organization illegal (no reason given) and the township reorganized on June 26, 1897.
About 50 Leech Lake Indians lived along the south shore of the lake prior to the 1880s. They called the lake Bemidjigumaug, meaning “river or route flowing crosswise”. Freeman and Besty Doud claimed 160 acres west of and including present-day Diamond Point; they were Bemidji’s first homesteaders.
Art Lee created the story that the folkloric figure Paul Bunyan came from the Northwoods. Tales about Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox led to public sculptures of them in the 1930s. According to Discover America, the Paul and Babe statues are “the second most photographed statues in America,” surpassed only by Mount Rushmore. The Rotarians of Bemidji commissioned the statue of Paul Bunyan during the Great Depression as a tourist attraction. It was unveiled on January 15, 1937, to kick off a Winter Carnival that drew more than 10,000 visitors.
Hey, every place has to have a claim to fame, right?
Today Bemidji is an important educational, governmental, trade and medical center for north central Minnesota. The wood industry is still a significant part of the local economy, with Georgia-Pacific, Potlatch, and Northwood Panelboard all having waferboard plants in the local area. They use wood species that were once classified as waste trees.
I’ll add live links to this post during the late afternoon as they become available.
In the meantime, please post tweets and videos below of what’s going on in Minnesota, and any travel stories you may have of the place.