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Father Baraga's Missions

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L'Arbre Crochet, Michigan

Years Served: 1831 - 1832
Ojibwe Name: Waugonawskisa
Translation: Bent Tree

This was the first location where Father Baraga worked with the Ottawa Ojibwe Natives.  As the Ojibwe long awaited a priest to be in their vicinity who could baptize, in his first year alone he baptized 131 Indians of which 44 were infants which began upon his first day of arrival.  A school was established and the Ottawa Ojibwe were taught industry.  This is also where Father Baraga had his immersion learning of the Ojibwe language and wrote his first prayer book while he was here in the Ottawa dialect.  

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Little Traverse Bay

Years Served: 1831 - 1832
Ojibwe Name: Wikkwedoons
Translation: Little Traverse Bay

The St. Francis Solanus Mission is one of the last churches that Father Baraga blessed which is still being maintained by the Ottawa Ojibwe people.  This location can be found just south of L'Arbre Crochet and was one of the locations that were frequented by the Ojibwe.  

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Beaver Island, Michigan

Years Served: 1832
Ojibwe Name: Amikwag-Endaad
Translation: Beaver Abode

The Holy Cross Catholic Church has a cross that honors where Father Baraga first landed on Beaver Island.  He established his first mission there in 1832 shortly after spending his first winter in Arbre Crochet.  There were many on the island that had a desire to be able to built a church here as well, however, they came across too much resistance from their native friends and relatives.  Ultimately the Ojibwe who wished to follow Catholicism moved to L'Arbre Crochet to be supported.

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Indian Lake, Michigan 

Years Served: 1832
Ojibwe Name: Kitchitikipi
Translation: Big Cold Spring

This is the name of the spring that feeds into Indian Lake where Father Baraga's First Church was built in 1832.  He visited this location after first visiting Beaver Island and Arbre Crochet where he primarily learned the Ojibwe language.  When he had arrived their for the first time he had found that the Ojibwe had already started to build a church!  At this location he baptized 31 Ojibwe during his first summer.  It was also here that Chief Ossawinamakee chose to be baptized.  He named the church here after Mother Mary.

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Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Years Served: 1833-1834
Ojibwe Name: Gaa-Ginwaajiwanaang
Translation: At the Place of Long Rapids

Father Baraga first established his mission in Grand Rapids in 1833 prior to the 1836 treaty.  At this location he had his greatest challenges from the fur traders and Baptists.  This is the only time in which he felt threatened by the Ojibwe people.  Due to intoxication, the Ojibwe and others had formed a mob outside of the place he was staying.  It was at this location that he pleaded with God to spare his life and said that if this happened that he would forever abstain from alcohol (which he had only on occasion previous to this).  Ultimately his life was spared and he made it part of his mission to ensure that the Ojibwe did not drink and if alcohol was banned from the locations that he worked it was even better.  This spawned the creation of the Temperance cards which was a vow that the individual Ojibwe made to never drink again.  


Ultimately, he had to be placed somewhere else by the Bishop due to his heated stance of wanting to ensure that the Indians stayed on their land.  Not more than a few years after his departure the Potawatomi were all forced out of this location to a different state by use of wagon trains and shackles.  This is called the Potawatomi Trail of Tears by many.    

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Madeline Island, Wisconsin

Years Served: 1835 - 1842
Ojibwe Name: Mooniingwanekaaning-Minis 
Translation: Home of the Golden Breasted Flicker

Father Baraga first mentioned the potential of going out to Madeline Island as he was working in L'Arbre Crochet.  Father Baraga primarily worked here between 1835-1842.  His first church here he named after St. Joseph and was built next to the Indian Cemetery which can be seen on the Island today.  He worked with Chief Buffalo who chose to be baptized just before his passing in 1855.  Chief Buffalo was instrumental in ensuring that the Ojibwe were able to stay on the land as well.  Chief Buffalo made many dedicated trips to Washington to ensure that the Ojibwe received what they requested and what was agreed upon in the treaties and is considered one of the most influential chiefs of the Ojibwe people.  His bust can still be found in Washington as he posed their once for this sculpture to be made.  

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Fond Du Lac

Years Served: 1835 - 1842
Ojibwe Name: Nagaajiwanaang
Translation: Where the water stops

Father Baraga made frequent trips to this location and wished for a missionary to be permanently placed on this land.  The Cotte family first held lessons at their house at this location prior to their move to Grand Portage in 1836.  Fond Du Lac had other missionaries at the location at that time which found little in having the Ojibwe choose their religion.  Edmund F. Ely was one of these missionaries who journaled about his experiences with the Ojibwe.  

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Grand Portage, Minnesota

Years Served: 1836, 1846
Ojibwe Name: Gichi Onigaming
Translation: The Great Carrying Place

Grand Portage mission was established by Father Baraga and Father Pierz in 1836 with the help of the Cotte Family who were previous fur traders in Fond Du Lac.  This was the location Father Baraga was trying to get to when he attempted crossing Lake Superior in 1846.  During this year another church was established, in the form of a wigwam (Ojibwe housing structure), which helped to bring Catholicism to the Ojibwe who wished to follow the religion.


L'Anse, Michigan

Years Served: 1842 - 1852
Ojibwe Name: Gichi-wiikwedong
Translation: Big Bay

This was Father Baraga's Favorite Mission.  The Most Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church was established here by Father Baraga at the original statue site.  It was here that he established diocesan priests who administered to the church.  The Ojibwe still hold services a few feet from where the original church was constructed.

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Copper Harbor, Michigan 

Years Served: 1842 - 1852
Ojibwe Name: Ishkwesin
Translation: It lies at the end

The small church here was built under the direction of Father Baraga in 1852 for the German Immigrants.  This church still exists and is the oldest Catholic Church in the Upper Peninsula.  

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Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan 

Years Served: 1853 - 1865
Ojibwe Name: Baawitigon
Translation: At the Cascades

Father Baraga became Bishop in 1853 and was the first Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie Roman Catholic Diocese.  In 1864 he was given a home in St. Ste Marie while the cornerstone for the St. Peters Cathedral in Marquette was constructed.  He had this as his primary residence until moving to Marquette in 1866.

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Sugar Island, Michigan 

Years Served: 1856
Ojibwe Name: Sisibakwato Miniss
Translation: Sugartree Island

Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church is a church that Father Baraga helped build in 1856.  He frequented the location in 1853 prior to it's construction and after he became Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie.


Houghton, Michigan 

Years Served: 1859
Ojibwe Name: Gakiiwe-Onigamiing
Translation: At the Foot Portage

The St. Ignatius Loyola Church was dedicated by Bishop Baraga in 1859.

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Goulais Bay, Canada

Years Served: 1860
Ojibwe Name: Unknown
Translation: Unknown

Our Lady of Sorrows Church was established here and was built by Bishop Kohler around 1860.  This church is no longer active but is a landmark of the activity at the time.  

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Marquette, Michigan 

Years Served: 1866 - 1868
Ojibwe Name: Gichi-Namebini-Ziibiing 
Translation: At the Big Sucker River

Father Baraga's house was built here after he became Bishop in 1855.  He didn't actually reside on this location until 1866 which was two years before his passing.  The St. Peter's Cathedral can be found here along with Father Baraga's tomb and the house that he resided in has now become a museum.

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