Before the arrival of the white man... On and around the Apostle Islands, Lake Superior, Ojibwa people discovered and innovated agricultural advancements, including excavating Copper deposits and creating specialized tools for agriculture, hunting and fishing, the use of canoes in rice harvesting, conjugal collaborative farming, and the Three Sisters Crop Complex, enabling the Ojibwa to greatly expand their population, territory and power outward in all directions creating an enormous nation. These rapid advances in technology, along with five centuries of migration from the east, caused divisive ideological disagreements over traditionalism, and ultimately, the Potowatomi, Ottowa, and other tribes split off, leaving the Ojibwe alone wielding full control over the entire Lake Superior region, with the Islands remaining their power center.
All the Mississippi nations' nevertheless considered the area their ancient cultural and spiritual home. When the early French traders arrived around 1640, the capital city on Madeline Island was given the name La Pointe, and by 1693 it was fortified and included as an official Trading Post city in the Empire of New France, but with the westward expansion of European colonialism, conflicts boiled into formal wars from 1775 onward. Over the next 35 years, as more and more Native populations were concentrated into increasingly smaller areas, these areas became unable to provide sustenance for the swelling populations, and in 1811, the recognized principal Chief Buffalo from La Pointe led an army of Ojibwa to fight in Tecumseh's War against the U.S.. However, he had a change of heart and pursued diplomacy after meeting Michel Caddotte in Sault Ste Marie. Caddotte convinced him that by avoiding violence against the US, he could negotiate better treaties for the Ojibwa people.
Though the American flag was hoisted over the Islands in 1816, Chief Buffalo fought for decades against the United States' government and mining and lumber capitalists continual and sometimes deadly efforts to completely remove the Ojibwe people. He successfully secured permanent reserves of land including the mainland coastline nearest the Islands for the Red Cliff band, as well as entire reservations for other bands in the region.