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Goodezhiin, whose English name was Charly Johnson, looks across the Red Lake Narrows in this photo circa 1900. Goodezhiin was not officially a chief, but his family refers to him as chief because he was a leader of his people. Submitted Photo

Chief Ogimaabinenz, Chief Goodezhiin descendants to gather today in Red Lake

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News Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
Bemidji Pioneer
Chief Ogimaabinenz, Chief Goodezhiin descendants to gather today in Red Lake
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI — Decades of collaborative research will give descendants of Chief Ogimaabinenz and Chief Goodezhiin of Ponemah a chance to celebrate their connections through the fourth-eighth generations.


They will gather at 1 p.m. today at the Seven Clans Casino, Hotel and Event Center in Red Lake to share information about the extended family. They also are inviting others outside the family to join them for lunch and a social. Descendants are encouraged to bring pictures and fill in forms with their personal family trees. Photographer Bob Smith of Bemidji has volunteered to take pictures at no charge for people’s records.

"We will be reading the family rolls," said Delores Cloud-Hammitt (Omaamikwe), one of the descendants. She compiled the family tree from oral records handed down to her from her grandfather, Bezhaanakwad, and other elders, as well as U.S. Census, governmental and tribal records.

Cloud-Hammitt explained Ogimaabinenz didn’t have an English name. His birth and death dates are lost to history. However, his son, Goodezhiin, who had been issued the English name Charly Johnson, with the nickname "Paint," was born in 1845 and lived 100 years. Cloud-Hammitt’s grandfather, Bezhaanakwad, 1873-1961, was one of main sources of family history.

"I had the great opportunity of being around my grandpa because he was a prominent person in the Ponemah area," Cloud-Hammitt said. "Bezhaanakwad loved to tell stories. It was always done in Ojibwe because he didn’t know English. I took a lot of oral tradition."

Although officially Goodezhiin is not a chief, the family refers to him by that honorific because he was a leader of his people.

"He was politically removed because of his opposition to the (U.S.) government practices at the time," Cloud-Hammitt said. "He was quite outspoken. The government didn’t like him. He was one of the last delegation in 1909 to go to Washington, D.C."

The Red Lake Nation Tribal Council provided financial support for today’s lunch. Council members also voted unanimously to establish Sept. 1 during the Ponemah Labor Day Powwow as Goodezhiin Day. Because Goodezhiin was a runner who carried messages from the Red Lake Narrows to the town of Ponemah, Cloud-Hammitt said his descendants will sponsor a run/walk along that seven-mile route Sept. 1.

Cloud-Hammitt said these commemorations will give family members "a strong sense of intergenerational self" by being able to identify with the various members of all the generations and how the Goodezhiin descendants’ history impacts them personally. They will develop a higher sense of self-esteem and identification with their Ojibwe culture, heritage and language, she said.

Article by Molly Miron as special to the Pioneer.