May 9, 2008
CONTACT: Gary Eckenberg, Deputy Administrator
St. Louis County Courthouse
Duluth, MN 218-726-2447
For Immediate Release:
Camp Esquagama *Waginogan Ceremonial Blessing Scheduled
St. Louis County’s Camp Esquagama (formerly known as the County 4-H Camp) will be the site of a ceremonial blessing of the recently completed Waginogan at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, May 13, 2008, following the regular meeting of the County Board of Commissioners. The Waginogan, a traditional Ojibwe house, is an essential component of the Indian Village cultural enrichment and educational experience offered at the Camp located on beautiful Lake Esquagama four (4) miles south of Biwabik, MN on Highway #4. The Bois Forte Tribal Council joined with Camp Esquagama officials to plan the village in 2006, and will be special guests for the ceremonial blessing of the structure in preparation for this summer’s camping season. A light lunch will be served in the main lodge after the ceremony.
Camp Esquagama is open to boys and girls ages 6-15 years of age. The Camp is also available for special adult retreats and planning events as well. The Camp was founded in 1935 through proceeds from a national contest sponsored by Sears Roebuck & Co. in a search for the “best 4-H Club in the country”. The St. Louis County 4-H Club was selected, and with the $10,000 top prize, the Club purchased the Lake Esquagama property and built the main lodge.
“It’s very important to St. Louis County to continue to improve the camping experience for the youth in our area,” said Sixth District County Commissioner Keith Nelson. “The County Board has supported the addition of a handicapped accessible natural trail and bog walk in 2002, and the Indian Village experience will further broaden the natural and cultural educational opportunities available at Camp Esquagama.”
For more information about Camp Esquagama, please contact Walt Hautala, Business Manager of the Camp at (218) 865-6589, or toll free at 1-866-386-2267, and visit the Camp Esquagama website at www.campesquagama.com.
The traditional Ojibwe house, the waginogan was formed of a framework of sticks covered with bark. In fact, the word “waginogan” means “to bend the sticks over” These bent saplings were lashed together using spruce root or basswood fiber and woven with other saplings that formed cross pieces. The completed frame resembled an inverted widely laced basket.
The covering was made of cedar bark around the base and birch bark over the top. The birch bark overlapped the cedar to shed rain. The bark pieces were sewn together and called packs. Over a dozen packs were needed to cover even, the smallest waginogan. The packs were lashed to the frame and weighted with poles and rocks.
When moving, only the packs were carried. The frame was left erect and in place. At every major camp there was at least one waginogan frame, and upon arrival, the packs needed only to be placed on the frames. These dwellings were normally owned by women.
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The camp is located on Lake Esquagama 4.4 miles south of Biwabik on Highway 4 or 60 miles north of Duluth on Highway 4. For your convenience, a parking lot is located off of Highway 4. Turn on Camp Road. The parking lot is located along the fence near the entrance.