Lester River Rendezvous Kicks Off for Area Students

DULUTH, Minn. —

The Lester River Rendezvous brings the history of the fur trading days to life right here in the Northland.

Today, students from schools from around the whole region arrived to an encampment of Ojibwe and Europeans.

From blacksmiths to seamstresses to bead-makers, the clash and cooperation between the cultures is on full display here.

Event coordinator Don Mendoza says that getting the first-hand lessons makes the rendezvous a special experience for the kids.

“In today’s digital ‘push the button everything,’ you don’t have to look or do any research anymore.  Put that aside,” Mendoza said.  “Here it is hands down, all white-knuckles and put it to work and it’s a learning factor.  ‘Wow! Look what they did to get where we are today!”

Today and tomorrow are for educational purposes only, as bus and trainloads of kids go in and out of the encampment.

Don Chesney wears the face paint and accouterments of the Ojibwe warrior.

He says one of best things he can do is dispelling any rumors or misconceptions people have about what it was like to live in the North Woods during this time.

“Fur clerk records show that by 1675, through trade, the Ojibwe people have more guns than the British, French, Dutch, and Spanish combined, which made us a force to be reckoned with,” Chesney said.

He also adds that simply teaching the lesson that white Europeans were the civilized group and the natives were primitive savages does a disservice to what it was actually like in 17th century Minnesota.

The Rendezvous is open to the public at 10:00 Saturday morning at Lester Park.

They’ll have food vendors and live music in addition to the re-enactors and live displays.

This is the 19th year for the event.

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