Campground sale brings Knife Island history to light

St. Louis River legend: fact or fiction?


August 19, 2022

AJ Miller

This aerial drone photo shows Knife Island and its namesake campground along the St. Louis River between Scanlon and Thomson Township. According to a serialized novel written by Joe Northrup in the 1930s, the island was the site of the last great battle between the Ojibwe and the Dakota tribes, before the arrival of the voyageurs.

For decades, Marcie Stolberg has kept the island next to her campground as sacred space, aware of the stories of long-ago Native American battles and tragedy.

It was there, according to the 1937 novel, "Wawina: A Beautiful Story of an Indian Princess" by Chief Northwind (Joseph Northrup's pen name), that two stubborn chiefs refused to make peace, their children met a tragic end, and a huge battle took place.

A walk around Knife Island today reveals mostly undisturbed greenery - trees, wildflowers and grasses - with brown river water meandering past.

A small cabin dating from the 1870s is the o...

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