Little Spirt Cedar

Little Spirit Cedar

  • Tree growing from rock/brutish conditions/longevity a metaphor for the Ojibwe people’s plight

  • Offerings of tobacco left to bless voyage to fishing/hunting grounds of superior and Isle Royale. Symbol of prosperity to this day with local members leaving gifts to this day

  • Must be escorted by local Ojibwe guide. Gain access through Grand Portage national Monument

  • Scientific name: Thuja Occidentalis (conifer)

  • Ojibwe name: Manidoo-Giizhikens (Little Spirit Cedar)

  • Personal Story…Karmic response to unguided visit in 2010. Lost all photographs.

  • Description of walk, hearing the history from a tribal member (John), sights, sounds

  • French Explorers and fur trade?

The Witch Tree as it is commonly known, also called Manidoo-giizhikens, or Little Cedar Spirit Tree by the Ojibwa Indian tribe is an ancient Thuja occidentalis growing on the shore of Lake Superior in Cook CountyMinnesota. The earliest written records of the tree by Europeans in the Americas are by French explorer Sieur de la Verendrye in 1731, who commented on the tree as a mature tree at that time, making it over 300 years old.[1] The tree is held sacred by the Ojibwe, who traditionally leave offerings of tobacco to ensure a safe journey on Lake Superior. Due to its sacred nature and vandalism problems in the past, the tree is considered off limits to visitors unless accompanied by a local Ojibwe band member.

The tree is small for a mature conifer, as it is growing out of bare rock on the shoreline. Its gnarled, stunted, and twisting branches have been the subject of many photographs.


For more information regarding the Little Spirit Cedar, MN Ojibwe History, or to book a guide consider the below resources:


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