February 28, 1866
“Beltrami County was formed.” *
A seemingly simple note in history. A county is born, but what makes this place unique, Lord? Why is it special in the history of my state? It’s the headwaters of the great Mississippi, supplies drinking water for a quarter of Minnesota, supports hundreds of species of animals, and gives witness to approx. 10,000 years of human history.**
Some of the land Beltrami County sits upon was originally Ojibwe (Chippewa) land. “Home to the federally recognized Red Lake Band of Chippewa, it is unique as the only “closed reservation” in Minnesota. In a closed reservation, all land is held in common by the tribe and there is no private property.” *** Will You direct my thoughts and prayers today for this peoples’ influence on this event?
This county is named after the Italian count Giacomo Beltrami. He explored the area ca. 1825 and claimed to have discovered the headwaters of the Mississippi. After more years of adventures and travels he wrote his memoirs, but could not get them published by the Church-led government of Italy. What, if any, prayer points does this bring to the fore? ****
First, I will give thanks for the gift of this river; the Mississippi. What would Minnesota be without it? It has given so much to so many: a 2300+ mile waterway, massive hunting and fishing grounds, thousands of years of drinking water, and immense beauty! May we forever remember this blessing from You, and be honorable stewards of it!
Next, I commend the Ojibwe-Chippewa Nation to You. I remember their choice to live in common, a huge commitment to trusting relationships most moderns will not dare undertake.You entrusted them with the gift of the Mississippi, and they did not withhold this treasure from Beltrami. *****
Lastly, I observe this lesson from this snippet of Minnesota history; the debt of gratitude is like a great river. Minnesota owes a debt of thanks to Italy, who owes a debt of gratitude to Giacomo Beltrami who owes a debt to the Ojibwe, who owe a debt to their forebearers, yet we all owe a perpetual debt of honor to the King of the Universe. As long as there is time, may this river of remembrance and honor never cease to flow and refresh! Amen!
*** Charles Brill (1992). Red Lake Nation: Portraits of Ojibway Life, University of Minnesota Press, p. 19.